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How to Write a Comparison Essay on Two Different Stories

by Kate Beck, studioD

When a professor asks you to compare two stories, this gives you the opportunity to experience the works in a new way. You can look closely at how a writer’s style conveys what is at stake in the story and the way each story connects with the reader. This close assessment will also help you discover what you appreciate in fiction. Knowing some of the components to evaluate in these stories will help you build your comparison essay.

Compare Plots

You can discuss the plot, what happens in each story. Even with many similarities, stories will vary in what actually takes place. For example, in one story the main character may take a trip and experience many setbacks before discovering her true desires, but in the other story the character may stay home and review his past to make himself stronger. Since someone reading your essay may not know the stories, starting the body of your essay with a discussion of these plot differences and similarities will also help ground the reader in each story, says Jeffrey Nealon and Susan Searls Giroux, authors of “The Theory Toolbox: Critical Concepts for the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.”

Examine Characters

Another option is to compare the main characters. Look at dialogue, interactions and the decisions they make. You can also evaluate how believable each character seems and whether or not you relate to him. Look at the other characters in the stories as well. Each character should seem believable and have a role in the story. You might choose to mention if a character doesn’t have a role in moving the story forward, such as evaluating if the story would remain the same if the character was there or not. Discussing these findings will help you compare how well characters work in each story, explains Janet Burroway in “Imaginative Writing.”

Consider Point of View

You can also compare the point of view the writers use to tell their stories. Whether the stories’ narration comes from a first person, second person, or third person point of view impacts the story, and this might provide an interesting comparison for the stories. For example, one story might have a first person narrator, making you feel close to the characters. In comparison, a third person story might create distance between you and the characters, making you feel less involved.

Evaluate Writing Styles

Take time to discuss the writers' style throughout the story, evaluating concepts such as level of difficulty and your own enjoyment in reading the story. Consider the writers’ skill and how well they pull their stories together. You may like one writer better than the other, and Janet Burroway suggests that you can discuss the reasons for this.


About the Author

Kate Beck started writing for online publications in 2005. She worked as a certified ophthalmic technician for 10 years before returning to school to earn a Masters of Fine Arts degree in writing. Beck is currently putting the finishing touches on a novel.

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