Remember all those literary devices they taught you in English class in high sch –no? OK, uh, you know how you love writing Yelp! reviews after that awful/tepid/amazing experience you had interacting with commerce? Well, why do you love to write them? Because you want to convince others that they’ll have an awful/tepid/amazing experience, too! Those literary devices help you win the prize of being right, which most won’t admit is similar in pleasure to having an orgasm while skiing.
We’re going to examine some of the best reviews to teach you how to win at convincing people that you’re right, and that means we’re going to brush up on some of those literary devices while we’re at it!
Crafting a narrative is indispensable to a great review. However, simply writing seventeen paragraphs isn’t the same as grabbing the reader’s supple, trusting hand and whisking him away on a journey of self-discovery. If your meal didn’t change you, you won’t change anyone’s mind about eating it in the future. Take Lauren B.’s opus about Michelin-rated stalwart, Per Se:
Including the two, titillating one-sentence paragraphs, Lauren B. takes six paragraphs just to get to the water being served. Six! By that point, we’re filled with foreboding and questions. What does she mean when she says she’s been around the block? Will the “different” bar menu actually be the same but with extra spit?? Will the meal ruin girls’ weekend with her mom??? It is this type of concern you create for yourself that will fuel your readers’ concern for their own happiness. For as we all know, anyone who eats at this expensive of a restaurant can be easily swayed by an online review.
If narrative structure is the skeleton that keeps a review standing, imagery is the fuel on which it runs. Without imagery, your post won’t have any power. Consider this scenario: you go to the dentist for a cleaning, and you notice his office is exceptionally dirty, so you say that on your Yelp! review.
Great.Adverbs like “exceptionally” pack a punch, but they’re like jabs from a toddler right before he takes a nap. Remember, you don’t want people to go to this dentist. If it’s dirty, show us what’s dirty about it. Does it look like the dentist likes to paint murals on the walls with the bloody saliva patients always spit up? Then say so.Take a lesson from Tony G. with his review of Mother’s Grille in Baltimore:
Behold the power of buttery nipple, destroyer of leisure time. Next time you’re inside a place of business, look around you. Does anyone have nipples that look churned by the Amish? Warn us. No buttery nipples in the joint? Then give us the “all clear” signal, for God’s sake!
Modern science tells us that the human brain has only three chunks: emotional, moral, and logical. Each gray chunk is capable of relating to other people and thus able to be outraged by others” restaurant experiences. Pathos, the emotional chunk, is the button you want to push most often in order to be the demagogue you want to see in the world. Let’s revisit Lauren B., now later in her journey through Per Se:
Gracefully, Lauren B. hits us with the pathos of memories lost. Think about it. What’s worse than losing a loved one? Not being able to remember her beaming a pleasant, satisfied smile at you in bed on that sunny morning. Losing your memories makes you gain a sense of mortality, and we are all afraid of dying. How can you eat a dessert that will make you picture your friends and family standing around your corpse, wearing black and crying?
If your experience was made better or worse because of whom you had to interact with, richly characterizing those people is going to help you make your case. Again consider Tony G., this time assessing some of the clientele at Mother’s Grille:
These characterizations simultaneously convince three different potential customers to frequent or avoid this bar. First, the patron who likes quiet piano bars or hipster lodges now knows this place is a public fraternity where he’ll be made of…again. Second, the patron who, like Tony G., enjoys perching himself above the fray and casting his judgements downward now knows this is a place he can go to feel better about himself. And finally, the patron who most closely resembles The Tool now has a thumbnail picture of Tony G. and will return to the bar hoping to burn Tony’s eyes with Axe body-sprayed punches. That is, if The Tool reads.
You may know this one by a different name, but every high school English teacher in America will drive home the point behind it: your first sentence needs to hook the reader. Not only is that considered good writing, but that teacher was also counteracting whatever hippie nonsense the rest of your curriculum was feeding you about people being inherently complex and deep. By urging you to grab the reader’s attention quickly, he was telling you the truth: people are shallow twits who can be led off cliffs by shiny objects. Better to be the one angling the shiny object than the one plummeting to his cartoon coyote-esque death. Take a lesson here from Brad J., a San Franciscan bike enthusiast who understands the power of the shiny hook:
See what he did? Do you feel the power?? Are you now ready to kneel before him and be anointed with more of his wisdom? This ain’t your granddad’s “It was a dark and stormy night” malarky. This is balls-to-the-wall, thrash-core, no helmet required SENSORY DOMINATION. You’re not hooked, you’re enveloped. You’re in thrall of a greater being, one who can defy the laws of physics with two-wheeled-vehicle pin turns synchronized with his mating partner AND lead you to water like the horse you are AND FORCE YOU TO DRINK. When I’m an old man, sitting by the fire with my grandkids nearby, I’ll read them Brad J.’s tome, and as soon as his steely truth waves collide with their young, fleshy ears, I swear to the gods above, they will put down their damned Nintendo and have a listen!
Of course, for real internet stupidity, you’re going to have to go to the source: Yahoo! Answers: Ask A Stupid Question Day Edition.