Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How Book Reviews Help Your Writing - Part 1

Please welcome Suzanne D. Williams as our guest blogger today.

Every book deserves a review. I feel this way more now that I am a writer. Having been through the writing process and crafted a book, I know how rewarding it is to have someone leave their objective view on my finished project. I make a point now at a book’s completion to write a review.

I think my perspective as a writer and proofreader helps me. I know what to look for in a book, what works and what doesn’t. I can see where things could be adjusted to construct a better story, and I spot language and grammar errors easily. In this same vein, writing reviews has taught me quite a few things about creating a better story.

What makes a good review?

First, it comes from the perspective of someone who understands books. I’ve read reviews that made me wonder what planet that person lives on. Second, it must be well rounded without strong opinions. If you disliked the book, say why instead of rambling on. Hatred really has no place. Third, a good review should consider the proper structure of a book.

I read a book recently that I loved. I was drawn in from the beginning and along the way found myself making comparisons between the thoughts of the character and my own thoughts. The author knew exactly how to make a character come alive; she expressed real thoughts and feelings. On the other hand, when I reached the end of the book, I found myself staring at the page and wondering why she ended it that way. 

There were too many unanswered questions and I felt like I was left dangling in mid-air. Another book had such smooth writing. The sentences flowed so well from one into another; as a proofreader, I found this excellent. Yet the content of the book was too much. The story had great characters and an excellent writing style, yes, yet so much of the plot needed to be left out.

I learned while writing the review of both books what not to do. As a writer, I know, when you are into the third read of your manuscript, you sometimes lose perspective. Stepping away for a while helps, but here’s an exercise I have begun that gives me a better view. I write a review of it. By asking myself the same questions I would of another author’s story, I see my own in a clearer light.

Tomorrow, I will discuss three important areas I always consider when writing a review – plot, characters, and editing –  and how they help make me a better writer.

(See Part 2 here.)

Suzanne D. Williams is a native Floridian, wife, mother, daughter, sister, granddaughter, Christian, dachshund owner, spelling whiz, wildlife enthusiast, photographer, graphic artist, and writer. She designs book cover art for self-publishing authors.She writes a regular column on digital photography for Steve's Digicams, as well as in her personal blog. Her book, Fearless, is her personal testimony of how God freed her from crippling fear. One of her stories appears in "A Pixel Perfect Christmas," which was originally released in 2009, and will re-release in 2011. 

1 comment:

Jean Ann Williams said...

I enjoy writing reviews for authors and this gave me something to consider on how to write better reviews. Thanks!