Thursday, January 01, 2015

A Book Review Template You May Copy (if you'd like)

I used to spend days writing long book reviews, trying to get it "just so", while feeling the need to "sell" the book that I was sold on. Sometimes I got hung up just trying to get started, looking at the blank screen, wondering where to begin. I often fell short of my own expectations.

One day, I noticed that I was writing very few book reviews anymore. I realized the reason: I was making it too big a project! So I made myself a template of questions, or writing prompts.

Now when I want to write a book review, I go to my template; go to Save As; add the name of the book to the title, for my new file; and then I begin answering some of the following questions.

I don't answer all of the questions! Probably, that would make the review way too long. But it would also be overwhelming, which is the opposite of the reason for the questions. 

For any particular book, I pick and choose a few of the questions, as answers pop into my head. Then I frame my answers into sentences and arrange them into one or more paragraphs. 

Here are my questions (my book review template):

Did you like the book? How much? Would you recommend it?

Are there one or two things that you liked best about the book?

If it's a fiction book, would you like to briefly share something about the story, being careful not to give away anything important? Would you like to share something you liked about a character or about the message, again not spoiling anything for the reader?

If it's a non-fiction book, have you used any of the information or advice?  Would you like to share a line or two? Or tell something about what is covered in the book?

Why did you read the book? Were you glad you read it? If yes, why?

Would you recommend it to others?  Why? To whom would you recommend it?

If I'm still feeling stuck:
What different words or short phrases describe the book or the topic, or the tone of the author?
 Make a list. 

(After making the word list, I come back to some of the questions again, perhaps after taking a break to do something else. And then, I see if a few of the words in the list might help me get started with answering some of the questions, which it does.)

After coming up with this template, I have been able to review five books in about a month, which is about ten times more than my average had been. Not that I'm in any contest to write lots of book reviews! It's just that I had fallen behind on books I really wanted to share. 

One thing I remind myself now is that my review doesn't have to be perfect or even profound to post it. That desire to be perfect or profound hangs us up in lots of areas of life, doesn't it?

If you, too, sometimes find that the desire to get it perfect or profound holds you back, or that you are looking at a blank screen, please feel free to copy and paste this template - the words in italics - to help you overcome that writer's block. 

It is my gift to you.

Happy New Year!  

You can read my Amazon reviews here

No comments: