Choosing a Reviewing Style | Discussion

Choosing a Reviewing Style

I want to start by saying that this is not a post about the ‘right’ or ‘best’ reviewing style, it’s about how everyone has a different style when it comes to writing reviews. I have been meaning to talk about this for a while because I have tried multiple reviewing styles in the time I have been blogging, but I still haven’t found MY reviewing style, the one that’s right for me. That’s why I wanted to discuss it with you guys, to see what you thought about it.

When I talk about reviewing style I’m talking about several things:

1) The type of review

There’s so many different types of reviews, you can review books by making a list of reasons to read a book, a list of likes and dislikes or pros and cons, a long text or a short text, a review with different sections, a bullet point list, you can make reviews so many differents ways. None is better than other, it’s a matter of personal preference.

This first item on the list is the one that’s more independent, because the next few items are closely interconnected with each other. Still, it’s a very important part of the review! Here are some examples of the types of reviews that I have written since I became a blogger:

List of Likes and Dislikes: The Deal by Elle Kennedy 

Reason to Read: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson 

Review with Different Section: The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

Long Text: How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

2) The review focuses on your experience with a book in a implicit or explicit way. 

When you are sharing your opinions about a book, it’s clear that those opinions are related to your experience reading the books, but you can choose how much of your experience makes it to your review. By experience I mean everything from how you felt ot what you thought while reading, stories about why you decided to read a book or about why a book is relatable to you and other things like that.

When you talk about a book, your experience reading that book can be implicit, for example, ‘the characters were well developed’ or ‘the pace was off’, even when you don’t say it your opinion is based on your experience while reading the book.  Other times, when you talk about a book, your experience can be explicit, for example, ‘I waited to read this book until the series was completed because I’m always scared that the last book in a series will suck’.

This point is the one I have the most trouble with when I’m writing my reviews. Sometimes I feel like the experience can overtake the review and it can push the book to a second place.  I feel when this happens the review ends up not being that helpful to someone deciding whether to read a book or not. At the same time, I love reading reviews when people manage to drop little bits of their experience in the review. 

Examples on my reviews:

The experience is explicit:  The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski 

The experience is implicit:  When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez

3) You use first person or you don’t.

This is related to what I was talking about in point 2, if your review is focused on your experience with the book, then you tend to use first person and if it isn’t focused so much on your experience, you tend to not use first person.

What I have noticed is that most people, when they are writing a review,  tend to write in first person; they say things like I think, I feel, I thought, I felt (This different use of verb tenses is adressed in the next point).

Examples on my reviews:

Example of using first person: Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Example of not using first person: Review of God Smites by Ishara Deen

4) The verb tenses you use to write your review

Mainly, people use past or present tense when they are writing their reviews. The decision of which tense to use is related to the second point in this list, because when people focus their review on the experience they had while reding the book they tend to say ‘the book was great’. Instead, when the review is more focused on the book as a things that exists and not a things that one has already experienced they tend to use present tense, for example, ‘the books is great’. Nonetheless, this is not always the case!

Examples on my reviews:

Present tense: If the Dress Fits by Carla de Guzman 

Past tense: The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

My reviewing Style

How I used to write reviews: almost always there were lists of some type, especially lists of likes and dislikes; my experience while reading the book was always explicitly present in my reviews; I wrote in first person and past tense.

How I’m writing my reviews now: I have been writing just text and not other types of reviews;  my experience while reading the book is always implicit;  I don’t write in first person and I write in present tense. I made this change because I wasn’t happy with the way I was writing reviews, but even when I feel like my reviews are better written lately, I feel like I have less fun writing them. I think my experience while reading the book needs to be explicit more often.

What I want to try next: I want to mix up the way I write reviews again and try to find the reviewing style that suits me. But I want to know your opinions first. Tell me about your reviewing style!  Do you write in first person or don’t? What types of reviews do you write? Do you write in present tense or past tense? Do you make your experiences while reading the book explicit or not? I would love to know all your opinions and comments about this! 

This got really long.  If you read it all, thank you! If you read a part of it, thank you too!

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16 thoughts on “Choosing a Reviewing Style | Discussion

  1. This is an awesome post. I honestly have never 100% thought about the way I write my reviews that much besides having a kind of format to where I place the info on the book, the synopsis, the cover and then the categories I kinda review: Cover Art, Writing, Plot, Characters and Overview. So I do talk about my likes and dislikes in each section, but not in a list format, it’s just a paragraph.

    Besides that staying the same in every book review I think I just write whatever I feel, some reviews I have written were 100% experience, for example my review for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I just do it without thinking about the technicalities.

    I have just gone back and had a look at the last two reviews I wrote. I write in first person and present and past tense. But with the tenses it’s more like ‘I enjoyed the plot’ and ‘I love maps in books’. So I use a combination depending on what aspect of a book I’m discussing. If it is something that happened in the book or a person that was in the book then it’s past tense but if it is a feature of the book itself, like maps, or the cover, etc then I will use present tense.

    I don’t really know about the talking about experiences part, I guess I do include my experience as I do say ‘I enjoyed’, ‘I Loved’, ‘I disliked’, etc. I more just say what the thing was that was either good or bad, I just use words like ‘enjoyed’, ‘love’, ‘disliked’, ‘liked’, etc to express whether it was in my opinion a good, bad, terrible or amazing thing. If that makes sense? 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I was writing this posr, I was wondering if other people thought about their reviews as much as I did. It totally makes sense that you haven’t thought 100% about it. I have categories that I talk about in my reviews too, but I don’t actually divide my review on sections, I just talk about those categories throughout the review.

      I usually don’t feel comfortable mixing present and past tense and I used to re-write a review a few times until I could say everything I wanted to say in the same verb tense. But that’s just me, I get caught up in thinks like that. I actually don’t mind reading reviews that mix verb tenses, I don’t even notice. The experience part was the hardest to explain in this post, but I do understand what you are saying.

      Thanks for taking the time to write all this! Getting to know your thoughts was very helpful and interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome. I like discussing things I don’t generally talk about or in this case even really think about.
        I wouldn’t say you’re over thinking things, it’s just you are happy with more structured writing whereas I’m 100% care free and just write what I feel most of the time.

        That’s the beauty of it, I personally enjoy reading reviews that are pure feeling, where it’s exactly what they thought and experienced from the book and sometimes ones that are more structured, formal and informative. I like a mixture. 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Definitely! We have different styles and that’s ok.

        I also enjoy reading reviews with both styles, reviews that are more about the person’s feelings and thoughts and reviews that are more structured. I usually enjoy the reviews that are more about feeling when I have already read the book, because I feel like the person writing and I have experienced the same book and I like to know how their experience was similar or different to mine. On the other hand, when I’m trying to decide if I want to read a book or not, I tend to like reviews with a bit more structure.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That is fair enough. I generally don’t read reviews for books I haven’t read and want to. But your reasoning makes sense and that would probably be how I went about it if I did read reviews prior to reading. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t have any one specific style that I’ve decided, I just write whatever works for each book. Sometimes a likes/dislikes, sometimes just talking about random things, etc. But I do use first person, although I feel like every review has an implied first person, you know? Because even if a review doesn’t use the word “I,” it’s still just that person’s opinion. And I like reading reviews that are personal.

    The one thing I do try to keep consistent is using past tense. I feel like once I’ve read a book, it’s over, it has happened in the past for me now. Except sometimes when I’m writing a review for an ongoing series I might slip into first person while talking about a character or something because the character is still in the present for me since the series is still going on… does that make sense? People probably don’t even notice tense, but I just like to be consistent for my own sake.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely need to start writing what works for each book, instead of trying to have a style that suits me. It’s just that I like structure and having a set way in which I do things and it’s hard to let that go. I totally agree about the fact that there’s always an implied first person, if you are writing the review it’s obviously your point of view about the book.

      I do the opposite when it comes to verb tense, I write in present tense because I feel like even if I already experienced the book once, the book still exist outside that experience. The book isn’t over, because I can reread it and experience it again and Im not necessaraly experiencing the same thing as the first time. Also, and I think this is more important, for the person reading the review and trying to decide if he or she wants to read the book, the book is not in the past. That’s how I feel about it, but I totally understand your point of view.

      Thanks for commenting! It was really interesting getting to know your opinion.


  3. Great post! I tend to write in first person and focus on how I felt about a book and my own experiences. I feel like people can get a plot analysis and reviews that are far more structured and in-depth elsewhere – so really the thing that makes book bloggers reviews unique and worth reading are our opinions – that’s definitely why I read other people’s reviews.

    I definitely need to work on mixing up my style though. I do lots of reviews but hardly any discussion posts, as part of me thinks that anything I have to say, someone somewhere will have already said it. Hoping to work on this this year though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally understand what you are saying about reviews! One of the reasons I have been thinking about changing my reviewing style is that I feel my reviews need to be more personal. I need to work on that.

      Also, you should definitely try to write discussions. I used to feel the same way but the truth is no one is gonna say exactly what you’re gonna say, so as much as someone else may have already talked about a subjet, what you’re gonna say is still unique because no one else thinks exactly like you. I would love to check out the discussion posts you make in the future!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Awesome post! I’m still working on my review style. Depending on my mood on the book I will just rant and rave about how much I loved it, sometimes (actually alot of the time) I use gifs. I don’t know which I like more yet…reviews are hard because I find not as many people read them 😕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally know what you mean, reviews take so much time and work and not that many people actually read them. I know there’s people that don’t write reviews at all in their blogs, but I don’t know if I could do that. For me, reviews are a big and important part of being a book blogger.

      Also, I love reviews that have gifs! I don’t use them because I feel like they don’t go well with my reviewing style and they don’t go that well with the style of my blog either. But if you feel like they suit you that’s amazing, I love seeing that type of review.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My reviewing style has been MOSTLY consistent since I started reviewing 4 years ago. I’m a college professor, and I teach my students how to write reviews. The review always begins with a brief summary that doesn’t contain any spoilers. I write my own summaries because a lot of times the back of the book or Goodreads summary can be mislead (or contain spoilers!). Then, the reviewer needs to pick 3-4 aspects of the book on which to comment. Maybe characters, plot, writing style, how entertaining the book was, it’s readability, etc. Anything more or less than 3-4, I’ve found, is too long or short. Every one of these 3-4 aspects needs to have evidence to back them up, either moments in the book summarized in the reviewers own words, or a quote. Whichever way the evidence is presented, it needs to be explained. For example, if you write that the book dragged, explain what was happening in a particularly draggy section and why that, to you, is drag. Also, since I teach in the English department, I’m a big stuck on MLA formatting, which means I always write in present tense. If a book really makes me mad, I tend to get more personal and mention myself, but overall I don’t write “I think” or “I feel.” In composition, we teach students that those expressions are obvious (of COURSE it’s what you feel–everything you write is an opinion, and opinions are NOT bad, so long as they are backed up with evidence) and unnecessary.

    I am very curious to learn why so many people think “opinion” is a bad word. As in, “it just your/my opinion.”


  6. I’ve been thinking about reviews for a long time. I like the Like/Dislike part because you can always find the problematic stuff quickly. But I feel like it’s too rigid and have been thinking of going with a flowing text for a while. Sorry to not be of more help but I myself am at the crossroad.


  7. Really cool post! I think I mostly go with my gut and just write what feels right, without paying too much attention to it. Sometimes I’m in a sarcastic, funny mood, and sometimes I’m much more serious.


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