Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Size Isn't Everything, But it Helps

Yes, I review erotic romance and no, that's not what I'm referring to.

I'm talking about the size of a book; the length and the differences for reviewers when it comes to shorts, novellas, plus novels and anthologies.

What do you think is the easiest book to read? What do you think reviewers think is easiest to review?

If you said shorts, I'd have to agree. However, I disagree with it being easy to review. I think it's one of the harder type of books to write about. Why? Simple. What kind of depth can an author get into with only fifty pages? Twenty-five pages? Eleven pages? How can a reviewer write a review without spoilers?

It's possible. Absolutely, but it makes the brain work a bit harder to come up with four paragraphs, especially if a reviewer is staying away from the dreaded synopsis review.

For novellas, novels and plus novels, I think it's a bit easier but it has its own challenges - basically, where to stop. *gg* I will admit that my own reviews are verbose and wordy especially when I'm very excited about what I've read. I think the bigger they are, the easier to review. So, yes, size does help.

Anthologies can be a nightmare for reviewers. Great for readers. I know from personal experience that many authors I now read came from my being introduced to them via anthologies. However, writing a review for those same books can be daunting. I've done it and I think I've done well, but that is a different post. If there is interest. ;-)

Short stories are what get many reviewers in a pickle. Believe it or not it isn't as difficult as you'd think. Challenging? Oh yeah. Remember the previous post and some of the suggestions? They hold true here.

But where to start? The following are just a few lures to your reviewing muse. Maybe she'll bite:

The female lead - What was her character like? Spunky? Argumentative? Soft personality? Weak? Aggressive? Did her character work in and for the story the author placed her in? Was she a klutz? Did she make you laugh? Did she make you roll your eyes? Did you feel sympathy or interest in her? Did you respect her? Was her character fleshed out to the point you felt you've met someone like her?

The male lead(s)- Alpha or Beta? Did his dialogue fit his character? Did you wish he spoke more and acted less? Was he the kind of man you'd personally like to meet? Did you feel empathy for him? Was his technique with the female lead hot and smooth or jerky and unrealistic? Did he have something quirky about him that made you smile? Was he arrogant? Commanding? Was his character one you'd anticipate or fear meeting in a dark alley?

Are there any secondary characters? Did they provide insight into the main characters? Provide movement or motivation in the plot? Were they window dressing? Did you like how the H/H interacted with them? Were they respectful to the H/H? Were they problematic? Did they provide comic relief or drama? Were any of the secondary characters family and if so, did you get a sense of a loving family or a dysfunctional one? Were there pets? Window dressing or did the author remain cognizant of what it's like to have a pet in someone's life?

A reviewer can hint about things, lead a reader into wondering about this or that without using spoilers. You don't have to tell anything specific in the review but you can mention a tease. ("Just wait until you get to the scene with the dish washer. It cracked me up. Or It made me hot. I'll never look at mine the same again") See? Tease. You're letting the reader know that this author is using unique situations in the story that made an impression on you but you're not telling. *neener neener neener*

Then a reviewer can touch base on writing style. How were the descriptions? Was it true to the setting, i.e. historical, sci-fi, western. Was it first person POV or third person POV. Was there head hopping? Too much, none? If there were some head hops, was it effective, did you mind it? What about the dialogue in general. Did a man sound like a man or was he feminized. Did the woman speak like a woman you could call a friend or did you want to B-slap her?

No matter how short a story is, there has to be some personality to the characters for a reader to connect. Even if the book is erotic romance and there are a lot of sex scenes, there still has to be dialogue, descriptions, showing versus telling and a plot, even if it's only to get a best friend into bed to show her she means more and the guy has to physically show her because he just doesn't have the words. That would be an internal conflict, sort of.

I'd love feedback on successful reviews for short stories. Yes, I've been stymied. Yes, it's a challenge but it can be done. I just end up with a lot of conversations in my head.

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