A Critical Essay Writing Guide
- Purposes of critical writing
- Preparation stage
- How to start a critical paper
- How to make body
- How to conclude a critical paper
- Post writing activity
Most people believe that the critics are the extremely negative response to something. But it is not. It is the analysis of the actions, texts, films, anything that can be analyzed.
Purpose of the critical essay
Anyone who asks him(her)self how to write the critical essay, is looking for the primary purpose. Here it is your interpretation of the fragment or the whole artwork. This essay concludes with your thoughts in an organized way, and deeper discuss the topic. That does not mean that you provide the subjective view on the author’s piece of art. The main aim is to create the objective opinion, a complete analysis by researching various sources.
- Usually, for this type of essay the professor provides you with a specific topic. That’s why the first thing you should do is to read it and answer yourself: “Am I familiar with the topic?”. If your answer is yes, then you are ready for the next step. If it is “No,” then read again and highlight what exactly you do not understand. There can be the name of the film or the book, which you don’t know or the task is unclear for you at all. To make it clear, ask your professor for the more detailed explanation on what you need to write. Do not be shy about it – better to start writing when you have clarified everything.
- Now when you get the explanation of the topic, it is time to do the research. This type of essay requires from you knowing the original piece of art: an article, a book, a film, a painting or other. That’s why you should start with finding the primary text. When you find it, it is essential to read, then left for some time and reread again. It will help to notice even the smallest details and get the impression, which is needed during critical essay writing.
- You also need to understand the author of the piece of art you analyze. To do it, read his biography, others text or if your task is connected to the film, then watch some movies. After you do it, you will have the overall knowledge about the person. This information is crucial to draw the conclusions on the topic you are writing. Because it explains why the situations in the text/movie as they are and what influenced them.
- While reading through the primary piece, pay your attention to the essential aspects. You will need them later, that’s why take notes of such elements. It doesn’t mean to do the summary of the text and write down everything. Think critically and find the information, which answers the fundamental questions: the main idea, the puzzling, the purpose, how the text accomplish the purpose. You can even organize the notes in the way: question-answer. It will make them easier to look through because the necessary information is highlighted.
- The last step is to review the whole research and find the patterns of the piece you analyze. Also, you need to recognize the problems which the text have and imagine or determine the solutions. Your main aim is to develop the focus, and these answers should help you with it. If you have any fragment from the text, then you do not need to repeat it the same as the author. You need to rewrite it as you understand and draw the conclusions.
How to start a critical essay
The introductory part of this type of essay consists of the three subparagraphs:
The engaging sentence
If you want your reader to start reading your essay immediately, then you should work hard on this sentence. It should discuss the topic from the beginning and work as a preview of the essay. Create the unique piece of the text, trying to avoid the cliches. There are many ways to write the great starting sentence – from the anecdote to the question, which your essay should answer.
Your readers should be familiar with the piece of art you analyze. Provide the short description of what you have read. Do not summarize or retell the story, give the main information: the name of the author, the name of the work and a brief about the plot. It will recreate the image of the book/film/painting in the readers’ mind and guide them through the essay. The background is also padding to the thesis.
The structure of the thesis which is used in this type of paper is based on the more than usual one sentence. It is better to use the multi-sentence statement. The first sentence provides the reader with the general idea when the second one explains the specific concept. As it is the critical paper, you should write in the thesis the overall impression of the topic. The aim is not only to express: “It is good/bad/,” but to explain why it is. Also, do not use the subjective opinions, you should analyze and present your view. Show the readers that you are familiar with the topic and make them want to read your essay.
How to write a body for the critical essay
In the usual structure of the essays, the body part has the three paragraphs. But in the critical essay, you can open your imagination and write up to the six paragraphs (if you do not have any restrictions provided by your professor). The main aim is to connect each section to your thesis. But you could not discuss more that one aspect in one paragraph. The reason is that you should keep the text easily readable for your audience and help them to understand what you are trying to explain.
The best variant of organizing it is to follow this structure:
- a claim;
- the examples from the primary sources;
- the examples from the secondary sources.
To present the evidence with the use of different sources you can use the form of textual support. Take your notes, reread them and add to your essay particular text’s details: structure, descriptions, dialogues – anything that you find the supportive elements for your claim. The secondary sources are already the thoughts of other critics and readers, who have analyzed the same work. You can use them to strengthen your view and the main argument of the paragraph.
How to conclude the critical essay
If you have started writing your text beforehand, then you have time to create the worthwhile conclusion. It means you need to give yourself some time to reread the main part, take a look at your notes one more time and reflect on all this information. This reflection process will help you to choose what was the primary purpose of your text and decide in which way you will present it to the reader in a short overview. In this type of the essay, you can use different strategies on how to finish. The first part should give the audience an overall look at the essay, but for the second one you can consider the following:
- What is the way in which the topic affects other people?
- How the narrow theme relates to the reader one? Are there any strong connections? How can you demonstrate them?
- The call to do the deeper researches or to make the reader want to become more familiar with the topic.
- The new questions which arose after this research.
After writing activity
If you have enough time, do not read your essay right after the writing. It will give you the opportunity to work more on the topic itself and find new aspects, which you could miss during the first research. This refreshing process leads to open your mind and do not allow yourself to make the simple mistakes which can affect your grade a lot.
Now it is the time to do the thorough check. Start with the easiest one: grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes. If you have the digital copy of the essay, you can use the special programmes which will correct these errors. Then check the language of the essay, it is the academic writing, and it requires the formal words, and there can’t be any urban vocabulary. Also, pay attention to the structure – the paragraphs should have the same lengths, and it could not be the situation when the introductory is bigger than the body part.
You should reread the text and decide whether you have violated the thesis line. If you have done that, then think about how to change it.
The next checkpoint is connected to your audience:
- Do you make everything clear for them or is it possible can be any misunderstandings? If the answer is yes, reread the text and do the necessary changes.
The separate checking process is the requirements for the citations. When you are using the parts from the original text, you should organize them in the right format. Or it will be the issue with the academic plagiarism, which can influence your mark of the course and your position at the university at all.