Pre-Writing Stages for a Compare and Contrast Paper.A guide


Writing a compare and contrast paper can be a rewarding exercise that allows you to look deeply into the similarities and differences between two subjects. Whether you’re comparing historical events, literary works, scientific theories, or anything else, a well-structured compare and contrast paper can provide valuable insights and perspectives. However, before you start drafting your paper, it’s essential to go through several pre-writing stages to ensure a coherent and effective final product. In this guide, we’ll explore the pre-writing stages for a compare and contrast paper in detail, offering strategies and tips to help you organize your thoughts and craft a compelling analysis.

Understanding the Assignment for a Compare and Contrast Paper

Before you begin the pre-writing process, it’s crucial to thoroughly understand the assignment requirements. Pay close attention to the instructions provided by your instructor, focusing on key details such as the subjects to be compared, the scope of the analysis, and any specific guidelines for formatting and citation. Clarify any uncertainties with your instructor to ensure that you’re approaching the assignment correctly.

Selecting Subjects for Comparison for a Compare and Contrast Paper

The first step in pre-writing for a compare and contrast paper is selecting the subjects you’ll be comparing. Depending on your assignment prompt or personal interests, you may compare two historical figures, literary works, scientific theories, artworks, or any other relevant subjects. When choosing your subjects, consider the following factors:


Ensure that the subjects you select are suitable for comparison and share enough similarities and differences to facilitate a meaningful analysis.


Choose subjects that genuinely interest you, as your enthusiasm for the topic will enhance the quality of your writing and engagement with the material.


Opt for subjects for which you can access sufficient information and resources to support your analysis. Conduct preliminary research to gauge the availability of credible sources.

Brainstorming Similarities and Differences

Once you’ve selected your subjects, engage in brainstorming to identify their similarities and differences. This stage is crucial for generating ideas and establishing the foundation of your compare and contrast paper. Here are some strategies to guide your brainstorming process:

Venn Diagram:

Create a Venn diagram to visualize the overlapping and distinct characteristics of your subjects. List similarities in the intersecting area and differences in the separate circles.

List Method:

Make two lists—one for similarities and one for differences—detailing specific aspects or traits of each subject. This method allows for a systematic comparison of individual features.


Set a timer and write continuously for a few minutes, jotting down any thoughts, observations, or insights about your subjects. Don’t worry about grammar or coherence; the goal is to generate ideas freely.

Comparison Matrix:

Develop a comparison matrix with rows and columns representing different aspects or criteria for comparison. Fill in the matrix by analyzing how each subject aligns with each criterion.

Establishing a Thesis Statement for a Compare and Contrast Paper

With a clearer understanding of your subjects and their similarities and differences, formulate a concise and arguable thesis statement that encapsulates the main argument of your compare and contrast paper. Your thesis should provide insight into the significance of comparing the chosen subjects and offer a roadmap for your analysis. Consider the following guidelines when crafting your thesis statement:


Make sure your thesis addresses the specific aspects or themes you’ll be comparing and contrasting. Avoid vague or broad statements that lack focus.

Argumentative Edge:

Take a stance on the significance or implications of the comparison. Your thesis should go beyond basically stating the obvious similarities and differences, offering a compelling argument or interpretation.

Preview of Main Points:

Provide a brief preview of the main points or criteria you’ll use to evaluate the subjects. This preview helps orient readers and sets expectations for the ensuing analysis.

Developing an Organizational Structure

Before diving into the writing process, outline the structure of your compare and contrast paper to ensure logical coherence and clarity. There are several organizational frameworks you can use, depending on the nature of your subjects and the complexity of your analysis. Some common approaches include:

Subject-by-Subject (or Block) Method:

In this approach, you discuss all aspects of one subject before moving on to the next. Each paragraph or section focuses on a specific point of comparison or contrast.

Point-by-Point Method:

With this method, you alternate between discussing points of similarity and difference for each subject. This approach allows for a more integrated analysis but requires careful transitions between points.

Combination Method:

You can also combine elements of the subject-by-subject and point-by-point methods to suit your analysis. For example, you might dedicate separate sections to overarching similarities and differences while employing a point-by-point structure within each section.

Gathering Supporting Evidence and Examples

As you prepare to write your compare and contrast paper, gather relevant evidence, examples, and quotations to support your analysis. Depending on your subjects, this evidence may include textual passages, historical data, statistical information, expert opinions, or other forms of documentation. Be sure to evaluate the credibility and reliability of your sources, prioritizing scholarly sources and peer-reviewed research when available. Keep detailed notes and citations to facilitate the integration of evidence into your paper later on.

Creating a Rough Draft

With your pre-writing stages complete, it’s time to draft your compare and contrast paper. Begin by writing an introduction that provides context for your analysis, introduces your thesis statement, and outlines the organizational structure of your paper. Then, develop the body paragraphs according to your chosen organizational framework, incorporating evidence and analysis to support your comparisons and contrasts. Finally, craft a conclusion that synthesizes your findings, reinforces the significance of your analysis, and may suggest avenues for further research or reflection.

Revising and Editing



Once you’ve written a rough draft of your compare and contrast paper, set it aside for a brief period before revising and editing. During the revision process, focus on refining your argument, strengthening your analysis, and improving the clarity and coherence of your writing. Pay attention to the organization and flow of your paper, ensuring smooth transitions between paragraphs and sections. Additionally, edit for grammar, punctuation, style, and formatting errors, adhering to the conventions of academic writing and citation as specified by your instructor or style guide.

Seeking Feedback

Before submitting your final draft, seek feedback from peers, mentors, or writing tutors to gain fresh perspectives on your compare and contrast paper. Share your work with others and solicit constructive criticism regarding the clarity of your argument, the effectiveness of your analysis, and the overall quality of your writing. Consider incorporating feedback into your revisions to strengthen your paper further and address any remaining weaknesses or areas for improvement.


In summary, pre-writing for a compare and contrast paper involves several essential stages, including understanding the assignment, selecting subjects for comparison, brainstorming similarities and differences, establishing a thesis statement, developing an organizational structure, gathering supporting evidence, creating a rough draft, revising and editing, and seeking feedback. By engaging in these pre-writing activities thoughtfully and systematically, you can lay the groundwork for a well-structured, insightful, and compelling compare and contrast paper that effectively explores the connections and distinctions between your chosen subjects. With careful planning and attention to detail, you can craft a piece of writing that not only fulfills the requirements of your assignment but also contributes meaningfully to the scholarly conversation surrounding your topic.

Rebecca J.
Rebecca J.
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