Writing an Explicatory Essay Is Not a Problem Anymore!

An explicatory essay is a common assignment in many educational institutions as it enables students to foster their analytical skills. It is one of the favorite tasks of many tutors as it shows the students’ ability to evaluate and interpret various literary texts.

The main goal of an explicatory essay is to enable a student to summarize the particular work and explain the main concepts discussed in it. When working on such a paper, a student is supposed to analyze the original text using his/her own words. This assignment does not only allow them to boost their critical thinking abilities but also showcase their understanding of the concepts being explained. One may be asked to write an explicatory essay on a novel, poem, play, lyrics, and other literary work.

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What Is an Explicatory Essay?

According to a traditional explicatory definition, this essay is a piece of writing that requires explaining and interpreting a specific piece of writing such as a book, a play, a poem, etc. This essay provides a clear interpretation and analysis of the literary work by examining the author’s style, including specific words or sentences, as well as interpreting the messages conveyed by the author. In other words, it requires unfolding the text and showing the words or sentences used by the author to uncover their ideas and messages.

Typically, an explicatory essay is no longer than 1000 words. Being rather short, this task often frightens students as they fail to understand its characteristic features. In fact, it is pretty difficult to write an in-depth analysis in just three pages, especially if the work being analyzed is pretty lengthy. At the same time, the short length of such an essay allows teachers to grade them strictly. Professors are able to pay close attention to all the logical inconsistencies. A student, who wants to get a good grade for such an essay, should be very careful taking care of all the important aspects of this task.

An explicatory essay can be described as a thorough analysis of a literary work in order to find out its value. For example, one needs to pick up a certain dialogue or theme and explain how it is connected to the larger elements of the overall story. Alternatively, one can use a different approach starting from providing a general assessment of the plot and at the same time paying close attention to exposition.

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How to Write a Perfect Explicatory Essay?

To explicate means to unfold the meaning of the text moving from one paragraph to another. If you are analyzing a poem, you need to move from one line to another or even read between the lines to provide your reader with an in-depth analysis. If you are a student, you may be asked to explicate a book, a short story, a poem, or any other literary work. Due to a small word count allowed, you should make your essay concise and focused. To cope with the assignment, you should focus on the central theme, climax, and major turning points in the assigned text. In most cases, you will be able to do it through close reading

The first thing in writing a good-looking explicatory essay is choosing a paragraph for analysis. Next, you need to identify the main scenes, key themes, crucial dialogues, and other important points of the work. The other step is to interpret the text in a line-by-line manner. Pay attention that you should not only analyze smaller elements but also show their relations with the larger elements of the work. If you check a decent explicatory essay example, you will see that its author prefers to quote the major passages identifying the page numbers in parenthesis.

As it was already mentioned, one can choose another strategy for explicating the text. One may start with a general evaluation of the entire story plot paying close attention to exposition. If you want to choose this approach, you need to analyze denouement, climax, and resolution next. The main aim in this case is to show the crafting of the plot in general, explaining how separate excerpts reinforce the main theme of the story.

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Common Structure of an Explicatory Essay

As well as any other piece of academic writing, an explicatory essay consists of three major parts. It includes an introduction, the main body, and a conclusion. Now, let us discuss these parts in detail:


An introduction is a very important part of the essay as it is the first thing seen by the reader. By this part, you need to engage your audience and make them want to read the whole piece. You can begin your essay with a rhetorical question, a thought-provoking quote, or a statement that will help your reader understand what is your paper about. Also, an introductory part should include a thesis statement at the end of the paragraph;


This is the part in which you let the reader know your personal opinion about the piece. Usually, this part includes three paragraphs in which one should explore specific points. Each of the paragraphs should begin with a clear topic sentence and you need to link them with the help of appropriate transition words. To make your writing academic, you will need to use active verbs, different sentence structures, in-text citations, etc.


The main goal of the concluding paragraph is to summarize your main points adding value to your work. This part should not include new arguments and evidence as it should just wrap up your analysis.


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Common Tips for Writing a Good Explicatory Essay

Below, you will find some efficient tips that will help you create an A+ essay:

  • Don’t underestimate the importance of an outline. Although many students prefer to skip this stage, you should know that it will make your essay structured properly. Having a good outline, you will develop your arguments smoothly without experiencing writer’s block;
  • Study well-written samples. Sometimes, it is better to have a look at a good sample instead of reading multiple guidelines. You can ask your professor to provide you with some examples of explicatory essays or you may find them online and learn more about the content, structure, and format required in explicatory essay writing. At the same time, you should understand that only original work will bring you the anticipated outcome;
  • Find a good balance between your own insights and paraphrasing the ideas of other researchers. Of course, you will use various academic sources when working on your essay. Yet, when providing solid evidence for your arguments, you should cite them to avoid plagiarism;
  • Rely on facts. When it comes to writing an explicatory essay, you should not rely on assumptions. Instead, you should provide clear arguments and back them up with appropriate textual evidence;
  • Make sure your arguments are clear. If you want your audience to understand your claims, you should understand them as well. If your writing contains some complex concepts, you need to explain them to ensure an easy understanding of your ideas;
  • Try not to use too many quotes. Although including appropriate citations will add value to your work, too many quotes will have a reverse effect. When reading your essay, your audience wants to see your own analysis of the literary work combined with credible research findings;
  • Include a reference list. All sources you have used during the writing process should appear on your reference list. The way you write your bibliography will depend on the formatting style requested by your tutor. The failure to include cited sources in your reference list will result in plagiarism, which will compromise the final outcome of your work;
  • When your essay is ready, make sure to review it. Even if your writing skills are pretty good, you need to read your essay making sure the text corresponds with the instructions provided. Also, you need to check if the text of your paper is free from plagiarism and grammatical mistakes. Editing is the final stage of the writing process but it is as important as writing. If you want to get a good grade for your work, you need to spend enough time reviewing your paper.

By following our step-by-step guide, you will organize the writing process properly. What is more, you will enjoy this process.

Explication Essay Example


Writing an explicatory essay is not as difficult as it may seem. By following our suggestions, you will be able to create a decent academic essay that will bring you the desired outcome.

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