On Twitter, Reviewing, and Goodreads…

You have to love Twitter, or at least I do. I really didn’t think I would as my initial introduction came in the form of unusual and occasionally annoying chirps from friend’s computers even though they were necessary messages to and from other FanForce members (we are trying to have a BSG viewing party here!). Five years of avoiding later, I finally joined in all the fuss. Call me old fashioned, but I access it through my hand-me-down laptop without an escape key (like my life). I don’t have a smart phone. Those of us still buried under student loan debt cannot have all the fancy things.

Twitter itself has become my writing feed. It keeps me current in all the happenings in the writing world. Sure, I scroll past tweets and only stop on tidbits that strike me as worthy of taking the time to read–which today happened to be a link to Lauryn April’s blog post, “10 Tips to Writing an Excellent Blog Review”. Most of the time I see articles of a book review or how to make your book better, but ones focused on how to talk about other people’s work are fewer on my feed.

The article gives excellent advice, and you should all read it.  It even hits on things I learned in my university writing courses like constructive criticism and annotation. I always dreaded the day we would discuss my work in class, even if it was for 15 minutes. I was anxious the entire day before those meetings and usually left feeling like I had been exposed in a very emotional way. The positive of those meetings, even if I did not take all the suggestions written in the margins of the fifteen or so copies of my work, was that I developed a thicker skin when dealing with the critiques of the weaker parts of my work. Which is why I have such trouble on my other foray into social networking – Goodreads. (Hey look a link to me in another place!)

The website employs a star rating system to show how much you liked a book or not. I always hesitate at passing judgment in general (I took the ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ lesson to heart), and to do so on another writer feels wrong. I know that more than half the battle of writing is putting the words down on the page and in the correct order. I don’t feel right docking a work down to one star or two just because the theme or content isn’t my cup of tea. I tend to at least give three stars if it is well written just out of respect for the craft. I have yet to comment on books I have read that I did not like and also believed to be poorly written, either because I have been warned off them by fellow readers or because I’ve been busy satisfying my insatiable need to read every work written by an author that I enjoy. It’s like netflixing* an author. So there is this list of questions I ask myself when I think about my audience and how they would react to a scene or character in my novel, and with that in mind, I have a question I need to ask of all of you.

Now that you’ve seen sort of how I rate things, what makes you give out a five star rating on a book you’ve read?

–M

*Netflixing. Language, I love you. I remember having once had to explain to my English teacher in high school what a “blog” was. Oh, words, what interesting little facets of history you are.

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