Writing an academic essay means fashioning a coherent set of ideas into an argument. Because essays are essentially linear—they offer one idea at a time—they must present their ideas in the order that makes most sense to a reader. Successfully structuring an essay means attending to a reader's logic.
The focus of such an essay predicts its structure. It dictates the information readers need to know and the order in which they need to receive it. Thus your essay's structure is necessarily unique to the main claim you're making. Although there are guidelines for constructing certain classic essay types (e.g., comparative analysis), there are no set formula.
Answering Questions: The Parts of an Essay
A typical essay contains many different kinds of information, often located in specialized parts or sections. Even short essays perform several different operations: introducing the argument, analyzing data, raising counterarguments, concluding. Introductions and conclusions have fixed places, but other parts don't. Counterargument, for example, may appear within a paragraph, as a free-standing section, as part of the beginning, or before the ending. Background material (historical context or biographical information, a summary of relevant theory or criticism, the definition of a key term) often appears at the beginning of the essay, between the introduction and the first analytical section, but might also appear near the beginning of the specific section to which it's relevant.
It's helpful to think of the different essay sections as answering a series of questions your reader might ask when encountering your thesis. (Readers should have questions. If they don't, your thesis is most likely simply an observation of fact, not an arguable claim.)
"What?" The first question to anticipate from a reader is "what": What evidence shows that the phenomenon described by your thesis is true? To answer the question you must examine your evidence, thus demonstrating the truth of your claim. This "what" or "demonstration" section comes early in the essay, often directly after the introduction. Since you're essentially reporting what you've observed, this is the part you might have most to say about when you first start writing. But be forewarned: it shouldn't take up much more than a third (often much less) of your finished essay. If it does, the essay will lack balance and may read as mere summary or description.
"How?" A reader will also want to know whether the claims of the thesis are true in all cases. The corresponding question is "how": How does the thesis stand up to the challenge of a counterargument? How does the introduction of new material—a new way of looking at the evidence, another set of sources—affect the claims you're making? Typically, an essay will include at least one "how" section. (Call it "complication" since you're responding to a reader's complicating questions.) This section usually comes after the "what," but keep in mind that an essay may complicate its argument several times depending on its length, and that counterargument alone may appear just about anywhere in an essay.
"Why?" Your reader will also want to know what's at stake in your claim: Why does your interpretation of a phenomenon matter to anyone beside you? This question addresses the larger implications of your thesis. It allows your readers to understand your essay within a larger context. In answering "why", your essay explains its own significance. Although you might gesture at this question in your introduction, the fullest answer to it properly belongs at your essay's end. If you leave it out, your readers will experience your essay as unfinished—or, worse, as pointless or insular.
Mapping an Essay
Structuring your essay according to a reader's logic means examining your thesis and anticipating what a reader needs to know, and in what sequence, in order to grasp and be convinced by your argument as it unfolds. The easiest way to do this is to map the essay's ideas via a written narrative. Such an account will give you a preliminary record of your ideas, and will allow you to remind yourself at every turn of the reader's needs in understanding your idea.
Essay maps ask you to predict where your reader will expect background information, counterargument, close analysis of a primary source, or a turn to secondary source material. Essay maps are not concerned with paragraphs so much as with sections of an essay. They anticipate the major argumentative moves you expect your essay to make. Try making your map like this:
- State your thesis in a sentence or two, then write another sentence saying why it's important to make that claim. Indicate, in other words, what a reader might learn by exploring the claim with you. Here you're anticipating your answer to the "why" question that you'll eventually flesh out in your conclusion.
- Begin your next sentence like this: "To be convinced by my claim, the first thing a reader needs to know is . . ." Then say why that's the first thing a reader needs to know, and name one or two items of evidence you think will make the case. This will start you off on answering the "what" question. (Alternately, you may find that the first thing your reader needs to know is some background information.)
- Begin each of the following sentences like this: "The next thing my reader needs to know is . . ." Once again, say why, and name some evidence. Continue until you've mapped out your essay.
Your map should naturally take you through some preliminary answers to the basic questions of what, how, and why. It is not a contract, though—the order in which the ideas appear is not a rigid one. Essay maps are flexible; they evolve with your ideas.
Signs of Trouble
A common structural flaw in college essays is the "walk-through" (also labeled "summary" or "description"). Walk-through essays follow the structure of their sources rather than establishing their own. Such essays generally have a descriptive thesis rather than an argumentative one. Be wary of paragraph openers that lead off with "time" words ("first," "next," "after," "then") or "listing" words ("also," "another," "in addition"). Although they don't always signal trouble, these paragraph openers often indicate that an essay's thesis and structure need work: they suggest that the essay simply reproduces the chronology of the source text (in the case of time words: first this happens, then that, and afterwards another thing . . . ) or simply lists example after example ("In addition, the use of color indicates another way that the painting differentiates between good and evil").
Copyright 2000, Elizabeth Abrams, for the Writing Center at Harvard University
It is time to learn how to write an analytical essay. This type of academic papers is not the easiest one to deal with. You can analyze book, movie, poem or some certain moment in history. The whole world is there to be analyzed. This paper is about critical and objective observation and detailed description of an object. But enough words, let’s learn what is an analytical essay.
What is an Analytical Essay
To learn how to write an analysis essay let’s start with the term. If it sounds unfamiliar to you, just stop worrying. You have met it before in the newspapers and other sources before without realizing that the format is very similar.
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This piece of writing should be informative and well-thought. This is an observation of some certain object, topic or even idea. You should divide the main thing into pieces and analyze all aspects of it according to your topic. It can be related to the historic event, literature, a piece of art or process like Water Cycle or Cycle of Sleep.
How to Write an Analytical Essay on a Poem
One of the toughest analytical essay topics is one that relates to poems. Not even the most professional writers are aware of how to write an analytical essay on a poem. Fortunately, our experts are great and have an amazing level of experience in this field. Like in a persuasive essay, you need to analyze, research, and collect data.
This topic requires from you to research the content of a certain poem. You need to explore its structure and style in an explanatory manner. And you aim to make your reader understand how great and significant the poem you are analyzing is. You may take any popular poem and make it your own topic. So, what is an analytical essay on a poem? Yes, it is an analysis of its content on various parameters. Here are few the most significant poems ever written:
- “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus
- “Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats
- “The Tiger” by William Blake
- “A Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- “Holy Sonnet 10: Death, Be Not Proud” by John Donne
Analytical Essay Example
Brainstorm Analytical Essay Topics
Here is how you should start your analysis essay. The main thing to start with is to get yourself a nice and winning topic. You need to figure out what you are going to write about. It may sound obvious. This step is crucial if you want to get a better grade and succeed.
The thing is that you have only two ways of how your analysis essay will get a topic. You may get it as a prompt by your teacher, or it can be just a free topic to deal with. Both ways have their strong and weak sides. Your task is to open the topic no matter how did you get it. It is better if the topic is familiar to you or you are passionate about it. Here are few interesting topics suggestions on various subjects.
Topics to suggest
- Sports and drug use. Analyze the reason athletes use drugs.
- Graffiti. Why is it considered art?
- Multiculturalism in the modern society. Explore its significance.
- Analyze body size and fashion. Is it important for models to be the slim or free size?
- Gender roles. Why are gender roles changing?
- Families with one parent. Is there any effect on kids?
- Differences between men and women friendship and relationships.
- Career or family life. Is it possible to have a balance?
- Child-free families. Is it selfish for a couple to have no children?
- Music and health. Is there any effect of music on human health?
- Analyze the main character of Romeo and Juliet.
- Describe the main event in the book “Lord of Rings”.
- Write about cultural impact the book has on the modern society.
- Tell if there is any influence of author’s background on his work.
- Write an analysis of the style poets of XX century used in their works.
- Do horror movies and comics influence human brain?
- Tell why it is important to have limitations for children on TV and in movies.
- Describe true events a movie is based on.
- Tell more about the novel your favorite movie is based on.
- Describe a perfect Christmas movie.
Create an Analytical Essay Thesis
There are two main things you need to learn about analytical essay thesis.
- The main goal of analysis essay is to prove your own point of view as a writer. You need to do a research and link the information together to make a certain statement. Your decision is the thing you need to present your reader through the analytical way. And this decision is called thesis. You should not get any personal features like in a reflective essay. If you are talking about some certain fact in history, you need to get main reasons that caused to that event.
- Your thesis is not just a simple question with a one-word answer. It is a complex sentence and statement that requires certain reaction and similar complex answer. The number of factors in that statement can be huge. It can be very controversial. It should hit the target.
Create an Analytical Essay Outline
One of the most interesting and tough tasks is to create the structure of your future analysis essay. It is called an outline. This step is very important and will help you to deal with the entire paper properly. It doesn’t matter how many paragraphs you have in your paper. Analytical essay outline mainly deals with the topic and thesis statement.
Analytical Essay Introduction
If one wants to learn how to write an analytical essay introduction, he needs to get some background info for his text. It should have a hook to get your reader interested. Or you can use any other way. Just make your Introduction effective. The information you present in your intro should be relevant to your thesis statement. Here is a default Introduction structure for analysis essay:
- Brief introduction or a hook to engage your reader
- Brief background information about the topic
- Slight transition (Use just one sentence)
- Thesis statement
The Body of your analysis essay is the biggest and the main part. Its goal is to prove your thesis statement you’ve presented in the Introduction. Divide your thesis into certain parts and write an individual paragraph for each part. If you are talking about human evolution, you should devise your thing into stages and create a paragraph for each one. You may start with the most ancient period and write about each significant change in human evolution. Here is the proper structure:
- Introduce your main topic with just one or two sentences. It should up to the point and effective.
- Describe your main evidence and tell how it supports your thesis statement. Here you should go just with one or two sentences. Some authors consider this paragraph to be the most important of the entire paper. It will give your reader the feel of how do you understand the topic. These sentences should be creative and effective in the most interesting way.
- Any essay of this type needs supporting evidence. In this part, you will demonstrate to your reader how well you did your research. The entire paper is based on the evidence that you’ve found. Make a nice transition between this part and the previous one.
- It is time to write some conclusion before the main conclusion part. After any strong evidence, you need to get the job done by adding a concluding sentence and describe the significance of the entire topic.
Your Body should be clear and effective. With just a few sentences you need to show the reader your point of view and explain the thing he might never hear before. And if the person can’t understand your point of view, it means you made some mistakes in your text.
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How to Write a Conclusion for an Analytical Essay
And the last part of our guide is on how to write a Conclusion for an analytical essay. One needs to understand that Conclusion has a role that is very important to the entire effect your paper has on your reader. This is your last try to make an impression or improve it after the entire paper was read.
You need to restate your thesis statement and make a summary of your supporting evidence. And the last shot will be the ending concluding the sentence. Make a sound like a statement. You may tell your reader what you have learned from your own paper. Here is a default structure:
- Thesis statement rephrasing
- Summarize main evidence
- Main concluding statement
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