POST #4: Anatomy of a Review

I hope to write some reviews today, since that’s what I love doing most when parked in front of a computer typing. First, I thought I’d explain my process to you.

I obviously start with taking in the content that I’ll be reviewing. If it’s a movie, I watch it once prior to the review (I usually just watch what I want, then review it, I don’t usually watch something solely for the purpose of writing a review). For books, I read them once. Comics I usually read completely once, then re-browse prior to writing. For albums, I listen to them a lot before decided on a review, then usually have it playing while writing.

When I decide that I want to review something, I usually go out and get a picture of it (movie poster, cover) right after taking it in, re-size the pic, then upload it onto my photobucket. I want it around for when I have the time to post. The first thing I type for the post is the code for the picture, which I centre at the top of the page.

Next. I copy and paste my intro template from my last post, then change the details (title, year, actors, directors, etc).

Then comes the body text. There’s no formal structure here, but I usually have a beginning, middle, and end. The beginning usually explains why I decided to take in and review the subject, and give some of my personal background in relation to it, if appropriate. What you’ll rarely see in an intro is a summary. I don’t really like doing summaries at the best of times, as it’s hard to make them sound like original content. For more popular things, like heavily advertised movies, I won’t bother at all and assume my audience is familiar enough with the premise that I don’t need to explain it to them. If it does require a summary, I won’t start with it because that ruins my chance to hook an audience.

Summaries or biographical information (especially for album reviews) will be in the next couple paragraphs. I keep it to a couple sentences, and like to mix opinion into the summary. This is my compromise and attempt to keep the audience’s eyes from glazing over.

Hopefully, by this point, I’ve found a hook for my review, a theme or something that will carry me through to the end. If not, I just have to slog through the review hitting on familiar notes (how entertaining it was, critique of the writing/acting/directing/production). If I’m not making strong opinions by this point, then it was probably a really blah movie/comic/album (although, probably movie… if an album is blah, I rarely review it, since album reviews take so long).

When possible, I like to put off revealing my ultimate opinion of something until the end of the review. That increases the interest for the reader, and helps me finish strong. The hardest part of any review is the conclusion, where I like to finish with a memorable sentence that sums things up. This would be the quote that rotten tomatos or metacritic would pull if I was important at all. I hate reviews that end flat, although sometimes, it’s unavoidable.

Next is my ranking out of five. I take the ranking seriously, and base it on other reviews and rankings I’ve given in the past. Then, I put up links to past reviews I’ve written that relate to the current one. Relations are usually similar content, or content by people featured in the current subject, but sometimes I have to stretch the defintion of related to movies of the same genre/era/similar ranking. Mostly, I’m hoping someone will go back and read an old review they may have missed.

If I haven’t done so already, I now insert my lj cut text and alt comment. Then, I post it to my LJ marked private, so I can proof it for formatting and grammar. Then I post it and index it.

I’m telling you all this because today… I’ll be skipping most of these steps. I’ll probably just write the body text today (maybe add the pic), then clean it up later. So keep that in mind.

Time to post!

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