Following the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Sweetheart) principle, here is the simplest recipe you need to follow when responding to any piece of literature (regardless of age or academic level). Blessed with so many nicknames (book review, literary criticism, literary critical analysis, response to literature, analytical review, literary interpretation, and so on), there is, indeed, a worthwhile dissimilarity among all the aforementioned explorations, from the simplest (book review) to the most complex (literary critical analysis). Regardless of your preference for moniker, your job is to help a potential reader to get a glimpse into a piece of literary work before he/she decides to read it. You are the reviewer.
- Needless to say, before you engage in response to literature, you must read that novel to the end of it.
- Break your critique into three major parts: introduction, body, and conclusion.
- Pull the audience in with gripping sentences in the introduction.
- Summarize the story within the first few paragraphs with beginning, middle, and ending; however, you should mesh the summary into your analysis (preferable).
- From your notes (taken during the reading), identify any interesting situation that caused very strong reactions in you: What inspired you? Confused you? Surprised you?
- Include and organize these reactions; discuss each major thought in each paragraph in the body of your review and link them to the events in the order they occur in the story.
- Give insight and make judgment so the reader can determine your feeling about the story: like it, don’t like it, or lukewarm. Support each opinion.
- Identify elements of literature and comment on them in your writing as they pertain to the story.
- Identify those figurative expressions the author used in the story; comment on his/her style, ingenuity, creative playfulness, and such, as they pertain to the story.
- Allow your voice to come through clearly; showcase your style.
- Employ the six traits of writing: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions.
- Paint colorfully vivid pictures with figures of speech, action verbs, and descriptive adjectives.
- Quote the author’s most salient and moving phrases/words.
- Place a check beside the bulleted requirements above as you complete each one.
- Edit and revise your work with the proofreading/copy-editing guidelines.
- Pre-grade your work physically; before submitting it to an instructor or for publication, repair any defects that might impact negatively your grade or your reputation.
I look forward to reading your literary criticism, and criticism can be constructive. Thanks for stopping by today.