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-   -   Questions for movie reviewers out there (http://www.horrordvds.com/vb3forum/showthread.php?t=44559)

Suicide 02-19-2013 10:26 PM

Questions for movie reviewers out there
 
Questions for reviewers, not just for Horrordigital, anyone here who does reviews.

Are you naturally good writers, or did you have to practice a lot? How long do you usually work on a review? Any kind of tips or anything would be helpful.

Let me explain why I'm asking. I have a blog that I've run for several years now. I used to share out of print music, but it got to be a hassle keeping up with that music was out of print, files deleted, people threatening to sue me...So I've decided to try something new. I thought, hey I watch hundreds of movies a year, why not try and do some movie reviews?

I've written probably 7 or 8 reviews, and I've got to say, it's kind of hard. I try to keep the reviews at like 4-5 paragraphs, then talk a bit about the disc or whatever. But I either write too much and really ramble on, or I write to little and the review ends up not being very cohesive.

I'm also bad about touching up my reviews. I post the reviews, and reread them and constantly find sentences that don't work, or parts where I left out a thought so that two unrelated sentences just sort of collide with one another. I get anxious to post my reviews and usually end up editing once or twice once they've already been posted.

I think my Wizard of Gore review actually isn't too bad and I had fun ripping FDR a new one. If anyone wants to read, here's some of them:

http://the-manchester-morgue.blogspo...h/label/Review

Now, I'm more into reviews on sites like BadMovies.org or Bleeding Skull, where they kind of have fun with the reviews. Not necessarily ripping movies apart, but poking a bit of fun while giving your thoughts. I know I'm not a serious film critic, some of my favorite movies are stuff like C.H.U.D. 2, Return of the Killer Tomatoes and Rock 'n' Roll High School Forever. I'm way more into shitty movies, than good movies most of the time, that's just what I'm more likely to watch. So that's more the writing style I'd like to do.

Any kind of tips or criticisms of my writing would be appreciated. Preferably helpful criticisms, as I do want to get better at this - don't just tell me I suck, but why I suck:D

Paff 02-19-2013 10:38 PM

I'll check your reviews later, but the first thing I'd ask is what's your educational background?

Now, I'm not saying you gotta get a journalism degree, but you'd be amazed at what you can learn in a Composition 101 course. Even from a community college. They'll give you the raw basics, like what is acceptable and what is not (they'll go on and on about slang terms, colloquialisms, active vs. passive voice, etc). Just one or two courses will really fine tune your writing.

Suicide 02-19-2013 10:46 PM

My educational background is currently, uh, none. I mean I got through high school, just nothing beyond there. I've considered going to school, but I'm not good with people, and I don't really make enough money to afford to go, so I've never gotten it done.

Paff 02-19-2013 11:14 PM

Seriously, try a basic composition class at a community college. Hell, that's what I did (and I just transferred the credit when I went to a major university). These types of classes are pretty much the same whether it's Harvard University or Spittle County Community College. English is English.

Going through your review, I just see some of the basic conflict of tenses and voices, and obviously you use slang and profanity. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but if you take a college class you'll be genuinely surprised that some of the shit you think isn't slang actually is! (and I also think that was a train wreck of a sentence on my part, but we'll let that go). Not to say you shouldn't use profanity if you're writing something less formal, but it's better to know the rules and then decide to break them at certain times for emphasis.

Chomp 02-19-2013 11:22 PM

I think being creative, witty, or just knowing the aesthetics of telling a story has a lot more importance to writing a review than knowing how to partularily write grammatically and phonetically well. Anybody can write a dry, bland, text book (synopsis/technicals/supplements) reviews ala DVDBeaver or Blu-Ray.com. Those are a dime a dozen. What keeps readers coming back for more is something fresh, unique, maybe find a certain "hook" to tie in with your review.

Very few (if any) of Bleeding Skull's reviews are that long nor are they written with any sort of strict grammatical correctness. Yet, many of the reviews can have the reader in tears from laughing so hard. They are entertaining. Period. So entertaining, infact, they have a book in the works.

Paff 02-20-2013 12:20 AM

Well, that's the tricky part, isn't it? Being grammatically correct, and still entertaining. When I see reviews or even posts with dumb spelling errors ("The Shinning", and they're not referring to The Simpsons' parody), it makes the writer seem less intelligent to me, and I start to tune out.
Of course, you're absolutely correct in saying that if someone is technically perfect, they're usually dry as dust.

Finding that balance is tough, but that's why I say it's good to get the education in anyway. Learn the rules, but know when to break them for comedic or dramatic effect. Really, that applies to any artistic endeavor.

Workshed 02-20-2013 01:11 AM

I write comic and graphic novel reviews for Omnivoracious on a bi-weekly basis. Tips I've learned:

1. Avoid beginning your review with a question. "Looking for a good movie this weekend?" Everyone does it (self included), but it's usually a sign of an aimless opening.
2. Avoid cliched, overused phrases and descriptors: "That said," "rollicking," "riveting," "tour de force," "fully realized," etc. If you frequently read/hear it elsewhere, it's tired.
3. Grammar, grammar--pay attention to your grammar basics: "then/than," "you're/your," "they're/their/there," "it's/its." These are the building blocks of writing a sound review. If you are unable to show an audience that you can even do that, you will lose them. If you are unfamiliar with a usage, it's nothing to be ashamed of. Spend three minutes and look it up!
4. Before you click "publish" on that great review you've just written, take five minutes and read it aloud to yourself. You won't believe the mistakes that your eye will pass over but your mouth will catch. If you stumble over a phrase, rewrite it!

But the best advice is this:

Read more reviews, and read reviews that are from sources and about topics that are outside your comfort zone. The only way to be a better writer is to read and write more. Yes, it's tough to stay motivated and to keep your writing fresh without falling back on easy habits, so read more! And good luck to you, Suicide.

booper71 02-20-2013 01:44 AM

I wrote for my school newspaper in the 80s and also sold my reviews printed from a dot matrix printer. When I review a movie it's essentially the film that matters and I try to document the fun time or the hell I had sitting through it.

rxfiend 02-20-2013 01:51 AM

Writing reviews are definitely tough. I took some writing classes when I was in college and I can still hear my teacher's lessons in my head when writing reviews for my blog. I don't do it professionally, so I don't mind too much if they aren't the greatest.

Dave 02-20-2013 02:39 AM

It's very, very, very difficult.

I struggled with writing in my younger years a lot. I worked for a computer company in California that made me take some writing classes. It helped.

You know what else helps? Writing reviews...

My earlier reviews were bad and poorly written. I still think I struggle with writing but like anything, if you think you're bad and work your ass off at it, you can generally do alright.

Even now, though, I read my reviews a few times over and find corrections. I usually read through my reviews 3-4 times before I actually post it, and even then I'm sure there are still errors. I know part of my problem is that I'm a fast typist. Sometimes I think one word but type another, like I'm out of sync or something.

Most authors have editors and I'm sure most magazines and larger websites have them as well. For us, well, it's yourself and your readers if you're lucky.

Angelman 02-20-2013 02:43 AM

I ran my own little horror movie review site for a good 4-5 years and got a decent amount of traffic (nothing major). I noticed that my initial reviews, when I would re-read them, would seem really bad in comparison to the more recent ones. I'm by no means a naturally gifted writer, and it was hard, after 100 reviews or so to keep the reviews interesting TO ME, as the writer. a few thoughts:

Over time, you'll develop a voice. I tended to try to be "funny" and I also did a lot of side research on actors or technical crew who went on to better things. I also read the book (if there was one) that the movie was based on and did a page-to-screen comparison and on some of the more obscure stuff I got decent feedback. You haven't lived until you've reviewed THE PACK _and_ read the book it was based on. My point - hit it from a fresh angle.

The other part is just practice and letting people critique. My sister was an english major and was invaluable in helping me sound smart. I Also revised, A LOT. I wasn't afraid to reconsider something or add to it.

startide 02-20-2013 03:46 AM

Print out a copy and read it. And then give it to somebody else and have them read it.

What you read in your head is sometimes what's not written in you text. When I printed out the notes I did at TAFE for later study I was truly appalled at how they read, and I had proofread them as I had done them, but looking at them later... terrible!

Suicide 02-20-2013 11:16 PM

Thanks for the feedback guys. I'm trying to be sure to reread the hell out of my reviews and catch mistakes, and rework the flow of everything before I post it.

I'm working on a Terrorvision Video Dead review which is interesting to try and do since I like one of the movies and dislike the other movie. One thing I didn't think about is that I don't have any way to make blu-ray screenshots so I can really post many images on my blu-rays. I'll probably get an external drive for my laptop in a week or two.


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