I do a lot of book reviews and let me tell you all something, there is so much to learn from doing reviews. After reading a book I mull over what I didn’t like in the book (in terms of story, characters, writer’s voice, antagonist, plot and the resolution). Once we know what we didn’t like in the books we read, it’s easy to cross-check if these are found in our own books and eliminate them.
Earlier, I would avoid reading many book reviews. Nowadays, I make it a point of reading a lot of them. I try to learn from the reviews I read.
It’s not easy for a writer to get objective about our own stories and writing. So, we depend on our critique partners and beta readers. I have added reviewers to that list. As some reviewers have a discerning eye they analyze the entire story under a literary microscope and tell the readers what worked in the story and what didn't. From these classic reviewers/reviews one can learn a lot.
Last year, I reviewed a book for the newspaper. I mentioned that the story was good, the characters had come to life and I also mentioned that the writing had slipped at places and the editing could have been better.
The writer whose book I reviewed has been asking me to let him know which are the places in which the writing has slipped, so that he can avoid repeating the same mistake in his future books. I have promised him I will let him know this week. This writer has been a classic example of learning from book reviews.
What do you all feel about learning from book reviews? Have you ever read a book review and analysed your story keeping the review in mind? Do you think book reviews (reviewing as well as reading a review) teach writers something?