Wednesday, February 23, 2011

For My Eyes Only

Isn’t it wonderful to snuggle up with a great book? More and more, though, I have been finding that I don’t just read to escape into a story, I read to find out what else I can learn about the craft of writing as well as what makes a book buzz-worthy, award-worthy, best-seller worthy.

Recently, I’ve kicked up my analysis a notch or two by writing reviews for my eyes only about books that I’ve read. At first I did this just to help me sort my thoughts, but I’ve found that in writing these reviews, I end up giving the novels that I’ve read a lot more thought. Kind of cool, right?

I’d love to tell you that I have a format for these reviews, but I don’t. After all, they are for my eyes only. Free writing is allowed and encouraged. However, I usually begin by asking myself what I found intriguing about the premise of a story. What pulled me to the book? The jacket copy? The cover? Reviews? The buzz? A recommendation? And how did the novel reading experience pay off compare to whatever pulled me to read it?

Some times I’ll explore why I couldn’t put a book down. Would I have been able to drop it if the house caught on fire or the sky started falling? If not, this deserves further exploration. What makes a novel this good?

I love cliff-hangers and plot twists, so I’ll often note these and why they work (or don’t) for me. How did the placement of these affect the novel?

What about voice? Give me a great voice and I’ll follow a character anywhere. So, I’ll sometimes explore what I liked or loved about a great voice in a novel.

I also love the way some authors tap into amazing details. It makes sense, then, that I’d write about these and how they affected the plot, characters, and setting.

Also, I’ll often jot down examples of incredible writing that makes me blink and catch my breath. This is sort of like collecting diamonds.

As you can probably imagine, my little reviews often turn into rants that go off in crazy directions, but they always offer insights. And, sort of surprisingly, writing willy-nilly about a novel after reading it, to revisit it and pick it apart, has turned out to be really fun.

Do you ever write about what you've read in a for your eyes only way? I'd love to know. ; )


  1. I do. But you've given me ideas of how to take it even further. Thanks!

  2. Great, Bish! I'm so glad this post is helpful. Happy reading and rambling.

  3. I don't do this, but it's intriguing because it would help you be more critical of your own writing if you know what you focus on in others'

  4. You're so right, Chris. I find really analyzing what I am reading benefits my own writing in many, many ways.