I write a lot of reviews. In my previous blog, before the Lords of the Internet hacked and destroyed it, I had a set way of reviewing things. So I figured I would re-create that guidance, should anyone wonder how I arrived at the rating I give. Again, it’s my blog, so I’ll rate things how I want.
Thanks to Amazon, they have given us all a standard to start with, but they don’t go far enough. On Amazon they have whole numbers only:
1 Star = I Hate It
2 Star = I Don’t Like It
3 Star = It’s Okay
4 Star = I Like It
5 Star = I Love It
There are so many additional options available. So I have broken my ratings down into quarter marks (.25, .50, .75), and I will mention how it would round using universally accepted rules. So, let’s get to the meat of my ranking system.
I read, for the most part, Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror. So, if you are writing in those genres, I will automatically start you out at a 5. If you are not in those genres, you start at a 4. Yeah, that is harsh, but I really only want to read what I want. And that isn’t saying you won’t be able to get a rating higher than 4 from me if you aren’t in my favorite genres. You’ll just need to work harder for it. Deal with it.
If the story is good and keeps me reading, you stay at a 5. If the story is lacking, or something I have read before, you may slip down a bit. Granted, I am a firm believer that there are no ‘new’ ideas. But seriously, you know what I mean. A hero does a heroic thing and wins the girl…read that.
If your horror is too gory, you may slip. If you swear too much, you may slip. I hate seeing this stuff as filler to be ‘edgy’. If there is unnecessary sexual content, or sexual content that would make Hugh Heffner cringe, you will slip. At heart, I’m a prude and proud of it. Again, deal with it.
Grammar issues are a bit of a problem with my rating system. If you are an Indie Author, I will be much more lenient. But if you are a mainstream author, or you are working with a small publishing house, I will be a bit harsher with my criticism on grammar. But I know I’m not, in anyway, a professional editor, but I know what looks right. So if you have a ‘professional’ editor, you should have a near spotless manuscript.
What else…If you lose me completely in a story-line, that’s a mark down. If you plagiarize, that’s sure to be a low mark. And if you kill off small children in your story, in a grisly, brutal way, you get a 1 and will feel my wrath. No one needs to read that crap, and I have. And yes, I am thinking of a particular book. Such a waste, as the author was pretty good.
One last negative thing, if you spend five pages telling me there is mist rising in a field, or that the sun is setting in the west, I’ll just skip over that. Sure, I get the whole difference between showing and telling, but I can take just so much showing. Ugh! No 5 for you!
Now, if the dialogue is great, but something else is a bit lacking, I may see my way to raising the rating. Dialogue is a pain, and good dialogue is hard to find. If you have an amazing story-line, you get a bump. If the characters are witty, colorful and real, you get a bump. If I can’t put the book down because I want to see what is on the next page…bump. If you include just the right amount of descriptive text, you get a bump. Sure, I know that is an unknown metric, but again…deal with it.
One last thing and it has pretty much nothing to do with the writing. Does the cover art make a difference? Yes, unfortunately it does. Let me put it this way, if I’m not drawn to the book in some way, shape or form, I won’t read it. So yes, the art makes a difference. Not much of a difference, but it does matter.
What about other pieces of art, such as drawings, paintings, movies and music? Yes, I will write a review for those things and give them a rating. Just convert what I wrote above into some sort of coherent example and that should do the trick.
Finally, will I include spoilers in my reviews? No. Not normally, anyway. My reviews are usually pretty short, but to the point. I won’t go over the plot, unless I feel it necessary. I tell you what I liked and disliked. Plain and simple, just like me.
Should you have any comments or concerns about what I do, please feel free to ask. I’ll answer.