Critical Reviewing on the FSF Network Site

bookshelfSince November 2013, the FSFNetork has commenced a site specifically for reviews of relevant books. You will have noticed that the reviews are unique in format and style. The next step has been taken, the critical analysis/review of FSF books created.

Firstly, there is a table with five specific sections. Under each heading are the criteria/content the reviewer will be looking for and analysing. This content has been extensively researched, scrutinizing many papers and books on literature structure, fiction writing, fantasy/science fiction genres, interactive fiction and reviewing. Underlying, foundation information on structuring and reviewing a novel then dissected into five distinct themes, which then lead to the following table formation.


1. Perception

2. Grammar

3. Characters

4. Plot/Story line

5. Big Picture

A mark of five is awarded for each of the specific sections giving a total mark of twenty five (25).The average mark will then be the book star rating.

Star Rating:
1 Star: Poor form/Start again

2 Star: Needs a lot of rework to make it better

3 star: Good but has some problem areas

4 star: Really good just couple problems

5 star: Excellent

The next field will be the summary, containing a synopsis of the story, giving no further information on content away than the author’s blurb. We delve deep into the soul of the writing and define all the essential elements that make up the author’s writing style and story. This analysis is by no means subjective, but a rather holistic approach, in an objective, personable and professional manner. Quality and self improvement are the keys to an indie author’s success. Looking at strengths and weaknesses with possible suggestions for improvement is the kind of feedback that will support you to be the best writer you can be.

Some of the language may or may not be familiar to you; in fact for a new author it may seem daunting. Over the next couple of months we will dissect the review table one section at a time and hopefully stimulate and inspire good professional discussions and debate.

Reasons for the Next Step:

There are a plethora of reviews on book and blogger sites. What do these sites actually inform you about the novel you have just written? Few interested persons will take the time to write logical reviews. Mostly it is heartfelt fluff that may make you smile, or it is trolls having a party at your expense. What you may forget is that the way a reader responds to your novel is most often in direct proportion to the way you have written the novel.

Shouldn’t you want more? How about some in-depth constructive feedback? Written in a positive and supportive manner, (though we pull no punches), which may assist you in writing the next No. 1 best seller. This was a glaring gap within the fiction literary system.

The reviews are structured and written specifically for the professional involved in writing, blogging and reviewing, F/SF fiction novels.

Indie authors need to take the initiative and go the next step; you need to be taken seriously by the literature establishments, publishing fraternity, bloggers, reviewers and readers. This site will raise the profile of Fantasy/ Science Fiction Indie writers.

There are many writers that cannot afford to pay for proofreaders, beta readers, reviewers, or editors to assist them. Some do not even understand structuring a novel, plots, character depth, etc. They may try and emulate a famous published author’s style, but this does not always turn out for the best. Every writer has a unique style, a unique way with speech, thus, their written words. What suits one does not equate to suiting another. This type of review will assist them greatly to understand requirements and gain support and assistance from the FSFN family, resulting in a quality literary product.

The use of critical analysis, coupled with reader reviews and peer reviews, will instill triangulation into the feedback quality cycle, thus giving indie authors credibility and validation.

Reasons to Dissect the Critical Analysis/Review Process:

To demystify the process and the literary jargon, this may be daunting or even confronting. This is not the intention.

To assist authors to understand each stage of the critical review process. What we look for, the acceptable parameters, what is deemed unacceptable.

To develop meaningful, positive discussion and debate.

To instill the idea and acceptance of critical constructive feedback into the FSF Network family. To acknowledge that it is not a personal, subjective attack, but a calculated objective observation and analysis of the writing process. This is a reliable validation tool to be utilised for learning and improving.

To allow you an insight into the reviewer’s point of view. Most blogs and books written are by authors, not professional critical reviewers. This will ensure the element of bias is dismissed.

Professional reviewers also require feedback, it is a two way street. We may misunderstand a scene or theme. This reviewer has on an occasion or two asked an author to clarify certain facts.

Critical reviews for fantasy/science fiction are a new phenomenon; we need to show our mettle, to be taken seriously, not brushed aside as a joke. Critical reviews are also a way to assist an author to publicise their novel, as noted on a GoodReads blog last week. (Very demeaning and incorrect).

To explain that as an author you will receive information from many and varied sources: family, friends, reviewers, proofreaders, beta readers, editors, and fans. What you need to think about is what to do with all this different information you receive. Compare with the critical review any coinciding or conflicting information. Write it down. During discussion and debate relate this; stimulate conversation from the FSFNetwork family of professionals. Most having had this experience may have little pieces of helpful insight into sorting everything out.

FSFNetwork Guidelines:

As with many professional sites, the FSF Network has a set of guidelines that govern our procedures. Please take a few minutes to review these. Any book that does not meet the guidelines will not be published within this site. A small paragraph may be placed on Amazon or other book site as a personal review only.

Any novel that falls below the three (3) star rating will not be published on this site, but a copy of the review will be emailed to the author with relevant explanations of problem areas and possible ways for improvement.

Any novel rated R or for adults only (20 yrs +) will not be reviewed. Be aware of the demographic you are aiming for. This is a family friendly site.

Looking forward to the next couple of months. If there is a particular item within the review process you are wanting discussed, please notify Leeland and this will be transferred to a reviewer.

Thank you for your time,

Kerry Hall

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