Writing Reviews

Writing Reviews

When writing a review there is certain criteria to follow. Some criteria  can be used for Movies, TV, Gaming, as well as Books Concerts and products!

I’ve read a few books that I couldn’t put down (the first 5 Harry Potter books you had to pry out of my hands)  and sped my way through because I loved the book so much. This is a treat for any reader, and it’s true for reviewers too. I love to lose myself in a story, (some of my favorites for this are The Janet Evanovich Plum series, Yasmine Galenorn’s Otherworld series and J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series and most recently Ready Player One!) I usually gather my thoughts when I close the book. What was it that captured my attention? Was it the characters, the story line, the topic, or the director or author’s voice? What techniques did they use? Why would I recommend this?

With stories like this, I often go back and re-read the book or re-watch the show at a later time.

Here I will help you to write better reviews or give you ideas to make some of yours a little different.

General Criteria

You need to give a

  • short plot summary
  •  what it was you did  Like
  • and did not like about what you are reviewing be it products, movie, book etc.
  • Stats=  The specific information needed  about the item being reviewed
  • Format watched/read
  • Target Audience
  • Time Table…Past, Present Future or shifts
  • Violence =  None   Some      Graphic
  • Sexual content =      None       Some          Explicit

Movies =  Genre, running time, Rating, starring Actors, The format you watched it on (Theater, DVD, Streamed or Blu ray or TV)

  • Strong male /Female character
  • Subjects (Sexism, Hackers, Financial scandal, political etc)

TV= Title, starring actors,  Genre, Day, time* & Station it’s on. Type of Show (Animated, Procedural, sitcom) What season & epiosdes watched  Format watched: Live, DVD,Blu-ray, digital,

  • Strong male /Female character
  • Subjects (Sexism, Hackers, Financial scandal, political etc)

*Make note if you are Pacific, Eastern, Central or Mountain time (if watching live)

Books=  Number Of Pages  Take note of the title and author, cover image, even back of the book blurb, or story summary in the flap. Table of contents, might be of interest especially if it’s a self help book, the introduction, a sample paragraph (say your favorite part), and the front/back  appendix pages.   worksheets, usually seen more often in nonfiction books; fiction books may include list of characters or story maps, language translations etc. as Readers may go through these steps before deciding on buying a book.  How long are the chapters? Are they books within a book? (usually I look through the chapters and see what the average length is.. are they usually 10-15 individual pages?

  • Strong male /Female character
  • Subjects (Sexism, Hackers, Financial scandal, political etc)
  •  Literary Divice(s) used  Flashbacks, footnotes, logical fallacy, epistolary
  • Pace   =        Fast    Relaxed  or puts you to sleep
  • Tone (Bleak, Melancholy, Upbeat, rpomantic, creepy, eerie, Violent,
  • Narration perspective..

1st person (I never thought I’d be the one…)       2nd  Person (You wake up in the club….)   3rd (He was born into nobility ) Shifting perspective

As a reviewer, it’s helpful to understand the overall theme (you’ll decide later whether the author stays within the ‘premise’ of the book).

Concert – Band/Musician, Name of Tour, Date, City/state/country  a few songs they sang (old & new) a description of what their set looked like and of course photos, anything funny that happened or even any fan interactions (bringing someone up to play or sing-a-long, Pranks etc)

Theater   – Show title, Where (Theater stage & Broadway NYC)   Length of show  (is there any intermissions)   How long has the play been going in the theater   What is it about  Favorite part

Products=  What the Product is, Manufacturer, Model type,  What the product is supposed to do, maybe a video/commercial of it, and an amazon link & website to it. (Maybe even some instructions how to use it)  What you did and did not like about it of course,  what ways you think it can be improved upon if any.

Depending on what site  you write your review on may have a bit of a  limit of so many characters or words, (always write up in a word file first just in case) or you may have to meet a minimum quota of words/ characters on the site. (You could also always just post the link with the title of what you are reviewing. Ie:  Title…Review or Review of ___________   ) some you can even write a few sentences (copy & past or something you forgot to note in the original review and post that with the link to facebook, Linkdin etc)

One way or another sometimes an outline helps, but don’t always follow it as readers will notice this general form you are writing in and likely no longer pay attention. You need to change up information when it feels natural

every book, Movie, TV, Products etc  has a target audience.

Can you categorize every interest or subject in the world?

What may fascinate me may not even make your take-a-glance list and vice-versa.

Some Dos and Don’ts

-don’t trash the work with personal attacks against the person or ‘product’  THe consumer, readers & watcher  exist who will love the work.
Your job is to read a book watch a movie or tv show and use an item objectively, give your opinion, and connect stories with readers

-Your  job is to make an objective evaluation and think about what type of person will enjoy what you are reviewing

– I give my  honest opinion on anything I review.  Always include what you do or don’t like even if it’s  the author’s storytelling abilities.
-mention technical problems, like slow pacing, confusing characters, a too simple plot, uninteresting main character, and similar features that are important for the reader or watcher to know.

– I always have my journal and a pen at hand to jot notes while I’m reading, or watching something. Usually, I keep notes important names, places, dates, or quotes. I try to read  at all times, in the bathroom, waiting rooms, if I take public transportation or even if it’s in the car for a family trip.

– never give away the climatic ending, give away big stunts or solve the mystery in your review.

  • Sticky Notes Are Your Friends

If you want to save a few pages to visit later, stick a Post-It note on the page.

Notes are great if you have multiple pages to refer to (and especially if you hate dog-earred books). Flip through your notes when you write the review

 This is what I try cover in my reviews

(this basically covers everything)

  Some give the star treatment  rating of 1 through 5 stars 1 being worst and 5 being best; while others just use a number system for an overall grade, which works pretty much the same as the stars.

There are those that use the  letter system for an overall  grade like they did in school; F being a fail & A+ being the best. If you think about it, they are all  the same.                                                              1* = F  2= D  3*= average  4 = B & 5 = A                                                      Someone a long time ago had told me about their criteria for  how they do their review and told me I could make use of it, if I’d like to add to my own.

This is an amalgamation of both of our criteria  so that you can use it or some parts in a review and other parts in a different one.

——–  THE REVIEW ———

General Criteria



(studio for movie or tv)

Format    Theater  TV  Streaming   DVD     Blu-ray  and if you want you could make note

if you Own or rented what you are reviewing. (If You like it enough you can note you would like to add a copy to your video library.


Major Fiction Genres Major Non-fiction Genres
Major genres are categories found in libraries, book stores, and online catalogs so readers can find selections.
Children’s Biography / Memoir
Tweens Writing
Young Adult History
Adult How To
Fantasy Inspirational
General Miscellaneous / Genera
Horror Religious
Literary Self Help
Mystery Cooking / Food
Romance New Age
Science Fiction

Plot outline (try to limit to 3-5 lines)

include the characters/ stars  & co-stars if you feel the need  (or you can add the title’s or page

Write about what you DID like about the movie/show/book/product

Then what you didn’t

What was your favorite part  (definitely include especially if different your favorite funny part)

a Favorite Quote?

If horror a  Memorable mutilation/death

Is it  an Adaptation from  Book to Movie or  film to TV or book to TV or TV to movie etc?

Please be sure to note that as well as if you have read or watched the other.

Note the differences and if you like them or not

What do you like about the new version

What is it that you don’t?

Do you agree with the casting,and if not anyone you may have preferred instead

The Questions to ask

How would you describe the author’s style? Is it formal or informal?

Are you turning pages because you can’t wait to see what happens next? Or is it a chore to read?

Or did the movie/tv show feel like it was shorter than it said or maybe it felt a lot longer than it was.

Think about the genre, story’s characters, conflict, results, plots, and pacing.

Does the author miss important points? What mysteries did not get solved? What questions didn’t get answered?

Who is the ideal reader or watcher or user for this? Is it written or made appropriately for its targeted audience?

How will I remember all that information?

Tips for Fiction Book Reviews

Are the characters believable and fleshed-out? (Do they evolve through the book, movie or show or is it throughout the season or series)

Is the story-line interesting and believable? Believability applies to all genres, even in the made-up worlds of fantasy, where readers still need to believe the story.

How are chapters written? Short and easy-to-understand? Long with personal examples?

For historical novels, does the book stay within the time period?

Is the story-line based on plot? Does the plot progress on the characters’ actions?

Describe subplots; mention twists (but not in detail) . Don’t give away the surprises or story ending.

NON-Fiction Reviews  

Nonfiction book reviews need some additional or different information. While you’re reading, consider these points to write in your review.

What is the author’s experience with the topic?

Is the book an overview of a problem? Does it give readers a practical way to solve a problem?

What resources are included?

Would the reader be able to follow the author’s advice?

Is the book written to be a resource, workbook, or beginner’s guide

For biographies and memoirs, does the narrative sound true? What is the importance of the person’s biography? Is it to retell their life, share an experience, or help others?


 Originality: 5/5          Length: 5/5          Plot: 4/5         Characters: 5/5         Cast/acting         Set-up/ Execution

Cliche factor

Re-watch/read/ usability





Depth/ Range /Emotion







CGI Action


Quality  (rise or decline)

Would you recommend this to someone?   as well as  How Best to see or read it….  in theater, buy, rent (or borrow) wait for a sale or tv?

Overall grade  Letter/number/or stars


—-I will add to this as I think of anything else —- 

You can download my Word document version on evernote  (attached at the bottom)

Again Please remember  not to use the same outline to review anything, it sounds generic when you do. You want it to be heartfelt, that way others will know if they want to go ahead and see, read or buy what you have reviewed.

Here’s something else  that will be Helpful for what I may not have thought to put here

Checking out the ‘Ultimate Book Report’ outline page I made

To summarize…


fact stats: title of the book,movie, show etc, author’s (director/writer/actors  etc)  name, publisher, ISBN, publishing/release  date, format reviewed (Theater, DVD, Blu-ray rental or owned) , genre,plot summary, target audience, and special things to note (such as author or illustrator awards; subtitles in a movie (if the whole movie) warnings on explicit language or scenes that may disturb viewers/readers). but note (without spoiling anything WHY you think so)

Review length depends on the publishing site. A general rule is to aim towards 350 – 500 words, (meanwhile Hubpages wants a minimum of 750 words) so word count varies depending on the publishing site. Children’s books could be even shorter; you wouldn’t write a 350-word review on a 36-page story.

When I write a review,I hand write my draft in my journal, Focusing on the ‘Fact Stats’, then while watching the movie or tv show, reading the book or ‘playing’ with the app I write my first impressions, as well as notes of anything I want to remember; be it a quote, scene or just how I see someone acting (like Chloe Grace Moretz in The 5th Wave. There’s a part where she’s falling down a hill and you can tell she purposely flings a teddy bear when it should just be that she drops it)

End with your recommendation: Would you recommend this book to others? What type of reader would enjoy the book?

Create your style…

One of the reasons there are so many blogs with the same niche etc, is everyone has their own style of writing article. Some sound more sophisticated, others just sound like they follow a template or outline boring…and why I say to change things up.

Some reviewers start with a summary, then follow with their opinion. Other reviewers reverse that order; some combine summary with their opinion. In other words, develop your own style, but include the subject of your review’s  storyline/premise (movie, Tv or books)  and include your opinion.

Those are the MAIN things to include, anything else is to help you along with ideas, honestly when I get stuck on a lack of something to say about what I am reviewing… I actually refer to this!!

Don’t forget to add your tags (be it blog, Creators, Hubpages etc writing sites)


any writing site like Movie Pilot, Hubpages, Blogs etc uses them

Title (of Movie, show, product item, book etc reviewing)

Review/ Reviews
How to
DVD review
blu-ray review
video review
Video games
app review

Rating (r, PG etc) ,

Genres (list any what you think it is as well as what it’s listed as on Goodreads or IMDB!)

Manufacturer name

Tv/TV shows

Movie / Movies

Actors names

script writer

Director’s Name

creator’s name


studio or Publishing house

After tweaking your writing, take a break. Go back with fresh eyes after a few days then edit and proofread your work, and write finishing touches.
For more help let me know you can also order this book from amazon
The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing

he book explains how to write a book review, avoid mistakes of newbie reviewers, and how to publish your reviews. You’ll learn how book reviews affect sales, book stores and more. If you’re a seasoned reviewer, you’ll also love the resources and in-depth analysis.

It’s not often that a book can be a guide to both beginners and advanced writers.

This book will guide newbie and advanced reviewers on the technical how-to’s on reviewing, as well as the importance of reviews within the publishing industry.


Authors, book reviews, reviews, contest books, and discussions. (My reviews are published on

A site dedicated to book lovers and writers. We provide a forum for readers to communicate about the books and authors they enjoy.
Author interviews, book reviews, reading group guides and lively book commentary all can be found here. New releases and perennial favorites

Book Reviews, Author Interviews –

Sources for data

My own ideas, friends, goodreads

Have any ideas I may have missed or have your own? Or need advice?


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