One thing I hope to do in this new journal is to become a better reviewer.
I’ve been writing reviews for some years now, and lately have felt like I’m stuck in a rut. My review format is pretty standard:
- One or two sentence introduction.
- One-to-three paragraph plot summary.
- A few paragraphs of what I thought about the book.
After a while this format has made me start feeling as if I were Harriet Klausner, only slightly more insightful and a lot more cynical. (For those who don’t know, Klausner is the #1 reviewer at Amazon.com. It’s been conjectured that she’s actually a pen-name, perhaps for multiple reviewers. I don’t know that there’s any evidence for this, and there’s some evidence against it. In any event, her reviews are invariably positive – 4 or 5 stars – and have the consistent format of 2 paragraphs of plot summary and one paragraph of opinion. In other words, I find them bland.)
For me, the challenge in reviewing is that I both want to urge people to read books I enjoy, and discuss books I think are interesting. The former suggests that I keep my reviews spoiler-free, while the latter often requires that I include spoilers. (And both suggest maybe I shouldn’t review books I don’t like and don’t find interesting.) The solution to this, I think, is to write a review using the former approach, and then put any comments in the latter vein behind a Read More tag. (For the most part I hate it when people use things like lj-cut tags, but I think spoiler info is one of the very few legitimate uses of such things.)
And I’d like to break out of a standard reviewing format and get a little more creative.
Anyway, that’s the goal. I think it will take some thought and practice before I can properly execute it.