'How can we expect students to write an original analysis, when few of them have ever had the opportunity to do so? I wrote this book to help students with this difficult task, to give them a better understanding of how to discover, develop, and revise an analytical essay.
The first two chapters focus on the nature of an analysis and what’s involved in writing an analytical essay. First I show that analysis consists of a balance of assertions (statements which present their viewpoints or launch an exploration of their concerns), examples (specific passages, scenes, or events which inspire these views), explanations (statements that reveal how the examples support the assertions), and significance (statements which reveal the importance of their study to personal and/or cultural issues). After showing why each feature should be present throughout an essay, I reveal how to “set the stage” for producing one of their own. I first help students to evaluate their own views on a subject and to examine how these views emerge from their own experiences, values and judgments. I then show them how to research what others have said about the subject and provide suggestions for evaluating and incorporating this research into their own perspectives. Finally I discuss the nature of writing, not as a linear procedure, but as a recursive process in which the discovery and clarification of a concept occur simultaneously.
The remaining three chapters deal with more specific advice on how to develop an analytical essay. In Chapter 3 "Developing Assertions: From a Close Reading of Examples", I show how to carefully consider the features of a subject to develop a working thesis. In Chapter 4 "Explanations and Significance: Developing Your Analysis", I reveal how to justify and show the significance of this thesis in light of both purpose and audience. In both chapters, I point out that the thesis will evolve and become more complicated as they consider it further, and, may no longer demonstrate a singular perspective. In the fifth and final chapter, I discuss strategies for putting all of their observations together into effective, deliberate essays and provide an example of how I developed an article of my own. In each of these chapters, I provide students with examples, advice, and exercises that will help them to discover and develop their perspectives through a critical reading of both their subjects and their own drafts, thus demonstrating that we actually do “write to think.”'