I posted on Facebook recently how I don’t write reviews because I write them so badly. It’s true. When I write a review, inevitably I sound dumb as a box of rocks, or pedantic, or deranged. Not a good look. And, as a writer trying to advance in my craft, not the kind of writing I want to acknowledge!
So I’ve been reading more reviews and also blurbs, and I’ve come to realize that one skill I must improve is careful reading.
I think I’m already a pretty good reader. I’ve been doing it since before kindergarten and I have a lot of practice. But it’s easy to read too quickly, to gulp rather than sip. I find that when I read something once – a novel, let’s say – I’m caught up in the plot, falling in love or distrust with the characters, and sure, I’m also admiring individual sentences and scenes, noting that bit of foreshadowing or how that detail builds the character’s profile. But it’s on the second reading where I focus on craft.
That’s one great thing about flash – it’s easy to re-read three times in a row. Four times, even. And good flash stories beg to be re-read. They are like saffron – each ounce is worth a pound of something else, not the least because of the labor involved.
I write a lot. My day job is writing. I try to keep up a reasonable flow of flash writing and blog writing, and I swear I really am going to write that dang novel. But I need to write even more. I need to learn to write reviews. And maybe some day, blurbs.
I like to let writers (or musicians or other artists) know when I’m moved by or admire something they’ve produced. And, reviews are an important part of marketing for a writer. I’m annoyed I’ve let myself go so long with such shoddy review-writing skills.
I vow to do better.