Home > Journalism > Writing Reviews

Writing Reviews

By: Angelique Caffrey - Updated: 28 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Review; Reviewers; Writing; Writer;

If you are hired to write a review, you'll want to ensure that your finished document has all the elements necessary to make it a strong, well-spoken commentary. Below are some guidelines to assist you with your critique.

Be Opinionated

First and foremost, don't forget that you're being paid to draw a conclusion. Too many novice reviewers tend to be a little wishy-washy in their pieces. Instead, be bold and strong but not cruel. Nasty reviews tend to have the opposite effect on audiences than was intended, because readers feel sorry for the subject of the review. If you loathed the cheesecake at a restaurant, describe in detail exactly why you found it to be lacking ("the flavour was too subtle; it had virtually no taste") without saying, "This was a piece of garbage that belonged in the rubbish bin, not on my plate." Conversely, if you enjoyed the beginning scenes of a controversial play, go ahead and say so. Remember that you aren't writing your review to make friends; your mission is to fairly inform the public of your experiences, positive or negative.

Add Facts

Most reviews mix facts with the basic opinions. Such information could include the running length of a movie or the street address of a bed and breakfast. Without adding factual elements to your critique, it will be short of substance and leave the reader without the opportunity to find out for him- or herself whether you were on the mark or missed it completely.

Be Detailed

If you didn't like a novel, make sure you explain why. Don't just say, "This book was dull." Instead, describe what made it so boring. Was it too long? Was the writing pedantic? Was the prose flowery and virtually unreadable? Was the plot confusing? You want your audience to understand exactly why you had the reaction you did to the item or place you reviewed.

Add Some Humour

Sometimes, you can spice up a review with a little well-placed humour. In fact, many critics are known for their wit. Depending upon the publication where your review will be printed, humour may or may not be acceptable. You may also have to watch the kind of humour you use; for instance, some editors would frown upon too much childish humour, but would appreciate some "high brow" witticisms. Check with your project supervisor, agent, or editor if you're not sure if your style of humour is appropriate for your review.

Develop a Rating System of Your Own

One of the best parts of writing a review is giving a rating. Some authors use stars, others use the "thumbs up/thumbs down" method. If you are able to, develop your own rating system. Be clever; most readers appreciate a little fun. For instance, if you're reviewing your local doggy day cares (yes, they do exist!), you could use bones or bow-wows, as in: "My co-reviewer and furry friend, Rover, gave Puppy Palace four bow-wows!"

Give Suggestions

Finally, it's appropriate to always give your readers suggestions. If you're reviewing the latest book by Mrs. Jane Smith but you were unmoved by her passages, you might want to suggest that readers go to their local libraries and borrow the book rather than buying it. Or, if Mrs. Smith has written other works, you could say, "This work pales in comparison to Smith's first novella, A Chicken for All Seasons." This encourages the reader to consider looking over a different published piece by the same author.

In the end, it's critical that you be critical! Your audience is looking for you to give them some direction, so don't hold back. Just be fair, but be honest, and you'll wind up with a great review.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • CunardWhiteStar
    Re: How to Write News Articles
    Hello a new ship being launched in 2030 or 2033 so The ship is called the R.M.S. Lusitania II It Has More Balance for sink It will be…
    6 August 2019
  • Cunard Line
    Re: How to Write News Articles
    RMS Lusitania II is Being Launched on 3030 With More Balance and Lifeboats This Ship can Carry over 3,000 Passengers and 6,000 Crew…
    3 August 2019
  • Yellow Star Line
    Re: How to Write News Articles
    If TITANIC III Sinks TITANIC IIII Will Be Launched on 2043 Anouncement.
    3 August 2019
  • Yellow Star Line
    Re: How to Write News Articles
    TITANIC III Will Be Launched On April 12 2030 It has Over 900 1st class cabins 1,000 Crew members 800 2nd class cabins and 700 3rd…
    3 August 2019
  • Yellow Star Line
    Re: How to Write News Articles
    TITANIC III Will Be launched On 2030 With More Lifeboats Over 101 Boats carried and 1,000 Crew Member 900, 1st class Cabins 800 2nd…
    3 August 2019
  • Kaylie
    Re: Can An Editor Rewrite My Story?
    I saw an old black n white movie that was never made into a book. If I rewrote it with different additives, could I do this…
    10 June 2019
  • Gee
    Re: Script Writing: The Concept
    Am bless with this power of imagination words pops into my heads freely I think it is my own gift from nature but am faced with…
    20 March 2019
  • Adoko Vincent
    Re: Narrative Journalism
    I am not a journalist,but I am a Public relations officer for my campus cultural association. This site has given me some insights about…
    31 October 2018
  • fastassignmenthelp
    Re: What is a Synopsis and How to Write One
    In short "a brief summary or general survey of something" OR "an outline of the plot of a play, film, or…
    27 August 2018
  • indumukho
    Re: Importance of Rhythm and Flow
    Can anyone show me please, how to bring flow to this poem- On my way to the morning walk I met a centipede walking leisurely…
    14 August 2018