How to Write a Story Review
Deciding whether you like a short story or not is pretty simple. Writing about it requires skill and a well-thought-out plan. A story review reveals your opinion regarding the core aspects of the story and addresses the author’s intent. The review gives a reader insight as to your reaction, and whether or not the story made an impact. Being able to condense all this information in a clear and concise manner requires strong writing abilities. Structuring your piece can be easier if you follow a few guidelines.
Write your impressions. As you read the story take notes about how it made you feel, whether or not it fascinated you, what you liked and what you felt was missing. Jotting down the information as you read the story provides a better recollection of your first impression, and helps you synthesize the information once you finished reading it.
Evaluate the writing style. Whether it’s a mystery, romance, thriller, comedy or literary piece of work, each genre has its own structure and pacing plan. Familiarize yourself with the basics of each category before reviewing the piece so as to adequately address the structure.
Construct a thesis. Organize your thoughts and narrow your focus. Concentrate on a central idea like the author’s intent, theme, character arc or plot. Exploring one of these elements in your thesis provides a well-crafted and synthesized review.
Offer your perspective. After introducing the author, the story and basic publishing facts, discuss the overall message of the story, its significance and whether or not you would recommend it. Be specific and provide details for your reasoning.
Summarize the plot. Highlight the different aspects of the story that piqued your interest, such as the beginning, the rising action or the climax. Include the character’s development and reflect on whether or not the character possessed depth. Analyze the ending to the story and describe your reaction. Did it satisfy you or let you down?
Discuss the author’s purpose and whether or not you feel she achieved it through the characters, storyline or style. If the story was meant to be an inspiring tale of overcoming the odds, but failed to motivate you or engage your interest, then the author was not successful in that respect.
Give constructive advice. If you didn’t appreciate the author’s story do not criticize the author on a personal level, but instead focus your advice on the story elements themselves. List specific examples, such as story, plot or character development that could have improved the piece.
Draw your conclusion. Tie your piece together in the final paragraph. Give your overall opinion of the story and whether or not you would recommend it.
Anel Laj began her professional writing career more than 10 years ago as a sports journalist for the Los Angeles Daily News. Currently, she is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. Laj received her Bachelor of Arts in mass communications from UC Berkeley. She earned her Master's in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.