Monday, February 3, 2014

Writing Honest Romance Reviews

Ana wonders,"What's the best way to write a romance review?"

I wrote many a book report in school, but never for a romance. So I'm trying to devise a template for romance reviews so I can write them efficiently and concentrate on the sincerity.
So far, I have:

              section 1 - describe the book from a reader's perspective. Summarize the heroine and hero, their world, and the dilemma they face. Describe a bit about their journey and emotional arcs. No spoilers, if a suspense.

              section 2 - comment on the author's skill. Describe how I was swept up into the story. If a swooned over any phrases or passages. How I couldn't put it down.

Or not.

I have encountered writers who are super self-publishing technicians. From my perspective, they rushed to master the art of formatting, cover design, uploading, even making a box set, before investing time into polishing. When I try to read this type of author, my inner editor (the craft muse I am still nurturing through workshops and critique feedback) goes berserk. I can overlook errors in formatting, even poor punctuation, but I can't handle rambling sentence structure. Dialogue tags each time a characters speaks.   Incessant head hopping. Cut-and-paste restates of emotional status.

How does one review flaws? Is it better to decline to review? I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings. I want all every author to succeed.

How do you write honest reviews?


  1. The general advice seems to be to concentrate on the positives - and make sure any criticisms are constructive, not destructive.
    Personally, I don't think there's any need for your Section 1, as the blurb should summarise these points and anything more could be considered a spoiler unless it is phrased very generally.

  2. I agree with Paula on both accounts. To me, a resummary of the book isn't a necessary part of a review. I want the reviewers opinion of the story, not a recap.

    The second part of the review is trickier if there are many flaws to consider. Focusing on any positives is a good way to go. For me, if I don't like a book, I tend to not review it. Of course, if you've promised a review on a particular book, not doing it might not be an find something positive to begin the review, put an honest comment in about what can be made stronger - focus on one element - and end with something else positive.

  3. I agree with Paula as well. And I think you need to be very careful with reviews. As much as I love them, it can be very tricky when you know the author.