Before I became an author, I was a pretty harsh critic. Example:
“I. Can’t. Finish. SO crap! Giving up in chapter 5 and after reading other reviews, I’m glad I’ve decided to stop.
My main problem: Insta-love and obsession over a guy she has seen for a split second and then to chase him while he has a girlfriend. Not cool. Not at all acceptable.
I decided to give up when they switched views in chapter five and I started to get a different side to the story- by going back in time and having meaningless fight scenes because we know they all survived- there’s no suspense and it’s boring as hell. The stupid love triangle was stupid, and without it, it wouldn’t lead to over dramatic crappy teenage drama when there was plenty of drama with trying to save the world from ending. (Ahh! The world’s ending, and I know I should be upset, but the guy I’m totes in love with who I literally met five minutes ago has a girlfriend. WAHHHHHHHH!)
The story had so much premise and I was really hoping it would be good but am let down- extremely.”
Now that I am an author, this is how I would write this review:
“This book had a lot of potential, and it has a promising story line. It was entertaining in parts, but unnecessarily over dramatic in others. There’s a love triangle that doesn’t quite work for me, and took over more of the story than I would’ve liked.
As a general rule, I don’t like it when a story switches between POV. This however is a personal preference and does not reflect the writing.
It may have been a good book, but I refuse to read anything that glorifies cheating like this book did and sadly did not finish.”
Having said that this is how I would have written the review now- I can tell you that I didn’t. I didn’t re-write it at all, and have left the book off my reading list. Why did I do that?
Knowing how much work goes into a book, it’s hard for me to give any type of harsh criticism now. Harsh is in italics, because I still give constructive feedback when it’s warranted, but I’ll get to that a bit later.
I also believe that story line and plot should not be reason to give less stars. I have realised that a lot of the time, when a character annoys me, it is generally because the author wants that character to annoy me. So why give less stars for something an author does well? Why mark down if the main character ends up with someone I don’t want them to? Is it fair to rate it lower because I didn’t get MY way? Someone dies who I didn’t want to? Guess what? PEOPLE DIE IN REAL LIFE WHEN YOU DON’T WANT THEM TO! Does that mean a book should be rated down? I find my critiquing has moved from a reader’s perspective, to a writer’s. Meaning I focus more on the pace/grammar/plausibility/character and world depth/inconsistencies, rather than the events and personalities of the character in the book.
Constructive criticism. I belong to a review group, and I cannot express just how supportive they really are. But sometimes I do feel like they can be overly nice, which in turn, doesn’t always come off supportive. If there is an issue with my book, I want to know. If I can’t trust fellow authors to tell me what’s up, how am I going to feel when a reader says, “I. Can’t. Finish. SOOOOO CRAP.” In this group, I get a lot of comments on my reviews that say “Nice honest review.” And in a way, this is a compliment, because I try to be completely honest in reviews, but lately I’m getting the feeling that ‘nice honest review’ has become code for “Whoa! What a nasty bitch!”
I don’t try to be mean. Sometimes I insert humour into my reviews to keep fellow readers interested in reading my reviews – this sometimes doesn’t come across as humourous and can seem quite mean. In these instances, I apologise and am happy to change my review. But I don’t want to sugar coat my opinions. I have followers (like a whole ten or so- woo! slow down internet land, I can’t keep up with all my fans) and I would hate to recommend a book that I only liked, because I wrote a rave review about it that didn’t point out possible annoyances. Not only will I lose the respect of my ten fans, but they won’t read any of my recommendations when I do find that FANTASTIC book that I want to scream from the rooftops about.
I recently asked a fellow author if I am too harsh. Should I sugar-coat it more, like others seem to? Am I TOO critical? Do I have too higher expectations to want the books I read to be perfect (or close to! because perfection is hard to achieve!)? I was told to still be me. Some authors appreciate being told what a reader does/doesn’t like. Some don’t, and I have to live with that.
Don’t even get me started on the different rating systems, but this is how I do:
1 Star – didn’t finish
2 star- I finished, but didn’t like it
3 star -I liked it, but could have been better
4 star- I really liked it.
5 star- It was AWESOME.
So basically, what I’m saying is, from an author’s perspective, we don’t mind it when we’ve had stars taken off because the plot was too slow, the pace was off throwing, there was a major plot hole that wasn’t addressed. But mark me down for simply killing off a character that you liked? All I’m going to do is shake my head and tell you to go fuck yourself. (haha I should clarify, I’m joking. You’re entitled to your opinion. But seriously. Go fuck yourself.)