Taking Notes

What kind of information do you actually jot down while reading?

When I’m just reading “for fun” I jot down quotes I love. I try to review everything with at least a few sentences so I remember that I’ve already read it and what it was about. When someone smart suggested the quick review, I resisted because I didn’t want to include work in my fun. After a few grudging mini-reviews, though I realized how valuable those few sentences were. I began texting them to email after every book. I assign them to a “win” or “fail” category based on whether I liked it or even read the entire book.

Here is the one for Divergent  by Veronica Roth in the “win” category: “Imaginative and fascinating. I love her characters and their inner examination of bravery, loyalty, and selflessness.”

This is the mini-review for Fires of Winter by Johanna Lindsey in the “fail” category: “I don’t like stories about girls who hate being girls. No sympathy.”

When I’m planning on reviewing the book for my blog, I take more notes.

Names: I write down all the names I can so that I spell them right and can keep track of characters. I hate going back through the book to try to be sure I spelled the characters’ name right. I don’t normally discuss all the characters, but I want those names handy when I do.

Places: If the places aren’t a name I will remember, I jot these down too. Normally I don’t need it for real locations.

Things I liked: I like to make note as I go along so I don’t forget the notable things. I’m pretty good at remembering, but as I get older my memory gets less and less reliable. Writing it down a few times also helps me formulate how I’ll describe it in the review.

Problems: This is the most valuable part of the review. It hurts, but any problems in the work are learning experiences for me, my blog readers, and the writers of the book. The single biggest learning experience so far is to get your book edited by someone else. Yes, the dead horse is enduring another beating. I was so depressed about the numerous spelling, punctuation, and even word usage errors in books I was reviewing that I made it a rule for review that you name your editor. It DOES make a difference. FACT: I just got some helpful corrections from an awesome blogger/writer friend on The Silver Collar, which I didn’t have edited. I read and reread it but still missed that in a story of only 12,000 words. (People didn’t volunteer any corrections either. I had to ask.)

How about you? What do you note while you are reading?

Categories: Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Taking Notes

  1. Enjoyed this blog post! It’s a rarity that I read without my cellphone with the Note app on or a pencil and paper within arm’s reach. (And of course the handy dandy highlighting and notation functions on the Kindle are fabulous!)

    As a reader (and writer) when I come across a new word I add it to my running list of words to learn so I can beef up my vocab (personally and for writing reasons).

    As a writer I jot down fun and fresh speaker attributions and unique beats. (Probably more than anything.) And even particular words that I like. After awhile ‘awesome’ and ‘exciting’ and ‘lovely’ become dry when used repeatedly in my writing. Time to spice it up!

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