THE CRITICAL PROCESS:
SIMPLE, NOT EASY
Writing Well is Simple, Not
Simple means to have steps to follow to
complete a task; you are not wandering with no
help. You have a plan.
Easy means that not much effort is involved in
Our mantra for this class is “Simple, not easy!”
Dressing an infant is simple, but not everyone
finds the process easy.
Getting married—at its most basic—is simple,
but being married seldom is (as rewarding as it
The Critical Process:
Ask a critical-thinking question (for the first
essay in Unit 1 Part 1, I provide this question)
Answer the question using critical thinking to
arrive at a thesis.
Example question: Are the Harry Potter tales
better as films or as a novels?
On the next few slides, lets use our seven tools
to critical thinking to come up with a critical
response to this question . . .
As we have learned, this is what you want to say
in the essay.
A good way to arrive at this is to think about a
process called the Hegelian Dialectic. Hegel asked
us to think of a purposeful critical thought like this:
What I think (first thesis)
& Other newly learned ideas that makes sense
= How I can combine the two to make a good
analysis, or critical statement of purpose (synthesis
and final thesis)
Example of Hegelian Dialectic:
First Thesis: I prefer the Harry Potter novels to
the films; I like to create my own picture of the
Antithesis: The novels cannot compete with the
films because the visual effects and characters
make the films more engaging than the novels,
especially since not everyone enjoys reading
Synthesis & Final Thesis: Deciding which is
“better” between the Harry Potter novels and the
films causes a logical problem because the films
and novels are two different works of art,
Thesis & Purpose:
So, your final thesis gets at the critical reality;
these two artworks cannot be compared
deeply and logically in terms of “better and
worse” because they serve two different
purposes and are as different as apples and
In this way, your purpose is now to
communicate this idea to your audience.
Ideas: Topic Sentences
Now that you have a purpose, a critical-
thinking thesis, you are ready for the ideas that
make up your body-paragraph topic
Use these topic sentences to develop support
for the thesis.
The next slide demonstrates this process . . .
Purpose & Thesis 2
Thesis: Deciding which is “better” between the Harry Potter
novels and the films causes a logical problem because the films
and novels are two different works of art, proverbial apples and
Break down the thesis ideas for topic sentences:
1. “Better” is a word that implies a hierarchy; when works of art
are as different as films and novels, they do not belong in
the same “better” pair.
2. A novel has a distinct purpose for the reader, and one
important purpose is much to create a world in the reader’s
3. Likewise, films have their own purposes: to interpret and
visually represent the events of a story for the audience.
Support is comprised of the major and minor details
that prove a point.
Let’s look at one of the topic sentences we just generated and some support
for the topic sentence:
“Better” is a word that implies a hierarchy; when works of art are as
different as films and novels, they do not belong in the same “better”
How do I know?
1. One would not ask if a tree is better than a blade of grass; both
exist in nature for different, although similar, purposes.
2. Films and novels, likewise, are both works of art, but are not the
same things and do not strive for the same reader or audience
3. One might even argue that the book has only one reader at a time,
but that the film has an audience watching a story first read and
interpreted by producers, screenwriters, directors, and others
involved in making the film.
3. Assumptions & Biases:
This is where we do an ethical check.
Your Pearson critical-thinking reading from Unit
1 Part 1 states the following:
“Assumptions (information you take for granted) and biases
(personal beliefs you have about particular topics) can be a
helpful tool or they can throw a wrench into your thinking if they are not
valid. Always evaluate them when making an argument.”
So, now is the time to question your argument, your critical stance.
For example, are you more likely to give novels artistic value greater
than films because you have been taught to do so?
On the other hand, are films going to win out because you do not
personally enjoy reading fiction? These are biases and must have
no part of a critical argument. If you mention them, you must
qualify them as your own feelings.
4. Conclusion (House)
Time to finish the house with a critically
1. Begin a conclusion by restating your thesis
not verbatim, though.
2. Fill the middle of your conclusion with the
three most important ideas you want your
readers to carry away from the essay.
3. Close to create “echoes” of the essay’s
beginning (this is demonstrated in the sample
essay in Unit 1 Part 2 folder).
6. Point of View & 7. Analysis
These are final checkpoints.
They provide a space for you to look back over
your essay to be sure that you kept personal
bias and unsupportable statements out of your
writing and that your essay is a whole working
to support the thesis, not just a collection of
See the essay sample:
The essay sample is located in the Unit 1 Part
2 folder and is based on the direction begun in
Remember, “simple, not easy.”
Let me know if you have questions.