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Writing Reviews 101: What's your process for writing book reviews? Any tips or suggestions you would recommend to other bloggers?
I've had this blog since late 2008 and I have just now discovered a method of review writing that works for me. It took me awhile to find new coping skills to get past of my brain blocks created by my learning differences, but I think I finally found a writing technique. Be prepared though it's a kind of long process in writing. Ha ha!
To start off I pick the book I want to review. I read several books to get ahead so I have lots of options on what to review. I like to wait a long while before I write a review. I know most book bloggers probably like to review right after they finish a book, but I like to write anywhere from a week or even longer to compose a review if I can. The reason for this is that it takes my dyspraxic/ADD mind a long time to order thoughts and impressions into a form that will make since to others.
After I get a decent idea of what I want to say in my mind I make a new document on Google Docs. I type up the titles for all the sections of my review: Favorite Line, Summary, My Thoughts (aka the review), Interesting Facts, The Movie, Music To Read By, Book Playlist. I usually type out what I want to say on every section except the book review part. I usually start with the Interesting Facts part because that takes a little bit of research. While doing this I often multitask by creating and listening to the books playlist on Grooveshark. The music often helps me remember my first impressions of the book.
I like to save the book review section for last. On a rare occasion I end up doing my movie review last too, but only if I have a lot to say about the film. I dictate the book review section into the computer with Dragon Voice Recognition Software. The voice recognition software keeps little things from stopping my writing flow. Without it I can sometimes get overly frustrated with spelling or word order, and by the time I figure it out I've forgotten what I wanted to write. It's much easier for me to dictate, and worry about the little things later. However, if I don't have anything written before in dictate I end up just saying umm... into the microphone. So before I sit and speak it all down I take a blank sheet of paper (it has to be plain white computer paper lined paper distracts me), and I hand write a general idea of what I want to say.
After the whole rough draft of the post is finished I read it a bunch of times and try to catch as many mistakes as I can. I still miss some because I'm a little dyslexic as well but I'm getting a lot better at seeing my writing mistakes. Then I copy and paste my writing into the word processor Open Office to run spelling a grammar check. I don't always use all the grammar corrections, because I still want the writing to sound conversational first and foremost. I then copy and paste the newly revised blog post back into Google Docs. That way I can access it from any computer in case I want to post from my dance studio instead of at home.
When I feel that the post is ready to see the public. I turn on my pre-made book playlist on Grooveshark. This my last chance to check that the songs I've picked fit the book a flow well. It's also a great soundtrack for putting a blog post together. Then I open up photobucket for the book's picture. I copy and paste the entire review into blogger. Then I get the font sizes and colors looking the way I want. I wait until I'm blogger to type in the song titles and artists for the playlist, because you know how word processors are about unusual words and names. I post the playlist player, so you can all have a listen. Then I write a closing statement. After all if that I read it over again a few times to see if I can catch anymore writing problems. There are usually a few more fixes. I finally post the book review blog post for you all to see. Then I read it one more time. Believe it or not I still find some really hilarious typos even with all the re-reading I've done, and I end up editing the post right away. Then I'm done with the whole thing. I feeling very accomplished and I'm recommending you an awesome (hopefully) book at the same time. Wow! I never realized how much work this all was until now. I guess it's because it doesn't seem like work it only seems like entertaining fun at the time.
The best advice I would give to a blogger is keep writing and experimenting until you find what works for you. Practice makes permanent, but the practice should always be rewarding and fun. In addition, don't try to write like anyone else just write like you.
Question: What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to books? Maybe you don't like love triangles or thin plots? Tell us about it!
Hmm... Let me think...
1. When authors focus so much on minute details that they forget the big picture. This is what I like to call pointless rhetoric. The writer often forgets the scale of the plot or forgets to tell you how a character got from one place to another, because they're making a personal statement or really into describing a flower. So annoying. Stick to the important stuff in the story and just let the rest embellish it.
2. The author sets up a whole plot direction and then deviates from it or never complete it at the very end of the novel for no reason. Why?
3. When a writer becomes obsessed with a particular word and uses it excessively, as if the invention of the thesaurus never occurred. I can only guess that this pet peeve came from when I read Lord of The Flies in high school (horrible book...great symbolism but horrible horrible book.) William Golding is absolutely overly obsessed with the word creepers. It's always creepers this and creepers that. In the immortal words of the Peanuts I say: "Good grief!"
Now every time I notice an author just do this a little bit it bugs me. I love the Twilight books but Stephanie is quite fond of the word "chagrin". I loved Maggie Stiefvater's book Shiver, but she seemed to be a little too in love with the word "pragmatic." Not that there is anything wrong with these words. I love them in moderation. I think it just reminds me of the "creepers" experience. A couple days ago my mother explained to me that the over use of the words in the last two examples is almost okay because they are kind of written in diary format. Often when journal we find words that we love and use them over and over. I have to admit she is right, so they are forgiven (can't forgive the creeper thing though). I know even when blog I fall in love with certain words. On the other hand this considering this is published fiction we are talking about I don't see what is wrong with mixing things up and using words like: vines/ivy/leaves (creepers), vexed/humiliation/disappointment (chagrin), and practical/logical/commonsensical (pragmatic) once in awhile.
4. This is a minor issue that only bothers me in a few books. I kind of don't like when characters don't learn anything from their previous bad experiences. Yet again this only bugs me sometimes. On certain characters not learning anything can be quite endearing.