Reviews are interesting things. Everyone hones in on different things when they read a book and funnily enough, the writer hones in on odd things in reviews. Writers live for and hate reviews. They scrape open our weaknesses and make our scabs bleed. It’s one thing to crit our own work but oh, when another does it, it’s painful.
Which is funny because often, the review (if done by someone who reviews a lot) speaks of both good and bad. But ah, being human, don’t we always focus on the bad? It’s that scab thing.
I’m actually pretty happy with Dirty Kiss’ reviews. I read them and I hear people seeing different things. I know a book isn’t going to work for everyone. That’s just a reality. And everyone is going to trip up on different things. One reviewer said it would be better if Cole had been pure Caucasian. Ah, that’s true if DK was a standalone. That’s a TRUE niggle because the future book involving Cole’s ethnic blend hasn’t come up yet. Hell, I’ve not even written it but I know what I’m going to do in it. That’s a very valid remark from a reviewer.
Another had issue with a conversation, citing it as unbelievable. Also a very valid remark from someone reading the book. I’ll be honest when I say that when I heard of the conversation I based that scene on, I was shocked and didn’t want to believe it. The man sharing that story with me was sincere and trustworthy but the situation was one of those moments when you literally are rocked back in your brain and say; When the hell is that even acceptable?
But see, that reviewer had a valid issue because it jerked the reader from the story. That reviewer is right. Even if the conversation actually happened in real life, the reviewer is right because it pulled the reader from the story.
Any time someone is yanked out of what they are reading, then something didn’t work for them.
And that’s okay. For both the writer and the reviewer. But too many of those, then that’s a bad book.
Case in point, I was once reading a so-so book in the M/M genre and it was okay…not fantastic…but okay. Until I got to the sentence where the main character’s love interest was refurbishing his classic 1953 Ford Mustang.
A car that does not exist.
Mustangs wouldn’t exist until 1964½.
I tossed the book across the room in disgust.
I can’t tell you the author. I can’t tell you the book. But oh, I can tell you what it was that jerked me from the story. Years later and I can still see that. I can even tell you the position of that line on the page. It tossed me out of the book like it was a bouncer of a Belfast pub and I was too drunk even for the Irish New Year.
Jerking the reader is a bad thing, even in the M/M genre. Someone reading the book with the express intent of reviewing it will be going over the scenes with an intense scrutiny that would rival your mother looking at your fingernails before you sit down at the table with her mother-in-law who hates her and thinks the children from the marriage should be drowned so as not to pollute the gene pool.
I had that grandmother. We didn’t go over to dinner a lot for some strange reason.
There are other valid points made. I’m especially proud of the one that says: Rhys Ford doesn’t sugar coat things in the name of romance. It wasn’t a five star review but see that sentence…those words… MADE me happier than a glut of five stars with no review could have (This is a lie. Five star ratings make me squee). It’s what I want. It’s what I strived for. Dirty Kiss wasn’t going to change the world. I had no delusions where that was concerned. Promise. :::grins::: But that statement gave me validation for what I was striving for.
A realistic(ish) romance between a guy and the man he doesn’t understand from a world he has no connection to.
I hope to do better in the next book now that I have a feel for Cole’s world. Is it going to work for everyone? No. And that’s okay.
Doesn’t mean I don’t want to do better.
Writing is a symbiotic thing after the writing is done. The writer has to take a good hard look at it and sculpt the story again after it is written. Some things leave while others remain. Not all of those choices are the right ones. Eventually as the writer learns, those instincts are developed.
I read reviews to see where the bits I left in jarred the viewer or where the things I left out weren’t missed. The examination of the story and the characters should be taken as opinion but in a lot of cases, an informed opinion from readers who have been around the block a few times. A writer can’t cater to a reviewer. A writer shouldn’t because it compromises the story told to many and becomes a story told to a few.
But that doesn’t mean a writer shouldn’t learn to feel what others see.