(Original post by HMSChocolate)
The big literature question is the So what? question
Every time you mention a lit technique, or any devices/imagery/metaphor etc etc used in the text always comment on the So what. What does that do to the text? Why is it used? Dont just state what the technique is and give an example and leave it at that. Comment on the significance of it. If you find a technique but can't explain its significance, DONT mention it. Go talk about something you can explain and analyse. Its not necessary to list every single thing but rather you must be able to comment on what the things you do mention do to the text.
What she said.
It's always important to follow any point you make to its intellectual end. When you write, ask yourself, what does this literary device do and how does it contribute to the meaning of the text? How does it contribute to theme and your understanding of character, of the situation, etc.?
There is no one formula for a good unseen commentary. You definitely need an introduction -- where you suggest the idea that is being elucidated by your passage (there is always one!) but don't develop it any further than that.
Some people like using the SCASI method to analyse the text -- setting, character, action, style and ideas, where you go into detail about each component and the literary devices that contribute to the meaning of each. However, this method is rather "wooden" and doesn't allow for much leeway, so you might be better off structuring your essay linearly/analysing the text chronologically; OR according to what strikes you as most important about the passage, which you mention in your introduction...
Introduction: This passage, taken from Joseph Heller's novel, "Catch-22", depicts a conversation between the protagonist, Yossarian, and his psychiatrist, Major Sanderson. Through this conversation... the reader is able to get a sense of Heller's stance on armed conflict. These ideas are imparted through the paradox, contrast and irony evident in the dialogue, and the active role of the narrator.
Second paragraph: The narrator of this play is an omniscient one, yet very partisan too! However, he unusually plays a large role in this passage. Instead of narrating events merely as they happen, he sets the scene. His is an active voice, not a passive or a neutral one.
I hope this helps!