Essay on “The Innocent Man” by Pamela Colloff

This essay is for my ENC1102 – Writing about Texts class. These are the instructions given by the instructor. Our textbook is “The Best American Magazine Writing 2013” and I have “The Innocent Man” by Pamela Colloff for my essay.


First, identify the nonfiction element—for example, characterization—that is most important in the selection. Next, explain why that element is important and whether the element had a positive or negative impact on the narrative and thus the reader. Use the following information to help structure the essay.


In the first paragraph, identify the essay’s title and author. The opening paragraph must provide a broad, but accurate, synopsis of the selected essay as well as a clearly defined thesis statement. In the critical analysis essay thesis statement, identify the one or two nonfiction elements to discuss in the body paragraphs. Also, the thesis statement should clarify how the nonfiction elements impact the narrative.

Body Paragraphs

If writing about one nonfiction element, each body paragraph should provide an in-depth analysis of closely related examples of that element. If writing about two nonfiction elements, make sure to present a balanced exploration of both (e.g., two paragraphs of approximately the same length for each element). As supporting evidence, provide appropriate and sufficient direct quotations, paraphrases, and/or summaries, properly cited. Each paragraph should also include a combination of summary and analysis. Finally, if there is mention of a secondary character or related plot point that is not listed in the opening-paragraph synopsis, briefly explain this character or plot point.

Remember that when writing about literature, refer to actions and events that take place in the present tense. For example, instead of writing “The main character wanted to go to Bolivia,” write “The main character wants to go to Bolivia.”


The closing paragraph should restate the main idea discussed in the essay but should not repeat the language in the introduction or body paragraphs verbatim. The conclusion is the final opportunity to make a lasting impression on the reader. Think about excellent books or movies that have memorable endings. What characteristics make those endings memorable? Do the final words or images leave a question in audience’s mind? Do they prompt one to action? A strong conclusion resonates with the reader, casting a net beyond the confines of the text to make a statement or observation about the larger world.

Format Requirements

  • Write 500–600 words, five paragraph minimum
  • Follow standard MLA style format requirements

Refer to the Write and MLA Style sections in The Little Seagull Handbook for guidance in writing and formatting your essay. A planning worksheet is included to use in developing the essay.

The upload section isnt working so here is the planning worksheet she had us fill out. You can change it up if it doesn’t help or is incorrect.

Planning Worksheet: Critical Analysis Essay


Before starting the critical analysis essay, complete the planning worksheet and submit it to the instructor according to the instructor guidelines.

  1. Your introduction should include both the title and author’s name (first and last name, e.g., Michael Wolff) of the essay you will analyze. Write or type this information.

The Innocent Man by Pamela Colloff

  1. List the one or two nonfiction elements you will discuss in your essay.

Biographical sketch

  1. Write or type your working thesis statement.

In “The Innocent Man” Pamela tells the story of Michael Morton, a man wrongfully convicted for the murder of his wife. Throughout she tells of the journey he endured to prove his innocence to a corrupt justice system.

  1. If you chose two nonfiction forms, list the order in which you intend to discuss them.

I only chose biographical sketch.

  1. List at least three examples from the essay that you will use in your essay.

“He had no criminal record, no history of violence, and no obvious motive, but the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, failing to pursue other leads, had zeroed in on him from the start.  Although no physical evidence tied him to the crime, he was charged with first-degree murder.”

“The stack of old documents contained critical clues that might have helped identify Christine’s killer had they ever been followed up on. Michael learned from a 1986 sheriff’s deputy’s report that several of his neighbors had seen a green van parked by the vacant, wooded lot behind his home around the time of the murder and had observed its driver walking into the overgrown area that extended up to his privacy fence.”

“We do not have a perfect system of justice, but we have the best system of justice in the world,” the judge observed before agreeing to the terms of his release. For several minutes, everyone stood and applauded as Michael smiled broadly, his face electrified by the joy of the moment. “I thank God this wasn’t a capital case,” he told the crowd of reporters and TV cameramen.”

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