Chapter 2: Evidence

Constructing Your Essay Blueprint

With your data and observational paragraph in front of you, read the original text again. This may seem like an exercise in redundancy, but re-reading with the seeds of your own interpretation in mind will help you to confirm or revise your reading of some passages and elements. Reading the text again may also help you find less obvious support that will strengthen and make your reading or analysis more complex. As you read, you should ask yourself, “What is the purpose of this text?  What is the central argument?  How does the author support the central argument?”

Draft your blueprint: Once you have extracted and compressed the essential material in the original text, it is time to begin structuring your blueprint. You do not necessarily need to present the author’s ideas in the order they originally appear. You may want to begin your blueprint by stating the author’s central thesis, even if it does not appear at the beginning of the original article. However, it is best to avoid a point-by-point analysis of the text as that will result inevitably in summary, which you most certainly want to avoid at this level.

You should  begin your analysis with an examination of what you believe to be the most important and revealing piece (or pieces) of evidence. Was there a moment in the text or a key repetition or consistent contrast that confirmed for you what this text was really about? Begin with that. Using that strong base, you can move to your second and third strongest pieces of evidence. Continue with all your evidence, building your analysis until you reach your final points which should examine the less-than-obvious supportive aspects of the text. A close reading doesn’t just rely on one or two obvious statement that prove you are “right.” Imagine that you are luring your reader into your understanding of the text: “Do you agree with my reading of the first piece of evidence? The second? The third? Well, then perhaps you would like to consider what I have to say about this part of the text that you may be surprised to find in this argument.”

Understand that not every essay you analyze will let you apply this formula, but the exercise of pushing your claim to consider all aspects of the text is always worthwhile.

In your blueprint, be sure to cite keywords and terms from the original text. Cite those words or phrases that you believe are pivotal to the author’s delivery of his or her main message and explain why. While quoting the author is expected at this level, you never want to let these passages stand alone without analysis. So include the analysis of the selected quotations in your blueprint. While you do not want to rush to your purposeful analysis and interpretation of the text while conducting the information-gathering exercise detailed in Chapter One, it is good to start your meaningful interaction with the text in these pre-drafting stages of organization.

Review and Revise Your Essay Blueprint: Remember that a blueprint is an outline for the essay you will eventually construct. Its purpose is to organize the information or evidence you’ve gathered from your annotated reading of the text and to begin structuring your analysis of the author’s purpose and argument. Don’t just rush into your essay after you’ve completed your blueprint. Reread the article then review your blueprint. Have you included everything you believe will lead to your most interesting and controversial reading of the text? As you revise your blueprint, ensure that you have:

  • captured the main argument presented in the original text
  • highlighted the article’s main points (including any key concepts or theories) and eliminated all extraneous or minor details
  • presented clearly your interpretation and interaction with the text. Is it obvious that you understand the text you are analyzing? Is your interpretation of the text presented clearly?