Over the course of time I’ve written a fair amount of reviews. Mostly gaming and more recently anime reviews. I’ve stumbled upon many reviews, from anime to cars. All have their own style, but also follow a certain format.
Over the years I’ve been asked by a few websites to write as a reviewer or as an editor. They’ve obviously appreciated my input as a member on a gaming website through which they contacted me. I declined because I wasn’t hardcore enough to actually make it a marketable hobby. But I learned the hard way and the community of the website where I posted, molded me into a confident reviewer.
I will not propagate a fixed step by step route you have to follow within a review. Although there are elements that should be present in a review. Somebody who reads it should get familiar with the topic you are discussing. The reader has to be able to form an impression of the series or game. For the sake of this post and the overall style of this blog, I’ll be writing from an anime perspective.
To write a complete impression for the reader, there are certain elements that should be present. Elements such as a short introduction to the story, the visual style, music and a summary combined with a verdict. Of course those elements don’t have to be called like this or described in a fixed order.
If you have difficulty with writing a review, I believe the following steps should get you on your way. First off with the introduction, followed by the story, characters, a look and feel part and a verdict which summarizes the good and bad elements you’ve described earlier.
Because nobody is the same, you might want to give your review a twist. Something that separates itself from the rest. Maybe you like music and want to put more emphasis on the music of an anime. Others might fancy the visual style and want to describe it with a more artistic fashion.
Personally I love to give a little anecdote. If an anime is set in the late 19th century, I might consider giving a little introduction to that time period. Creating an impression of the setting, slowly introducing the viewer to the series. On the other hand I create a guide for myself in which I can counter the subject matter of the series with the 19th century that I introduced in my anecdote.
Another approach could be to tell about previous works and creating a link between the new and the old. The author gets the opportunity to tell the reader what made the new better, or worse, than the previous works from the studio or director.
There is a lot of room to play with within a review, but I’m convinced that some form of guide through your text will help you get a grip on the subject matter. You create a familiar setting not only for your reader, but also for you as the author.
As I said earlier, nobody is the same. This implies that everybody will have another perspective or reference they base their verdict on. There are objective elements such as story, but the review will predominantly be a subjectively written work.
I would also like to argue that a purist approach such as an objective review would be boring to read. There are reviewers out there that gave those reviews an extra touch. Making me come back for more. Some writers are very good in bashing or combining fact with opinion. Those elements made the reviews a pleasant read and created a unique atmosphere.
All in all I’ve described elements that are pretty straightforward to many, but might help others in getting a good start with writing reviews. There are still a few things I want to point out that you could consider when starting your very own review.
The most important thing is to keep your subject matter fresh in mind. If you write a review long after you’ve seen a series, you might find it hard to recollect certain elements in the series. This results in a review that has portions missing or you start to fill in gaps that could be avoided if you had the series clear in your mind.
Another thing is rereading. If you’re done and uploaded your piece to your site, or WordPress, you don’t have to smash that publish button right away. It is good to let it sink in a bit, let it be for a day. If you reread it later you might see things you didn’t notice in the first reread. This will help you achieve a better review with less grammatical errors. If you’re still uncertain, you can always send the review to a friend first and let him or her read it.
I want to close of this post with saying that a review is still a part of you. It’s your opinion and your verdict. I don’t like to be focused on a fixed rating scale in which a five is the absolute number to define a mediocre work. We all have our own values and experience a series our own way. There are overall scales for pH values, but not for opinions. My eight is not your eight and my grading is not too high and yours is not too low.