1⁄35Writing Reviews - Some Practical Tips...
1) What's a Review?
At its simplest level, a review is a personal assessment as to how good (or bad) an item is. Several areas then start creeping in and several questions have to be asked (and answered) by the reviewer, here are a few practical questions - in NO particular order:
What is the subject?
Is it a good representation of what it says on the box?
First impressions. Do you get a 'tingly' feeling when you open the box/book?
With a review, we are trying to inform other modellers about an item we feel may be of interest. Inevitably, our conclusions will be personal, however, we always have to remember that not everyone may have the same knowledge of the subject, so a degree of introduction is always desirable. Quite often, I use some historical background on a subject. This serves to put the subject in context and (with luck) encourage people to read further...
Ultimately, we are putting our own impressions out, with a hope that they may be useful - a good review is a VERY valuable site resource.
Time spent on preparation is time well-spent. To review a product successfully, it helps to know the area. All of us have 'specialized' areas of interest, areas in which we've been building up reference material on for years or months. In my case, I've now got pretty good reference material on Soviet Armor - both in the form of books and hundreds of photographs. Now, this IS NOT a pre-requisite for reviewing, but it certainly helps in being able to speak reasonably convincingly about a particular subject. In the case of kit reviews, it's additionally useful to have some scale drawings available as well as you can check dimensions with reasonable confidence. In general, sometimes 'gut-feeling' can (SOMETIMES) be a useful guide as to what the final outcome of a review will be. If a company has taken care over instructions, packaging and areas such as box-art, then, in general, they may well have taken care over areas such as part-fit, accuracy and prior research. Look at similar products done by other manufacturers - this is particularly useful with items such as resin figures or books on a similar subject. Armorama doesn't do comparison reviews, but it's useful to compare products of one manufacturer with another.
Look at OTHER reviews. It's always worthwhile to get a feeling as to what other reviewers have said about the same product. There's no need to copy them, but you may get some 'clues' as areas which would be worth investigating further. Don't be afraid to ask questions on the forums (or check other sites) to get more 'background' - again, the more information you have, the better able you'll be to find the shortcomings or strengths of a product.
Length: we ask for a review to be a MINIMUM of 400 words, obviously a full kit review is going to require more than an AM Update set....
Grammar/Spelling No-one expects Shakespeare in a review. What we do insist on, is good, grammatical English. This is vitally important. Many people start reading something (in the forums for example) and, like me, immediately go somewhere else if the thread isn't written in a coherent manner. Use of capitals, proper punctuation and paragraph structure are ALL areas we insist on...
Formality vs Informality. On a personal level, I tend to go for the 'drier' style of writing. The function of a review is to get as many people as possible reading it. In my personal experience, there is nothing more annoying than a 'bright, chatty' style. A review is a report and as such, the language should be fairly formal and functional. The 'chatty' style, in my opinion, may have its place in some posts in the forums, a more formalized style is desirable in Reviews, News and Features.