Discussions posted, latest book finished, to-be-read pile saved from toppling – you know that this means. It’s TIME TO WRITE A REVIEW. Huzzah!
There are lots of ways of writing blog posts and review features, many of them much easier and less involved than mine (I am enthusiastic and need a constructive outlet for my flailing) but this is roughly how I go about it.
STEP ONE: reading and annotating the book
I read for enjoyment, so I only take basic notes while reading. I used to take very detailed notes, but found it pulled me out of the story and slowed down the pace of the plot. Sometimes I’ll flick back or re-read specifically for review – I did this with The Next Together by Lauren James because it has four timelines – but otherwise I work from memory as I like to review quite soon after reading if I can.
STEP TWO: whip out the review notebook
I LOVE blogging notebooks. I’ve filled many with drafts of posts (and lots with fangirling).
STEP THREE: pick a review playlist
I love setting books to music. If I’m looking for a way to remind myself of the story, these songs allow me to review while keeping in touch with the essence of the book.
STEP FOUR (very important): planning
This is where I figure out my feelings on a book! I pack this plan with details, from the smallest plot twist to the hook. Somewhere in all of this I’ll cover plot, characters, craftsmanship, surprisingly good things, whether my expectations were met, pacing, my favourite scenes. If I’ve come up with any taglines or a fun way to introduce the review, I’ll make a note of that too.
(This is also usually where I get snacks/fly a dragon/realiSe my foot is asleep.)
Then, I must find order in the chaos. I’ll separate details into related topics and subjective opinion, choose a rating and set the tone for the post. Will it be passionate and full of gifs, or more story-focused and serious? Will it be both? I’ll start to group details together, finding connections and highlighting what I know I’ll definitely want to talk about. I’ll arrange and rearrange, discovering what each paragraph will look like.
STEP FIVE: WRITING THE THING
Now we get to the hard bit: finding the words to make sense of the review outline. I may decide some paragraphs aren’t necessary or they’ll turn out longer than anticipated.
Review speed at this stage can vary from lightning fast to just about keeping pace with nearby tortoises.
STEP SIX: Edit. Edit some more. Edit again.
My early drafts are very detailed, and for this reason, editing is my best friend. If I’ve only written by hand up to this point, I’ll get an extra round of edits in while typing it up. I’ll sharpen sentences, rewrite criticisms or clunkily-worded phrases, check how many times I’ve repeated the word ‘magnificent’… and I’ll cut words right up until the last second. If there’s a way to say things more concisely, editing is where I’ll find it. I’ll only occasionally add things here.
STEP SEVEN: INTO THE JUNGLE
Finally a finished, formatted blog post! Now I can hit schedule or publish, do promo, send emails, and sneak glances at my alluring TBR. Bloggers often bemoan the fact that reviews seem to get the least traction for the most amount of work, and maybe that’s true, but I love writing (and reading) them, especially if they’re evolving and improving, so that’s what I aim for: to get better at them, even just a little at a time.
What’s your reviewing process like? Do you outline in detail or wing it? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments below!