Book Nerd Problems #22: I Cannot Be Concise In My Reviews! TOO MANY FEELS.

Posted August 14, 2014 by Debby in Book Nerd Problems, Discussions / 20 Comments

This is a periodic discussion feature here at Snuggly Oranges about the many problems one can run into as a book nerd.

#22. I Cannot Be Concise In My Reviews!
TOO MANY FEELS.

Hello dear book nerds! Recently, I’ve discovered that I am an utter fail at keeping my reviews short. I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t seem to matter what book and what rating, but once I start typing, I just do not manage to STOP until I suddenly have 7 paragraphs of text and am off on various tangents.

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I know a lot of people can easily rant and rave about the very best books and the very worst books. I mean, how else are you going to convince people to DEFINITELY GO BUY THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW or to STAY THE HELL AWAY DON’T DO IT SAVE YOURSELF. Seriously, my 0 orange reviews can get up to 3,700 words, which, incidentally, is too long for Goodreads (and I REGRET NOTHING). But for me, even for the books I’m feeling meh about, I can find something to say about the plot, the relationship dynamics, the character development, the writing, etc. It happens SO OFTEN now that I sit down to write a review, and I start by thinking, “Ugh, I have nothing to say,” but end up with 1,000 words anyway 30 minutes later.

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I think the first time I remember that happening was with This is What Happy Looks Like. When I finished the book, I was mostly just bored and meh about the whole thing – I didn’t know if I could pull more than 200 words out of my ass. Then I started writing the review, I started explaining my frustrations with the plot, which led to frustrations with the characters, and a total disagreement with the romance. Before I knew it, that review was at 800 words. o_O Apparently I had a lot more feelings about it than I thought I did, but writing reviews has also become a way for me to process the books I read.

The problem(?) is that I am a very detail-oriented person. And though I often say that my memory is the WORST, it’s actually not that bad at all. When I’m writing a review, I feel an obligation to explain my feelings about ALL the different elements of the book – and I feel like if I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t be giving a fair overview of all the pluses and minuses. The thing is I want the review to be as comprehensive as possible so that people can see for themselves that something that didn’t work for me MIGHT still work for them.

Evolving Over Time

What actually brought on this post is that last week I finally finished going through all my old reviews and updating them to the WordPress format (they were still messed up from the Blogger-Wordpress move). In doing so, I also finally completed my review archive, where you can now find ALL of my 190 reviews (to date) #shamelessplug. But anyway, that did mean that I read through most of my reviews to date. Now, horrifying quality aside, I found that my reviews have roughly doubled in average length over the past (almost) 2 years, from around 400 words to 800-1,000 words.

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Now, this shouldn’t really surprise me – I mean, I’m the one who has written all these reviews. It just never really occurred to me that this was happening. But it’s fair enough – as I read more, I know more about writing techniques, themes, tropes, and I’m better at articulating what specifically does work for me and what doesn’t. I also have more knowledge of genres – so, for example, a very basic, rudimentary world building in one high fantasy novel will not be enough anymore, and I can connect it to other books and explain why the book in question did better or worse. I guess it’s natural! I’m growing as a reader and a reviewer!

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But what about reading reviews?

When it comes to reading reviews, I personally really appreciate long reviews. I know some people would prefer to just read a couple paragraphs, so they can get the main idea of the reviewer’s opinion, but I really like hearing about specifically what did and didn’t work for them and why – because that enables me to determine whether or not the book would work for me.

However, time is an issue sometimes, so I do feel like it’s useful if there’s a structure to the review that will enable skimming. For example, main ideas could be bolded. There could be headings or different sections – like a summary or something like Jamie‘s “book review on a post it”. GIFs to illustrate emotions also help to skim through and see what catches my attention. Basically, I like long reviews, but I don’t like when it’s one huge block of text – because then it can get time consuming. My own preferences led me to incorporate most of these ideas into my reviews… but I dunno if it’s helping my readers or if they’d just prefer me to shut up already.

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Let’s Talk!

Let’s face it, this is a topic that’s all up to personal taste, but that’s why I want to hear from you!

  • Do you write long or short reviews?
  • Has this evolved over time?
  • Do you feel the need to keep it concise or do you just keep writing until words run out?
  • How does it vary by rating?
  • Do you prefer to read long or short reviews?
  • What else, structure-wise, do you like to see in reviews?

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20 responses to “Book Nerd Problems #22: I Cannot Be Concise In My Reviews! TOO MANY FEELS.

  1. The way I write reviews and what I write about has definitely changed over the year and a half I’ve been blogging. Like you, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I’ve grown as a reader and as a reviewer. I’m definitely much more confident in my review writing. But how I write them is so different! If it’s an ARC or a review book, I tend to make them longer and more detailed. If it’s just a “fun” book I only post a couple paragraphs or maybe even just one on Goodreads. Sometimes I just don’t have the energy to write longer reviews if I don’t need to. And mine are definitely not structured! They tend to have semi-same styles. I’ll talk about the characters, main and secondary, the writing and plot. But length and any other information depends on how much I have to say about the book. As for reading them, I differ. Sometimes I like longer reviews, and sometimes I just don’t have the energy to read them. But I like reading reviews that are more concise and detailed.

    Loved this topic! 🙂
    Holly U recently posted YA and YouMy Profile

  2. I personally write long reviews but I never mean to, they’ve just always been long. I think it’s because a long, informative review is what I want to read, so that’s what I write. With shorter reviews, unless I really like the person, I can’t trust that’ll I’ll like it but the longer the review, the more I understand what I’m getting myself into.

    I have a lot of thoughts on this topic because I just typed up the longest post the other day and it got me thinking.
    Valerie Pennington recently posted Longreads’ Best of WordPress, Vol. 3My Profile

  3. My reviews tend to be on the wordy side, though I never try to make them so. I think I tend to hover somewhere in the middle ground, between 400-800 words. My longest reviews are almost all of books that I took issue with. My reviews have definitely become lengthier as I continue blogging and learn more about what I like and dislike in books and how to articulate the points I want to make. It also really helps when I actually take notes on the book I’m reading/reviewing. I tend to forget details (primarily character names) very quickly.

    I like reading a variety of different styles and lengths of reviews – sometimes I’m interested in more technical elements of a story, whereas other times I just want to know how it made the reader/reviewer feel. That’s honestly what I love about reading reviews (mostly of books I’ve already read) – learning what other people have taken away from the book that may not have been my primary concern or something I even noticed. All reviews are good reviews.
    Rose @ literary wanderlove recently posted TTT – Books I’m Not Sure I Want to ReadMy Profile

  4. Do you write long or short reviews?
    -I would say my reviews are average, haha. Around 500-600 words. My negative reviews tend to get very long, because I have a feeling I need to address everything I disliked and I need to use quotes and examples to prove it. I always get rambly when it comes to books I loved, but I cut them down to a normal size. I sometimes have the same thing where I feel I have nothing to say and before I know it, I have a pretty long review.

    Has this evolved over time?
    -The length is about the same, but the way I write them has (LUCKILY) changed. I used to give a long summary and then a very short opinion and now it’s the other way around. No idea why I thought describing the book into detail was more important than my thoughts.. Reading old reviews makes me cringe.

    Do you feel the need to keep it concise or do you just keep writing until words run out?
    -I keep writing until I reach the point I have nothing else to say. Then I go back and edit parts where I feel I could be more straight to the point.

    Do you prefer to read long or short reviews?
    -I don’t have a preference for the length, it’s more about the content.

    What else, structure-wise, do you like to see in reviews?
    -Gifs can be a lot of fun and I also like it when people make important sentences bold. I’m still not sure what I like to do with my own reviews, so I try different things.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted Bout of books sign-up + goals.My Profile

  5. Oh I’m so glad you wrote this post because I have this same problem! I don’t think I could write short reviews for my life. I just always find myself having so much to say even if it’s for a book that I wasn’t really feeling very passionately about. I just ramble on and on and ON AND ON and I think this is probably because of the mentality I have when I write reviews. I always try to imagine that I’m talking to someone instead of writing a report about it because that helps make reviewing books a lot more fun and less like homework or a duty.

    I used to write really short reviews back when I first started blogging. They were REALLY short. I remember my review for Anna & the French Kiss was maybe like ten sentences tops? And 80% of it was me OMGing over Etienne. I don’t really know what’s changed but I find year by year my reviews slowly get longer and longer and longer and longer.

    I do feel like I should be more concise in my reviews but it’s kinda like now that I write longer reviews, I don’t think I can just revert to writing ten sentence reviews again. I know if I try, I’m just going to keep on thinking about which bits I should probably explain a little better or expand on. I COULD probably edit my reviews a bit more to cut out some of the unnecessary rambling though. I guess I just don’t really want to.

    And I don’t really have a preference either. I like both short and long reviews for different reasons. But it doesn’t really matter because I very rarely read an entire review word for word, regardless of its length. Usually I just skim and go which is why I like having bolded headings or a final thoughts portion at the end as well. And these are things that I try to keep in mind when I write my reviews because I know they can get really lengthy and probably most people don’t want to have to stare at the giant block of text so I try to integrate bolded phrases to sum up things and then also a short paragraph summing up my overall thoughts at the bottom. But oh my god, I love what you said: “…but I dunno if it’s helping my readers or if they’d just prefer me to shut up already.” I have the same question. Sometimes, I really really do wonder…
    Annie recently posted Countdown SurveyMy Profile

  6. Oh yeah, my reviews are a lot longer now than they were when I first started blogging 2+ years ago. Recently I’ve been trying to simplify my reviews. Sometimes I do a review in 7 points or less, and I always bold my main feelings for reviews.

    I find that I can be a bit long winded, and that my reviews make just as much sense if I take bits out. Of course, sometime I have so much to say, and I feel like every single point I make needs to be there.
    Quinn @ Quinn’s Book Nook recently posted Mini Review: Breakable by Tammara WebberMy Profile

  7. I think my reviews have actually become more concise though not exactly shorter. I used to spend a lot of time summarizing the plot which I don’t do so much anymore unless I think it helps my review. My reviews are almost always 7 paragraphs. It’s come tot he point that I don’t even know how much I’ve written then I scroll up and behold, 7 paragraphs. Most of the time they are made up of about 400 words which is the size I like to read and then sometimes I just can’t help myself and out comes the 700 or so words. I don’t think their is a correct length, reviews are personal opinion on a book and they shouldn’t have a limit.

  8. I tend to write really long reviews for books I hate… and really short reviews for books I love. Weird… You’d think I’d want to spend more time on the reviews for books I really enjoyed. I think it’s cathartic to really rip a terrible book apart in a review… and sometimes you just can’t be concise.

    I think another reason that my positive reviews are so short is that I’m afraid of giving away too much. If it’s really good, I’d rather just say, “It’s awesome! Read it and discover all that awesomeness for yourself!” If a book is bad, on the other hand, I’ll probably spend way too many words warning people away from it.
    La Coccinelle @ The Ladybug Reads… recently posted Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books I’m Not Sure I Want To ReadMy Profile

    • Yeah, I feel more intensely about the bad books, and tend to have more separate thoughts for that. Whereas for my favorite books I just kind of twirl and yell “EVERYTHING IS WONDERFUL” *cough* oops. Luckily the number of books I actively hate is still relatively low.

      That’s a good point! I’ve been struggling with some books lately about whether or not to mention specific things, because it is the discovery as well that makes it more entertaining. =/ I dunno what readers would prefer though.

  9. I feel you, my friend. I truly do. My reviews are LONG, and I feel awful for my followers, but there’s just so much to say! And then if I don’t say everything, I feel like I’m slacking and missing valuable information that might be important for someone else. Ugh.
    Shae/Shelver @ Shae Has Left The Room recently posted Cover Love #67My Profile

    • Hah, it’s like I’m scared of someone commenting on my review, “HOW COULD YOU NOT MENTION THIS THING?” And I’d feel like a fail because I missed that or forgot to mention it x_x I clearly just put too much pressure on myself.

  10. I am totally with you! I do get the occasional short post when I am feeling very uninspired but…I didn’t even realize until recently that apparently there are people who prefer short reviews haha! I love long reviews because they generally touch on a lot of different subjects, which helps me better decide for myself whether it’s a book I’m going to like/dislike regardless of the reviewer’s opinion. But then I’m also really bogged down these days, so I rarely read reviews unless it’s a book I’ve already read, so maybe I don’t count haha

  11. For me, it usually depends on the book. The more complicated the characters and plot, the longer the review. Lighter books tend to get a 300-400 word review unless it really sparked something in me or if it was an ARC I gave a 1-3 stars rating since I feel like I have to explain the problems better than I would for a book I just bought.

    I don’t really have a preference for reviews I read. I actually tend not to read them unless it’s a book I’m really on the fence about. I don’t like other people’s voices in my head while I’m reading and that’s what reviews do to me.
    islandgeekgirl recently posted Top Ten TuesdayMy Profile

  12. I think my average review is around 700ish long. Some of them, audios in particular tend to be pretty short. On certain books, and it’s not always the hated ones, I get quite wordy, though, because I do just have a LOT to say. Also, I am impressed by your 3700 word review. Which one is that, if I may ask?

    Mine have definitely changed from the start, when they were basically one or two paragraphs. I’m converting them because I have to because order, but also no one needs to read those ever.
    Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted Review: Magnolia by Kristi CookMy Profile

    • Bahaha, it’s Adela Arthur OF COURSE. Still regret nothing.

      lol I’m not gonna lie, I looked up your review of Ready Player One after I wrote my review and it was interesting >.>

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