Reading a recently published review of one of my books gave me pause. I had to stop and reflect upon my goals when writing fiction. I won’t mention the book title or where the review was posted because I don’t want to give the impression that I did not appreciate the review. The overall tone was positive and the criticism well considered, spot on in fact.
Reviews are at best highly subjective. That which one person might consider to be a negative may very well be the thing that attracts the next person to the book. All reviews, good, bad or indifferent, should be welcomed. A written review means that someone cared enough about your work to actually take the time to share his or her thoughts on the subject. Those thoughts should always be taken seriously.
I am a storyteller. I do not aspire to being the next Edna Ferber, Herman Melville or Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I write what I call “airplane books,” the type of novel that you can take aboard in New York and finish by the time you reach Los Angeles.
My reviewer wanted more depth in character development and several more edits. It was also noted that the pace was “too fast.” So, if you’re looking for a fast paced read, without too much detail given to the color that the lead character’s girlfriend paints her toenails, this review just might spur you to pick up the book.
I am simply a storyteller. You won’t find a whole lot that doesn’t define the characters or advance the story. One area where I do give particular attention is in researching the times and places where the action occurs. If the story is set in Denver, circa 1985, and the hero checks into a Holiday Inn on Quebec Street, you can be sure that the hotel actually was there in 1985. A traveler flying from London into New York City in 1962 would land at Idlewild, not JFK.
I can promise the reader no misspelled words, no sloppy sentence structure nor unintended anachronisms but beyond that, character development and pacing are far too subjective to try for a one size fits all solution. The only advice that I would give to authors on this subject is write what feels right to you. Your style will attract from a readership who enjoys that sort of storytelling and will be ignored by those who don’t.
And as for reviews, cherish all that you can get. Honor all reviewers who think enough of your work to actually comment on it, they are the most important part of your public outreach.
Thank you for the time you have invested in reading this post. I welcome your comments and I invite you to visit me on Amazon