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Writing arts and entertainment reviews

If you like reading books, watching movies or listening to a great cd, then the entertainment beat is for you.!

But in order to write a review that will make an impact on the reader, you need to include a bit more than your thoughts and opinions.

What is a review?
The review follows a basic structure, which can be used to critique any kind of artistic activity whether it's a book or writing of any kind, live performance (dance, music or theatre), recorded music (cds), or visual art.

Opening Paragraph.
In the opening paragraph, the reviewer offers a description of the book, cd, play, movie or concert and explains whether it was a positive or negative experience to watch, read or listen to it. This is the reviewer's thesis or the main argument they would like to make about this work.

In the next few paragraphs of the essay, the reviewer sets out to prove that thesis. If the book or movie was excellent, the reviewer will focus on the elements that make it work so well, including characters, scenes, dialogue, description, pace, plot line, and theme. If it was flawed in some way, the reviewer will try to establish that by offering evidence of those flaws. The same is true for music -- if the reviewer says this is a group's best album in years, then he or she needs to offer some reasons and some examples of why this is true.

The End.
At the end, the writer leaves the reader with an overall opinion of the work in question and a recommendation on whether or not the book, movie or cd is worth their time and money. The reviewer may discuss some of the thoughts and feelings he or she was left with after this work.

Here are some tips on writing a great review:

  • Don't re-tell the entire story when reviewing a play, novel or movie. You can usually give the reader a sense of what the plot is in a few sentences. Then, you can move on and explore the way the writer handled the story and what the writer did to make the characters and story come alive.

  • Don't tell the reader that the play was great, the concert was boring or the book was exciting. Show them why you think that way by giving examples from the work itself and offering reasons for your opinion.

  • Compare and contrast the book (or cd or play) in question to others in its genre to give your reader a sense of how it stacks up. If you are reviewing a cd by a new singer/songwriter, you may want to compare their music to an artist that your readers will be familiar with.

  • Do a little research about the artist to give yourself a better sense of who they are and why they write, paint or sing. Those details may add to your review and give your readers a full appreciation of the work and the artist.

  • Once you have written a review, you can share it with a wider audience through your school newspaper.

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