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Writing Handout_Courtney

Writing Handout_Courtney - 1 CTCS 190 TA Courtney White...

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1 CTCS 190 – TA Courtney White Writing Handout I. Writing a critical (film) essay: Goals and Audience a. Purpose is not to communicate whether or not you like a film, but to add to the academic debate about it b. Try to be objective – this is not about your opinions. Don’t offer an opinion unless you can bring proof or justification to bear for why you hold that opinion. If you assert something, you have to show why you assert it. In short: show, don’t tell. Opinion is fine, but insufficient on its own. c. Envision your audience as your fellow students, people who have seen the movie and may know something about it, but who have not studied it closely. d. This is a focused essay – your topic of analysis should be specific, and the goal should be to reveal subtleties or complexities that may have escaped other viewers. You might focus on a short sequence or a camera angle that becomes associated with a specific character. How does this specific point of focus enhance your reader’s understanding of the overall film? e. Presume that your reader has seen the film, although he or she may not have thought extensively about it f. Remind the reader of key themes and elements of the plot, but beware of lengthy plot summaries—after all, you are assuming that your reader has seen the film. II. Writing a critical essay: Before you write a. Be prepared to watch your film 2 or 3 times before outlining and writing. b. When you watch the movie, some questions you should ask yourself – What elements of the movie are unfamiliar or confusing? What elements are repeated to emphasize a point? Which sequences, shots, scenes seem to be the most important? What are the film’s most dramatic moments? c. Above all, which elements are the most interesting to you? If you find your essay topic boring, it is likely that your reader will find your essay boring as well. III. Approaches to crafting a thesis a. Organize your notes into categories. Look for patterns and aberrations in patterns. b. Determining the themes – who are the central characters and what do they represent in relation to themselves and to each other? Is there a coherent message to the story? How is the plot affected by the narrative structure, visual design, or performance?
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