My review of ‘While No One Was Watching’ (which I referred to in my post of 5 June 2014) has been published in The Copperfield Review. Hurray! Many more cheers, though, for Debz Hobbs-Wyatt for writing the book. (I just did the easy part.)
Imo, writing reviews of other writers’ work is a win-win for all hopeful writers. Firstly, and very obviously, it is necessary to read the novel/short story first, all the time thinking about what is pivotal to the story, characterisation, use of language and, generally, what you will include in your review – which is very different from reading a book casually, for pleasure. Analysing other authors’ work in this way shows me how to tackle storylines and characters; the way Debz drip-fed the back story into ‘While No One Was Watching’ was inspirational, something which I will attempt to emulate when I get back to writing The Novel.
I use ‘notes and highlights’ on the Kindle menu to pick out passages for putting into the review, although I rarely refer to them; if I make the effort to make a note about something, it is retained in the best note-taking application in the world – the human brain. (Tell it not to Evernote! Or to my students, whom I’m always telling to use Evernote!) Writing reviews didn’t come easily to me at first, but doing them here, on this blog, when I’m my own editor and therefore more relaxed, I have developed my own style, which helps me to write more fluently when I’m composing reviews for (other) publication.
Secondly, reviews do generally get published and your name appears in well-regarded mags (like The Copperfield, which is at the top of its field (historical)) alongside good authors. And the editor is used to hearing from you and knows your name when you do a proper sub – that is, a story.
Go on, Dear Writer. Review something.