Writing reviews

Reviews can be short and to the point with a word count of approximately 100 words, or they can be long and detailed with a word count from 500 words up. When you are reviewing for papers or magazines you will usually be given the details on the word count.

To review you need to be equipped with knowledge of:
• the audience
• the context of the piece
• the background of the artist.

Important questions to ask yourself when reviewing:
1. Have I given the thing I’m reviewing my full open-minded attention?
2. Have I reached my assessment honestly, uninfluenced by fear of being out on a limb, of upsetting the powerful or being nasty for fun?
3. Have I made my assessment clear?
4. Have I provided enough information for readers to be able to judge the value of my assessment?
5. Is what I’ve written engaging to my particular audience?

Short reviews

The writing needs to be compact with little room for deep questioning. Only the essential information is needed in short review:
• outline of the plot/theme/character with no spoilers
• context of the writer, genre, character
• judgement about whether it’s good in context.

Long reviews

Long reviews also need the essential information in them, but take longer to get into this. They generally start with a couple of paragraphs to lead into it. This sets up the angle you have decided to take with the review and provide the context of your review.
After that you need to ensure that you:
• outline the plot, theme and character with no spoilers
• provide evidence of any claims you make (e.g. ..so-and-so is an elegant writer… provide an example)
• give context of where this piece lies in the artist oeuvre, genre or character.

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