Yesterday, I announced a new series I was going to start: Author Review. I am still planning to start this next week with Joshua Dalzelle as my chosen author to review. In the meantime, I thought I should give some voice to my thoughts regarding HOW I was going to review these authors. Below, I have listed my three primary criteria for author review as well as an explanation of my rating system.
In this part of the review, I will introduce the Author and his or her collected works. I will highlight which books I have read to garner my opinion on the author. I will also give a brief synopsis of background and origins for the author.
This is the tone of the author. This term often refers to the writing style of the author but encompasses a bit more than that. I plan to examine the tone, inflection, and general sense the author gives in their writing. In exploring the author’s voice, I will give my opinion on what works for the author and what doesn’t. The weight of the author’s voice in my critique will be the largest factor as I feel the voice of an author is the truest indicator of their strengths.
Many authors choose either First Person or Third Person narrative. There is the occasional Second Person narrative, but I found it rarely works in fiction. I will examine the majority of the author’s narrative style choices and examine what works and what doesn’t. I will still heavily focus on narrative as it is a deciding factor for many, but it will not hold as much weight as the author’s voice.
Plausibility/Suspension of Disbelief
This might seem like an odd subject to discuss in an author review. However, I think it speaks to the strength of an author’s writing, or their weakness. I understand that Fantasy will have magic and fantastical beasts (and where to find them? I kid.), but there is still a level of plausibility involved. If the author is asking me to believe in aliens, give me a good reason why. This is really about worldbuilding and how well the author creates a setting. This will be the lightest focus of my three, but it still has its own weight.
On to my grading scale. I mentioned in my previous post that I will be giving a 1-5 rating. One Star means I’ll never read another thing by this author. It will be very rare that I give a piece of work a one-star rating, I am usually pretty forgiving. Being an author myself, means that I understand the difficulty of compiling a story, editing, and putting it out there for everyone’s criticism. For instance, I cannot read anything by Chuck Wendig, his consistent use of Present Tense just grates on me. For some present tense works, but it is few and far between. Fiction is a story and a story is rarely told as it is happening. I prefer past tense in my narrative as an author, I find I prefer it as a reader too.
A five-star rating from me is the best an author can receive. That means I am waiting with bated breath for their next short story, novel, email post, anything as long as it is written by them. I count maybe three authors I feel this way about. So a five-star rating is going to be as rare as a one-star rating. So 2-4 stars become the norm, in theory. Two stars still mean I probably don’t like the author very much and will likely not read more from them. Three stars mean I was nominally satisfied and will probably pick up more from the same author. Brandon Sanderson falls into this category for me. Unfortunately, I was introduced to him through Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, Sanderson finished the series post-humously for Robert Jordan and sadly the story felt bland and forced as if Sanderson was afraid to make the story his own in any way. I have resolved that he is probably a good author and eventually I will pick up one of his books, but because of that first experience I am wary, this gives Sanderson a three star in my book.
So the goal to shoot for is always going to be that five-star rating where I follow the author and wait impatiently for the next installment, but more often than not I think good authors are going to get a four-star rating from me. That is okay. four stars mean I thoroughly enjoyed the story and I will, at least, finish the series. I may even start on another series by that author. Four stars mean I will probably read just about anything the author publishes, but those five-star authors will win out every time. The best way I can describe this is like this:
I have read Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series (14 books) at least seven times. I re-read the series every time a new novel was published. In between books, I returned to other authors like Dean Koontz’ Odd Thomas series. If a Wheel of Time book came out while I was reading Dean Koontz, Wheel of Time took precedence, once I finished I’d return to the Koontz books. This is an indication that Robert Jordan had a five-star rating while Koontz had a four-star rating.
So there you have it. On Monday, I will post my first Author Review: Joshua Dalzelle. Until next time folks.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Author,