Being evaluative is simple! All you have to do is comment on the effect of a writer’s method, and weigh up how effective you think they’ve been in achieving their desired aim; usually for you to feel certain emotions, but also whether they’ve been successful in persuading/informing/entertaining you about a topic. When evaluating a text, it’s best to weigh up a writer’s:
- Overall aims and intentions
- Individual methods
- Success at provoking a particular reaction from the reader
You should also state how much you agree with a particular statement on the text (don’t be afraid to have an opinion!), and explain both sides of the argument.
When being evaluative, think of a text as being like a set of cogs working together to achieve a particular effect. Some cogs are larger than others, so they’ll contribute more to the overall running of the machine. When you evaluate a text you just need to identify which specific methods the writer has used, and which have more impact than others.
For example, if you think about a typical horror film, the aim is clear: to entertain and scare the audience. But the director will use lots of different techniques to do that: they might centre the film around a monster, or create lots of suspense and terror through long drawn-out chases, or will keep the audience on edge with discordant music and slow-motion shots. They might also shock the audience with graphic moments of violence. All of these methods – like cogs – contribute to the overall aim of creating fear and tension. To be evaluative, you just need to pin-point exactly which methods contribute to the effects, and which ones are more prominent than others. Think about which ones have an impact on you!