Do You Have a Review Style? {Discussion}

Discussion

As book bloggers, the way we write reviews changes over time. I remember when I first started writing book reviews back when I joined Goodreads and, at most, they’d be a few sentences long. But then, as I got more experienced and figured out what I truly like and don’t like in the books that I read, my reviews gradually got better, bit by bit, until they became what they are today.

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I still don’t think that my reviews are very good…to be honest, I’m frequently embarrassed by them, wondering if my opinion is “right” or if what I say even matters — especially if I have an unpopular opinion compared to other bloggers or people on Goodreads. I’m starting to get better at this, though. I try to convince myself that I don’t need to care about whether people agree with me or not…it’s more important just to be honest and go with my gut.

If anything, my reviews are more for myself than other people anyway. I’m always surprised when people read and comment on my reviews! It’s definitely awesome when people let me know that they appreciate them or agree with me, but I actually find it kind of cathartic to get my thoughts about a book down on “paper.” I’d probably be doing it no matter what! Plus, sometimes it’s nice to go back and read old ones (although sometimes it’s really really not, depending on how old they are, haha!).

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But what I really want to talk about today is review style. I’ve never really had a certain way that I reviewed a book. But lately it’s happened a few times where, after I’m all done with my review and it’s posted, I’ll read other people’s reviews and something that they’ve said reminded me that I really meant to mention a certain aspect of the book, but I totally spaced out about it!

Sometimes I get so caught up in commenting on one specific part of a book that it’s easy for me to forget other things that I should be talking about as well. I’ve never gone back and fixed it when that’s happened, because part of me feels like that’s almost plagiarism, but it’s annoying when I know that I wanted to share my opinion about something, but now that review (there are quite of few of them :/ ) is lacking because of my forgetfulness.

goat-jumping

So I decided that I would make a little list for myself so that I would always remember to mention each thing that I want to touch on! On a little sticky note next to my computer, I have a list of elements that I can follow along with when I’m typing up a review:

  1. Overview of the book & introduction to the review
  2. What I loved about the book
  3. Main characters
  4. Background characters
  5. Writing style
  6. Plot
  7. My emotional connection to the book
  8. Things I didn’t like
  9. Wrap-up and closure of the review

I don’t always do it in this exact order, and I don’t always mention each and every thing on the list, but that’s basically what my reviews have started to look like. And I’m really liking it!

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Sometimes I struggle to put my thoughts into words, especially if I really enjoyed a book, so this list has made it easier for me to keep organized and write everything down, instead of just being a big jumble of emotions that I can’t quite wrangle into sentences.

I don’t think that I’ll ever be an amazing book reviewer…and I’m not really sure that’s my goal…but, at least for now, this system is working for me, and I’m loving how much better my reviews seem to be coming out 🙂

 

What about you…do you have a certain review style? Do you talk about things in a certain order? Do you have any sort of charts or organizational tools you use when you write your reviews?

 

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19 responses to “Do You Have a Review Style? {Discussion}

  1. Having a basic outline for your reviews is a great idea. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out where to start a review, and I think that would help. I don’t really have a written out outline, but I definitely have one in my head on how my reviews usually go. Although sometimes I think that makes me reviews a bit repetitive. That’s something I’m working on.

    I’ve been trying lately (although not so successfully) to actually make my reviews shorter. When I first started blogging my reviews were definitely on the shorter side, like yours. But they’ve definitely gotten longer, and I’m thinking maybe a little too long. I know I don’t always feel like I have the time to read very long reviews, so I’m sure other people feel the same way.

    And of course my reviews are for me, not other people. But what I really like about blogging is talking to other people about the books I’ve read, so I do want other people to read my reviews.

    • This is a really good point…I was just thinking about this the other day (and plan to do a discussion about it soon!) — are my reviews getting too long? Sometimes I just feel the need to explain my feelings on every single element of the book (because I have things to say!), but some of them do kind of seem to go on and on sometimes. I can’t tell if this is putting people off :/ So I’ve been working on that as well. I also started bold-ing the important parts of my reviews, so that if people just want to skim over it, they know right where to look!

  2. I definitely have a format for writing reviews, but mine is less detailed than yours. I start off with a paragraph that sums up my overall feelings for the book, then I write a short synopsis of the beginning of the story (don’t want to give away spoilers!). Then I talk about what I enjoyed, then I talk about what I didn’t enjoy. Finally I wrap it up and state the reasons I’m recommending or not recommending the book. I do mention those things on your list, but only if they stand out for me. I think it’s much more interesting to read lots of different review styles in blogs, and I’m glad we aren’t all the same!

    • Oh, definitely! I like reading different kinds of reviews. Like if people want to include GIFs or basically just flail about their emotions the entire time. I love stuff like that. Or sometimes I’m in the mood for a super literary and serious review. I think it’s cool that people go about it in completely different ways 🙂

  3. I usually have a certain style and order to my reviews as well. First alinea usually is some introduction, why I picked up the book or anything else that first comes to mind. Then the second alinea is for plot and writing style, also whether it was fast paced, lots of action etc. Then the third alinea is for characters, what I liked, what i didn’t ,w ho grew a lot, how where the side characters etc. Then the fourth alinea if either for world building if that’s applicable to the book or romance. Or sometimes both. Then the last alinea is conclusion, a sort of summary of my review for those who don’t want to or have time to read the whole review. It works for me :). I like having some sort of planning or order for my reviews and it makes it easier to write them.

    • Haha I actually had no idea that the word “alinea” existed until you just used it and I looked it up! So thanks for introducing me to a new word! 😉

      I really like how much easier it is for me to write reviews now that I have a system, too. A lot of times before I would have trouble figuring out where to start, but now I know exactly how it should flow. It’s definitely helped me 🙂

  4. I love the fact that you use goats for white space. It just makes my day ^_^ There’s no such thing as a “right” opinion – that’s why they’re called opinions! As long as you aren’t rude and aggressive about the whole thing, say whatever you want to say.

    I like your little checklist too – I probably should use something like that, but my review style varies so much book to book that it’d be pointless xD Sometimes I use bullet points, sometimes it’s all gifs and flailing, and other times it’s essay-ish when I break down one specific point for three paragraphs. Although I notice sometimes that I forget to highlight certain points too, just because I’m so excited over something else. But I guess in the end it’s all right 🙂

    • I really like how your review style is all over the place. I guess that’s a style in itself haha. I think it makes your reviews really interesting, and I’m always excited to read them because I never know what it’s going to be like. And it’s totally you! Occasionally I do something a little different, but I like how you switch around a lot, depending on how you feel about a book. I like it 🙂

      Haha thanks for noticing the goats! 😀 They’re just so adorable…I can’t help but want to include them in my posts. And make everybody else love goats, too!

  5. My reviewing is definitely all over the place (and probably not that great, either, so definitely no worries there!) I do feel reviews are usually more for yourself anyways (and there’s definitely no “wrong” opinion.

    I feel like some reviewers have a “set way” and the make sure to address “all the things” for each book, but I think I’m like you and I get distracted and just go off on whatever I want to talk about and forget things, haha. I think I need to do what you do and have a list of element to follow! Great discussion, Miranda!

    PS. Love the goats!

    • Yeah I’m definitely liking being more organized about it all. It’s a lot easier (and faster!) now to write reviews! But sometimes rambly reviews are kind of fun to read 🙂 I just like being able to talk about all the points, because usually I have a lot to say haha. But I don’t think that I’ll ALWAYS stick to this format…maybe sometimes I’ll want to change it up a bit and be a little less formal.

      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  6. Love the pictures in this post 😀 I just changed my review format a few weeks ago, and I no longer write ‘traditional’ reviews. Instead, I do short overviews, where I give the book’s Goodreads blurb, why I chose the book, and then a paragraph or two about what stood out about the book/my reaction to it. It’s a different format than most reviewers use, but it’s working really well for me 🙂

    • Thanks!!

      I like the sound of your review format! I don’t think I’d be able to do that because I always have too much to say haha 😛 But I like that it’s a little bit different from the “norm,” and that’s great that it seems to be working for you!

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  8. Goats!

    I don’t really have a style. Like you, I have certain things I want to touch on, but I don’t make myself hit them all… sometimes I just don’t have much to say. As a result, my reviews tend to be pretty short compared to most, not much longer than a lot of bloggers’ “mini-reviews” (and my mini-reviews are just a few sentences).

    I just find it hard to say much about a book without giving away spoilers… and whenever I feel like I “should” write more and try to force it, my reviews just end up sounding so generic.

    • Yeah, you’re right, it can be really hard to talk about a book without giving away spoilers. Especially if there’s a big twist or something! I have trouble with that sometimes, too.

      I think it’s good that some people’s reviews are short and others are long…I don’t think that length necessarily matters, it’s more about the quality of the review 🙂

  9. I think I tend more towards a critical/academic reviewing style. I hardly ever incorporate fangirling moments. More often than not, I talk about the merits on an intellectual basis rather than an emotional one. For some reason I find it much more helpful for me to reflect on the books I read when I do that. I feel that if I hone in too much on my own emotional reading experiences, then my reviews will end up sounding all the same.

    Although, I do try to relate personal experiences where applicable and I do mention if a book made me laugh or cry.

    • I’ve noticed that about your reviews! They’re very academic-like. I like that 🙂 I think I gravitate towards liking that review style more (and writing that way myself) just because, as an English major, it’s how I’ve always learned how to critique books in my schooling. But at the same time, it’s nice that you will sometimes include some non-academic stuff, because I think it’s also good to add a personal touch when applicable, to make it more YOU. I’d say that my reviews are a little bit less academic than yours…but I definitely wouldn’t consider many of my reviews to have that fangirl quality either. It’s nice that there’s all different kinds out there!

      Do you find that you prefer to read academic-style reviews as well? Or do you have a different/no preference?

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