What does it mean to write critically? To write with additional meaning in between the lines? To write with deep metaphors and allegories? To write to an audience that is solely comprised of over-stuffed, over-educated windbags?
Sorry to raise the hype, but there is no good answer to that question. Writing critically means something different to everyone; but normally what I take it to mean is to engage multiple truths into a single piece of writing. Whether or not you’re writing a novel with 50 main characters who are all significantly experiencing some heavy, life-changing moments, or you’re writing comments on your little brother’s book report, writing critically has nothing to do with what form you are using, but the content. So let’s take a couple sentences and see how “critical” they are to our understanding. We’ll start reallll easy.
“Jane went to the library.”
That’s pretty self-explanatory, isn’t it? We know there’s a person named Jane who went to the library at some point in this discourse. Now let’s add to it.
“Jane stumbled to the library an hour after it closed.”
Now we have more of the picture. There is more description and more critical writing here, because we are given information that opens up questions about the story. Is Jane drunk or somehow otherwise impaired? Why did she go to the library so late? Why would she still try to go to the library, even if it’s possible that she knew that it was closed? Let’s try another example.
“You suck at writing.”
Self explanatory, and rather harsh. Let’s move on to something more critical.
“You suck at writing because you don’t use words in their proper definitions, and you have a very dry tone which makes it difficult for people to relate to your story.”
Wow! Much more information, that is actually helpful to me. I know that my writing sucks, but more than that I have the tools needed to give myself more information; such as possible areas for improvement, and certain trends in my style that I otherwise may not have been aware of.
So do you see the difference? It’s almost like the difference between writing a news story and writing a fictional story. In a news article, they generally focus on the facts such as who, what, where, and when (possibly how as well). If you were to write a fictional story about it however, you would focus much more on the why’s, the hows, and the what’s nexts.
I want you to get an article or story from your local paper (DO NOT pick an editorial review), usually the police blotters or yard sale sections work best, but the more creative you can be, the better. I want you to write a 500 word story based on that image, and then share it with me below.
Happy writing everyone!