Hi there, fellow readers! Today’s discussion post is going to be a little long, but
hopefully worth it!
In my short time as a blogger, I have seen a lot of people say they hate writing negative reviews. I’ve even seen a few people on Goodreads and NetGalley who outright refuse to do it. They’ll give a book a low star rating, but then they’ll write nothing but good things about the book in their review.
Personally, I have no problem writing negative reviews, and, to be perfectly honest, I sometimes enjoy it as much as writing positive reviews because they tend to spark the most conversation about a book. So, I decided to do a little mini-series about negative reviews. First up is how to write negative reviews in the first place.
This is all just based on my personal experience as a blogger, and as someone who went through a lot of writing workshops and critiques to get my Creative Writing degree. If you have a different opinion, feel free to let me know!
Let’s get to it!
Always, always, ALWAYS be respectful!
I don’t care if you just finished the WORST book you have ever read; when it comes to writing a negative review, ALWAYS stay respectful. Even if you hated everything about it, the author put a lot of time, energy, and passion into that book, and you have no right to be a jerk.
“But Ryann,” you say, “If I REALLY hated a book, how can I be honest without seeming disrespectful?” I’m so glad you asked. Always remember that this is your OPINION. What you hate about a book, others might LOVE. Instead of outright declaring, “The characters were AWFUL,” try something closer to, “Personally, I found it hard to really connect with any of the characters.” This way, you’re being honest about your dislike of the book, while still remaining respectful of the author and others who may enjoy the book.
If you can’t pinpoint WHY you don’t like something, don’t mention it
This one might be a little controversial, but for me, if I can’t tell you WHY I didn’t like something, I won’t mention it. I will never say, “I just didn’t like this aspect of the book, I’m not sure why.” I will always try to work out the reason.
Simply saying you didn’t like something doesn’t help anyone. If someone reads my review and sees, “I just didn’t like it,” that doesn’t tell them if THEY won’t like it. But, if I can say, “I didn’t like the romance because it had ALL the insta-love,” they can decide whether or not insta-love is a good enough reason for THEM to pass on the book. And, if an author reads your review, “I just didn’t like it” doesn’t tell them how they can improve their writing for their next books (and it can just be a little demoralizing).
Try to find something to like
I know this can sometimes be a little difficult, especially if the book you disliked was a book you had been looking forward to that utterly disappointed and betrayed you. But being able to mention one or two things you liked about the book will go a long way in turning a negative review from seeming like a long rant to a more respectful, “not for me.” In my reviews, it’s sometimes been as simple as, “This book had a great premise,” or “I can see a lot of potential for Book 2,” or it can be more specific, like, “While I was disappointed with most of this book, Side Character #2 really stood out and kept me reading more.” Whatever it is, try to make sure you add some positive aspect into a negative review to let readers know you really did give it a fair shot.
The 3-2-1 Rule
This one is probably just a me thing, but I have a 3-2-1 Rule I try to follow. If I REALLY disliked a book, to keep my negative review in check, I’ll keep it to 3 points: 2 negative and 1 positive: 3-2-1. This rule helps me keep my review organized, and also keeps me from ranting about everything that bothered me. Instead, I pick the top two things that irritated me, and leave it at that. Then, I’ll add that positive aspect mentioned above, to let readers know I really did try to like the book. This way, I don’t sound like a jerk, and readers don’t have to read the mad ravings of a disappointed book lunatic.
That’s it for this week’s discussion! Thanks for reading!
What about you? Have you ever found it hard to write a negative review? Do you disagree with any of my negative review rules? Or do you have any of your own to add? Let me know in the comments below!