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How to Write an Analytical Essay

You have an analytical essay assignment to submit soon. As a responsible student, you allocate time, and even take an extra dose of caffeine to improve your focus.

But now, you have been staring at a blank word document for hours. It’s only now you realize you do not know how to write an analytical essay.

This article is a guide for analytical essay writing. How are analytical essays different from other essays? What should you include in this essay?

What’s the structure of an analytical essay? You will find everything you need to submit an excellent analysis.

What Is An Analytical Essay?

Before you start writing an analytical essay, you need to understand what it is and what it is not.

An analytical essay analyzes something. In most cases, it analyzes a text, film, or other pieces of literature.

An analytical essay is not a summary or synopsis of the given topic. You need to form an argument and support your arguments using evidence.

When exploring a piece of literature, you need to look at how the author wrote. Why did they choose to write the way they did?

Analyze the theme of the text. Or, look at how the author used literary devices to present the theme.

Writing an analysis instead of a synopsis is easier said than done. There’s a high chance of your essay reading like a book report rather than an analysis. So, how do you avoid merely summarizing the characters or events?

Narrow your focus to specific parts of the literature. How was the book, poem, or film written?

The trick is in your support. You should not state what is happening. Instead, your supporting points should relate to your argument or main thesis.

Like persuasive, narrative, and argumentative essays, you want a reader to agree with your main argument.

However, you will not be using strong and compelling language. Instead, you will gather enough evidence and examples from the text to strengthen your case.

The Structure of an Analytical Essay

For a 500-word paper, an analytical essay format has five paragraphs. You start with an introduction. Then you write three body paragraphs and sum up with a conclusion.

Introduction

One of the greatest challenges is how to start an analytical essay. Do you get straight to the thesis? Or, do you start with background information on the topic you are analyzing?

A good essay starts with a hook – an attention-grabbing statement that will make a reader interested in reading your essay. The next few sentences provide context or background information on whatever you are analyzing. Towards the end, give a thesis statement for your essay.

Body Paragraphs

The body of the analytical essay has at least three paragraphs. Each paragraph covers one point of analysis.

Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence. This statement introduces your point of analysis. Then provide supporting statements. These statements further expound your point. They could include snippets from the text or data and statistics from your research.

Towards the end of each paragraph, you could include a transition statement that sets up the next point.

Conclusion

The conclusion is a summary of your essay. If a person were to read only the conclusion, they should get a clear picture of what your essay is about.

Start by rephrasing your thesis statement. Then, reiterate your main points and connect them to your thesis statement. Conclude with final thoughts. Why is your main argument important? Or why is the topic you were covering important?

A Step-By-Step Guide on Writing an Excellent Analytical Essay

At this point, you know what an analytical essay is, what you should include, and the structure. This section covers the writing process – from start to finish.

Step 1: Choose a Topic

In most cases, your teacher will assign the topic. However, you might still need to narrow down the topic. What exactly will you write about?

Your choice of topic determines how easy it will be researching your points of analysis. Pick a hard topic, and you will spend even days just coming up with a few decent points.

Choose a few analytical essay topic ideas and determine how easy it is to find evidence on these topics. However, avoid broad topics, or you will end up with too much content to fit in one essay.

Narrower topics allow you to write a concise and convincing essay. They also make picking points less of a struggle.

When writing an analysis for a piece of literature, the best approach is to analyze the theme. Then ask yourself how the author used literary devices to support his argument.

Step 2: Come Up With a Thesis Statement

What do you think about your topic? What claim will you make in your essay?

After deciding on a topic, now it’s time to come up with a claim. This step involves brainstorming. Approach your topic from as many angles as possible so you can come up with a good thesis statement.

Let’s say you are analyzing a book. Pay attention to repeated ideas, phrases, and metaphors. If something repeatedly appears through the text, it is crucial.

Consider literary devices such as imagery. How does the author use imagery to present the main idea?

A good thesis statement is arguable. It is not a mere statement of fact that no one can rationally contest.

Step 3: Look for Supporting Points

Look for points that support your thesis statement. List as many ideas as possible.

Then research these ideas and pick three strong points that relate to your thesis statement. Ensure that you can back these three points with sufficient evidence.

Step 4: Find Supporting Evidence

Find evidence that supports your three main points. If you are analyzing a work of art, find pick excerpts from the text.

If you are analyzing something else, research relevant sources, experiments, surveys, and statistics.

Step 5: Create an Outline

An analytical essay outline makes the writing process easier. An outline is a rough draft of the final essay.

Jot down short notes on what you will write under each section of the essay structure. It helps you get a clearer idea of how you will express your points.

With an outline, you will not get stuck or lose track when writing the essay.

Step 6: Write the First Draft

Start with the introduction. Remember to make it engaging by starting with a hook.

Then go to the body paragraphs and expound on the points you identified. Write the topic sentence, provide evidence, then explain.

When quoting, use the correct in-citation format depending on the academic style (MLA or APA), you are using. However, do not overquote. Use one quote per paragraph. If you have to provide additional evidence from the source, paraphrase.

In the conclusion paragraph, remind the reader of the thesis statement. Then show how you supported your claim.

If possible, show how your claim connects to the real world. However, do not introduce a new argument or idea in your conclusion.

Step 7: Proofread Your Essay

Now go through your essay and correct grammar and spelling mistakes. Pay close attention to character names, locations, and titles. Confirm spellings from your sources. In the case of film analysis, look up the correct spellings online.

Also, remove run-on and awkward sentences. The paramount strategy is to identify them is to read the essay aloud.

We are often oblivious to our own mistakes. So, consider having someone else proofread your work before you submit.

Summary on Analytical Essay Writing

An analytical essay analyzes a topic or a work of art.

You should come up with an argument, then support that argument using research or quotes from the text.

The process of writing such an essay involves the following steps:

  1. Choosing a topic
  2. Coming up with a thesis statement
  3. Researching or brainstorming main points to support your thesis
  4. Finding evidence to help your points
  5. Creating an outline
  6. Drafting the essay
  7. Proofreading

With the guidelines outlined above, you can now stop staring at that blank word document. You now know how to write a good analytical essay.

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