Writing Product Reviews–Specifics Help

Have merchants asked you for a review of a recent purchase? I try to leave reviews, on everything from kitchen tools to bedding and books. I often read reviews left by others to help me decide on a purchase. Through the years, I’ve read some reviews that needed an editor’s attention because of ambiguity.

Here’s an example as quoted from TV: “The [service providers] I’ve found on Angie’s List have literally blown me away.”

This is found in a shopping club membership ad: “The money we save with the membership is unreal.”

First, why would businesses advertise these useless testimonies? They offer no helpful information. I may be “blown away” by bad service or good. If the money I save with a membership is unreal, it’s not for me. I want real savings.

When you write a product review, remember the purpose of your feedback is to guide potential buyers. What information would you find useful in a review? I want specifics, not vague “performs beautifully” or “this totally sucks” reviews. 

“My savings in belonging to [Buyer's Club] exceeds my annual membership fee.” Or “Every service provider I’ve found and used on Angie’s List has been dependable and affordable” are specific and helpful comments. If you have a negative, be specific but don’t trash everything and everybody. “The knife sharpener performed as advertised, although the suction cup didn’t hold it steady. When I complained, the company replaced the sharpener, but the new one had the same issue. If you don’t mind holding the knife sharpener with one hand while running the knife through the blades, this product delivers.”

The same advice holds true for book or movie reviews, with an additional caveat: Don’t give anything away without prefacing it with SPOILER ALERT or SPOILERS. What buyers find helpful are genre information, comparisons to similar books or films, and level of adult material. For instance, here’s a good example of a review of the film The Crew:

If you saw Goodfellas, you’ll get a kick out of The Crew. It spoofs it with an Over The Hill Gang twist.Richard Dreyfus and Burt Reynolds give strong performances as two retired wise guys living in South Beach, Florida, with two other retirees from their “crew” from back in the day in New Jersey. When they scheme to take back their apartment building from greedy landlords, they soon find themselves back in the game, but with surprising–and comedic–consequences. Rated PG for mild profanity and adult situations.

Don’t shy away from writing reviews. They help other buyers. But please give thought to what you write before you submit it.



Do you use Viggle or Sound Hound? These fun apps listen to your music and identify it for you. They even include links so you can buy the download (and I confess, I sometimes do). But yesterday the Grammar Cop in me lost her patience. While listening to an oldies station, I heard Little River Band’s Help Is On Its Way, a favorite. ♫ To earn my Viggle points, I promptly “Viggled” it. Here’s what appeared on my iPhone:

Help Is On It’s Way

If you aren’t cringing at that, shame on you. If anyone from Viggle reads this, be aware. The Grammar Cop is citing you for a spelling error. Now please correct it!

(FYI I checked. It’s spelled correctly on the CD jacket)


A British-ism has been distorted by popular usage ~ Begs the Question. Begs the question means an assumption is made without proof. It is not synonymous with “poses the question” or “asks the question.” It is an expression in itself and shouldn’t be followed by … a question! 

Writers should avoid the usage because it’s antiquated. “Beg” in old English meant the same as “to take for granted.” If what you intend to write is “poses the question” or “raises the question,” say so. Don’t “beg” the question. 


March Forth for Grammar!

It’s that day again, National Grammar Day. Time to share your favorite grammar goofs.

I continue to see the possessive its spelled with an apostrophe. Why do people do that? It’s illogical. They don’t spell his hi’s or hers her’s (well, some do even that), but they spell its it’s. Grrr.

Your turn. In the Comments section, add grammar goofs that annoy you. And let’s all March forth on March fourth!


Writing the Cozy Mystery

Cheryl Norman:

Recommended Read–

Originally posted on Nancy's Notes From Florida:

Do you want to write a mystery but don’t have a clue where to start? Or maybe you’ve begun a whodunit but are stuck on the plot? Perhaps you’re already writing a series, and you need tips on how to keep track of your material?Cozy

After hearing numerous aspiring writers ask for advice on how to write a mystery, I decided to compile an easy-to-read instructional booklet on this needed topic.

What makes a cozy different from other crime fiction? How do you plot the story? Where does your sleuth originate? How do you plant clues?

The answers to these questions and more are in Writing the Cozy Mystery.

This title is now available on Amazon but will appear soon in multiple digital formats, including Nook, Kobi, iBooks, & SW. A print edition is coming next. Please keep watch on my website for links to these editions.

For the affordable…

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Clinch or Clench

When it comes to words I thought I knew but didn’t, clinch / clench heads the list. When do you use clench and when do you use clinch? Or is it the same word with varied spelling, like dialog and dialogue?

I consulted an old dictionary. Sure enough, under clench it said [See CLINCH]. Does that mean they originally meant the same thing? The definitions are similar but neither word is listed as a synonym for the other. So I did additional research and, as with so many words in our language, usage has modified the definitions.

Clench means to hold or grasp firmly. She clenched the steering wheel until her knuckles whitened.

Clinch means to confirm. His offer clinched the deal. Except…yes, you knew there’d be exceptions. Clinch in boxing means to hold firmly with one or both arms around the body.

Don’t expect any help from SpellCheck. It accepts either spelling. Grammar helpers accept either usage.

The only advice I give you with absolute certainty concerning clinch and clench is BE CONSISTENT within your work.