The 4 Box Approach


If the Organising Principle method does not work for you then here is an alternative approach to essay writing that you might try


The Process



  • Who is speaking to us? Out of what circumstances? What do they want to communicate to us?
  • Does this describe a scene / experience / state of mind?
  • Where and when is this set?
  • How does the first sentence frame the passage? Does it suggest what might have gone before? How does it set up the mood for the rest of the passage?


Key Ideas

  • What key things are we meant to notice?
  • Are these concrete and specific things about characters/ the world or is there some abstract stuff about themes in there too?
  • What themes are there and how does the writer draw our attention to them?
  • What gives the passage its central tension?
  • What emotions underpin the writing?



  • Look at the lines across the page. How does the piece unfold? Is it chronological? Is there a gentle progression or sudden shift?
  • Is it in Ďreal timeí or not
  • What ground does the passage cover between first and last lines?
  • Are there any natural breaks? Focus points?
  • Rhythm? Rhyme? Patterns?
  • What kinds of things are contrasted in the text and to what effect? This is often a good point to start your analysis from


Nuts and Bolts

  • Devices/ methods/ techniques/ specifics
  • Imagery
  • Diction (for emotion)
  • Adverbs (for tone)
  • Adjectives (for concrete detail)
  • Verbs (for energy)
  • Pronouns (for perspective)
  • Everything else!




How to turn this into an essay:

Intro: This will involve establishing the Context and basic story and summing up the Key Ideas


Body: This is an exploration of how writers use Movement and the other Nuts and Bolts to achieve effects


Conclusion: This should sum up your overall point but also reflect upon where this passage leaves us