One Star, Two Star, Three to get Ready!

I have two observations today. One is a pet peeve that I have ranted about before (and will continue to fight until I die, which at my age could happen at any minute so I have to get it out fast)! The question then is: WHY DOES EVERYTHING HAVE TO BE “BUBBLE WRAPPED?” My faithful Indian companion (No…wait. That was the Lone Ranger). My faithful and lovely wife just gave me a birthday present of a new electric razor. I need a new razor. And now I need some new fingers and arms. The thing was in a box and then a package and then “bubble wrap!” There should be a warning on those things, since there is a warning on everything now from weenies and beans to aircraft engines. WARNING: DO NOT OPERATE HEAVY MACHINERY WHILE ATTEMPING TO GET INTO THIS BUBBLE WRAP. KEEP AWAY FROM CHILDREN AND OLD MEN. MAY CAUSE BLINDNESS, MENSTRUAL CRAMPS, CONSTIPATION AND TOE FUNGUS! Please, manufacturers – a nice cardboard box is sufficient.

Okay, on with my next rant. I write stories and books and articles for magazines, so I read a lot of stuff. Like you, I get almost everything from Amazon. I have a new strategy. Now when I look up a book the first thing I do is check the One Star and Two Star reviews. When a book has 37 Five Star reviews and three or four one and two star reviews I smell something like last night’s fish that was left out in the sun all day.

I just checked a book that Amazon had rated as a “#1 Best Seller” and it only had three reviews. Now, three makes it hard to choose. But those that are loaded with five star reviews and only two or three two star opinions make me wonder. Usually, when I see a bunch of five star jobs I read the first few and they are simply “Gee, this is the greatest book since the Bible” so I know this person hasn’t even read the book.

I don’t just read for enjoyment, although I have given up my long time virtue of finishing every book I bought no matter how bad it is. I read mostly for observing the style of writing. I can be blown away by a unique “turn of a phrase.” Actually, like any other skill, I find that if I read really well written books it bleeds off into my own writing. I’m not talking plagiarism here. What I mean is that by reading a good paragraph it will make me go back and see if I can improve on a paragraph I have previously written. That is why I have always urged, especially new authors, to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite until you are fairly confident that you couldn’t substitute a better word than the one you have used. And that goes for EVERY word.

So check those One and Two Star reviews FIRST. And then go back and read some of the glowing ones. I have been surprised to often learn that the lower rated reviews keep me from wasting my time buying a book that will not suit my purposes.

About johnbeckmanbooks

John Beckman, a retired meteorologist, was known as “Johnny the Weatherman” in a career that spanned forty years. He forecasted the weather on WSJS-TV in Winston-Salem, NC, at WFGA-TV in Jacksonville, FL, and for thirty-three years in Atlanta at WSB-TV and WXIA-TV. Also a well published author Beckman now devotes full time to writing fiction. He currently has several eBooks on Amazon.com, "Tropical Knights," first in a series of adventure/mysteries about a sailor and his lovely CIA cohort on a mission to save America. Now available the sequel, and second in the series: "Tropical Daze." The third Jack & Amy adventure is "Tropical Rage" which became available on 30 April 2014. All of his books are highlighted on http://johnbeckmanbooks.com and available from Amazon.com. . .
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