Thursday, July 5, 2012

Reviewing Isn't Singing Along with Toby Keith

I actually enjoy Talk About Me and it's great to sing along with - if I can keep up. 

The lyrics that stick with me are these:

"I like talking about you you you you, usually, but occasionally
I wanna talk about me (me,me,me,me- background singers)
I wanna talk about meeeeeeee (me,me- background singers)
(I wanna talk about me- background singers)mmmm me me me me
(I wanna talk about me- background singers)mmmm me me me me
You you you you you you you you you you you you you

I wanna talk about ME!"

What does Toby Keith's song have to do with reviewing? It is perfect to illustrate what readers should see in a review.   If I'm writing the review, you want to know what I felt, what I saw, how I was affected, what I liked, what I didn't, what I observed and what I looked for and what I found and what I didn't find.  Did I laugh, did I cry, did I faint from the scorching love scenes or fall asleep or did I want to rush out and tell everyone to read this book; all those things are points that make a review valuable to a potential buyer of a book.  What do they have in common? Me!  My opinion.

What I do not want to see is you: You will like this..., You will absolutely love..., You will cry when ..., You will want to ...., You will come to believe..., You must..., You are going to .... You you you you you.

Seriously, how can a reviewer possibly anticipate a reader reacting the same as the reviewer?

There are times when "You" can be fine to use.

"You might remember the old adage, "It takes a thief to catch a thief".

 At that point the reviewer is talking to the reader, drawing them in by using a common analogy or reference to make their point.   Nowhere in the above example is the reviewer telling the reader what they will do.  It's being chatty, and that's fine.  But when reviewers persist in telling the reader how to do this or that, then it ceases being a sharing of opinion and comes across as shaking a figurative finger at the reader with authority, "You will laugh...!" "You will do this...after reading this scene, chapter, book."

I don't think so.

To flip Mr. Keith's lyrics around from "I like talking about you you you you, usually, but occasionally
I wanna talk about me."

 It should be "I like talking about me me me me me, usually, but occasionally I can talk about you."

It's hard to refrain from You-ing all over the place.  A reviewer might do it because they feel that they're writing it in a way  that might relate better to the reader.  It's not. It's telling.  A review is your opinion and you are sharing about how the book, characters, dialogue, setting or sex scenes affected you.  Or not.

I need to see,  "I was amazed!"  not, "You will be amazed."  You can't possibly know that.

When I see a review telling me to do this or that,  I get all huffy and want to stomp up to my soap box  and hold up a neon sign that says STOP!  I don't like to see someone telling me how I'm going to react to the same book they're talking about. That's for me to decide.  I can only hope that I'll derive the same sense of enjoyment, awe, surprise or excitement out of the book as the reviewer.  But I can't be told to.

A reviewer's goal is to Make me want to experience those same things by hooking me, intriguing me, teasing me and painting with words that show me their enthusiasm and observations enough that it piques my interest, whets my appetite and encourages me to go and read the book for myself.  


Before you submit your review, look it over to see if you are sharing your opinion or telling.

Too much telling in a book can drag down the review rating.  Telling in a review is just as unwelcome.

Please be aware folks. And when writing, think in your head, 'talk about me'.


Stormy said...

Wow! Xer, YOU nailed it :D This is one those rare nuggets from college writing classes that I actually remember. Never assume you know what you're reader is going to feel or how they will react, better to inform than to assume...we all know what happens when you assume, blah, blah, blah :D

Xeranthemum said...

::snort:: I like your pun, Stormy.

And thank you.
I had read three reviews in a row that did that to me and it ruffled my feathers. I had to say something.

And yep, never a good thing to assume. ;-)