Cheat sheet to writing a review
So you’ve finally decided to muscle up the courage to write your own review for a series. You’re confused, lost, and you have a slight itch. Not to worry a bit of cream and that itch will be taken care of. Now in regards to your review I’ve compiled a list of things that help me when I’m writing a review, a few tricks of the trade that I’ve picked up you could say. So like all noble people I’m going to share the little bit of wisdom that I have with you all.
The Cheat Sheet
Step 1 Know what you are writing about
It’s just like when you are trying to bullshit a paper for school, if you don’t know the content you won’t be able to do it well. While you don’t have to watch the entire series to writing a decent review at least have watched the first volume (usually episodes one to four or five) if you are doing an anime. For manga if you want to write a review for the entire series it’s best that you have some knowledge about the series more so than what you’ve gathered from volume one and two. I personally prefer to do a review per volume rather than the entire series when it comes to manga because manga volumes cover a lot of information. Either when it comes to knowing what you are talking about go with your guy; if you believe you know enough about the series (and enough so that you won’t fill it with spoilers) and will be able to convey the general story/plotline of the series to the reader you should be fine.
Step 2 Sources
This step isn’t mandatory but it makes writing your review much easier on you. One thing I’ve found helpful when it comes to writing a reviews is getting other sources. Usually when I’m reviewing a series a read other reviews on that specific series. It helps me formulate my thoughts and put my views in perspective. It is also a good way to point out things you may not have noticed during the series that might change your opinion about something. However, and this is a warning, DO NOT COPY AND PASTE OTHER PEOPLE’S REVIEW even if you just want to use their paragraph don’t. That’s called plagiarism and it can get you booted from all most anywhere. Reading another person’s review is meant to help you not do your review for you. “Read, Process, Write;” remember that; you have to read someone’s review, process what you’ve read in your mind along with your own thoughts on the series and then write those combined thoughts down. Like I said this step isn’t something you have to do, in fact this entire check list is voluntary (I’ll get to that later), just from personal experience it has helped me when it comes time to writing mine. Also it doesn’t just have to be other reviews it can be brief synopsis on the back of the cover, or discussions about the series that you’ve read about on forums or whatever. Where ever you get your information from put it to good use.
Step 3 Take you time
I can tell you this now, and what I’m about to say applies to anything that you will write in your life, the first paragraph will always be the hardest. Don’t let a mini-session of writer’s block discourage you from writing, as you write more you’ll be able to tackle writers’ block more easily.
Just take your time with your review. It’s better to wait a while and work on it bit by bit than to rush it and make a mess. Consider your review finished when you think it’s complete and concise.
Step 4 Don’t worry about length
This is probably the most frequently asked question that I get. Everyone seems to be worried about the length, and you shouldn’t have to. Let me clear that up, if you write a review that’s 10 sentences long no one will take you seriously and at the same time if you write a review for an anime/manga that’s 3 pages you will simply overwhelmed your readers. The rule of thumb is simple: write as much as is needed. You want to have your readers understand the story and the your general impression of the anime/manga you are reviewing. With that said I can freely say this: don’t write a review that’s just a paragraph. It is very hard, if not impossible, for anyone, even experts writers, to concise all that information into a paragraph. Let content by your judge. Also keep in mind that this really depends on where you plan on submitting your review. Here (x111.com) you have a very laid back feel and you are free to write your review pretty much however you want; however, at some places there is a set structure you have to follow–and that’s not necessarily a bad thing merely their choice.
Step 5 Give factual information
While your review is going to be your opinion you want to give some factual information about what you are reviewing. Whether that’s merely listing the genre to listing the director, release date, etc etc. Whatever factual information you think the reader should know include it some part in your review.
Step 6 Grading System
I will be honest the first I do when I start to read a review the first thing I check is the grades. If you can at all use a grading system that you are comfortable with; however, just make sure that the grading system you decided to use is simple enough that people will understand what you mean. Be clear and concise. A good time would be to use simple things that everyone would recognize. This is probably why you see numbers used so much. Try not to complicate it too much–be to the point. Also don’t just grade but state why you think it deserved the grade that it got, that way people have content to back up the numbers.
Step 7 Cover the basics
This tip as to do more with your actual review than anything else. You want to cover all the basics such as story, plot line, characters, music and of course your own opinion. Your opinion is important because that if anything will be what conveys your opinion the most. Some people separate their opinion from the rest of the review and other’s incorporate into their general review. It’s really up to you, just make sure that you cover all the parts you think a person who’s interested in the series you are reviewing will need to understand the series.
Step 8 Your style
Your review should be an extension of yourself and your thoughts. And if you continue writing your reviews you’ll become more confident in your writing style and your reviews will begin to take on certain characteristics. And eventually your writing style will become recognizable and associated with you. This however takes time and lots of trial and error. The best way to develop your own style is to “stand on the shoulders of giants and surpass them.” Let me explain what I mean: when I started writing my reviews I used Raven’s format and eventually modified it as my own. Currently I’m still in the process of modifying that format again and we’ll see what that will turn out to be. Anyway, I recommend you finding someone who’s style you like and ask if you can use their format as inspiration. This way you have some structure and don’t have to worry about creating your own format. Once you feel you are ready to create your own style you can do whatever you want, as long as it is within the set rules. Some people go beyond and include scans, episode list, etc etc. It’s all up to you.