by xDD, January 8, 2021
79

Hi, guys! I'm Kate and I had a wild idea at the beginning of the 2020. 

I was never much of a reviewer. Who would care about my thoughts and opinions? But in January of 2020, I made a new years resolution: review everything I watch. And look at this, I wrote 109 reviews in 2020 alone (quite a progress compared to the 6 I wrote in 2019). So how did this happen, what did I struggle with and how did I solve it?


To encourage others, I decided to write down some tips and guidelines that might be helpful at the beginning of the writing journey. 


WHY DO YOU WANT TO WRITE REVIEWS?

For me, I just always had a need to share my ideas, views, opinions and perspective, even if they will never be heard or simply ignored. But for everyone, the answer might be different.

The answer to that question will make it easier for you during the writing process. Should you care for spoilers? How detailed should your writing be? Do you have to incorporate your opinion about every aspect of a show or movie like music, plot, characters, acting, production value? A lot depends on who are your target readers

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For myself, I usually write having in mind one of the three: myself, people who watched the show and people who have not seen it and are on the fence about it.
Organizing thoughts and sharing opinionsSharing analysis of the show with users who saw itHelping others decided if they should watch the show
You are the target reader. You probably just enjoy writing and sharing your opinions with other drama fans. It helps you collect your thoughts about the shows you watch. 

Go wild then. Write whatever you want. Want to mostly focus on the plot? Sure thing. You loved the characters and want to express why? Do so. You can include as many spoilers as you want, since you don't really care if people will read it and find it useful - you are here to share your view. 

This type of reviews will be read by people who already finished watching the show. They might be curious about other people's opinions or maybe want to check if they missed some important details.

In this case, you don't need to care about spoilers*. Explaining your thoughts and reasoning is far more important than being vague. This is usually the longest format - both in the actual length of the review itself, but also the time needed to write it.
Lost souls might come and read your review, with hopes it will help them make a decision about which drama to watch next, and if this is the right one.

Definitely avoid spoilers at all cost! Reading a spoiler before watching a show can ruin a whole viewing experience. Try to name both the good and the bad aspects of the drama, so people truly know what they are getting themselves into - some objectivity would be advised


*Remember, if you decide to include spoilers, do check that "Does this review contain spoilers?" box.

I am a reviewer, but also a reader. That said, I never ever read reviews before watching the show. After I watch a drama and write my own piece about it, I like to compare my experience and views with other users. For me, the most interesting reviews are the ones that truly express the users thoughts about the drama. Tell me about that jerk male lead that totally does not deserve female lead. How the plot was so predictable you fell asleep halfway through the episode. How the scenography and cinematography were so amazingly done, you cried tears of joy looking at this beauty. I like to see the heart and soul of the writer over facts and strict analysis of the drama. But that's me, it's not universal. 

Categorizing reviews in these three types is useful for me, but it might not be for others. There might be more reasons to write reviews, but it's helpful to figure out who we want to write the reviews for. That said, you don't need to limit yourself. In my eyes, the best reviews are the ones that mix objective and subjective perspective. When I see what kind of emotions said show or movie evoke in the writer, but at the same time I get to understand the pros and cons of the project itself. Truth to be told, there are no objective reviews. Our views and opinions are always tainted with subjectivity.


WHAT ABOUT MY ENGLISH? 
The fear of making grammar or spelling mistakes is real. Especially for people for whom English is not the first language (like me). It's a fear that blocks a lot of people from expressing their thoughts and opinions. Many times we see someone give a well written paragraph without any mistakes, but at the end they will still include "sorry for my English". The thing is: there is no need to be sorry. Being bilingual (or more) is something to be proud of!
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Asking someone to stop caring about their spelling and grammar mistakes is sadly easier said than done. Everyone is scared of being judged. There are ways to work around it though. One way, the practical one, is to simply use many good tools available on the internet that will check your English for you. One I sometimes use myself is reverso. All you have to do is copy your text and click check - the rest will be done for you.  

Feel like you keep using the same three words to describe dramas? I present to you thesaurus - synonyms dictionary. As long as you are willing to look, there are many online tools that can help you with your writing :)

What would be harder to achieve is actually changing your mindset, but it's worth it. I assure you, 99% of people who will read your text will not notice spelling mistakes, and even if they do, they won't think much of it. Everyone makes them, even native speakers.

Of course, if you decide to write reviews, it would be better to make them as good as possible: double checking some words, reread it once or twice to make sure it's easily understandable. It's not about completely not caring about your mistakes, but rather accepting that they might happen and they are not the end of the world. At first, the process of writing might take longer, but with every review it gets easier


WHEN AND WHAT TO WRITE?
Starting with when. Many people think it's pointless to write reviews for shows or movies that aired quite some time ago. There are already many reviews on the drama's page, so what's the point? The answer is: it depends.

If you care about how many people will read it, it might seem pointless to you, and it will be hard for me to change your mind.
But, if the main reason you want to write is because you want to just share your perspective and opinion: then go for it. Many of my reviews no one found helpful, but I still enjoyed the process of the writing itself. 
When to not write a review: 
When the drama did not air yet or when it barely started airing

If you want to express your excitement about the upcoming show: share it in the comment section.
If you enjoy an episode or two of the currently airing show: write an episode review. 
What to write then? You look at all the reviews and might think "I have nothing to add here. Everything has been said". Maybe that's true. Maybe every detail has been discussed and addressed in the existing reviews.  That said, writing reviews is not only about what is written, but how. Everyone's writing style is different and has different charms and appealing points. One person can be a bit sarcastic with dry humor, someone else can write only about facts in detail, and someone else lets their comedic soul shine through. 

Even though you might state the same opinions as others, you will do it in your own unique way, that others might appreciate. 
From my experience and looking back at my reviews, most of them have three elements I like to talk about: plot/writing, characters, production value. These are the things that are most important to me while watching a show. I tend to not comment on music or acting unless I find it extremely good or extremely bad. 

On the technical aspect, what I always pay attention to, is not to write my thoughts in one block of text. Hitting enter one additional time between paragraphs makes the review more approachable and easier to read. 

For some people my reviews will not be enough, but it's impossible to please everyone. Some will find it useful, some will not. There will be people who will trust my judgement and others who will see it as extremely biased. It's okay - we all look for something else while reading reviews. 

OTHERS' PERSPECTIVE
The article and tips are heavily based on my own experience and problems I had. To make it more useful for others, I asked around feeds users to share with me their thoughts on writing reviews and why people might not write them. Here are some problems others suggested, and how I would advise to go about them. 


PS. I'm sorry I was not able to address the most common complaint and issue "I'm too lazy". Sadly, I have no miracle tip to solve that problem.

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Sometimes it's hard to convey emotions and thoughts, especially with shows I truly love. I have many opinions about the shows I've watched, but when I sit down to write a review, I just blank out.
There are two ways of dealing with this problem:

Wait a little bit before starting to write the review. After all the emotions calm down, you can start to explore your opinions about the show and try to write them down. Distance yourself from the show before trying to write down your thoughts.

Other solutions would be writing notes as you watch. What helps me a lot is writing notes in a Google Doc as I watch the drama. Sometimes I just write one sentence after the episode that would remind me of the highlights and things that caught my attention - whether it is amazing acting or a poorly written plot twist. This way, I have a base for my review that truly represents all my thoughts throughout the watch.
The fear of being judged or even receiving hate comments and messages after stating unpopular opinions.
Fight: That's how I deal with hate. I keep talking to them, to the point they don't even want to respond anymore. I question their every statement. This way I can truly see if they are just trolling or truly have something important to say that I should pay attention to.

Flight: Block the user so they cannot access your profile and comment under your reviews. Long term solution against habitual offenders.

Freeze: Just ignore. People like that live for the attention they are getting. Chances are that if you ignore them once, they will never come back.

That said, just because someone sends you hate messages, does not mean there was something wrong with your opinion. Sometimes the person leaving the comment might not be wrong, too - learn how to differentiate between hate, criticism, and different opinions. Not everyone who disagrees with you means any harm. If you are not sure about the intentions  - ask.
There are many detailed, essay long reviews that explain the reasons to watch the drama, which I find intimidating. I would rather write shorter ones, but they wouldn't look as good. 
Not everyone likes and is willing to read long reviews. Some people would rather read short, straight to the point ones. I like to write longer reviews, and sometimes, even if I try, I cannot keep them short. At the same time, I prefer reading short ones that point out the important aspects of the drama and often have a more comical feel to them.

There are many types of writers on this website, but there are also many types of readers.


CONCLUSION
I am not a professional writer nor reviewer. I have no background in writing whatsoever. Everything I wrote in this article is simply based on my own experience. I'm sharing what I've learned with hopes it will motivate at least some of you to be more bold and willing to share your views and opinions, so we can all build more active and supporting community on MDL. :)

I am sure this article does not answer all the possible questions one can have about writing reviews, but it's good to remember mdl has a great community and I am sure many reviewers would be more than happy to share their tips if you write them a nice message with some questions :)

What is your experience?

Do you write reviews? What made you want to write them? If you are not one of the reviewers, do you have any plans of starting writing your own ones? Is there something stopping/blocking you? Share your thoughts/opinions/rants in comment section, I will be more than happy to read them all! :)

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