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Like a compare and contrast essay, a contrast essay asks you to choose two or more items and ideas and write about them.  However, instead of highlighting similarities between the two things, a contrast essay will describe how they are different.  It is important to note that, in order to have an effective contrast essay, there must be some similarities or shared middle ground between the things being contrasted.  A contrast essay that focused on the differences between a roller skate and the planet Jupiter would contain a lot of contrast, but would be almost incoherent.  However, a contrast essay that focused on the differences in Earth and Jupiter would start from the point where they are similar (planets in the same solar system) and then highlight differences.