Critical writing forms an argument based on analyzing and evaluating evidence from multiple sources. It is normally used in essay writing for humanities subjects like History, English, and Geography, but it can also be found in non-fiction books.

Critical writing can also refer to pieces written to be critical about – or give an opinion on – something, normally in the form of a review. This could be a book, a film, a piece of music, or even a meal at a restaurant.

Critical writing also links into vital reading, where readers analyze a piece of writing critically by asking questions about what they’re reading, and critical thinking, which is the analysis of facts, to form a judgment.

What is a review?

A review is a critical appraisal of a piece of art, an object, or a service, typically in the form of a piece of writing. An easy introduction to a critical essay is by writing reviews, as everyone has opinions on what things they like, don’t like, and why. Reviews can also help the writer to develop an argument by having a theory and backing it up with evidence. While this evidence could be a subjective opinion, reviews are still useful for new writers to justify their beliefs with reasons behind them.

Reviews are seen all around us in modern society and are found in films, books, restaurants, and even customer reviews of products on a website. People who write movie reviews are also known as film critics, and people who write about restaurants are called food critics. However, while the world ‘critic’ is in their job title, critics will just as often praise something as they will criticize it.

What’s the difference between descriptive and critical writing?

While they are similar, descriptive writing sets the background for an argument and lays out evidence without telling the reader how it relates to your point. On the other hand, a critical essay develops the proof into a moment to support your argument.

Here’s an example of descriptive writing:

“Henry VIII had to marry three times before he got a male heir. His first wife was Catherine of Aragon, his second was Anne Boleyn, and his third was Jane Seymour.”

And here’s what it looks like as critical writing:

“Henry VIII broke off from the church in Rome to divorce Catherine of Aragon and beheaded Anne Boleyn when she was accused of adultery – both of whom failed to deliver a male heir. This suggests he was willing to stop at nothing to get the male heir he desired. Instead, he soon married Jane Seymour, who gave birth to his first son, Edward, and only remarried after that because Jane Seymour died in childbirth.”

The writer takes the facts used in descriptive writing and puts them together to support an argument, whereas a descriptive essay sets the scene but doesn’t use the evidence to make a point.

What is Literary Criticism?

Literary criticism is a form of critical writing that analyses, evaluates, interprets, and compares pieces of literature. Writers of literary criticism delve deep into prose and poetry to analyze its themes, messages, and the author’s aims.

Literary criticism normally takes the form of an essay or a book. Many literary classics, like Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, have many pieces of literary criticism written about them.

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