Here's three simple tips for handling evidence well:
- You defend your key assertions with evidence, and relate that evidence to your thesis.
- No key argument about the text should go without evidence. That doesn't mean you need evidence every time you mention that something happens in the text, but that you provide evidence for the assertions that are necessary to defend your thesis.
- In a paper, facts don't speak for themselves. Your understanding of a passage may be different than your reader's understanding of the very same words, so show how the evidence you present substantiates your argument.
You recap the stories as little as possible.
- It is easy to give too much evidence to your paper. Use only evidence that supports the arguments of your paper, rather than retells the events you are discussing.
- You can assume your audience is familiar with the text you are analyzing, so only give enough information about the story to make it clear to what event you're referring. You should eliminate extraneous information, such as basic descriptions of characters or events that you can assume the reader knows.
- You integrate the author's words with your own words.
- The best argument is one where your own argument goes hand-in-hand with the evidence used to defend that argument. So rather than presenting your argument, then presenting your evidence, integrate the two.
- This can be done at the sentence level: rather than making your argument in one sentence, then using a long quote to illustrate your point, write one sentence which both makes your argument and quotes the text, as in the following sentence: Odysseus escaped from the Cyclops by saying "Nobody is my name," (Odyssey 9:366), showing that for Homer a true hero must be willing to become a "nobody" in order to achieve his or her ends.
- In the sample sentence above, if you removed the quotation marks, your sentence would read smoothly, and you and Homer would be speaking with one voice: your evidence is well-integrated with your own argument.