Alex E. Blazer Curriculum Vita Teaching Portfolio
Fiction Film Poetry

Literary Analysis

Strategies for Reading, Analyzing, and Writing about Fiction

What does fiction mean? What does fiction do? How does fiction function? What themes—what truths—might fiction confront us with? First and foremost, at the heart of fiction is friction; at the heart of darkness lies intense internal conflict. However, the other elements of fiction function to not only illustrate but also develop those internal conflicts. A question about one element of fiction will overlap with another element and will always point to the core conflict that the text issues. Use these strategies for reading, analyzing, and writing about fiction to help you analyze any literary text.



  1. conflict

    • What is the primary cause and motivation of the piece of literature? What divisive tension must be processed, transformed, or traversed?
    • What is the nature of the core conflict? Is the conflict internal or external?
      • If it's internal, is the conflict of self vs self, the self divided, the split subject, the psyche torn asunder?
      • If it's external, is the conflict between two or more people; between an individual and society; or between a human and nature, god, or machine?
      • In what ways might the external conflict mask or replicate the internal conflict of the main character? Does the main character flee from, cathart, or engage her core conflicts?
    • How does the work of fiction present its core conflict?
      • Does the main character fly from her core conflict, escape it, deny it, or cover it up?
      • Does the main character resolve her core conflict and eventually cathart it?
      • Or, does the main character actively engage her core conflicts in a self-critical process of continual and contingent working through?
  2. character

  3. setting

  4. imagery

  5. symbolism

  6. plot and structure

  7. point of view

  8. tone

  9. theme

  10. fiction and/as film


Strategies for Viewing, Analyzing, and Writing about Film

Viewing Films

Analyzing the Elements of Films

mise en scène: the staging of the film


cinematography: film stock, lighting, and the camera




Writing about Film

Strategies for Reading, Analyzing, and Writing about Poetry