Jun 28

Writing to Inform/Express Opinion

Writing to Inform/Express Opinion: Reviews

Session 23

NB: Ask the members, at the previous session, to read the following post, on the blog writersend.com, before the class

Make copies of the following article (* to*) to hand out for members.

Read the following:

* Reviews.
The purpose of a review is to inform, and to help the reader decide whether they want to read the book/see the film….. It is, by definition opinion, hopefully informed opinion but none the less, summary of what the book/film/play is about, but also what you, the reviewer thinks of it.
It can be as short as 70 – 100 words, it may be a scholarly essay of criticism and analysis, and, in the case of books, much will depend on what type of book is being reviewed and the intended audience.

In reviewing fiction the first rule must be: Do not give away the ending or too much of the story.
You can tell your reader enough about the setting, the main character(s), how well they are developed and the genre. You can explain what the book offers in the way of action or reflection on the human condition. You can speak about its entertainment value and whether it is escapist; entertaining for the period of reading, or memorable, without giving away the whole plot. It is meant to be a description of the quality of the book, an analysis of what the writer intended to achieve and how well s/he succeeded, not a retelling of the story.

There is no formula, no one way to write a review, but there are useful elements that you may like to include.
Introduce the book by author and title and if appropriate, publisher. You may not need to mention the publisher if you are writing 100 words for your local book club but you would if it was for publication in a newspaper or magazine.

You need to mention the theme of the book, the setting and how important that is to the story. For example, if it is set in war time and is reflecting something that the writer wants to say about human conflict, courage or the futility of war, your review might say how well it does that. How well is the atmosphere created? How effectively does the description, the dialogue, the amount of detail and analysis used by the author, create empathy, engage the reader? Did the book make you reconsider your own opinions or reinforce an already held view?

How are the elements of the plot handled, for example the opening paragraphs? How are relationships, conflict, disappointment, fear and joy handled’? Is there drama, suspense and satisfactory resolution, humour and wit in the authorship? Is the language concise, fluid, appropriate for the intended audience?

Does the writer use a clear simple style or use symbolism or metaphor, allegory?
Is the story told chronologically or through flashback? Is it told from a single viewpoint or several?
Summarise briefly the reasons why a reader might enjoy the book and perhaps any reasons why they might not, for example if they do not like detailed descriptions of blood-thirsty scenes or excessive bad language.

Do say whether you would recommend the book*

Task 1:
Write one or more sentences about each of the following words. It is up to you to decide what the task requires, what you choose to write.
We are trying to ensure that everyone understands what they have read, has some ideas to share, and can dissect a writing task for themselves. There is no one correct way to do this. Different approaches will enhance the discussion which is to follow.

  • opinion
  • criticism
  • analysis
  • escapist
  • theme
  • atmosphere
  • dialogue
  • empathy
  • drama
  • wit

Share and discuss.

Task 2:

Write a review of a book you have read recently, up to 250 words, suitable for reading out and sharing at a book club or for a ‘readers´ reviews’ page in a magazine.

Share and discuss.

(Category:Group Sessions) Tags:Language,Writing to Inform,Journalism,Writing for blogging

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