Television series and movies are a popular writing topic for bloggers. You can review the latest Hollywood movie release or write a recap for the most recent episode of your favourite network TV show. There are always exciting themes to write about, whether it be the high emotions and expectation of the reality shows or the suspense and intrigue of a crime series like Quantico. And of course, you can speculate about an upcoming series, like the show that Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore are currently pitching to cable networks and TV streaming websites like Netflix and Hulu.
But how you format your entertainment blog post is just as important as what you say about the characters and the action. Do you know how to get the best results when you write about your favourite movie or TV show?
How to Format the Name of a Movie or TV Show
Whether you are writing an episode recap or a movie review, some principles always stay the same. One is that you should use italics when you state the name of any long work. That’s any movie title, the name of a television show, or even the name of a novel or an album by your favourite rock band. Quotation marks denote a shorter work. Save them for chapter titles, episode names, song names, and so on. These are the shorter pieces that make up the larger work.
So in my example of Quantico, I use italics when I name the series itself. But if I were writing a post about the season finale, “Yes,” I would put the episode title in quotation marks.
The same holds true of movie titles, whether you’re blogging about the recently released Jason Bourne or the upcoming remake of Ben Hur. Always put the title in italics. This helps it stand out from the rest of your text and tells your reader that it’s an important piece of information.
Blogging About the Setting and the Plot
When you blog about the action in a television series or a film, you should always use the present tense to describe the scene. This is the standard convention, and the reason for it is that you want your reader to feel he’s part of the action. Reading a description in the present tense makes it easier to go along for the ride because it seems the action is happening right now.
When I write about a TV show like Quantico, I want to say that the show takes place in the present day at the FBI training academy in Quantico, Virginia and in other locations where the recruits are taken for training exercises. Notice that in both cases, I used a present tense verb – once the simple present tense, and in the other instance the present progressive tense. I always want to speak about the series and its characters as if everything about them is happening now, as I’m writing.
The main exception to the present-tense rule is for first person commentary in which you are speaking about yourself. A good example of how this works can be seen in these lines from a review of Jason Bourne that appears on the Roger Ebert movie website. “Being a fan of both of those movies, I too had high hopes for a return to form for the character who shares a monogram with 007,” says reviewer Brian Tallerico. “But it’s mere minutes into “Jason Bourne” that something is wrong.” Notice the shift from past tense (when Tellerico is speaking of himself) to present tense in the next sentence that refers to the film itself? I don’t care for Tellerico’s use of quotation marks instead of the standard italics, which were used in most other reviews for the film. But he does get his tenses right.
Blogging About TV Show Characters and Actors
TV and movies are highly visual media, but they mostly show us images and not text. So it’s really easy to get the spelling of a character’s name wrong. And even when it comes to writing about famous actors, sometimes we might be off by just a letter. So it’s a good idea to check the exact names and spellings with a website like Wikipedia, IMDB, or Rotten Tomatoes. All of these sites offer you a cast list that gives the correct names of each character and the actor who plays the character.
Sure, search engines will probably include your review even if you’ve spelled a name wrong. And readers will probably know who you’re talking about anyway. But why would you want to dilute your authority by getting something as small as a name wrong? Will readers believe you’re an expert on your fave reality show or comedy series if you can’t even get a tiny detail like that right? Why take the chance? It just takes a few seconds to check, and you can copy and paste a correctly spelled character name, right into your blog post as you’re writing it.
Stick to Actors’ Last Names
Another thing you want to be careful of when writing about the people involved in television and movies is not to sound too casual or familiar when you mention their names. A first mention should probably be the full name, especially of the actor. And I’m sure all of you are familiar with the convention for giving the actor’s name after the first mention of a character. So if I were writing about the latest movie in the Bourne franchise, I would introduce the protagonist as Jason Bourne (Matt Damon.)
When you refer to the character later, the general convention is to mention him by his last name. So I would speak of Bourne, and not call him Jason. This may seem like a very picky detail, but characters in movies and books are often better known by their last names. If I just say “Jason” to you, it’s more likely to conjure up visions of a mass murderer in a goalie mask than of a former CIA assassin who is now on the run from a killing squad, right?
The same thing goes for actor names. It’s best to just call the actor by his surname. I’d refer to Damon in a review of Jason Bourne because “Matt” could be Matt Damon, Matt Dillon, or any of a handful of other actors whose first name is Matt or Matthew.
Again, maybe it seems like a picky detail to insist on using an actor’s surname and not his given name. But anything you can do to boost your SEO and to increase reader recognition of who you’re talking about will help give you better results for your post. Using the recognized convention also shows that you know what your reader expects from a movie review. By the same token, breaking from the convention will stand out and it can make you seem inexperienced – as if you don’t know what you’re doing or maybe that you aren’t showing proper respect for a famous actor whom you’ve never met. That can be a turn-off for the reader.
These rules of thumb for writing movie reviews and blog posts about popular TV series will help to ensure that readers see you as an authority, which will add weight to your opinions about the show or the film in question. They’re very subtle things, so it’s the not doing that will stand out more and cause readers to doubt your expertise in all things entertainment. Follow the established writing conventions, read professional reviews and television episode recaps to get a feel for what’s expected, and you too can write entertainment news like a pro! Remember all of these conventions apply equally to writing about a novel you’ve read or about the latest CD release from your favourite band.
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Original content © 2016 Kyla Matton Osborne
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