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Review Templates

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Sun Apr 30, 2017 12:16 pm
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Tenyo says...

Review Templates

Reviewing can be really tough at times, so I conjured up a few templates to try out as a baseline until you adopt your own style of reviewing. They're designed to be easy to write whilst still providing useful feedback.

Firstly, decide on what you're going to aim for.

The Basic Review, bog standard for beginners and veterans alike.
The Story Review, geared towards the heart of what brings a narrative to life.
The Technique Review, for those who enjoy a healthy dose of grammatical accuracy.
The Literary Review, targeting the essence of the work and what makes it stand out.

Focusing on what you're good at or enjoy will help you to write higher quantities of useful reviews much easier. Focusing on something you know less about might take a little longer, but you'll be able to learn a lot more from it.


The basic template is for those who are new to reviewing or want a chance to casually cruise through some works and leave a bit of helpful feedback as they go.

Spoiler! :
Step One: First impressions
:smt003 Consider how the piece makes you feel. How did you react to certain events or images in the piece? Could you empathise with any of the themes?

Step Two: Constructive Criticism
:smt003 Find something within the piece that you think could be improved on, and offer an example or a suggestion as to how they could do it better. If you can't think of an example, try talking about another story or poem that you think did it well, or suggest a useful article.

Step Three: Positive Encouragement
:smt003 Find something within the piece that you liked. It might be something that personally appealed to you, or something that you think was well written or portrayed. Encourage the author to develop and take this forward into further writing.


The Story template is for those who really like to dig into the heart of a story. It's about picking apart the characters and unweaving the plot and figuring out what really makes the story tick, and is most useful to novelists and short story writers.

Spoiler! :
Step One: First impressions
:smt003 Consider how the scene leaves you feeling. Was there a lingering sense of atmosphere, or if there was a character you found you related to? Did you feel particularly bad for or anybody you were jealous of? Your personal reaction will be important to the author because it gives them an idea of how their work comes across and a direction to go from there.

Step Two: Choose one of the following to offer constructive criticism on, and another offer positive encouragement.

:smt003 Characters
Characters should be vivid and relatable, even in later chapters. A well written character has a distinct attitude, a set of habits, a particular way of speaking, something that sets them apart from the other characters and brings them to life. Consider

:smt003 Plot
Every scene needs some kind of development. Ideally, the situation the characters are in at the beginning of the scene should be different than the end. Someone will have made a decision, set a plan in motion, changed their mind, or found a resolution that they didn't have before.

:smt003 Setting
Setting is really important and often overlooked. Wherever there is a character there is a place for them to exist. It might be the atmosphere, the smell in the wind, or even the colour scheme of a wallpaper. To write a scene there needs to be a sense of place.

Step Three:
:smt003 Finish with something you liked or think worked well in the scene, something that the author can be proud of and maintain in the long run.


The Technique template is about really harnessing the art of stringing words together. It takes a keen eye to filter through the work, find those perfect gems and polish them until they shine. It's most useful to poets and scriptwriters.

Spoiler! :
Step One
:smt003 Consider how the piece leaves you feeling. What impression did it leave? What part or image was left lingering in your mind after you had finished?

Step Two: Choose one of the following to offer constructive criticism on, and another offer positive encouragement.

:smt003 Description
A good description usually has a purpose, or some kind of significance other than creating a visual image. It might reflect a particular mood, or give way to particular interactions. Ideally pieces of description will stay in keeping with the narrative tone of the piece and blend well with the sentences around it.

:smt003 Sensory / Imagery
Sensory and Imagery bring things to life by creating associations between two things by relating them to something the reader.

:smt003 Grammar
Grammar pieces words together to make coherent sentences, but also to allow variety in expression of ideas. While the finer details of grammar may take a while to grasp, things like sentence fragments or repetitive sentences structures can usually be helped with a few basic tips on grammar.

Step Three:
:smt003 Finish with something you liked or think worked well in the piece. Find a line that had an impact, or a description or concept that helped to define the piece.


The Literary template is about what makes a piece stand out. It's finding that tiny spark of something honest and raw and bringing it out to its greatest potential.

Spoiler! :
Step One:
:smt003 Consider the overall impression of the piece. What did it make you think of? Were there any thoughts or sentiments that you could particularly relate to?

Step Two: Choose one of the following to offer constructive criticism on, and another offer positive encouragement.

:smt003 Continuity
Ideas need to be consistent in order for them to work. If characters opinions change too rapidly, or conflicting metaphors are used to describe the same thing, it can make the piece weaker. Equally, moods or atmospheres that change too rapidly can be hard to follow.

:smt003 Originality
You've probably heard that every story has been told before, and avoid cliche's like the plague. What makes something interesting is when it has something unique in it, like a twist or an unusual way of expressing a familiar sentiment.

:smt003 Voice
Words are complex things. An important thing in a piece is to have a consistent voice, and it's a harder one for newer writers. When the choice of vocabulary and ideas all reflect a strong sense of narrative voice a piece tends to draw the readers in more and create a stronger sense of narrator.

Step Three
:smt003 Finish with something you liked or that you think worked well. Consider what particular aspect helped you to feel connected to the piece, or if you could see any modern day issues or trends reflected in it.

Lastly, if you come up with any of your own or find an interesting mix-and-match between these feel free to add them below.

Happy Reviewing!
We were born to be amazing.

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
— T.S. Eliot