I know that beside myself, there might be many other new bloggers who would also want to know how do you write a great review? What outline would you go by?
I have always just winged it and wrote my honest opinion. But what would be some good suggestions?
I have a basic outline for my reviews. I have a one paragraph synopsis, my one paragraph review (its length is always longer than the synopsis and I sometimes break the paragraph up so that it would be easier for readers), a brief author bio, and my FTC disclaimer.
For my review paragraph, it's usually the thoughts I had when I read the book. I find it helpful to keep a notepad near me when I'm reading so that I can just jot down my notes. I pick the main points I jotted and include them in the review. I always end my review with an "overall" statement. For example, "Overall, False Witness is a mesmerizing thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat with its heavy suspense theme"... <-- something of that sort.
I have this review outline I use when writing reviews for Author Exposure...
1. Summary - What is the author's main point? Summarize the book without giving away the ending.
2. Reaction - What do you think will be your lasting impression of this book? How successful do you think the author was in carrying out the purpose of its publication?
3. Writing Style - How well does the author write? You can use a brief quotation to illustrate your observations.
4. Audience - Who would enjoy this book - general audience, genre interest, specialized audience, age range (YA or Adult)?
5. Personal Experience/Opinion - Can you share any personal experiences that relate to the book? Do you have a favorite part? What did you learn from this book?
6. Recommendation - Would you recommend this book to others? This could pertain to editing issues, future publications, or story line.
7. Conclusion - The conclusion ties together the review and provides a comment. This is usually the part that is used for an excerpt of the review.
Hope that helps! And sorry if you find it too long. :)
I try to keep mine with the same basic format. Overall opinion. Opinion of each main character. Opinion of side characters/side plots. Any good or bad points along the way. General summary opinion. The end. I also include a summary of the book at the beginning. I think the best way to do it is if you stay honest and analyze all aspects of the book. Books can have a great plot but the characters are weak. Or sometimes the characters are great, but there are no side characters to fill it out. Etc. I like to show all aspects of a book, whether I liked it all, some or none.
I've also been curious about this because I love reading and want to review more but I'm not sure about the format or structure. I want to be honest in my reviews too, but I don't want to diss any authors either. How do you keep your reviews more like constructive criticism rather than putting the author down?
I apologize if this isn't the right place to ask that.
How you approach a book review depends on whether you are reviewing fiction or nonfiction.
Assuming you plan to review fiction, introduce the book's genre and theme, and discuss how well the author develops plot and characterization. You should touch on the author's writing style and any elements of the story or the writing itself that impress you positively or negatively.
You may begin with a brief summary of the book, being careful not to give away spoilers, and conclude with your opinion and whether you enjoyed it, and why or why not.
A link to the book on Amazon or any place readers may purchase the book is also a good idea. Most publishers would probably not object to you reprinting the cover art, or quoting a line or paragraph (if in doubt, check with the publisher).
There are some good review tips at:http://teacher.scholastic.com/writewit/bookrev/tips.htm
Good question! I actually teach writing reviews in my writing classes and have lots of thoughts on this issue. For example, there shouldn't be too much summary. I think that is one mistake that a lot of reviewers make. By summarizing more than evaluating, reviewers sometimes miss the point of reviewing a book.
I actually just posted on my blog about this: 10 Tips for Writing a Book Review (based on my teaching experience). Hope it helps!