1. rhsexton
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    rhsexton Member

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    the piece vs. the content

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by rhsexton, Jun 22, 2010.

    I've been reading the essays in the review room, trying to find something I can critique for others. I understand that I should be focusing on the piece and not the content. I also understand that I shouldn't worry about what other critiquers have said already. But as part of learning to critique, I've been reading what others have said, to understand better what I should be looking for in the pieces I offer critiques for.

    I read the piece, absorb the content and understand it. Then I read the other critiques. They do what they're meant to do, helping the author make corrections to the piece. But then I take into consideration the suggestions vs. the content, and I find myself wanting to leave a comment to the nature of "Why do they need to make that change? I understood the meaning just fine."

    I guess my question is, how do I critique a piece when I understand what the author is trying to convey without issue?
     
  2. Ashleigh
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    Ashleigh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the reason for doing this is to ensure that the author refines their style, and composes each point with great clarity. Essays need to be very concise, and if they've said in 20 words what they could've said in 10, then they're not being clear enough.

    Essays are quite formulaic, and there's a certain standard that needs to be maintained. It's the content that's important, but its delivery shouldn't differ from the codes and conventions of essay writing itself.

    Jazzing up an essay is cool 'n' all, but it's not necessary or desirable. I think this is the message you should always keep in mind when giving a critique of an essay; you might've understood what they meant, but it needs tweaking before it meets uniform standards. Hope I helped!
     
  3. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the best way to do it is to first write how you reacted to things in the book good or bad, without trying to guess what the intent was. And elablorete on this to the degree you want to.

    And then write how changing something would change your reaction.

    "If that part was a 5-10 sentences shorter I think that I would find it more thrilling."
    "If you were a bit more secretive about her past I would been really curious about it."

    Maybe that is exactly what they aim for, maybe that isn't.

    Rather them telling them the right way to go, tell them what how taking the text in some direction would affect you. The first is like giving someone a direction and telling them were to go, the way i prefer to give feedback is giving them a map and letting them figure out which way they want to go.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's possible to understand where the essayist is going, but still recognize a lack of clarity, or unfocused arguments, or tepid wording.

    There are also structural criticisms. A recommended essay technique is to highlight the strongest opposing argument and refute it, following that by giving the strongest argument supporting your position. You can point out the approach without suggesting specific arguing points.

    The restriction against bringing up points about the content is to keep the focus squarely on the writing. Without that restriction, critique threads turn into heated debates on the subject matter of the essay with an annoying inevitibility. As it is, we still have to intervene when members attempt to disguise debate as critique.
     

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