Writing an Essay Outline: A map to guide you through your arguments
Writing an outline is an essential part of the planning stage of essay writing. A good
outline will help you produce a good essay. This outline may need to go through several
drafts and revisions (even as you are writing the essay) before it is perfected. You need to
reflect on the best way to start and the best way to order your presentation (the number of
‘parts’ and paragraphs within each part, depends on the nature of the questions you ask).
An outline will also help you stay focused when you get stuck. I have provided a general
outline of what this can look like below and you can modify. Your outline should be
constructed in point-form, following this structure (modified where appropriate).
I. Introduction: What question will your essay address?
a. What is the central question that you think the author(s) aim to address?
b. What position does the author(s) take on this question? What position will
you be taking? Examine BOTH sides (e.g. ideology/counter-ideology)
c. What course readings and key concept will you use to help you analyze
the film? Why do you think this concept can help you get at a deeper level
of meaning within the arguments? [Note: you will use more than one
concept, but choose one to focus on]
d. How will your essay be organized? What parts of the readings will you
need to focus on?
II. Part I: Preparing your conceptual tools