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.
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.
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
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!
But what about reading reviews?
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.
- 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?