Do you believe there’s nothing worse than writing a critical essay? We are glad to prove you wrong! Even if you hate essays, with this step-by-step guide you will be able to create a decent paper in no time. So, young traveler, follow us to explore the four stages of essay writing to acquire the ancient wisdom of critical essays.
Preparing to Write Your Critical Essay
1. Choose the subject of analysis. To complete a successful critical essay, you need to write about a subject you have at least a moderate interest in. To find a subject you are passionate about, answer the following questions to yourself:
- Which work of art or book immediately comes to mind as I think about this genre? Why?
- Is there any particular reason I want to talk about it?
- Will I be able to perform a thorough examination of the subject? Are there enough secondary sources and critical articles?
2. Evaluate the text (or another subject) you are supposed to analyze. After you have chosen the subject, it’s time to approach it critically. Reread (or rewatch, depending on the subject) the book you are writing about, paying attention to specific details. You are allowed to be engulfed by the book only during the first reading. Set goals for your next readings. For example, the second time you read the story, focus exclusively on composition, then on character development, and so on.
3. Take notes while you are reading the source. This step should be performed along with the previous one. While you are rereading the source text, take notes. Don’t trust the feeling that says you will be able to remember all the brilliant critical ideas and links between characters you managed to find, because you won’t. Make sure your notes aren’t a summary of the plot . They rather should look like the following: “Does this come to …” “Are the occurrences A and B linked by …” etc.
4. Review your notes to recognize patterns and problems. After you have analyzed the text, take a look at your notes to identify the main themes that occur the most and problems raised in the story. Think of the solutions to the issues raised. Make sure you present them as your opinion, not as an attempt to read the author’s mind.
Conducting the Research
1. Look for academically approved secondary sources if you need to. Remember that Wikipedia and most websites we are used to acquiring information from don’t count as academically credible. Rather than using a general internet search, stick to scholarly databases and academic catalogs. This will spare you from going through piles of unrelated or repetitive information.
2. Determine the credibility of the sources. You are not only supposed to base your research on academically approved sources, but also be able to access the credibility of each particular source. To do that, you need to evaluate the following:
- The author’s personality and their credentials.
- Publication date.
- Citations and bibliography.
- Possible bias and reasons for it.
3. Reread the information you have gathered once again. Use the same critical strategy while reading your secondary sources as you did with the initial text for the analysis. Make notes, leave your commentary, place question marks – this will help you process the information a lot faster and more effectively compared to plain reading. Remember that you should take notes and highlight the parts that are important to proving your argument, not those that sound fancy and academic or just to add volume.
Writing Your Paper
1. Design the first variant of your thesis. Now that you’ve gathered enough information, it’s time to design your thesis. Remember the following rules, and you will be able to craft a perfect thesis:
- Provide specific details, i.e. not only that something is good or beneficial, but why and for whom it is good and beneficial.
- Place the thesis at the end of your introductory paragraph.
- Stay objective, while still advocating your point of view. You can reach this by providing arguments. For example: “The home supplies store is good because of convenient placement, fast shipment, and a customer-friendly discount system.”
2. Assemble a rough outline based on your notes to the research you did in the previous part. Pour everything you think about the matter into this stage. If you don’t want to make a detailed outline, don’t force yourself. The main aim of this stage is to provide some structure to rely upon.
3. Open your critical analysis essay with a hook that drags your readers right into the topic. Don’t indulge into long beginnings – jump right into the topic of your discussion. Start with an anecdote, an intriguing story, or a shocking fact to make your readers eager about the information that will follow.
4. Provide background info sufficient for your readers to understand the topic, but not too broad in order not to make them bored from the start. Even if you are writing for an uneducated audience, which is hardly the case with academic writing, you can’t teach them string theory in four introductory sentences. Pick the facts that are crucial for your critical analysis essay and the opinion you have chosen to advocate.
5. Discuss specific components of your text or the object you are analyzing in the body paragraphs. Dedicate each paragraph to one aspect of the text you are discussing. For example:
- Body Paragraph I: Main character’s inner conflict.
- Body Paragraph II: The conflict and it’s appearance to secondary characters.
- Body Paragraph III: Ways of resolving the conflict and why they are effective or not in your opinion.
6. Develop a brief conclusion. Remember: when you are writing a conclusion, you have already said everything that should have been said. There’s no need to add new arguments, and don’t start a new essay here! Restate your thesis like in the introduction, but with more detail to its aspects, and phrase your opinion very briefly. In other words, a conclusion is the introduction plus the body paragraphs packed into a small amount of text.
Revising the Completed Paper
Finally, you have finished the paper. Don’t rush to press the “Submit” button and sigh with relief – you have to proofread your paper first! And before you do so, pay attention to these rules so you can make the most of your proofreading time:
- Let your draft paper rest a couple of days (ideally), or at least a couple of hours.
- Jot down a detailed check-list for your critical analysis essay and allocate a couple of hours to perform a thorough examination.
- Proofread the almost-completed variant carefully using a non-trivial reading, such as reading aloud, recording yourself, and so on.
More Writing Advice and Awesome Guides
Make sure you check other articles at our blog. For example, How to Write a Five-Paragraph Essay in One Hour. We offer you awesome paper samples to learn from, interesting topic suggestions to spark up your creativity, and detailed guides to lead you through the dangers of essay writing. We are always ready to help you and make academic writing easier for you.