The Elements of Style is your movie review writing ace in the hole, besides getting movie screeners sent directly to you by movie studios. Written by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, The Elements of Style is a guide / handbook / tutorial / reference book for writing, applicable to any field involving the written word. If you have taken a W-course (writing) in college, you were likely required (I hope) to pick up a copy of this at the school store. There are two editions of it out right now, the 4th Edition and the 50th Anniversary Edition.
1.) Proper Sentence Structure
The first thing you learn when flipping through and reading The Elements of Style – a little at a time – is how to put a sentence together. I spoke about this briefly at the bottom of the What Makes a Great Film Critic post. Many great film critics write grammatically incorrect sentences and do not even realize they are doing it. Being a Film Critic does not require that you be an English major but everybody reads a manual when trying something new. Why not with writing and for our purposes, writing film reviews? “The little book” can not tell you what to write after you see a film but it can tell you how to properly construct your thoughts into cogent sentences.
The Elements of Style contains many grammatical heads-up on issues the prudent movie reviewer should be aware of and pay attention to. One such issue is knowing the difference between the two words further and farther. Issues like this may seem silly but can you tell me off the top of your head the difference between the two aforementioned words? It may not make much difference to you but it will to your movie review and to your readers if you misuse them. It would make you look like an amateur and uneducated when you should be striving to project professionalism at all times. This is one of the reasons why The Elements of Style is so useful.
An extension of reason 2.), The Elements of Style gives numerous examples of all the advice it dishes out, amongst them being how to use proper punctuations and what punctuations to use in various situations.
4. ) The Mechanics
When all is said and done, your gray matter will put together the mechanics outlined in the Elements of Style as you read through it and begin putting its tutelage into action. Like in the play Proof and its film adaptation, your brain will become Machinery, accustomed to looking at and spewing out prose following an academically-sound, pre-determined formula.
The book itself is only eighty-five pages long, hence it early moniker at Cornell University “the little book”. Give it a read. You and your writing skills will not be disappointed in what you receive in return.