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Understand what you have read. Lost in the dated language and rigid poetic structure, students often lose track of the plot in Shakespeare's work. Read twice if you have to and watch a movie version of the work to really solidify the story in your mind. 2

Know where you stand. Whether or not you like or dislike, or agree or disagree with the opinions of the characters, they are central to your ability to write about the characters. Be sure it is your opinion you are formulating and not simply remembering your teacher's opinion.

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Brainstorm adjectives or descriptive phrases relating to the characters. Consider words appropriate to your literary level and ensure they are appropriate to the tone of the work. You may be thinking "Hamlet seems sad" but you should be writing "Hamlet's consistent sense of isolation." 4

Answer the questions asked. There is a tendency among beginning students of Shakespeare to simply regurgitate the plot line of a play in the paper to display their comprehension. Be sure your paper is actually answering the question assigned and not simply retelling the story. 5

Use quotes to make your points. Express an opinion on a character or an important plot twist and then substantiate your argument using the text. If you just string quotes together, the paper becomes an exercise in futility and the source of an unsatisfactory grade. 6

Generalize, generalize, and generalize. Summarize background information or insignificant plot devices, allowing you to concentrate on emotional expression and characterization, which is the true core of Shakespeare's work. Too much time spent describing the tree-line in Macbeth or the color of Ophelia's hair in Hamlet, will detract from what you really want to write. 7

Make conclusions. If you think Romeo and Juliet were pretty stupid and...
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