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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Negative vs Positive Reviews: Which is Easier?

Recently I noticed that writing a positive review is significantly harder than writing a negative review. This, in turn, got me thinking about why it is that I can crank out a negative review quickly and be perfectly happy with it, but slave over a positive review for hours (or months, cough-Sea-cough).

After thinking about it, I realized that it’s easier to explain why I hate a book than why I love a book. The truth of the matter is that when I read a book I adore, words just don’t seem adequate enough. I know that what I say will influence people’s decision to read the book, and I want them get a sense of just how much I love a novel because I want them to feel the same way. And even though negative reviews are still influential, it’s not the same. When I write a negative review I’m not trying to stop someone from reading a book, I’m just weighing in on it. With a positive review, however, I’m trying to convince them to read a book.

Furthermore, when I fall for a book it’s not because of one small thing, it’s because of the novel overall – the characters, the story, the voice, the feel of it. My thoughts when I finish a great book are usually “I love this novel” or “Everyone needs to read this” or “Darn you, (insert author’s name here), for leaving me hanging like that.” I don’t think “This was amazing because of this, this and this.” So when I go to write a positive review I first have to break apart my feelings and find the why, and then I have to put it into reviews. I have to take a feeling and turn it into a coherent review, which is a lot harder than you’d think. This whole process can sometimes take hours. With a book I dislike, however, the ranter in me immediately ticks off all the things I had an issue with as soon as I finish. Thus, when I go to write the review I’ve already written it in my head. All I have to do is fine tune it.

It’s ironic, really. I can read a fabulous book that brings me to tears, but writing a review for it is all sorts of difficult. Yet, I can absolutely abhor a book, and write a thoughtfully-written review in fifteen minutes.

So, what about you? Do you find yourself breaking a sweat writing positive reviews and flying through the negatives, like me? Or is it the other way around?

18 comments:

  1. I usually write positive reviews but with a few negative comments. It's really hard for me to write a 100% positive review. I almost always find something wrong. But it's also hard to write a 100% negative review. I posted a bad review of a book yesterday and I ended up spending half the review talking about why it was bad for me but might be good for other people. I never want to totally trash a book.

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  2. See, I am completely the opposite. I hate writing negative reviews!

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  3. For me it's mostly the same, though sometimes I am lost for words on why I dislike a book as well. My biggest problem is tending to use the same words over and over again (awesome, great, fun, etc.), and these words, though true to how I feel, don't give much detail about the book.

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  4. Glowing positive reviews are definitely harder for me. I know exactly what I don't like about a book - that's easy. It's hard to explain what makes a book perfect though. It's usually a feel I get during and after the reading when I'm just like wow, that was the best book ever. Putting that into words and explaining why, eh, that's not so easy. I'd like to be more useful that saying it's amazing and you need to read it, but it's hard to convey the reasons.

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  5. I can't write a positive review to save my life! My Sea review was terrible because I didn't want to talk about EVERY SINGLE THING that I loved, because that would have taken forever. I don't really write positive reviews all that often, so when I do I never know how to go about writing one.

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  6. It's hard for me to write positive reviews too. I always feel like I can't find the right words to describe how much I loved the book. I'm always afraid I'll give away a vital point in the plot or not say enough.

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  7. I think it's hard to write positive reviews. With negative reviews, I find it can be really easy to rant endlessly and nit pick at the tiniest things, whereas with positive reviews I worry about sounding redundant.

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  8. Positive is so much easier for me!
    I always feel so bad when I have to give a negative review--but I ALWAYS, ALWAYS back up my criticism with evidence (same goes for positive).
    And when I'm positive about a book, I try not to gush--just explain why I liked it!

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  9. I'm the same exact way. It's much easier for me to explain why I didn't like a book than why (and I mean substantiating claims other than OMFG READ THIS NAO!) I did. For me, though, it feels that no matter the whys of the book I liked, I always feel like I'm gushing, which I try not to do. It's a paradox.

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  10. It's like you took the thoughts in my head, made sense of them for me, and blogged about it. It's so so hard for me to review books I love because I'm afraid my words just won't do them justice. Negative reviews come much easier because, like you said, I can just tick off the reasons I didn't like it.

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  11. I have the same problem. For instance, I just did a long overdue personal book review for Little Women by Louisa May Alcott... this was the hardest one I had to write and in the end I still don't like it and I think I am going to have to re-do it at a later date. As this is my favorite book of all time I had tooooo many things I wanted to cover in my review but it was difficult for many reasons: like you said, words are not enough when you love a book that much; second, I don't want to spoil anything for those that haven't yet been able to read the book.
    One thing I know I need to do more is give a few "negative" structured criticism at the end of any good review as well as some good comments on negative reviews.

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  12. I am the same like you. It's so easy to write a negative review but when it comes to a positive review, it takes me days to think of how I can write my love of the book in words. I compleatly understand how you feel. Like I said, I'm the same way.

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  13. I agree. When I don't like a book it's because something specific has jumped out at me in a negative way. Great post!

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  14. I think overall it's hardest for me to write reviews for books that I liked, or sort of didn't like. But for books that become new favorites or books that I really disagree with, then it's easy. But yes, I've had plenty of times when I just sit there staring at my computer screen, wondering why I can't think of something to say about a book for my review! Great post!

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  15. I always try to give a well rounded review, including things that do and don't work in my reviews.

    I agree negative reviews are easier, but when I read an amazing book I usually DO think of why I love it. It's probably because I can't read without acting like a critic.

    Awesome post!

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  16. I agree but I find it hardest for me to write so-so reviews. People always want to know why I gave a book a certain review and when it is so-so there may not be a definite reason.

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  17. I am completely the same! I can ramble on for ages about the problems I find with something, but I often find myself scrambling for words in the positive! And that's not only with published books, but a lot of the pieces I find on DeviantArt are the same way. Sigh, it makes me wonder if I'm too pessimistic.

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  18. I totally agree! Since I don't usually finish books I don't like, I don't write a lot of negative reviews, but the glowing reviews are the hardest for me. I don't want to give too much away, but I want to give justice to the beauty of the story and try somehow to put into words the depth of feeling I feel for such a wonderful book! Great post!

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