Ideas On How To Review Stuff, Part 2
Here is Part 1. I didn’t know it was going to be a part 1 until I started writing this morning. Sometimes I think I really should come up with a plan for what I write.
That has always been the hardest part of writing fiction for me. How do you start? What are the first evocative words to pique the interest of the reader and get them to read on to the next sentence?
You are staring at a blank page with all these ideas running around in your mind and now you have to put something down and get it started.
When I’m reading a short story or a novel, I am fascinated first by the opening then everything else the author tries to do. When I’m reading something, especially something new, I read it on two levels. The first is just to enjoy it. I’m reading and letting myself become part of the world the author created.
On the second level, I’m analyzing and deconstructing the different parts of the story as I encounter them. I’ll encounter a new character or parse the details introduced because these details are there for a reason and I am trying to understand the reason and figure out what the author is trying to make me feel or see.
I can still enjoy what I’m reading on the first level, but I am completely engaged by the second level. My enjoyment on that first level has no bearing on my intellectual assessment on that second level.
I actual enjoy almost everything I read, as long as it conforms to the internal logic it has set up and written truthfully. I have the ability to allow myself to believe completely in the world that I am reading about. Then, I try to step back and outside that world and look at whether the work does what it thinks it is doing. I’ve found I do this with every creative art I enjoy.
In any creative endeavor, the creator has an idea of what he/she is attempting. They have a plan and an idea and they try to make it really. That is a truly brave thing, taking a part of who and what you are and placing it out in the world for everyone to judge. I think it is incumbent on those who presume to review those creative endeavors to take it as seriously as the people who create.
Craft beer is a creative endeavor for the brewer. I have been reading a lot of beer reviews recently, and I find much of what are labeled reviews are severely lacking in treating beer seriously. That does not mean you can’t have fun and be interesting, but you have to believe that craft beer is an endeavor worthy of your time and intellect. Someone took the time to come up with this recipe, brew this beer, ferment this beer, package this beer, and sell it. The least someone can do is come up with a little more than, “This beer sucks” as a review. A simplistic review does not help you as a drinker of beer nor does it help the brewer to figure out what they did right or wrong. At the end of the day, do you like is all that really matters, but you should really try to think about why or why you do not like it.
I am discovering that reviewing is an important part of the creative process when done right. Good criticism helps everyone raise their level. When that happens we all benefit by getting better product. For this to happen, the reviewer has to give considered criticism and the creator has to be willing to take criticism.
I promise there are beer reviews coming.