Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Elements of My Reviews

On May 11th, Tom Schreck posted the interview I did for his series "Reviewing the Reviewers" (posted here on March 13th). As a result, a couple people have asked about my process for writing reviews.

When I was evaluating manuscripts for Poisoned Pen Press, they taught me to look at eight elements of a story. It is the combination of those elements which determine the quality of the book.

The eight elements are:
1. Hook – Does the story grab you from the beginning
2. Setting/Descriptions/Sense of Place – Is it evocative
3. Characters/Character Development – Do they come to live, do you know their back story, are they fully-developed
4. Dialogue – Does it work and provide a sense the character
5. Plot – Does it work, does it make sense
6. Cadence/flow/style – Does it keep you involved
7. Originality – This is an extra points element for when I find a story that is truly original
8. Overall quality of writing – What is my immediate reaction upon finishing the book.

And there you have it. I have found it a very effective, and helpful, way of looking at each book without ever diminishing my enjoyment of reading. Oh, and I do take notes as I read.


  1. Wow, thanks for putting your outline of reviewing a book on your blog. As a prolific reader and now a writer I find these hints very valuable to follow before I pitch one of my books. It's confident professionals like you in the writing world who help the struggling novice into a competitive market. Thanks again.

  2. Thank you! I'm glad if I can help.