Essay writing begins with having something to write about; if at all possible, try writing about an aspect of the story (in this case) that is of interest. Sometimes it may be the plot, or a particular character. It does not have to be about the entire story, unless that is the assignment. (Please note: the investment of time is a must; being organized will cut down on the amount of time you need to invest.)
In your introductory paragraph, state the focus of your paper. This is the thesis statement. The link above provides specifics on how to write a good intro./thesis statement. Avoid, "I am writing this paper because..."
One of the links I have provided contains information for writing a five-paragraph essay. The only difference between a five-paragraph essay and a five-page paper is that you develop your ideas in more depth, providing multiple paragraphs on one subtopic rather than just one.
The general format of an essay requires an introductory paragraph (including a thesis statement) to identify the focus of your paper. As you write, refer back to this paragraph—stay focused on the topic you identify here.
The second section is the body of the essay. This contains the general ideas you are putting forth, WITH SPECIFIC DETAILS to support each general statement. There will be multiple paragraphs in this section.
For ex., when writing about the causes of the Civil Rights Movement, dedicate a paragraph to rights refused to blacks by the white community and law makers. One paragraph might speak of segregation of restrooms, water fountains, the bus, etc. In support of this paragraph, discuss Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man.
Devote another paragraph to the blacks' inability to vote. In this section, discuss that even when a law said blacks could vote, whites made it more difficult by making black voters take "impossible" tests.
Dedicated another paragraph to segregation in schools. Include information on Brown v. the Board of Education, when a man was fighting for the right to send his young daughter to a local school for a good education.
This is a pretty broad topic. You already have several paragraphs that deal specifically with segregation. I did not even begin to speak about brutality, lynchings, murder, or burning of busses, etc. These topics would be placed in separate paragraphs.
The length of the paper depends on the subject and what you find to support the topic. Remember, your information is trying to inform and prove to the reader that your thesis statement is, in fact, correct.
When you arrive at the conclusion, DO NOT restate your thesis statement. You may refer to the general concept, but you also want to "pass judgment."
For example, with the Civil Rights Movement still in mind, a conclusion might state be something like this:
"Though the Declaration of Independence declared independence for all Americans, and while the Constitution provided guidelines to guarantee these rights, it was not until the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, that the nation moved forward with one voice to make sure all citizens, regardless of race or gender, were protected. This provided standards for US citizens follows so that all people could enjoy the freedom with which America has been associated for so many years, throughout so many generations, and to people throughout the world. Finally, the realization of this dream was extended to all Americans."
Find paper formatting info. at this link.