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How To Write A Book or Movie Review Like The Pros

If you’ve ever wondered how to become the next Roger Ebert or the next great book or movie reviewer, look no further.  We at Watchdog Wire are ready to help you be the judge of the next great book or movie.

There is no right or wrong way to write a book or movie review, because oftentimes reviews are personalized and reflect the opinions of the interviewer.

But there are certain things every reviewer should keep in mind, because giving a well-thought out review is more than just giving away an opinion.

The purpose of most book or movie reviews is to help the reader decide whether the book or movie is worth their time. The review should give enough details  that the reader can make an informed decision, without giving anyway any essentials such as the plot or any surprises.

1. Know the whole story.


Even if you’ve read the book jacket or have seen a trailer for what you’re reviewing, don’t fall prey to the trap of thinking you know the whole story from a small snippet.  Although it’s a good idea to provide a “taste” of what you’re reviewing, make sure you know the whole story before you select the parts you want to highlight.

2. Provide a snapshot of what you’re reviewing


When you’re writing a review, you want to provide your audience with a sample from the book or movie you’re reviewing.  The best way to do that is to include a quote from the book or movie you’re reviewing.  If you’re writing a movie review, you can even include a trailer or clip in your piece to make it more visual.

3. Describe what you’re reviewing briefly, and avoid spoilers.

The first thing you’ll want to do as you write your review is get right to the heart of what you’re reviewing.  Mention the title and author/director’s name in the title and body of the post. Feel free to talk about the story, it’s plot, the different characters involved and its pacing- but don’t give away the ending! You want to be able to give enough tips to convince the person to read or watch what you’re reviewing but you don’t want to spoil the fun.  Think of it as giving a person a sample of ice cream before dinner.  You want to give the person a taste of the ice cream, but you also don’t want to spoil that person’s appetite with a full bowl of it.





bowl of ice cream

If you’re stuck with a case of writer’s block and are wondering what to include in your review, ask yourself before writing a review:

  • Would you recommend it?
  • What did you like about it?
  • What did you dislike?
  • What is the tone or genre?
  • Did it make you laugh or cry?
  • What emotions does it evoke?

4. Point out the good, bad, and the ugly


A lot of a review involves your informed opinion as the expert on a particular work.  Make sure you give your opinion, and make it personal.  Give the good, bad and the ugly and don’t hold back.  For books, look at technical details like point of view, writing style, any grammatical errors and atmosphere.  For movies, focus on things like plot structure or cinematic effects.  Character development is definitely a good thing to look at for both books and movies. Another thing you can do is ask “what if” and explore what the author or directors could have done better. Your readers will definitely appreciate it if you are true to yourself and honest in your opinions.

5. Explain your rating system


If you choose to have a rating system, make sure you explain what it means.  Even if its not a formal scale of 1-10 rating system, explain why you think that book was a great or why you think that movie fell flat.  The readers definitely want to hear your opinions, but you will persuade the reader much more effectively if you explain why and how you formed an opinion.

Do you have a great movie or book you would like to review?  Do you know of a local book or movie that hasn’t been talked about yet?  Contact info@watchdogwire.com to let us know about it!

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