The comparison and contrast essay is a paper that takes two topics related on some kind of front and compares them – shows the similarities. Then the paper goes into a section on contrast – how are these two topics opposite to each other? What are the differences? You must bring something new and interesting about these topics so the reader doesn’t get bored and quit reading.
The key to getting started is good preparation. You will be writing about two events, two people, two places or two other things that are in the same category. You will be focusing on similarities and differences that will make the essay interesting. It’s essential to make a connection with the person reading your essay. Think about the relationship between the two topics you are writing about. What similarities or differences stand out the most to you? Which are the most subtle? Both of these may be interesting to explore.
There are basically two different ways to structure this type of essay. You could first explore one of the topics in detail and then present the second topic in detail. Following this, you would go into the comparisons and contrasts of the two topics. Some writers prefer this method because you can fully present one topic at a time without bouncing back and forth.
The alternate way to do it is to take just one point of the first topic and explain it, followed by the comparison or contrast of the same point in the second topic. Of course, because you only covered one point of each topic, you have to do it again with another point. Some people like it this way because they don’t have to remember everything about one topic when the switch is made to the second topic.
If it sounds kind of confusing, you’re not alone. This is one of the most difficult parts of writing the essay.
This explanation of organization helps to make the structure of the essay seem clearer. Basically, when you write the essay you can go subject by subject or point by point. For example, let’s say we’re comparing crows to blue jays.
Subject by subject style: In this style, we would say everything we wanted to say about crows first, followed by everything we wanted to say about blue jays. Following these paragraphs we would point out their similarities and differences we had already presented.
Point by point style: In this example, we would contrast wingspan of the two birds. Then we would move on to a different point and compare their egg-tending styles. Another point would be contrasting their coloring and general appearance. We would keep going point by point until every important point was covered.
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