Essay writing is an opportunity to explore the many dimensions of any subject and voice your own opinions about it. Like any piece of writing, to compose an essay, you need to go through a process, which helps you form an opinion about the chosen topic. Here I talk about the process that you need to go through, to write an insightful essay that is bound to make your course instructor sit up and take notice!
What is a Compare and Contrast Essay?
This type of an essay is about juxtaposing two ideas, concepts or entities in front of each other to point out the similarities and differences between them. The two entities might be almost anything under the sun, ranging from two ideologies, choices, places, points of view, books, characters from them, writing styles to just about anything you can think of. In life, you are always going to be at cross roads, where you will have to make a choice between two or more alternatives.
At that time, you will have to 'Compare and Contrast' your choices anyway. So learning to write a compare and contrast essay is a good way of training your mind in the thought process of weighing the pros and cons between various choices, to make up your mind. It is a skill which will stand you in good stead later.
Tips For Writing an Effective Essay
Writing a compare and contrast essay is a great exercise for your mind in critical thinking. It is a journey of analysis that you embark upon to reach a conclusive opinion about things. Here are some guidelines.
Choose a Topic Close to Your Heart
If you have the liberty of selecting a topic, then choose one that is close to your heart. Choosing a topic you are interested in, is half the battle won as you don't need to be motivated to put it in the hard work that writing requires. If you are not given a choice, I am sure that you can make the topic interesting enough to analyze, by thinking differently.
Define Purpose of the Comparison
Your comparison between the two chosen entities of the topic needs to have a purpose. Even before you begin researching, you need to know what it is that you are going to attempt unraveling through the essay. That will provide a direction to your research and writing.
Thorough Research is the Key
Any piece of writing needs two key ingredients, which are experience or research to fill up the lack of it. Even if you already know a lot about the topic, research can reveal a lot more, that you never thought about. Read and note down as much as you can about the two entities you plan to compare through the essay. By knowing the true nature of things, you are in a better position to compare and see the contrast between them.
Brainstorm & Make a List of Similarities and Differences
After you have adequate information about both, you can begin to scrutinize the similarities and differences between the two. Make a list of the similar points which you perceive. Note them down, one after the other. Consequently, you can identify things which are strikingly different. The things that are not similar are automatically different anyway! Depending on the topic, you can unravel the similarities and differences at various levels, which could be factual and philosophical.
Reach a Consensus
You need to analyze the similarities and differences, until you can reach a consensus about the objective that you began writing the essay with. Don't stop brainstorming until you can reach a conclusion. Write down your thought process, make a mind map of the various connected aspects of the essay if you wish, to clarify things. Only after you reach a conclusion after research, can actual writing begin.
Decide on Your Essay's Architecture
Once you are clear about what you want to say through the essay and what you intend to prove, you can begin structuring the essay. After introducing the reader to the motivation behind the comparison, you can alternatively point out the similarities and differences between the two compared entities, before moving towards the conclusion.
Begin Writing By Expanding Each Point
Set out clear points of comparison that emerge from your research and begin expanding each point at length using your research material. Craft a solid argument which is backed by evidence, spread out point wise and leads deftly towards the conclusion.
Keep Rereading and Making Improvements
There is nothing like the perfect essay and there is always room for improvement. Write and read what you wrote. Read the whole thing again after you are done with as unbiased an eye as possible and decide whether you have been convincing enough. Keep improving till you think, you couldn't have done it even better!
Let your own original thought and analysis shine out through the essay. Try to see beyond the obvious and think out of the box, when analyzing the similar and contrasting threads related to a topic. If you enjoy the writing process, the end product is always going to be insightful. All the best!