I by no means am an expert critic, I have no educational qualification in any of the areas I critique; what I do have however is an expert eye for detail and an understanding of how things should be done. In addition I generally have some experience actually participating in the field I’m reviewing, I feel it lends you not only to a better understand of the topic but also an empathy towards the people whose work you are critiquing.
I have critiqued everything from music festivals, to plays, to operas, to food and art and although you take each area slightly differently the same fundamental principles remain the same. Here is what I have found during my time reviewing amount to developing a good critique.
- What did the person intend by the piece? No matter how good the painting, or dish, or piece of Shakespeare is, the intention behind the portrayal is paramount. If it doesn’t do what the creator wanted it to do it hasn’t succeeded as a piece.
- How well did they portray this intention? This is the point that most people go straight to, this artist really displayed a sense of turmoil and anguish; this actor really looked convincingly angry, frustrated and confused. This is important as this is where the actual physical skill of the person is shown.
- Was the intention any good? Whether the person did a fantastic job of getting across their intention or not, if the concept they were attempting to display is rubbish then the piece can only ever be rubbish. In acting this may be when an actor gets the wrong view of how a character should interact with the plot, in food it is far more obvious because if they fail at this element it simply doesn’t taste good. This step of judging a concept in other art forms is exceedingly difficult and personal which is really where the ability to analyse and emotionally connect with things plays a major role.
Once you have devised a broad idea from the basic principles it is then up to you to weave it into a well-articulated piece which effectively displays you opinion on the piece. It should not only be factually correct, but interesting to be read. Furthermore an important balance must be struck between being overly critical on the person while still retaining your integrity. Generally your review should assist in some way at helping the person realise errors and develop on that, not make them lose faith in what they do.
Once you have thought through all that the next step is to try and not use too many works in reviewing it, reviews over 600 words are generally overly explanatory and loses the reader. Now go forth and critique the world.