On this day in 1999, a web developer named Benj Clews had a brief but ingenious idea. Clews wanted to create a website for movie reviews, but he wanted it to be different. His idea was to limit the movie reviews to four words or fewer. That same year he created the website Four Word Film Review, which in the internet tradition of crowdsourcing, invites readers to submit their reviews. Most of the reviews at www.fwfr.com are not so much reviews as they are new titles, but the fun comes in the wonderful wordplay that results. Puns, alliteration, and adaptations of other film titles are all a part of the creative writing game of making every word count.
For example, here are seven examples of reviews for the film Jaws:
Shaw shark retention
Shooting barrel in fish
Gil against island
Diet: fish and ships
Amity’s vile horror (1)
Reading four-word movie reviews is fun in itself, but there is also something to be learned here. Shakespeare said that ‘Brevity is the soul of wit.’ In other words, the essence of good writing is economy. As you read four word reviews and begin to write your own, you’ll learn that wordplay can be hard work, but the rewards are satisfying for both you, the writer, and your readers. Also, read newspaper headlines and notice how headline writers work with the same kind of wordplay to attract the reader’s attention. A good title is vital, so when you write an essay, take some time to write a short, but sweet, title of four words or fewer.
Today’s Challenge: Four Word – Fantastic Flair
What are some classic movies or books that you could write four word reviews for? Create your own four-word film reviews. But don’t stop with movies. Write a four-word review of your favorite book. (Common Core Writing 3 – Narrative)
1-Clews, Benj and Michael Onesi. Four Word Film Reviews. Massachusetts: Adams Media, 2010.