How to Write a Comparative Essay: Comparing Books and Movies

by Rhianna Urquhart, UK North Blogger jaBlog!


Comparing Books and Movies - jaBlog!As part of the English curriculum in the country I live in (Scotland), we have to compare a text to something and write an essay about it to pass part of the course. You can compare a text to another text, a text and a graphic novel, or a text and a TV show. The most popular choice by far is to compare a book and the movie of that book.

This can be a hard thing to do. Novels and movies are long; there’s lots going on in them, and there are a lot of details. Especially if you’re doing this for the first time, you can feel a bit like you’re in at the deep end.

Don’t worry. Chances are your essay will be fine. However, I’ve written out the top five things to keep in mind when writing a comparative essay on a book and movie.

Pick a Story You Enjoy

Find a book you like reading that’s been turned into a movie or a movie you like watching that’s based on a book. Don’t pick something obscure because you want to look really smart or really unique. Making your essay smart and unique happens when you pick your focus. If you don’t like the book or movie, the essay is going to be harder to write in the first place.

Pick Something to Focus On

Comparing the entire book to the entire movie line by line would take you a hundred years to complete. Find something within your book that you can focus on. For example, you could pick the relationship between Harry and Ginny in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to their relationship in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One. Their relationship in the book was totally different to what was portrayed on screen.

You could compare Rue from The Hunger Games book to Rue in the movie and look at how adding her into scenes where she wasn’t mentioned in the book and taking whole chunks of things she did in the book out of the movie affected her perception. Or maybe you could look at a book character who got cut out of the movie altogether such as Uriah from Divergent. How did this affect the plot line of the movie? Your focus will make your essay smart and unique because it won’t be the same as the focus of your classmates.

Take Notes

Notes are your friend when writing a comparative essay. You’re not going to be able to skip through the film in class. Watch it. Take notes related to your focus. You want to avoid having to search the book page by page looking for an important detail that came up somewhere. Find relevant quotes and jot down who said them. Write all your notes out in the order that they happened. It’ll be easier that way.

Pick Your Points

So you’ve picked your focus and taken your notes. Now it’s time to pick your points. You don’t want to list every awkward movie moment between Harry and Ginny; you don’t want to write about every single second that Rue appeared in the book and not in the movie; and you don’t want to deal with every single conversation Uriah never had in the movie. Some of them are probably small and unnecessary for a movie, anyway. Find four or five strong points to compare, and your essay will be a good one.

Find Your Favourite

In your conclusion, you need to pick the form you liked better, the book or the movie, and say why. Keep it related to your focus. You could say you liked The Hunger Games book better, and then say that the book gave you more time to understand Rue as a character. Which one you liked better is completely up to you, and there’s no right answer.

Don’t dig too deep. You can really enjoy writing an essay like this and make it good.



One comment on “How to Write a Comparative Essay: Comparing Books and Movies

  1. We don’t have to do essays like this in the English English exam, but it looks like something fun to do! Thanks for the tips. :)

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