A Writing Life: Enjoy The Ride

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Enjoy The Ride

I was writing a review recently for a book I'd just read and loved. As I posted it on Amazon, I decided to read through some of the other reviews people had written. I was a book reviewer for 16 years so I enjoy reading reviews. (And yes, I believe there is a good way and bad way to write reviews, but that's a whole other blog post.) I like reading the positive and negative reviews to sort of compare and contrast. However, there seems to be a pattern to the negative ones.

1) The book is not in a genre the person usually reads - I love this one. I'm a romance writer and I find it hilarious when I read a review that says "It was so gushy and romantic! Life isn't really like that." Well, for one, real life CAN be like that and two, what exactly did you think you were reading when you chose A ROMANCE? Understand the genre you're reviewing. 

2) The reader tries to relate TOO much to the characters in the story - The book I just read was a suspenseful thriller. Every character was a hot mess. It's a huge part of what made the story great. One reviewer said they couldn't relate to the characters, that these weren't people they would know in their own life. My first response was, "Then be grateful! These characters were psychopathic killers!" That reviewer is certainly entitled to his or her opinion, but I thought part of the thrill ride was to read about these people, be outside of the world I live in, and enjoy the ride. Not unlike a scary funhouse at a carnival. 

3) The person barely read the book and just wants to spew an opinion (Sadly, it happens more than one would think) - This chaps me the most. I read A LOT. And in my book reviewing days, I had to read lots of genres that weren't my thing, books I trudged through, and ones that were downright tough to read. But I read them. Cover to cover. Because even if I wasn't crazy about the book, the author deserved for me to read it before giving my opinion. 

When did reading books stop being fun? I'm all for book group discussions and varying opinions. That's one of the many things that makes reading so great - the stories affect each reader differently. But we have become so critical. I read to escape. Take my brain away from work or a stressful week. I want to be swept somewhere else. Have fun with the story. Enjoy using my imagination. It seems that now everyone just wants to read to critique.

Read. Enjoy. Get frustrated with the characters. Question the plot twists. Write a review. But before you do, take a moment and think about the author who poured blood, sweat, and tears into putting those words on the page. Writers know how to take criticism just as well as praise. We really do. But we also really want to know you enjoyed the ride.

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