The World in the Satin Bag has moved to my new website.  If you want to see what I'm up to, head on over there!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Advice on Writing Reviews Part Three

(Read Part One and Part Two)
Moving on from all the general stuff, we get to some specifics. Now, since I write "Comprehensive Reviews," I can't provide any specific advice for any other form. I assume that the emailer likes the way I review books, so I'll offer some insight on that front.
When writing a review, I immediately place into focus three things:
  1. Synopsis/Hook
    The basic story, the plot, etc.
  2. Pros/Cons
    What's good and what's bad.
  3. Like/Not Like
    Did I like it or did I dislike it? Why?
Anything that fits around these isn't necessarily important, because the three things above are what I look for in a review (#3 more so than the others). Ultimately, everything ties into #3, because what a reader of these kinds of reviews generally wants (or I assume they want, because it's what I want too) is the answer to the question: do I want to read this? There are too many books published every year for any one person to read, and a reader's time is precious. They have to know whether or not they want to read a book and fast.
On top of these elements, however, I tend to toss in some personal reaction. I like to tell the reader my personal reactions to elements within the story. Was a particular scene emotionally gripping? Did I cry? Did I grimace? Did I actually have a visceral reaction to something that a character did? I consider this to be an important aspect of my reviews because I get the sense that readers want books that are engaging on multiple levels. If a book did something for me on an emotional or physical level, that's something they'd like to know so they don't go and buy some book that turns out to be emotionally empty. Personal opinion doesn't have to be specifically in this vein, though. You can fiddle with the imaginary "conventions" of book reviewing all you want.

What you do in your reviews, however, is up to you. Don't let me determine how you write your reviews (or anyone else, for that matter). Sit down and give it a shot. When I started writing reviews, I was horrible (I've gone back to look). I don't consider myself a particularly good reviewer today, but I can see how I have improved. There's nothing wrong with starting and sucking (just like in writing fiction).
What is important is determining what you want to do with your reviews, how you want to present them, and then doing it. Everything else can fall into place one piece at a time.

Related Posts by Categories

Widget by Hoctro | Jack Book

No comments:

Post a Comment