Step by Step Guide for Writing Substance and Critical Appreciation ~ All About English Literature

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Monday, 24 February 2020

Step by Step Guide for Writing Substance and Critical Appreciation

Step by Step Guide for Writing Substance and Critical Appreciation

Substance-writing implies a condensed reproduction of the original passage. Substance is the rewriting in the candidate’s own words of an original passage which will be brief, clear, and accurate summary containing only its main points or essential ideas.

Step by step guide for writing substance:

Your substance should be approximately one third of the original text. In case of poetry it should be around 50-60 words.

  • Substance should be generally written in a single paragraph.

  • Read and re-read the given text carefully for several times. Don’t get confused if you can’t understand any words and phrases exactly well. Instead try to make out the sense.  

  • Try hard to understand the central idea or the key note of the passage. In case of poetry try to grasp the inner thought. 

  • A substance is essentially the restatement of author’s view, idea, feeling etc. Hence it should be in third person.

  • Underline the relevant portions (important sentences/ phrases/ words/ ideas) with your pencil.

  • Just before writing, Chalk out a rough draft of the substance you are to write on the left page of the script.

  • Leave out the examples. If the examples represent certain ideas, take only the ideas.

  • Omit the ornamental expressions, figures of speech, unnecessary or superfluous details, illustrations, repetitions.

  • Try to transform those into simple and straightforward ones.

  • Avoid the explanatory sentences or parts of those.

  • Transform the circumlocutions into simple expressions.

  • Leave out the direct speeches. Should those be at all necessary, transform those into indirect ones.

  • All the major ideas or points of the original passage must be included.

  • The substance should be simple as well as abstract.

  • Be coherent, and maintain the logical chain of the ideas.

  • Be careful to the grammatical errors while you are writing sentences.

  • Try to write your answer in your own language as far as possible.

  • Don’t poke into your personal view or criticism.

  • On the right page of the script write down final answer clearly.

Yes, Done!

Critical Note or Comment of Prose Passage:

Ø    The passage belongs to the genre of descriptive (describe something – objects, person, place, experience, emotion, situation, etc.) / narrative essay (one might think of it as telling a story. These essays are often anecdotal, experiential, and personal) / reflective essay (that captures author’s personal experience and thought)

Ø    The author’s approach is subjective (based on author’s own opinion, perspective, belief, desire, feeling etc.) / objective (deals with deed, events, arguments etc.)

Ø    From the thematic point of view the author wants to highlight on ______ (write the central idea or theme of the passage within  4-5 lines as per your observation or analysis)

Ø     Try to mark out what type of a discourse the given passage is—philosophical, scientific, literary, reflective, realistic, satirical, humorous, journalistic, historical, critical, didactic, religious, autobiographical etc.

Ø    State uses of imageries/ symbols/ allusions/ historical references/ simile and metaphor or any other rhetorical devices – analyze those in brief if necessary.

Ø    The style of the passage is lucid or simple and direct without any jerk. The passage is free from ambiguity. (if the passage is complex mention the bombastic words used)

Ø    Write whether the passage is argumentative (i.e. convince audience about the solidity of his view) or analytical (i.e. objective picture or information).

Ø    Mention if any catchy or proverbial line is used.

Ø    The tone of the piece is serious or grave one.

Critical Comment or Critical Note for Poetry:

1.          Nature of the poem:

A.          Romantic Poem: i) strangeness added to beauty (familiar will be described as unfamiliar) ii) return to the past (childhood) iii) flowery description of Nature iv) about the poetic process v) free flow of imagination.

B.          Classical Poem: i) well-structured ii) criticism of life iii) sharply pointed subjectivity

C.          Pantheist Poem: i) elaborate description of Nature ii) the subjective relationship between the poet and Nature iii) Nature as a living sentiment

D.          Topical Poem: i) about the present day world ii) contemporary subjectivity

E.           Poems of Doubt: i) the poems of crisis ii) problems / dilemma/ doubt

F.           Modern Poem: i) contemporary references ii) images with contemporary relevant iii) modern day style iv) choice of words v) modern symbols

“The poem understudy belongs to the________”

2.           If the piece is a poem, try to mark out what type of poem it is—that is, whether it is a symbolic poem or allegorical poem or philosophical poem etc.

3.           State whether the poem is subjective or objective by nature

4.           Mention imageries, symbols and allusions used in the poem, if possible explain those.

5.           Bring out any rhetoric or figures of speech or ornamental expressions used in the poem.

6.           Clarify the style of the poem. Whether the lexicon (choice or selection of words) is lucid/ complex/ long phrase / free flow .

7.          Types of stanza or stanza pattern:

i)            Spenserian Stanza: Iambic penta-metre and iambic hexa-metre line
ii)           Terza Rima: Three lines stanza
iii)         Sonnet stanza: Octave and sestet
iv)         Free Verse: does not follow a strict rhyme or metre

8.          Rhyme:
i)            Petrarchan or Regular Sonnet: Octace- abba, abba   Sestet- cdc, dcd or cde, cde
ii)           Shakespearean or Elizabethan Sonnet: Three quatrains – abab, cdcd, efef and couplet – gg
iii)         Any other rhyme scheme

9.          Rhythm:
i)            Swift Rhythm ii) Pause Rhythm  iii) Slow Rhythm

10.                 Anaphoric and Cataphoric References: Anaphoric- some images which refer to the front,  Cataphoric – some images which refer to the back.

11.       Punctuation Description: If there is any uncommon property of punctuation.

12.       Poetic License: It’s a kind of right assumed by poets to alter or invert standard syntax or depart from common diction or pronunciation to comply with the metrical or tonal requirements of their writing.

13.       Tone: serious or grave

Sample 1- Poetry Passage:

Fire and Ice
By Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.


The world will end in fire - or in ice - I’ve tasted of desire - I hold
with those who favor fire - I know enough of hate -  for
destruction ice is also great and would suffice.


                The speaker weighs up two different scenarios for the apocalypse of the world – fire or ice. Both the components are compared with self-destructing human emotions: hatred and desire. The speaker goes for fire. He determines that either opinion would achieve its purpose sufficiently well.

Sample 2- Prose Passage:

Success in life depends largely on good health. Keep your body fit, and by cleanliness, fresh air, regular habits and suitable recreations, make yourself strong to play the game, and to do it in every sense of the word. Avoid anything that will sap your strength. Smoking in your youth stunts the body and clouds the brain. Be temperate in all things, and beware of drinking. It is the deadly enemy of health and efficiency.

Above all, remember that your character is a priceless possession. Therefore, keep it untarnished. Be truthful in all things, courteous and considerate to everybody, fair to your rivals, kind and helpful to all who are weak and suffering, and do not be afraid to have the courage to stand up for what is good, pure and noble. Avoid gambling in every form; it is mean game, trying to get something for nothing, and at other people’s expense.

Make provision for hard times. In your leisure hours avoid mere idling. Fill each hours with interesting hobbies, good books, and with companionships and associations calculated to exercise an influence for good. To a long extent you will be known by the company you keep.


Success in life depends largely on good health. Keep your body fit by cleanliness, fresh air, regular habits and suitable recreations. – Smoking clouds the brain - beware of drinking - character is a priceless possession - Be truthful, courteous, and considerate to everybody. - avoid mere idling - Fill each hours with interesting hobbies, good books, companionships.


Good health is the key to success. One should keep it by harboring superior habits and befitting recreations and by avoiding smoking and drinking. Character can be kept stainless by remaining upright, kind and helpful to everybody. One should not be idle. He rather makes the best of his leisure by reading good books, exercising his hobbies and keeping good companies.

Note: Moreover “Practice makes perfect”, that’s all I can suggest to you, buddies.

Don’t forget to drop your priceless comments! Thank you n Good bye.


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