You’ve been staring at your blank computer screen for what feels like hours, trying to figure out how to start your analytical essay. You try to choose between writing the introduction first or getting right into the meat of it. But somehow, it seems too difficult to do either.
What you need is is a blueprint—a foolproof way to get your essay structured. Then all you have to do is fill in the blanks.
By Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
What an Analytical Essay Is—And What It Isn’tBefore we get to the good stuff, you should know exactly what an analytical essay is. Your middle school and high school teachers probably told you something like, “An analytical essay is writing that analyzes a text.”
Helpful, right? Um, not so much.
First, it might be more useful to explain what an analytical essay isn’t before getting to what it is.
An analytical essay isn’t a summary. Though this may seem obvious in theory, it’s more difficult in practice. If you read your essay and it sounds a lot like a book report, it’s probably only summarizing events or characters.
One way to figure out if you’re summarizing instead of analyzing is to look at your support. Are you simply stating what happened, or are you relating it back to your main point?
Okay, so what is an analytical essay, exactly?
Usually, it’s writing that has a more narrowed focus than a summary. Analytical essays usually concentrate on how the book or poem was written—for example, how certain themes present themselves in the story, or how the use of metaphor brings a certain meaning to a poem.
In short, this type of essay requires you to look at the smaller parts of the work to help shed light on the larger picture.
An example of a prompt—and the example I’m going to use for the rest of this post—could be something like: Analyze the theme of sacrifice in the Harry Potter series. (Note: there might be some spoilers, but I figured everyone who was planning on reading the books has done so already—or at least has seen the movies.)
One Way To Form Your Analytical Essay Outline
There are quite a few ways to organize your analytical essay, but no matter how you choose to write it, your essay should always have three main parts:
I’ll get into the nitty-gritty of this soon, but for all you visual learners, here is a nice representation of all the components that make a great analytical essay outline.
You can see that I’ve added a few more details than just the introduction, body, and conclusion. But hold your horses—we’re getting to those parts right now.
Introduction of Your Analytical Essay Outline
The purpose of your introduction is to get the reader interested in your analysis. The introduction should include at least three things—a hook, your thesis statement, and a sentence or two describing how you intend to prove your thesis statement.
1. You gotta hook ‘em from the start. The first part of your introduction should draw the reader in. This is called the hook.
The hook should be interesting or surprising. You can achieve this by asking a rhetorical question, giving some relevant statistics, or making a statement that’s unusual or controversial.
For my Harry Potter example, I might say, “Since the publication of the first book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, some Christian groups have attacked the books for promoting witchcraft. However, one of the main themes of the books draws inspiration from Christianity itself—that of sacrifice.”
Okay, so that’s two sentences. But it’s got a little bit of controversy and relates to what the rest of the essay will discuss.
2. Get to the good stuff—write a killer thesis statement. Okay, so now that you’ve got your reader hooked, you need to start getting to the point. This is where the thesis statement comes in.
My thesis might be, “The theme of sacrifice is prevalent throughout the series and is embodied as sacrifice for the greater good, sacrifice for an ultimate gain, and sacrifice to keep a promise.”
3. It’s time to back up your thesis. Let the reader know how you’re going to prove your claim.
For my example, I would let the reader know that I intend to analyze the instances of Harry’s “death,” Voldemort’s sacrifice of his soul in exchange for immortality, and how Snape sacrifices in order to honor a promise made to Lily Potter.
These points will be the building blocks of the body paragraphs.
Body of Your Analytical Essay Outline
The body is where you can start to get really creative and play around with formatting.
In the flowchart, there are three body paragraphs. But that’s because I was trained in the 5-paragraph outline. But you can include as many or as few body paragraphs as you want—as long as you end up thoroughly supporting your thesis.
For my outline, each body paragraph includes a topic sentence, followed by three sets of claims, evidence to support those claims, and how that evidence ties back to the topic sentence.
Again, three is not necessarily a magic number here. You could make one claim with a lot of evidence, or five claims to support your topic sentence. But let’s get into it, shall we?
1. Develop a strong topic sentence. Each topic sentence in each body paragraph of your analytical essay outline should tell the reader exactly what that section is going to be about.
My first body paragraph might start with, “Harry Potter is willing to fulfill prophecy and make the ultimate sacrifice—that of his life—in order to save the rest of the wizarding world.”
2. Make your claim. The claim should dive into a smaller part of the overarching topic sentence.
The topic sentence I gave can be broken down into several smaller claims—that Harry knew that he was fulfilling prophecy, that he was actually willing to die, and that his death would be of profound significance.
3. Provide evidence from the text to back your claim. You can’t just go around making claims without any support. You can use quotes or paraphrase parts of the text to add evidence.
For evidence that Harry knew that he was fulfilling prophecy, you could cite the instance in the hall of prophecies with the quote, “and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives.”
4. Tie that evidence to the topic sentence. You have to make it absolutely clear why you included the evidence. If you don’t, your analytical essay runs the risk of being a summary.
For example, with the citing of the prophecy, I would tell the reader that Harry and his friends found said prophecy and figured out that it had to be about him (although there are objections that it could’ve been referring to Neville, but we’ll leave that out of this example). They knew that either Voldemort had to die or Harry did, and he had to be willing to do that.
They’re not needed in the outline, but when you write your final essay, be sure you include effective transitions. This will help your essay flow.
Conclusion of Your Analytical Essay Outline
After you’ve built up all of your body paragraphs, given the appropriate evidence to back your claims, and tied that evidence to your awesome topic sentences, you’re ready to wrap it all up.
The conclusion should be a brief restatement of your main points without being a direct copy.
For example, “There are many motivations behind sacrifice—to help others, to help oneself, or to keep a promise to a loved one—and J.K. Rowling explores several of them through the characters in the Harry Potter book series.”
This, of course, does not suffice as a full conclusion. To fill it out and give the reader a sense of closure, you can relate the theme to the real world or end with a final quote from the text or the author.
Use This Downloadable Analytical Essay Outline as a Guide
Easy, right? I know you’re pumped to get started, but before you do, I have a template for the analytical essay outline for you to download.
Download the Analytical Essay Outline Template PDF
Download the Analytical Essay Outline Template (.doc)
Of course, your instructor’s directions will trump mine, so if they say to do something a specific way, I won’t be offended if you take their advice over mine.
Need more help? Check out these analytical essay examples.
And don’t forget about the Kibin editors. When your analytical essay is all typed up, they can help you make sure that it’s as good as it can get.
Now… get to it!
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Somehow in the high school, your teacher stated something like an analytical essay, defined it as a type of writing that tries to analyze a text in an already established topic. This sounds like a perfect simplified mode of writing that just summarizes the events or characters but in practice, it can prove to be hectic. So, before learning how to write a good analytical essay, need have to have a clear understanding of what it actually is.
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By definition, it’s an academic writing that separates the ideas and facts, gives the meaning to the facts to enable the reader to understand them easily. From this definition, it is very clear that it is not just a summary of the text, but an arrangement of how themes and characters align in a narrative. Analytical essay assists the reader to have a larger scope of understanding than it would be provided in a summary, as the facts are scrutinized and examined closely to portray the actual meaning of the text in a broader clearer picture.
How to write a good analytical essay
Writing a successful paper is not as automatic as you might think, thus, it requires some critical considerations. Remember that every word appealing and also helpful to the reader. The first genuine step is by studying examples of analytical essays considered successful.
This step sets a clear understanding of how to arrange the ideas and facts, and how to present them in the analysis. Of course, you are not confined to write exactly the way other samples outline, but it a great way to kick start your learning process.
Once an idea has been incepted in your memory, scrutinize the topics to have a clear understanding of the facts at hand.
There are several writing outlines but generally, three general parts namely the Introduction, the Body and the Conclusion incorporated in every essay. The three make the general format of an essay.
Plays an integral part of the overall writing. The first sentence should be interesting and attractive to the reader so that it can instill a motivation to continue studying the analysis. There are several options available to kick start your creative writing like making a compromising statement, giving interesting breathtaking facts or even asking a rhetorical question. This style draws the inspiration and the reader cannot wait to see the content in the whole review. After this, create a proper thesis statement that now introduces the reader to the main subject as it is.
The last bit is the proof of how you the thesis statement are supported throughout your analysis. It is from the introduction where you develop a list of ideas and topics to be included in the body.
- is the PowerPoint of the entire writing so creativity should be portrayed at its best here. Typically, the body should not have less than three paragraphs depending on the topic under scrutiny but a writer can incorporate as many as deemed fit with his work.
The structure of the body mainly involves a topic sentence, a claim and the evidence. This is the general template of an analytical essay. The topic sentence introduces the reader on what the paragraph entails. The claim narrows down on more specific details concerning the topic sentence. And finally, the evidence section supports the claim. The three should allow the reader to understand the topic under consideration leaving no loopholes along. The evidence should directly relate to the claim to give a good flow of ideas in the topic.
It is a summary of your essay stating your main points indirectly.
This is the finishing point of any paper. This section should be literary good to prompt the reader to go over the topic again and again to probably get some facts right about a misunderstood section. It’s a point of reference and review. The reader can use it as a guide to refer back to the topics discussed. It is better if the conclusion can leave the reader satisfied and contented with the facts and evidences outlined on the essay.
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It is important
From the above points, analytical essay writing follows the outlined general structure. It is the effort of the writer to make it as persuasive as possible so as to accomplish the intended purpose in its meaning. It is important to review the whole work after done writing to see and improve on the ideas outlined in the whole statement.