Hints for Writing a Good Paper

  1. Make sure you have a thesis. A good thesis is limited, original, and sophisticated.
  2. Make your thesis shape your paper.
  3. Support your thesis with evidence. Your primary evidence should be the words on the page; refer to them frequently.
  4. Don't make simple errors of fact.
  5. Pointing out parallels or "foreshadowing" is not enough: this is just noting a pattern. The question is: what is the significance of such a pattern?
  6. Beware of reading literature as history.
  7. Give your paper an interesting, pithy title. The title should convey a sense of your argument.
  8. Proofread papers, unless you want to distract attention from a bad argument with bad spelling.
  9. For your own safety: make and keep copies of your papers in case there is a problem in your getting them to your TA or in your TA getting them to you.