I always have problems in analyzing texts, as I'm not sure what analyzing actually entails. What does it mean to have a good analysis of an author's work, either fictional or non - fictional?


There are many angles to take when analyzing fiction and you should focus on the one that interests you the most.


Answer: Because then you'll write a more interesting analysis if you do.

What Are Possible Angles?

  1. Plot
  2. Character
  3. Voice / Style

The definitive guide to learning about writing and analyzing them from these various angles is the fantastic book by the late author, Gary Provost, Make Your Words Work -- Amazon link.

Keep Analysis Excerpts Short

I also tend to like to keep the excerpt I'm analzying short for two reasons:

  1. you can get a very good idea of the author's work in just a few paragraphs
  2. analyzing an entire book could be quite overwhelming

For my book, Fiction Writing Gems - Free to read at amazon for Kindle OLL program, I analyze the beginnings of 26 published novels.

One of my favorites to analzye was the novel, TailSpin by Catherine Coulter.

Here's just a snippet of novel to show why it was so much fun to analyze:

Black Rock Lake
Oranack, Maryland

Friday night

She thought she swallowed because her throat burned hot, as if splashed with sharp acid, but she wasn't sure because she couldn't think clearly. Her mind felt dark, heavy and thick as chains, and she knew to her soul there was violence just beyond it.

Here's an excerpt of my sample analysis:

More About the Mystery Protagonist Technique

Many authors employing the Mystery Protagonist technique are attempting to set up tension as a hook to the reader by enticing the reader to find out who the action is happening to.

Coulter's attempt fails, because her author's camera falls upon the wrong details. She describes the wrong things.

Describing the Wrong Things

What are the wrong things and why are they wrong? She thought she swallowed -- generally if you are thinking at all, then you know if you swallowed. The author's attempt to show the character's disorientation fails and jars me from my reading, and I am only four words into the beginning of her story. Plus, remember, as I read I am living vicariously as the viewpoint character which means that I don't know what I am swallowing. That makes me ignorant or somewhat stupid. Why would I want to associate myself with a stupid character and live vicariously as if I am them?

Value of Short Analysis

The value of this type of analysis on very short excerpts is that it gives you a quick way to learn what type of writing works and what type doesn't and why.


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