The key to writing an informative and interesting analytical essay is finding a topic which engages you, the writer. Luckily, the very nature of an analytical essay gives you a practically endless variety of subjects to choose from, including the fields of politics, literature, art, science, and history. While you can conduct your initial topic research over the internet, when you finally get ready to write your paper, nothing will replace the quality and veracity of first-hand texts available at your university or local library.
One of the most popular devices in writing is the use of the compare/contrast method. In choosing an analytical essay topic, this method can be applied very generally when attempting to narrow down your choices. Take any issue - for example, a political campaign to change the size of a voting district - and try to come up with arguments for and against. You will discover that as you attempt to formulate cogent points for both sides of the argument, your natural analytical process will be engaged. What points make the most sense to you? Have you surprised yourself by actually making better arguments for an issue which you did not initially support? Continue to do this in the field in which you are interested in until you find a topic that fascinates you, both with the arguments for and against it. The lively debate that you experience in this stage will translate well into the written form, and make for an engaging paper.
Another excellent way to find a complex and thoughtful analytical essay topic is to choose to write about a conflicted individual in your relevant topical field. Analyzing the actions of a complex person, whether this person is fictional, as in a character from literature, or based in reality, can be a fascinating topic, allowing you not only to analyze and explicate the actions of the individual, but to explore their actions in a larger historical context.
Although it has been said that there is nothing new under the sun, when choosing your analytical essay topic, it doesn't hurt to draw on recent news stories and contemporary happenings in your city or town to find a topic. This gives you the advantage of penning a fresh paper on an issue that is still relatively unexplored. The only disadvantage to choosing a contemporary topic is that the research itself will be harder to acquire. However, analyzing relatively recent phenomena, such as, for example, the social networking site Facebook, offer you an ability to talk about a relatively new topic while incorporating older research on anthropology and the basic underpinnings of human social groupings.
Whatever method you use to choose your analytical research topic, be sure that you do not let ambition carry you away. Essays with an overly broad reach and shallow information do not impress your professors. Pick a topic, then refine your paper's focus so that your question can be analyzed thoroughly in the given amount of space you have to write about it. An essay, after all, is not a dissertation. Often, the hardest work of any analytical essay is not the choosing of the topic or the writing of the paper, but the refinement of the central thesis itself! Take your time in posing this question; the more complete your answer, the better your grade.