Writing a Comparative Essay


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A brief overview of how to write a comparative essay

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  • It is crucial that you understand the assignment before you begin brainstorming and writing. Be sure you can answer, “What is this prompt asking me to do?” completely. In addition to understanding the assignment, you also need to be checking your rubrics BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER you write your essay. It may ask you to include specific items, such as a Works Cited page or a particular number of pages or paragraphs.
  • The next step is to brainstorm. Do NOT begin writing until you have completed this step. Oftentimes, we begin writing because we’re anxious to finish the assignment and get it all down on paper. I promise you, however, that you will be much more successful if you organize your thoughts logically before you begin writing. There are several ways you can brainstorm effectively. I find that using a graphic organizer is the best tool to organizing ideas. Here are some examples. The Venn Diagram is a great visual tool where the common ideas can be written in the middle overlap, while contrasting thoughts are placed in the outside circles. The second picture is a concept map. The concept, or idea, is placed in the middle circle, and ideas and quotes related to it are written in the squares. Finally, the last picture is a list or a chart. This is a nice, simple, organized way to write down thoughts with headings. But the number one most IMPORTANT part of brainstorming is to write down specific quotations and PAGE NUMBERS to support your ideas. If you do not do this step now, you will be rushed for time later.
  • It is really important that while you’re coming up with ideas you remember to narrow your focus. Try to be as specific as possible. For example, in your upcoming assignment, you will be asked to select THREE of the most important aspects of the societies to compare. While there are many things that you could compare, try to find the three most significant.
  • Let’s talk about the introduction to a comparative essay. In any paper, you need to start off general. Maybe make a broad statement about the three texts and how they are related or why they should be compared. In the introduction, you also want to state the names and authors of each text. Your titles should be in italics. In this particular assignment, you will also be asked to include the GENRE (Science fiction). Finally, you will end your introduction with a strong, specific thesis statement. Your thesis statement should include the three points you will be discussing and the insights they bring to readers. Here’s an example of a good thesis statement comparing three Dr. Seuss books.
  • There are several ways you can write the body of your comparative essay. Here are the two most common ways. First, is the point-by-point method. Each paragraph discusses ONE aspect, but covers each of the three texts. You would have a total of three body paragraphs. In the whole-by-whole method, you would write about all three aspects for each separate text. Again, you would have three body paragraphs, but all of the aspects would be covered in each one. This is the most difficult method because you have to use strict parallel structure. How you phrase the concept in the first paragraph is how you need to phrase it in the other paragraphs. I highly recommend the point-by-point method. Also, don’t forget: do not summarize or retell the story of each book in your paper. Assume that the reader of your paper has some background knowledge of each text.
  • Finally, you end with a strong conclusions. Conclusions are very difficult to write. We have been taught to just restate what we’ve already said, but this is juvenile. Summarize your paper briefly without repeating yourself. Then end with a “so what” statement. This gives your readers a reason why it is important to understand your paper.
  • After you finish your conclusion, you are NOT finished! You must go back and revise. We are all guilty of being lazy with this step. However, be sure to go back through and check for mechanics, grammar, and spelling. Most importantly, however, check to make sure every point you make reflects back to your thesis statement. Then you can have a fellow peer check over your paper for any errors you missed.
  • Writing a Comparative Essay

    1. 1. Writing a ComparativeEssayEnglish 11: Periods 4,5,7,9
    2. 2. Understanding the PromptRead the assignment thoroughlyBe sure you can answer, “What is this promptasking me to do?” completely.Look at the rubric before, during, and after youwrite your essay
    3. 3. BrainstormingDo not begin writing until you have completed thisstep!Venn Diagram, Concept Map/Web, List, etc.Most IMPORTANT part of brainstorming is…
    4. 4. Find a FocusSelect the THREE most important comparisonsbetween the textsWhile you may find several others, do not includethem in your essay
    5. 5. Introduction Start general State texts and authors and genre Finish with a strong, specific thesis statement Your three points should be includedEXAMPLE: Though Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, and Oh, ThePlaces You’ll Go are three different stories, they each use rhyme,rhythm, and made-up words to add excitement and emphasis,establishing Dr. Seuss’ unique style.
    6. 6. Body Paragraphs Point-by-Point Whole-by-WholeChoose one point or Write about all threeaspect per paragraph points for each text inand write about all their own separatethree texts paragraphRepeat for three total This is the most difficultbody paragraphs method Make sure you use parallel structure
    7. 7. ConclusionDo not restate your thesis statementSummarize briefly (without repeating)End with a “so what” statement
    8. 8. RevisionCheck that each point reflects your thesisstatementPeer editing Check for repetition, unnecessary points, summary and eliminate; identify grammatical and mechanical errors