Anatomy of an Analytical Paragraph

Before junior year, you've used a format that looks like this:

  • Topic Sentence
    • Detail/Example A:
      • Excerpts
    • Detail/Example B:
      • Excerpts
    • Detail/Example C:
      • Excerpts

In our writing this year, we're going to:

  1. Add a layer called analysis
  2. Emphasize content and ideas over format
  3. Be aware and deliberate with use of ideas versus facts in a paragraph
  4. Focus on the voice, the MEAT of an analytical paragraph
  5. Work with the idea that structure is a tool used to construct and communicate ideas; it can manipulated, molded and revised to suit the needs of the piece
  6. Create transitions at the end of paragraphs
  7. Assume that your reader has read the text in question

Your outline might look like this:

Subtopic/Paragraph Purpose:
  • Topic Sentence/Assertion:
    • Evidence:
      • Analysis/Commentary:
    • Evidence:
      • Analysis/Commentary:
    • Evidence:
      • Analysis/Commentary

Final Considerations

  1. Remember that you can and should use a varied number of evidences per paragraph—three might be the max
  2. Ratio of factual sentences to interpretive sentences—you should have many more interpretive sentences in a paragraph than factual ones
  3. Structure is organic; it is a tool belonging to a writer