I’ve run into a problem. This isn’t the first time nor, I’m sure, will it be the last. So, I’m asking for your help. Actually, I guess, your opinion.
I just finished reading a book which had a good story but the author drove me crazy with several things they did. So, before, or if, I write a review, I thought I’d see what you think.
Like most writers, I’m also an avid reader, reading things far outside the genre that I write in. Why? Mainly because reading, pretty much anything, has always been a part of my life. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading something so, truthfully, I was a non-discriminatory reader long before I focused on a genre as a writer.
As a reader
As a reader, I’m not only entertained but I get to expand my horizons. Go places I might never get to go to. Experience things I might not otherwise ever experience. I also get to dream. Dream about other worlds, fantasize about life in the Fae world, what being a vampire would be like or spend part of my day swimming with mermaids.
As a reader, I’m also educating myself. Learning about new things. Things others see and write to tell me about. Or, stories they conjure up in their mind and pass on to me. Stories that were a major factor in my becoming a writer.
And now, not only am I a reader, I’m a writer too. Now, I wear two different hats. Sometimes not so different and sometimes very different. That difference I’ve come to learn, depends on what I’m reading. More importantly, it depends on the quality of what I’m reading.
As a reader, I’m actually less tolerant of mistakes than I am as a writer. Yeah, that kinda surprised me too. Why? Because they interfere with my enjoyment of the story. They distract me and cause me to reread something, sometimes still not understanding what the author was trying to say. Misspellings pull my eyes to them and I almost have to force myself to turn the page and get away from them.
When an author rambles on and on about something that adds nothing to the story, like they’re just filling in pages to make the story look fuller, when, suddenly I realize I just skipped four pages and didn’t miss a thing. Or, my favorite, when the characters never finish a sentence and the author leaves you to fill them in.
Worse yet, when an author names the wrong character, forgets where the scene is or gets the dates or times all screwed up. That’s when I want to rip the page out, retype it and glue it back in, before I go on.
After most of these, I’m now totally distracted. I’m now looking for mistakes. Anything, no matter how small.
As an author
As an author, I see the same things. But, as an author I know how easy it is to read over things. How easy it is to trust your editor to catch things then have them miss them. To have beta readers not want to hurt your feelings and avoid pointing out what they assume will be obvious to you. To have spell check keep underlining something that’s right because you intentionally misspelled it (like kinda, above) to the point where you totally ignore anything spell check flags.
So, here’s my dilemma. When I review a book, should I do it as a reader or, as a writer?
Should I come down on the author for ruining their story for me? Should I point out errors that likely the editor or beta readers should have caught? Should I break the authors heart and give them one star and tell them to go back to their day job?
I have my own theory on this but I’d really like to get your opinion, before I give you mine. (Which will be in my next post.)
So, please let me know what you think. How do you rate a book, as a reader or as a writer, if you are both? If you’re only a reader, what do you look for, what sends you over the edge and do you draw the line at a certain rating point? If you’re a writer, same questions, along with do you rate books differently because you’re a writer?