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How to Write a Critique

A critique is a review and estimation of a new or already existed art work (literature, theatrical, musical, cinematographic etc), scientific or popular science work. A critic is the author of such kind of work. The critic is the person who is responsible for estimation of a new work, but can write about any work as well.

A plan of critique paper includes the following elements:

When we speak about the critique we mean the following types of works:

A substantial part of the critique paper should be given to the content description. But not just for retelling. It should be a conceptual analysis which should explain to a reader all idea lines of the work. It is very important for you to point out all interesting and unusual moments, for example, a non-traditional manner of narration, some style aspects etc. In other words you should pay the biggest attention to the analysis of the key elements of the work regardless of your personal attitude to the reviewed work. For example, the reviewer doesn't share the author' opinions and, maybe, he doesn't like the way they are given in the text. But if these elements are the key ones and are the brightest ones he has no right to omit them.

Only after the unbiased analyses of the work you can set to subjective work estimation which is the biggest part of any critique. The critique is written exactly for such appraisal expression of your own opinion about the reviewed work.

Naturally that the structural elements mentioned above shouldn't follow one by one in any case. Often the critique is written in artistic style. As a rule, creative and gifted people choose that manner of writing.

One practical advice – write with passages. The passage shouldn't be more than 5-6 lines; and divide the passages with empty lines. The readability will increase in several times.

A critique is characterized by a small volume and brevity. A critic makes a review for a new product in the first time and his choice depends on the newness of the work and the absence of opinion about the work in the society.

While reviewing a classic, a critic discovers the opportunity to read it in a modern and urgent way. Any work should be examined in the context of modern life and modern literary process and be estimated as new phenomena. Such topicality is a real indication of a good critique.

Typical plan of any critique:

Critique' Content

General estimation

Estimating this work in general... Summing up the results of different paragraphs... The author showed his skills in… The unconditional author's achievement is the methodological approach to (proposed classification, some corrections of existed data)...

Disadvantages and omissions

The thesis is about a... It causes some doubts... To disadvantages (omissions) of the work we can relate to... The work was made irrationally, should be reduced... (provided with recommendations). The essential disadvantage of the work is... Marked disadvantages are local and don't make any impact on the whole work... Marked omissions doesn't decease the high level of the work... Mentioned omissions are connected with...


Generally the reviewed work has an essential importance for... The work can be estimated positively and it creator merit approval and high marks... The work fully meets all cases... and its author undoubtedly has a (defined, legitimate, absolute) right to...

The Principles of Critique Writing

The main impulse for critique writing is the necessity to express your personal attitude to some work (book, film, article etc); it is an attempt to sort out your personal impressions which were caused by the work. But all this should be done on the basis of fundamental knowledge of the critiqued work and with the help of detailed analysis. The reader can say about a book he read or film he watched everything, including – 'I like it/I don't like it' and without any proves. But the critic should substantiate his opinion with all possible evidences and deep and accentuate analysis. The analysis' quality depends on theoretical and professional critic preparation, his deep subject understanding, and his ability to analyze objectively. The relation between an author and a critic is a creative dialogue under equal positions and rights. The author' thoughts are shown openly to influence reader rationally, logically and emotionally. That's why the critic uses language tools which combine functions of naming and estimation, book and informal words and word-combinations. The critique doesn't study the literature or other work – it judges this work to formulate the reader's and social opinion to this or that author, director, and journalist and so on.

And now briefly what you need to remember while you are in critique' writing:

The detailed retelling decreases the critique value: it won't be uninteresting to become familiar with the work itself and, what is more important, the analysis and interpretation substitution with retelling is the first and main indicator of the weak written critique. Any work begins with the title which should be interpreted and discovered during the acquaintance. The title of any good work is always multiple-valued; it is a sort of symbol or metaphor. The composition analysis can give a lot for a work understanding and interpretation. The considerations about what compositional methods (antithesis, circular structure etc) were used in the work can help the critic to penetrate the author's concept. What parts the work can be divided on? What is their arrangement? It is very important to estimate author style, originality, to examine images, artistic methods which he uses within his work and think over about his individual inimitable style. The critic investigates how a text or a movie was made. The critique should be written in a way like anybody doesn't know anything about the critiqued work. You need to suppose what questions a reader can ask and to prepare the answers for them beforehand.

And now let's see how you shouldn't write a critique:

And think over about the following: what do you want to give to your reader with your critique? Only negative feelings? A feeling that reading has ended too fast? Any feelings at all? Or you will risk and operate with well formatted terms and conceptions? Emotions and feelings are good but it is only your interpretation of what you have read or watched. If you are not ready to tell the reader about weak and strong sides of the work then your critique won't be less interesting than the original work and not only for an audience but for the author too. Before you start to enumerate all stamps and cliché remember that the genres are not so numerous and there are only 26 letters in the alphabet.

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