There\u2019s something liberating about critiquing another\u2019s work. By simply formulating an opinion we\u2019re a valuable part of a book\u2019s public image. However, before you dive headfirst into the deep end of analysis, there\u2019s a few things you need\u00a0to know.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s true that your opinion matters, but you\u2019ve got to let everyone know that you\u2019re the person with the right idea; that you\u2019re qualified to retain their attention. Below are some important steps regarding the structure and content of a book review. The inclusion of these steps in your review will organise and streamline your opinion so that it is above all, interesting (hopefully like the book you\u2019re reviewing).\r\n\r\nHow to write a book review... Liam Lowth explores the various elements of story... Image Credit: Kamil Porembi\u0144ski via Flickr Creative Commons.\r\nRESEARCH\r\nFirst, read the book. Personally I don\u2019t think it\u2019s a very hard ask to read what your reviewing but some seem to think differently. A story can drastically change over the course of 200 pages. Don\u2019t be skimming through a book nonchalantly. You could start a book and write your review, only to find it could completely change through its story arc. The Fault in Our Stars, happy romance to start off with. SPOILER \u2013 the dude dies. Reviewing a section of a book is simply not enough. Know the story you\u2019re reviewing inside and out. Okay? Okay.\r\n\r\nIt's important to\u00a0research and understand\u00a0how you're delivering a\u00a0review. If you're\u00a0reviewing\u00a0for a magazine, know what's expected of a magazine review. It's the same for blogs, newsletters, journals or whatever else may contain your work. Each platform you deliver your review\u00a0to will have a different set of expectations.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s also important to have a feel for how the novel should read. If you\u2019re a fan of sci-fi, fantastic, you have an idea of how the genre works. But if you decide to review Pride and Prejudice, you\u2019ve got to do a bit of reading and research.\r\n\r\nHere\u2019s a basic list of some possible research you could source:\r\n\r\n\tAuthor Profiles \u2013 Who is Jane Austen?\r\n\tSimilar Reviews \u2013 What do others think?\r\n\tHistorical Context \u2013 Where is it set it time? Is it an important part of the story?\r\n\tGenre Conventions \u2013 How do other novels of this nature compare?\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nIf you\u2019re a fan of Sci-Fi, don\u2019t carry your Sci-Fi sensibilities into this review \u2013 \u2018Not Enough Lasers\u2019 is not an acceptable sum up of Jane Austen\u2019s novel (granted P&P probably would have been more interesting with a few lasers).\r\nANALYSE\r\nThis is the nitty gritty stuff. Using your research or prior knowledge of story and its conventions, start thinking about the individual aspects of the story. For example:\r\n\r\nHow to write a book review and what elements of the story to consider... Image Credit: Liam Lowth\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nThere\u2019s an extensive list of story aspects you can examine but these are the main points people require. Take note of important sections within the story. Use sticky notes if it helps. Just please don\u2019t be one of those people who folds the corner of pages to mark them (shudder).\r\n\r\nWhat makes sections of the book you\u2019re reading good or bad? Does it have a particularly bland protagonist but a great story? Is the setting overdone? Are the themes masterful? This is all important information to hold on to and understand. These are the elements critiquing revolves around.\r\n\r\nAs I said before, use research to gain an understanding of what good character or themes are in regard to other books. But use this research as a guide, not as creed. Believe it or not, originality still exists. I know it\u2019s hard to believe, but it\u2019s true! When you come across a piece of literature that\u2019s unlike anything else, analysis is valuable. Through examining the conventions of story you can gauge whether you\u2019ve got a gem or a piece of coal on your hands. Genre conventions may change, but a story will always remain a story.\r\nTHINK ABOUT THE READERS\r\nI probably should have changed that heading, because you shouldn\u2019t just be thinking about your readers. You should be structuring the piece and tailoring it specifically for them! First of all, think to yourself, have my readers read the book or not? Often, it\u2019s hard to tell, so you need to write the review for both categories. In this respect you\u2019ve got to be careful. Give enough story exposition so those who haven\u2019t read it still want to, and those who have can identify with what you\u2019re saying. Don\u2019t give away important points of the story in your review \u2013 (Oh wait, I apologise for doing that earlier. Sorry. Awkward.) Your review should:\r\n\r\n\tMake your readers place the book right at the top of their TO READ list\r\n\r\nOr\r\n\r\n\tResonate with the crowd who has read the book\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nWhen writing, you also need to take into consideration where your review is going. Are you writing for a scholarly paper? Use words with hubris and chutzpah. Are you writing for a tech blog? Write in Windings. Actually, don\u2019t. Please. The point is your readers need to be able to understand your opinion. It\u2019s no use throwing certain jargon around if the people you\u2019re appealing to wont have a clue what you\u2019re saying.\r\nCONVINCE\u00a0THE READERS\r\nIt\u2019s ironic because in a way, a lot of authors write to have people understand and appreciate their opinions. When we review their work we\u2019re kind of doing a similar thing. We often write our critiques so that people will consider and appreciate our analysis. Now the thing is, people won\u2019t be convinced we\u2019re telling the truth in our critique unless we back up what we\u2019re saying. It\u2019s like having an argument. It\u2019s all well and good thinking you\u2019re right, but you\u2019ll get nowhere unless you have a good reason WHY.\r\n\r\nUse all your prior knowledge in a barrage of literary intellect. I\u2019m right because of this reason. These are reasons why I may not be, but I\u2019m pretty certain\u2026. Etc. etc. Think about different opinions too. It\u2019s important to examine the opposite of your argument to have a full range of thought. For example: I don\u2019t like this book, but why might some? You may be a nun reviewing 50 Shades of Grey. I\u2019m not even going to go down that road, but it\u2019s important to sit back and review the book with and unbiased opinion. Being a critic you\u2019ve been given the power of authority in the form of your opinion. It\u2019s important to use it wisely.\r\nSTRUCTURE\r\nThis is boring but necessary. People aren\u2019t going to want to read your stream of conscious thought unless you\u2019re Jack Kerouac. Have structure to your argument. With your introduction include a thematic statement:\r\nI found\u2026 or I Believe or\u2026. This book\u2026.\r\nAfter your introduction use the body of your review to explain the reasons why your thematic statement or line of argument is correct. Then finish with a conclusion basically saying \u2018See, I told you so\u2019. In all seriousness, the conclusion should be a sum up of all the points you put forward in the argument. These points should be coupled with your original statement. When you put it all together you have a clear and coherent line of thought. Below is a basic diagram of how it all fits together. I call it the burger theory:\r\n\r\nHow the structure of your book review should look... Image Credit: Liam Lowth\/Pixabay\r\n\r\n \r\nBE READABLE\r\nThe most important thing is to be interesting. If you wouldn\u2019t read it, don\u2019t put your poor readers through the same slog. There\u2019s nothing more boring than a dry\u00a0essay masquerading as a review. Put your thoughts, feelings and emotions into your work. Reviewing isn't only beneficial for the books image, it's great for you as a writer. Critiquing the work of authors you respect gives you first hand experience as to what makes their literature\u00a0great. You\u2019ve been given an important duty as a critic. Use it in the best way possible. Research, analyse and cater for your readers with a structured argument. Go forth good people of the internet, and review to your heart\u2019s content.