Friday, June 17, 2011

The Art of the Review: Introduce Personality

So, you've seen a film, read a book, listened to a CD or have a favorite television program and want to put your passion to good use with a critique on a social page, product site- or daringly! you want to start a review blog on your own.  No problem! If a newcomer to reviewing thinks he or she doesn't know what to say or if the fiction transitionist feels a sense of meandering prose sidetracking the opinion at  hand- the solution is simple.  Introduce yourself!

The Introduction

One should always begin a review with a few sentences of introduction. We spend so much time wanting to do clever catchy first lines or advertising quick grabs that we forget our high school essay essentials. The best way to beat your hesitation is to share how you came to review the product.  Was it a gift or in the movie theater? Even in this instant 140 characters flash pan internet, there is a reader who will want to know a real person wrote what he is reading. You can be personal and put your personality into your stance- after all, you are persuading the audience towards material you have either loved or hated!  It's not the time to be shy. If you have a history with the object at hand, perhaps a musician or series you’ve enjoy for many years-do tell.  You can even admit if you have a bias- let the reader know from where you and the product are coming in your goals. Try and mention the full title, date released, author, major star, director, or other big name associated with the material. You have in fact set the scene the same as you would for fiction.  Now you can state your thesis for the review to come.  Will this be a quality product or is it a miss?

A Summary

In reviewing a book, film, or television series, summarize the general plot in a few sentences-but try not to spoil anything unless it’s absolutely necessary.  Sometimes you read a review online and there is no personal opinion whatsoever- merely a lengthy paraphrasing of what happens. In a pinch you could use an official film summary or book blurb, sure.  But why use the same public copy as everyone else? It is good practice to try and summarize a topic like you did in a good ole book report.  Show yourself you were paying attention and know the product at hand. Inform us who is starring as whom by stating the characters name (then the actor in parenthesis).  If you’re discussing a music album, tell us the medium- CD, cassette, record-  and some background about the group or the set. Is it special in some way? What is the genre, has it been a successful album and group?

To the Story, Direction, and Songs

Next, it's time to tell the reader if the material does what is supposed to do. You don't need to apologize or feel bad for being harsh. Again, go back to school: make your statement and back it up with three examples and support sentences.  Does the book tell its tale consistently? Do the director and screenwriter make their movie or show uneven?  Lists the positives and what is right and group the cons with their reasoning.  Depending on the material or the length of your complaints, try a paragraph for each.  There's also nothing wrong with breaking down your essay with subject headings- Even something as simple as 'What I liked' or 'The Stinky Parts.' For music, you can discuss each song on the album individually or selectively detail the best material by paragraph.  If it's all good, super! But feel free to mention the clunkers. Heck, you can even joke about any unintentional humor or mistakes.  This is after all entertainment and enjoyment and you are sharing the love. How are the lyrics poetic, the dialogue corny,  the plots hysterical?  Mention the good things about your product, but be honest if something’s bad, too. For TV also mention the standout episodes as well as the bad ones.  What worked for one that was lacking in the other?

For a sample now, feel free to check out my lengthy latest review on the new film X-Men: First Class at my review blog I Think, Therefore I Review:

 I had a lot to say about this film, so I broke it down with headings detailing the story, stars, villains, design, and experience.  The good of the cast was blocked separately from the negative actors. I gave professional references and also admitted some of my favoritism. I opened with why I wanted to see the film and concluded with the pros and cons of attending the cinema.   

What have you seen in the movie theater recently? Try getting your thoughts down with the starter tips here.  You aren't going to have a perfect essay the first time out, either.  Get your notes and initial thoughts on paper first.  Formatting and corrections, bells and whistles can follow later.  When reviewing, go ahead and say what you mean, speak plainly, and let your opinion be heard! 


Anonymous said...

I like the idea of the introductions - making it personal, because after all, it is a personal opinion.

Nice workshop Kristin!!

Kristin Battestella said...

Hi Kay Dee!

Indeed so many websites nowadays are just copy copy copy from unseen phantom link. Add some experience and pizazz and get intimate on why a particular book or movie did or didn't touch or inspire you.

Thanks for stopping by!