A sample for practical criticism
In my continuous effort to offer writing advice for beginners, in this post I will walk you through steps to write a practical criticism essay. I will use a specific example so that you see the practical side. You can apply the same basic steps to write a practical criticism of prose or book extract. I know most students are very keen to learn how to do it properly.
''Practical Criticism'' can be misleading
I find the term practical criticism not best suited to define the process. The term ‘practical criticism’ gives us the impression that you must channel all your energy into criticising a written piece of work. Therefore, you must look out for all faults in a critical (negative) way.
What is practical criticism?
I began to fully understand how to write a practical criticism the day my then English teacher gave us a demonstration to show us. She walked us through the process step by step which I also want to share with you.
To my surprise her approach turned out to be so simple and straightforward than I imagined. Once you get to grips of how to apply the process best known as the SIFT approach, you will do it exceptionally well.
I hope by the time you finish reading this post, you will know exactly how to critically analyse any piece of written work that you are given be it prose or poem.
Let’s say you are given a poem or an extract of prose, the first thing you need to do is to read it first with an understanding. This will help you to critically analyse the passage. Even if you have come across the extract before in a book you have read, assume you have no any prior knowledge and you don’t know who the author.
The purpose of writing a practical criticism essay
- To test students’ responsiveness to what they read.
- To test students’ knowledge of verse forms and technical language for describing and the effects they create.
- To objectively test the effects of literature on readers.
Writing Advice - Students Common Mistakes
Let me explain where most students go wrong. When they are given an extract from a book which they have already read and are already familiar with (in terms of the book’s theme, plot and storyline), there is a tendency for students to bring the background information into the practical criticism exercise.
As a result, the student will critically analyse the extract while having this information at the back of their mind like it is part of the extract.
WRITING ADVICE ON HOW TO DO PRACTICAL CRITICISM CORRECTLY
You are not supposed to source your ideas from the information outside the extract you are given. Treat the written piece of work as if you have come across it for the first time and you don’t know any works the author might have written (outside the extract). Meaning, treat the extract as if you are reading it for the first time.
Let's do the exercise - Shall we!
Poetry from prose
It doesn’t mean you will only deal with articles. At times students get poems based on a descriptive passage they have chosen from a piece of literature they are reading. It depends on what piece of written work you are given to analyze.
SIFT Approach for 'Cheap Flight' article
STEP 1: SENSE
SENSE – Write A Summary of the Extract.
Begin your practical criticism process by writing the sense of the passage you have read.
The purpose of writing a summary
The purpose is to convince your examiner that you have understood what you have read.
How to write a summary
The whole point of writing a summary is to test you if you have understood the passage. To prove your grasp of what you have read, you need to write the summary in your own words to show the vocabulary you have. Avoid reproducing the same words in the extract.
Instead, use synonyms. Usually, you are given a specific number of words to target. After writing your summary, write the number of words you have used.
How to write SENSE for 'Cheap Flights' article
STEP 2: INTENTION - A Sample for Cheap Flights
The intention is the author’s main message. What is the purpose of writing the extract, the message behind or poem?
STEP 3 - FEELING
Explain how the author uses words and how he describes things (level of skill shown) and how it makes you feel as a reader (the effect it has on you).
- Are you able to feel it from the vocabulary the author uses?
- Does the author’s writing skills give you a vivid picture? Avoid making generalised statements.
Avoid writing general comments
For instance, ‘The author writes very well in this passage.” You need to pinpoint exactly what makes you feel the writing is good.
FEELING - A sample for 'Cheap Flights'
The author seems disappointed with what she did. I get this from the words the author uses ‘stupid mistake and common thinking mistakes.’ These words imply a sense of regret and disappointment.
Here the author seems frustrated by what people do. They keep repeating the same mistakes. Instead of learning valuable lessons and take the necessary precautions to avoid similar pitfalls, ‘prevention is better than cure.’
STEP FOUR - TONE
What is the tone that comes across through author’s quality of voice? Is the author expressing his feelings or thoughts towards the person being spoken to?
In the end, the author seems to have hope for the future.
Here the author seems pleased with her actions. At least the author has done something to solve this problem by sharing her lived experiences. Other travellers will learn and avoid making the same mistake after reading the story.
To conclude, I have received a lot of feedback from my previous post Four Ways Of Writing An Effective Practical Criticism. The general consensus is people, students to be more specific, want to hear more on this subject. So, I have written, ‘Practical Criticism Writing Advice’ in response.
Please feel free to leave any questions you may have about Practical Criticism Example post. I will be more than happy to respond as soon as I possibly can.
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