Saturday, May 19, 2012

How Reviews Influence a Writer

Well, this writer, anyway.  Honestly, I wish there were more constructive reviews of my books on Amazon.  There are two that I continually come back to and read/reread.  Ange de Mystere's and Sand Under Foot's.  It was when I read the former's review of Rendezvous that I realized, "Oh, crap.  Not everyone's gonna get why I went so close to the lyrics from Phantom for this book."  But seeing how a reader felt about it helped with my Jekyll and Hyde one, because I reference the lyrics numerous times in that one, but I don't rewrite them.  There are simply subtle hints that, if one knows the lyrics as well as I do for that show, they could pick up on it.  For instance, there's a line in 'Facade' that goes "Look around you, I have found you cannot tell by looking at the surface what is lurking there beneath it.  See that face, now I'm prepared to betcha what you see's not what you get cuz man's a master of deceit."  My tip-of-the-hat to that line came in Erik's letter to Holmes: Of course, you can never tell what may be lurking underneath the surface.  There are other such examples where I hint at lyrics rather than thinly rewrite them, or quote directly.  (I wonder how many people realized the title was a lyric?  Lost in the Darkness.  Go check out the lyrics.  It's there.)

Anyway.  I know that one of the pieces of advice for writers is to not read their reviews.  To an extent, I see why and I perfectly agree.  I mean, especially when people don't like it, who wants to read something that tears their book to ribbons?  No one, honestly.  Though there are exceptions.

This YouTube review is one of those exceptions.  It's the second part of a video review (supposed to be a miniseries about mine and the other Phantom/Holmes crossovers, but no more videos were put up, as far as I can see,) about Rendezvous at the Populaire.  In the first part, she talks about the two characters and their appeal (which includes a picture of Megamind and an unintentional slash implication,) and says, "So, how many crossover stories have been written, with Holmes and the Phantom having the face off of the century?"


Which leads into my favorite part, where fun, carnival-type music comes over and the screen says, "Thank you for your patience while we attend to some technical difficulties."

I swear, click on the link.  I'll wait.  Cuz the picture she found of Erik when she comes back from the technical difficulties is priceless.  Seriously, go watch it.  I'll be right here.


Did you see it?  How great is that?  It just fits perfectly!

Okay, so I don't ramble about stuff liek that the whole time, I'll get back to my main point.  To a degree, I understand not reading reviews.  For instance, years ago, my dad told me this story about an actor who was in a play, I think it was.  His publicist told him over and over not to read the reviews of his performance because he didn't want it to affect how the actor would be onstage.  The actor didn't listen, and read one particular review where the writer criticized how a certain line was said.  Afterward, the actor was never able to say it the same way again, even after being told the reviewer didn't know what they were talking about, that he'd done it perfectly, etc.

I admit, I don't look over the more negative reviews a lot (for instance, I've only watched the three things Ange de Mystere didn't like about Rendezvous twice,) but I greatly appreciate the criticisms.  Sand Under Foot's criticism that I've humanized Holmes too much and that they'd like to see more of Watson was invaluable to me.  Honestly, I was kind of disinterested in Watson for these novels.  Of course, I was going to keep him in them, but had it not been for that review, he may have just become more and more of a background character, instead of so fully invested the way he is in Jack of All Trades.  In fact, I don't think I thought of everything I'm doing to Watson until after that review.

I suppose my main point in all this rambling is that while I don't like or appreciate the purely negative reviews of "this books sucks," "the author's horrible," "why did this ever get published," I do appreciate the well-thought out ones that have honest criticisms and suggestions for improvement.  There are more than just Ange de Mystere and Sand Under Foot, for instance, Alistair Duncan's blog review where he mentions me writing that Watson was looking at Holmes's pant leg.  It never even occurred to me, an American, that someone British would say 'trousers.'

Anyway, the constructive reviews I've received thus far have helped me greatly to up the bar for the next novel.  I'm hoping that my deadline will work out, because I want to have Jack of All Trades typed, looked over, and sent in in time for it to be available for purchase by mid-July.

Anyone who hasn't reviewed, please do.  Offer what you like, what you don't like, what you'd change, what you'd keep the same, anything you wish.  As long as it's respectful and thought-provoking, I welcome it.

Rendezvous at the Populaire

 I Will Find the Answer

1 comment:

  1. You can learn a lot from a thoughtful bad review, but I don't understand the vitriolic ones. If they hated the work so much, why bother? Anyway, your work won't improve if you don't pay attention to what people say about it.