College Writing: Switching from Personal Response to Analytical Paper


How to make your writing a college writing? The answer is: summarizing, evaluating, analyzing, and synthesizing. Sounds weird? Read on...

Summarizing

First, summarize main ideas of the primary text. Note that you can compose several different summaries, depending on discussed issue. Returning to the example of Guy Ritchie, you can make a plot summary, summary of movie themes, of editing, of scenes, etc. You can also summarize what you know about the film in the context. For instance, you can write a summary of film-making procedures of Guy Ritchie, of challenges he had to meet to make the movie, of actors’ attitudes, of impact of this film to director’s vision, and of contribution this movie made to understand other works of the director. Numerous film critics wrote about Guy Ritchie and his movies. Try to summarize all that you've found and your own knowledge of the topic.

Evaluating

Evaluation process is ongoing one. You start to evaluate a phenomenon (text, movie, etc) the moment you encounter it, and you should keep on evaluating and re-revaluating it as you proceed with you topic. Evaluating a phenomenon is different from simply reacting to it. When you evaluate for academic work, it is important to formulate and support your personal response. What in the text of other research phenomenon can lead to a personal response? What’s not in the text or other expression means that might contribute to the response?

Watching the film, you are certain to experience certain feelings: interest, anxiety, delight, intrigue, and so on. What in the film makes you feel this particular way? Acting? Editing? Music? Lightning? Can you find the moment in the movie which is particularly successful in creating suspense, delight, revelation? Asking yourself these questions, you are leading two intellectual processes: experiencing your personal response and analyzing the phenomenon.

Analyzing

This stage of formulating informed argument includes two processes: consideration of coherent parts of your topic and then tying them together in certain relation to one another or to the whole. In analyzing the film, you can break it into small elements such as scenes, camera movements, points of view, thematic blocks, stages of development of main character, stages of viewer’s understanding the main idea, and so on. When you analyze, you break the whole phenomenon into small parts, so that you could see the entire topic from different perspective.

Synthesizing

Analyzing requires breaking researched topic into parts. Synthesizing is opposite action aimed at finding connections between ideas. Returning to Guy Ritchie, while analyzing, you consider different parts and ideas of the film that initially seem disparate. You might also have different critical opinions on the movie which do not seem to gel. Now you have to look for ways to unite these disparate opinions and ideas, synthesize them. This intellectual process requires creation of so-called “umbrella argument” larger argument that might enhance different observations and perspectives.

You should consider: what so various and different parts of the film intend to tell the viewer? The author seems to want to convey one single idea with various means. You should learn to synthesize to be able to see your research topic systematically and to understand ideas that lie behind great works.

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