The Fine Points Of Writing A Critical Essay

The Fine Points Of Writing A Critical Essay

The last thing many majors want to​ do is​ write,​ much less write critical essays on​ some political or​ social concept or​ controversy he or​ she could give a​ rat’s a** for.

But the​ requirements for a​ number of​ classes include the​ writing of​ critical essays,​ so rather than fight it,​ go with the​ most manageable process for accomplishing the​ assigned task.

That is,​ keep in​ mind a​ few essential steps and elements,​ and you should be able to​ fly. First,​ the​ basics of​ writing critical essays are the​ same for writers of​ most modes.

Here are the​ modes that you might directly or​ indirectly be asked to​ write in—might be assigned the​ steps for or​ told to​ write an​ X essay using:

ANALYTIC-A classic style used in​ art,​ science,​ history,​ psychology,​ education,​ and most other disciplines across the​ curriculum to​ explore and investigate an​ idea,​ process,​ person,​ action,​ or​ attitude.

ARGUMENTATIVE-Used in​ more advanced English classes,​ in​ philosophy,​ and in​ courses which include theory.

COMPARATIVE/CONTRASTIVE-Used in​ most courses where specific analysis of​ like and unlike elements,​ characters,​ and ideas lend themselves to​ comparison.

DEFINITIONAL-Written when we​ apply a​ more thorough study to​ a​ topic,​ especially an​ abstract one.

DESCRIPTIVE-Used to​ more intensively,​ more concretely cover an​ idea,​ item,​ or​ subject.

EVALUATIVE-Often confused with analytical,​ the​ evaluative essay moves beyond the​ what and how to​ the​ how much...we put a​ value on​ the​ topic here.

EXPLANATORY-Also called the​ expository essay (though I tend to​ see all essays as​ expository,​ as​ exposing a​ truth about something). With this type we​ further our own and our readers' understanding of​ the​ subject.

PERSONAL-Also called the​ response essay,​ the​ personal style essay is​ still well written (readable for an​ audience other than the​ writer),​ but is​ more informal--containing narrative details that entertain. RESEARCH-While most essay types will include references or​ will quote authorities,​ the​ research essay is​ mostly informational,​ using the​ findings--the stats and facts--we made investigating the​ findings of​ others.

Now critical essays may fit better in​ or​ work better as​ one of​ the​ above modes,​ but all essays at​ the​ college level are really “critical” in​ nature. That is,​ if​ you look up critical in​ the​ dictionary or​ online,​ you will find that it​ does not necessarily mean negative or​ picky or​ bashing,​ but just means,​ from the​ Greek word,​ kritikus,​ “to discern”.

So what do you discern in​ critical essays? a​ given topic or​ issue (which is​ a​ controversial topic with sides),​ which you incorporate into a​ thesis and supporting ideas and details. Here is​ what you should have in​ a​ critical essay:

An engaging opener- hook,​ lure,​ interest your reader. Use a​ story,​ a​ fact,​ an​ extended definition,​ a​ quote,​ or​ a​ direct address…where appropriate. That is,​ use whatever fits best with the​ whole essay and whichever kind of​ into you are best at​ writing.

A thesis- here you state,​ or​ assert,​ your position. This is​ the​ overall opinion that adds up all your points…which follow the​ thesis as​ support.

Support- here you include statistics,​ narrative/non-fiction examples,​ statistics,​ authoritative (and respectable) quotes,​ analogies (relevant and apt),​ and other elements that help to​ “prove” your position. in​ the​ case of​ critical essays based on​ literature or​ other works of​ art,​ this will also include what is​ called textual evidence (passages from the​ work as​ you describe or​ directly or​ indirectly quote/cite them). in​ an​ argumentative paper,​ this section will also likely include the​ opponent’s side,​ concessions,​ and refutations.

Good closure – whereas in​ some critical essays the​ closer is​ the​ thesis,​ in​ many assignments you are taught to​ leave the​ thesis at​ the​ front of​ the​ essay and wrap up your writing in​ the​ conclusion. Don’t bring in​ new examples,​ but do leave the​ readers questioning their positions,​ challenged with ways to​ take action,​ or​ reminded of​ what your goal was to​ begin with.

The components of​ the​ critical essay,​ then,​ as​ they are in​ most modes and college coursework,​ are those that you would use later on,​ too,​ in​ your job or​ online,​ even!

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