Fine-Tune Your Writing Series: Writing Book & Movie Reviews

In this fourth installment of the series, I want to carry further the thought from the last one, about reading novels. Next, try writing reviews of those novels. Writing both book and movie reviews and critiques is a great way to analyze the material and see what you gained from it. I spent five years as a movie reviewer with my own newspaper column. At the time, I saw it as just a way to keep involved in writing in a small way while I was busy caring for small children and didn’t have much time for novel writing. Only later was I able to look back and see how that work had improved my own writing as far as pacing the plot, keeping forward momentum going, and inserting creative ways to tantalize the reader (or viewer). I wasn’t concentrating on learning things to improve my writing; it just happened naturally. I love that kind of learning.

I’ve always loved movies, but for five years I had to pay attention to details, like plot points, lighting and sets, costumes, acting and direction, and notice how the filmmakers used those things to illuminate a character, keep the audience’s attention focused, lead them in intended directions, and touch their heart in particular and desired ways.

Give it a try. When you read a book or see a movie, first, just enjoy it. Don’t try to figure out what you will say about it. In my case I couldn’t think of anything while I was still watching. Not until I sat down with my fingers on the keyboard did anything come to mind. Wait a day or two to let your perception of the work ferment, then analyze and write what you noticed. You can keep a journal of your book and movie reviews or post them on a blog. It’s another way for you to have fun while learning from the masters.

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