As devised by a team of our users:
1. Reviews can be seen as somewhat similar to writing an essay for school - you can't just turn in an essay without an introduction, thesis statement, body paragraphs, and conclusion, for instance. Having these elements in your review is crucial because it gives your review a focus. A review without an introduction/conclusion and only body paragraphs will look less pleasant to read than a review that is more soundly structured.
Additionally, you have free reign over how much (or how little) you wish to write. However, please note that the reality of the Internet is that few people will read an extremely long review. You should strive for writing in a clear, concise fashion. This is completely subjective from one person to the next, so how you interpret your ratings and reviews is completely up to you. Keep in mind that if you don't feel comfortable with a full-length review, you can elect to write a sound-off, which is a shorter, more informal opinion on the album.
2. Write in the style that you are most comfortable with. Do not pay attention to people who tell you that you should write reviews a certain way, because odds are they aren't the greatest writers themselves. People tend to prefer reading and writing overall reviews compared to track-by-track reviews, but do what you feel is your strength. Most writers tend to start out with track-by-track reviews, and then develop into overall-review writers.
3. While reviewing, make sure that instead of just describing what you hear, qualify that information and explain how it reveals or represents a cool feature of what you're reviewing. Nobody wants to read, for instance, "Okay, there's a breakdown here, and another one at the end of the song, and at 4:14, there's a guitar solo where he switches from pentatonic scales to chromatic scales while changing from a key of E to C#." It's more important to know WHY you think it's good or not rather than it just physically existing. In short, avoid giving play-by-plays.
The most important aspect of your review is your analysis
of the album. This is YOUR review, so give YOUR take on it. However, you should support your claim with numerous examples. Say WHY you like/dislike [something], and provide examples as to WHY your like/dislike exists.
4. Don't be gimmicky in your reviews. Highlighting songs within the review is fine (bolding, italicizing, etc.), but do not be overly distracting with having a whole bunch of colors. The reader is interested in the actual review, not how flashy it looks. By all means, give life to your review, but don't do it via inside jokes. A review is bolstered with the use of transitions, for instance, and not what your best friend on the Internet said two weeks ago.
5. Run a spell-checker and a grammar-check before you submit to Sputnikmusic (Mozilla Firefox, MSWord, etc. all have spelling checkers, for example). If you do not have access to one, then e-mail your review to a friend or two and have him/her look it over. Remember that most spell-checkers and grammar checkers do not account for human error
, so being your own critic will be beneficial. Some reviewers recommend that you don't post a review as soon as you finish. This is the same as with any other thing you've written; let it sit for a few hours, overnight, whatever. Re-reading it when it's not fresh in your mind will help you make sure it's actually well-written. Lastly, if you're reviewing something that already has a review, try to make sure you're doing more than re-iterating the same facts over and over; you should add a unique twist to it to make your review stand out from the other review(s).
6. If you get stuck or need help or another pair of eyes to read over a review before you submit it, by all means, do not be ashamed to ask for help
. This is a community site, after all, and there are plenty of users on the site who will take the time to give you their feedback. If you are a peer editor, please give constructive criticism. If you are seeking a peer editor, don't take offense to their comments - they only are trying to make you a better writer. Simply ask in the community forum if you need help!