Writing Book Reviews
You can download any number of book reviews from the net. Times magazine publishes proper book reviews which could give you good models. There are five steps in writing a book review
- Choosing a book
- Reading it
- Taking down notes
- Planning and writing the first draft
- Final draft
- Choosing a book: For beginners, it is better to choose a 200 to 400 page novel with a good plot and interesting characters. It is good to buy a copy than to borrow one since you may have to scribble notes on the margins of the book itself. It is also good to choose a book in which the characters undergo some kind of change rather than those novels in which the characters are either heroes or villains, who have no change of mind or character, from the beginning to the end. Since you also have to mention a little bit about the writer, choose a novel by an established writer. Have some idea about a few of his other writing too so that it will be easy for you to see what the writer is actually telling us.
- Reading the Book: Read a little bit about the book before you actually read it. This will help you put the book in its right context and understand its true meaning. True meaning? Yes, some writers are good at saying one thing and meaning something else. For example, George Orwell’s Animal Farm is more about international politics than about an actual animal farm though the book keeps talking about animals and farms.
- Taking down notes: Since the book is quite long, it is easy to forget examples of different aspects of the book and its style, like dialogues and descriptions, characterisation and setting. So, it is good if you can keep some ‘running notes’ or scraps so that you don’t have to go back to the book or spent time searching ‘that crisp dialogue the heroine had with a rose-bush’.
- Planning and writing the first draft: Make sure you can write a convincing, interesting book review which will give a reader a clear idea about the book. The following aspects should be mentioned in the review:
- The author, his reputation, awards, publisher, year of publishing
- The theme (what is it all about)
- The plot, in three short paragraphs (how it all began, went ahead and ended)
- Characters (what kind of people are they) the setting (where does it take place) narrations and style (how well written)
- Personal Comments ( what is your final opinion on the book and why)
5. Final Draft: Make a good, legibly written final draft with no errors. Add a picture of the book or the writer at the end. Provide the list of URLs if you have browsed any. Read it out loud to yourself to see if it reads well.
Writing Movie Reviews
Movie is typically a modern-day art form and it encompasses most of the other art forms, like music, literature, fine arts, theatre and dance.
Movie reviews of all sorts are available on the net and take a look at them. Great movies have been reviewed by great movie critics and such reviews are also available.
Writing a movie review is very much like a writing a book review. There are some differences in the aspects.
Steps: Read whatever is available about the movie or the movie makers and his crew before you see the movie. See the movie at least twice and take down notes regarding the different aspects like:
Introduction: Name of the movie, director, production company and the main actors
- Plot and the script
- Technical Details: Sets, location, costumes, lighting, sound recording make-up, side effects and stunt scenes
- Popularity and critical acclaim
Writing Radio Plays
Though we don’t realize it thousands of good radio plays are produced around the world every year and some media producers like the BBC offer awards and good remuneration to the best among them.
Radio plays are easy to produce. All we need is a really quiet room, some sound effects which you can easily manage if you are creative enough, a good story with a lot of dialogues, a few actors from among your friends and a recording device which can even be your mobile phone.
Using a narrator to compensate for the absence of visuals is an easy but effective technique. Choose a fable from Aesop and spend an afternoon writing, editing and producing and that alone is enough to get you going. Best Wishes!!!!