Organizing a Post: My Tools for a Close Reading of Jane Austen

To add some form to my posts and try to create some continuity among them, I have developed what I am calling the “Leads System.” A “lead” is a section header. Posts usually have sections of text—the theme or purpose of the content can change— but having the text appear as one long unit can be intimidating, even for someone who is dedicated to reading the topic. So to make a post more navigable, a lead will help someone find what most interests them the fastest.

You can think of a lead as a type of newspaper article: sometimes there’s a local report, a national report, a foreign correspondence, an opinion/editorial, and so on. These distinct sub-types of presenting data serve the ultimate goal of informing the reader. For the purpose of Reading Jane Austin, the goal of these sub-types is to help convey my commentary in the fastest way possible.

I like to explore the interplay between form and function, and in that spirit, it should be noted that not every post has every sub-type, or lead. I hope you will find that the names given to these headers are in keeping with the spirit and tone of this blog.

Here are my leads, grouped vaguely by importance and in keeping with the way I view a post on my topic:


  • Opening (no header used) provides a brief description/location of the text, opening thoughts, etc.
  • Plot Points summarize, for context, the plot of the text in question

Core Leads

  • Character Commentary personal commentary and opinion on character development
  • Themes and Threads discussion of larger plot development as it relates to the themes; attempt to located and describe themes
  • Narratology Notes my thoughts on narration as it is used to develop the themes; attempt to locate structural components
  • Language: Diction and Thesaur discussion of interesting uses of words to create descriptions, contexts, and comparisons
  • In Context discussion of the story as a product of the life and times of its author

Vanity Leads

  • Out of Context discussion of the story as a comment on my life and times, or that of a different universe
  • Style Points my praise for the author, or one of the story’s structural/thematic components; only for the really extraordinary or not appropriate for another lead
  • Shame on Jane my noting something that bothers me or my tastes; I won’t abuse this one, I promise
  • Memorables a listing of any memorable or striking quotes, scenes, or characterizations


  • Looking Ahead ending commentary or speculation on how the discussed content relates to what I think might be to come
  • Closing (no header used) any metaanalytic information I have to convey, such as indicating if I’ll be out of town for a month

These are intended to help me organize the process of getting through a close reading Austen’s six novels; other posts that will inevitably appear here but are not contained in the above categories include: (1) biographical information on Jane Austen; (2) readings of other published criticisms (academic or otherwise); (3) posts related to group discussion of the texts; and (4) posts dedicated to large-scale or end-of-project commentary.

Explore posts in the same categories: Emma, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility

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One Comment on “Organizing a Post: My Tools for a Close Reading of Jane Austen”

  1. Rebecca H. Says:

    I think your tools with serve you well!….What I would have called an essay plan in my Eng Lit days. They always work.

    Approaching this style of post with these tools not only gives the writer a ‘path’ and a clearer perspective on the topic, it also makes the reading a greater pleasure.

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