It's been a while. Life is busy. I'm trying to keep up with deadlines (aka writing when I can) as well as keep things moving on.
In other news, I wanted to talk about reviews. Not as in I love reviews - though I do appreciate it when I get them - or as in I hate reviews. It's about reviewing itself. (At the end of my little article I do have resources for people to check out if they desire.)
Review vs Summary
Within the MM community recently, we have seen old review sites shut down and new ones being developed by eager readers. Seeing the old reviewers move on is always sad, but that's the way things go. Meeting the new ones is always fun because they bring fresh-faced eagerness that's hard to compete with.
There will always be someone who loves a book and another who hates it. Reading, what you like to read, is a personal thing. The best thing you can do for an author, and another reader, is to give them a review that is comprehensive. Not a summary, but a review highlighting different areas that would be of interest.
What do I day this? Because there are lots of summaries out there, and they don't do much besides give me or another reader a breakdown of what happened in the book, and for me, the urge to read the book is usually wiped out. Summaries are not the same thing as reviews.
What is a summary? Well, it's basicslly like the book reports you did in elementary school, junior high or high school. In these summaries, the focus is on telling us an account of the plot, letting us know about the characters, and informing us what the work is about. You tell what you liked, what you didn't like, did you enjoy the book's themes, and give some quotes.
Does this sound like a review to you? It could, because they are similar, but in actuality, they aren't the same.
Reviews are critiques of the work the author created. We are not given a point by point retelling of the major plot points like in a summary/book report. Why? So other readers can enjoy the revelations themselves. These are about sneak peeks at the book and whether or not the reviewer enjoyed it. Reviews give a brief description of the plot points with an appraisal of the strength and weaknesses of the story without giving away any of the plot devices, or the end of the book. This idea is important to understand because a lot of summaries do exactly this-giving away the plot, its devices and the end—causing frustration for the writers and disinterest for the readers.
A prime example I can think of is movie trailers. Have you ever sat in a movie theater, watched a trailer, and then turn to the person next to you and say, "Well, I don't need to see that anymore."
Have you? I know I have, and that's because you've felt like you've seen all of the good parts of the movie already. They didn't hold anything back (baiting you for more). That's what a book summary does, it kills the excitement or the anticipation for the reader.
And this is why reviews are hard to write. I will be the first to say I don't write the best reviews, but when I do, I try hard not to give anything away. You have to give enough information that allows the reader to make a judgement about if they want to give a book a chance without telling them too much and killing their curiousity. Let them know why the book worked for a reviewer, or why it did not. Maybe what you like isn't another person's cup of tea, and that's okay, but don't be afraid to try something outside your comfort zone. When a reviewer does this, they are not only the reader's friend but the author's too.
Read. Love/Hate. Review. ;)
Below I have a couple resources listed if you want to have a more comphrensive explanation on book summaries and book reviews. Please enjoy and share.
If you want to read up more on book reports/summaries, check out Purdue's OWL resource for Book Reports. They give more comprehensive detail and guidelines for people to follow.
If you want to read up on book reviews, check out Purdue's OWL resource for Book Reviews. They give a more comprehensive look at them and guidelines for people to follow.
I tend to be a little squirrelly, but my friends still love me anyway. ;)