As book bloggers, writing book reviews is a core part of what we do. However, I’ve heard from lots of people who say that review writing is the most challenging or least fun part of blogging.
I’ve written posts in the past that set out some of the reasons that I personally find writing reviews difficult. There are a lot of times where I’ve gone to write a review but put it off – sometimes I can’t seem to get the thoughts in my head down on the page in a way that makes sense or think of the right phrasing, or sometimes just I draw a blank and can’t think of anything interesting to say.
Assuming that at least some other people out there also suffer from the same issues – I thought I’d share some of my experiences, processes and tips for writing book reviews.
I know that everyone writes their reviews differently and I’m by no means an expert! If you’ve been blogging for a while and already have your own style for review writing, this post might not be so useful for you!
However, if you are at all interested in hearing my thoughts and top tips for writing book reviews, please read on!
- Have some questions to fall back on:
Having a list of questions to consider when starting a review is so useful for teasing out content for a post, and I’ve found it can also really help with structuring a review and keeping my thoughts in order as well. There are a few questions that I always ask if I’m struggling to get started on a review, which I’ve included below in case they’re helpful!
- Were the characters believable and did they develop over the course of the book?
- Were there any plot points that I really enjoyed, or really didn’t enjoy?
- Was the setting fully developed? Was too much or too little time spent on description rather than action?
- Did the language flow and feel natural? Was there anything that jarred or didn’t work?
- Were there any pacing issues? Did it feel like any parts of the book dragged or were interesting parts skipped over too quickly?
- Write about what you’re interested in:
Ultimately, when people are reading a book review they want to know what you thought of it – including why you liked it, why you didn’t and whether you’d recommend it. If you found a particular aspect of the book really unique, talk about it. If you hated it, tell people why. I’d always recommend trying to be balanced though and picking out arguments from both sides where you can.
- Mix it up a bit:
Don’t think that you have to stick to the same formula all the time. If you’re struggling to write a review, adapt your structure or approach. I read a lot of blogs who break up their reviews up with pictures, quotes, headings, gifs or page dividers, which not only makes reviews interesting to read but also helps to add a bit of visual interest to something that otherwise could be quite word heavy.
- Don’t always start at the beginning:
Focus on what interested you and work backwards from there. I always find the beginning of a review the hardest to write, so a lot of the time I start in the middle by writing down my thoughts on a specific plot point, character or niggling issue, and then I go back to the introduction when I’ve had some time to think through my arguments logically.
- Take a break:
If you’re struggling for inspiration, don’t stress about it. Take a break and come back to it another time. If it feels like pulling teeth to write a review, the chances are that it’s going to read like that too.
How do you write book reviews? Do you have a process for writing them?
Are posts like this helpful and is there anything else you’d like me to focus on more specifically in another post?
8 thoughts on “Writing book reviews: how to get started”
I don’t find reviews that hard to write. I read on my Kindle and do a lot of highlighting while reading. These highlights are then used loosely as bullet points – then I expand on them and the review almost writes itself. I write the review immediately after finishing the book so that everything is fresh in my mind and so that my review reveals my initial reactions to the book.
I envy your organisation skills! I sometimes take notes as I go but not always, and I rarely get around to sitting down and writing reviews as soon as I’ve finished a book. This is definitely something I’m aiming to do more of in the future though!
Love this post! Just found your blog and can’t wait to read your content. I’m going to start doing book reviews soon, so this is very helpful!
Ah yay – so glad you found these tips helpful! Hope the book reviewing goes well and let me know if there’s anything else that you’d like me to focus on – ideas for posts are always welcome!
I’m just getting back to blogging after a long break, and these tips have really helped me recenter how I think about writing review posts. Thanks for sharing!
So glad you found them useful! Let me know if there’s any other topics that you’d find helpful – I’m always looking for new ideas!
I rarely write reviews for books because I never know how and what to write. I found your post to be quite helpful (hopefully that will encourage me to write more reviews).
Pingback: August wrap up | The Stacked Shelf