Writing book reviews makes me insecure when it comes to awarding stars. Hence this post on the official Insecure Writer’s Support Group day.
At one point, in the dim past, it seemed simple: if it was a book that I would re-read, then it earned five stars, like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. If it was a disappointment, then it earned three (or less). Nothing earned less, as one and two star books didn’t get past the initial blurb-opening-cover test – although I admit to a few mistakes.
Anyway, here’s my latest guide to the Stars based on reviewing as a fellow writer and as a reader.
One Star: The author managed the awesome feat of publishing a book.
Two Stars: Published and with almost no formatting/proof-reading/typo/spelling errors etcetera.
Three Stars: Published, error-free-ish, and with a logical, understandable plotline. Okay read.
Four Stars: As three, plus engaging story, characters, setting, and well-crafted sub-plots. Recommended read.
Five Stars: Not just a recommended read, but a book that demonstrates the craft of writing. Enjoyable and inspirational.
Although this star system avoids judging books against each other, which I hate doing, there is one major problem with this rating method. My review tomorrow demonstrates that failing. What score should I give a book that deserves five stars, is a ‘read-again’ book, and demands that I work through it looking for the clever techniques that the writer used. Do I need to have a Six Star grade?
I remember doing that when I got to the end of Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. I needed to know how she had got away with Rule 1 of the 10 Rules of Golden Age Detective Fiction, producing a clever twist ending that worked. Of course, that rule is now broken in many instances, as are many others.
Anyway, I’m not sure how I will apply my Stars grading to non-fiction, but what are your measures of a fiction book’s qualities? Do you avoid giving five stars? Do you want to give five stars to most books that you choose to read? Have you ever given a book one star, even if it was mine?
The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. We post our thoughts on our own blogs. We talk about our doubts and the fears we have conquered. We discuss our struggles and triumphs. We offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.
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Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!
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