Saturday, August 24, 2013

Be Good To Me

I loved that song by Tina Turner back in the day. Better Be Good To Me

It reminded me about something.
It reminded me about professionalism.
It reinforced that respect has its place and is a necessary component in every aspect of our lives.
It made me remember that T.V. has a strong influence on our opinions and it's not always a positive outcome.

I see it in sitcoms, Reality T.V. and children's cartoons. It's rubbing off on society as a whole. Sure, it has its place and some instances, it's needed and to the point. But if we aren't careful, it could become a habit, a way of interacting that spills over into aspects of our lives we don't intend it to. And that absolutely includes writing a review.

What am I referring to? It goes by many names because it's considered a gray area. Snark. I.E.: Sarcasm. Causticity. Derision. Disparagement. Scorn. Contempt. Disrespect. Sneering.

Let me put it like this, and it's a quote from a respected author regarding a scathing review that appeared on Amazon.

"...have this Simon Cowell mentality that you have to be cruel in order to get your point across as to how much you hate the book or the performance or in this case, the romance genre in general."

In a nut shell - it comes across as a lack of respect.

Some review sites channel their inner Simon Cowell. They don't call him Judge Dread for nothing. He might be entertaining on television, but his style does not translate well to writing reviews for romance books. Some people need to be reminded of that. Despite and in spite of the review blogs that are out there that cater to that mind set, it's not what everyone looks for.

My advice? Before you review for a site, check with the site owners or, if they have it, the list of criteria or FAQs that might provide information about the tone or style of their reviews and what they look for.

Read some of their published reviews and get a feel for what they typically accept. And that includes whether they care to edit their reviews or leave them as they are. If they leave them as submitted, that means the onus is on the reviewer to edit and present a coherent review. If the review site cares, that is.

If your writing is cutting edge with clever quips and snark and they love that type of writing, then you've found a home.

By the same token, if they are more about information, fairness, respect and articulate coverage of what works and objective comments on what doesn't without resorting to flaming prose, and that's what you prefer to share, then that's the review site to join.

Long and Short Reviews' readers don't get snark at all. They don't get the flamboyant and/or the exaggerated. Nor the mean, the cutting or the brutal type of opinions that can turn off reader and author alike.

Usually readers look for solid, well written, professional and trustworthy reviews. They want someone who can articulate without resorting to flashy verbiage or the current fad lexicon of the moment, certainly they don't want a review that makes them cringe from the harshness of the comments.

And that's where the title, Be Good To Me, comes in.
Respect yourself as a reviewer.
Respect the author's work.

Please don't make any criticism personal by making disparaging comments that allude to a negative reflection of the author. The author is not being reviewed, the book is. The story is. The technique is. The dialogue is. The plot is.

Please don't confuse enthusiasm with outlandish vocabulary: gonna, wanna, yo', bitchin', any profanity, slang spelling and slang vernacular.

Please treat the literary work, short or long, with respect.
Especially short stories.

Don't get angry because you felt it wasn't long enough. If it's a short story, it's a short story. It focuses on ONE aspect, ONE development thread and if that is not enough? Don't read short stories.

Know your personal expectations and choose books accordingly.
It's not a fault if the book is short.
It's wrong to use that reason to lower a book's rating.
Do you know what that is like?
It's like ordering one scoop of ice cream and getting upset because it didn't fill you up like two scoops.
One scoop of ice cream is like a short story. Remember that.

I tried to find an example of snark that insults not only the author but the book. I tried to find something that incorporated the don'ts - like swearing, while also providing what those other review blogs have, entertaining snark. I stumbled upon this video regarding a series that I actually enjoy. I overlook a lot of stuff that drives many readers wonky. I don't know what it is, but I have enjoyed every book in the series for what it gives me in that book alone.

Obviously, this particular Vlog has made video snarking an artform.
If a reviewer was to put in writing for LASR what is in this clip: synopsis, a bit of spoiler, profanity and yes, snark, it would never see the light of day. SNARK THEATER for one of the Anita Blake books.

I think it makes the point.


Nancy G said...

I am also an Anita Blake fan, and I was not impressed with the attitude of that particular 'review'. Did she even mention the title of the book she was destroying? I will admit that the Anita books are not for everyone, so if she doesn't like them, don't read them. It is like so many folks who put down the romance genre, lumping it all together without reading any of it. Thanks for speaking out for 'snark free' reviewing.

Xeranthemum said...

First, Thank you for reading my post, Nancy! :)

Second - Thank you for the "Yay" vote for Anita. I adored the lasted book Affliction. How about you?

Third - I agree with your 'review' of the review Vlog - it was course, sarcastic and mostly negative. The cute pictures and insertion of clips from popular T.V. shows was artful but in no way did they mitigate the snark. The maker of the clip took extreme pleasure in being negative. And that's to be avoided in writing reviews.

The purpose of a review is to make a reader think of the BOOK, not the reviewer. It's to provide information about what a reader will find should they buy the book - good and the not so effective.

At least, that's how I see the function of a review.

Here's an example: Headhopping. I'm not a fan of it. A review can tell me that it exists in the book, but if the reviewer also says that it actually provided vital clues and a better understanding of the characters' relationships, well then, that information will have a positive impact for me. I'll read the book anyway because in this case, the author made the headhopping work.

For me, that makes a review worth reading. And, as such, makes writing a review like that worth doing. imho.

Xeranthemum said...

And of course, there's a typo that I missed because I don't have an editor.

And once published, I can't edit.
::rolls eyes::

It's coarse, not course.

Curious: How many said the word in their head and mentally changed it to coarse and kept on reading?


Nancy G said...

Loved Affliction...I see LKH seems to be taking Anita back to her roots a bit, although there is still 'feeding the ardeuer' it isn't quite as often and more manageable. I have been a big fan even before I met her (LKH) and I do get that the books aren't for everyone. But to decimate it with that much bitterness, no matter which book or who the author is, is just wrong on so many levels. Yes, I've read books that I didn't like, but I didn't go on line and eviscerate the story, the characters and even the author to make my point. If you don't like a book, move to another...there is something out there for everyone.

You saw course, but didn't catch the earlier one? Yeah, I tend to just mentally make corrections and keep reading...except with the books I'm editing for my authors, then I'm ruthless!!