Writing Reviews: Harsh or Soft?

So I took my own advice and decided to write more reviews for novels.

Here’s the thing: I used to be really harsh with books.

I’m the person who nitpicks everything to death. I notice every flaw. Every plot hole. Every failing in logic. (Admitting I don’t notice grammar all that much, but when it comes to characters and story, I’m all over that.)

Now, after having written several novels myself, I tend to give the author the benefit of the doubt.

“Oh, this part was probably difficult to write.”

“This was fun, even if it didn’t make 100% sense.”

“Yeah, the author just wanted to transition to another scene, that’s why this was so hastily done.”

It reminds me of an event at E3. (Forgive me, I’m about to go full video game nerd on you right now).

Nintendo announced that they would be releasing a Mario game that featured Rabbids. If you don’t know what those are, consider yourself lucky. Rabbids are ridiculous creatures, so hideous and disgusting that absolutely nobody likes them (outside of six-year-olds). Here is a picture:



Of course, everyone booed the game, said it was awful. Immediate criticism.

thing 2

oh god

But at E3, Shigeru Miyamoto (the man who created Mario) personally went up on stage and presented the game. That’s a huge honor, let me tell you. And he was excited! He was excited to present the Mario + Rabbids game.

I know it’s probably because he wants money, but that doesn’t matter. What mattered was the reaction from the creative director of the game (Davide Soliani)–the man responsible for putting the game together, working on it day and night, and ultimately being responsible for the game’s direction and design.

The man cried. That’s right. He got so emotional, so happy, so overwhelmed (that Miyamoto himself was presenting his game!) that he broke down and enjoyed the moment, despite the naysayers and critics.


Why am I talking about this?

Well, it occurred to me that the harshest criticism won’t ever make someone cry for the right reason. Hell, it probably won’t even help in the long run–most things being criticized (like books, movies, and video games) take years to create. Mocking a book or movie won’t change what’s been done. It won’t even change the entertainment coming out in a few months from now. Hell, it might even discourage people from trying to make their own.

I guess what I’m trying to say is… I think I’ve grown soft. I’d rather make someone happy than tear them down. I’d love to get a reaction like David had with Miyamato.

Then again, I know I can’t tell everyone they’re great, because then what’s the point? If we’re all great, there is no accomplishment to be proud of–nothing to earn or gain.

David wouldn’t have felt the warmth and accomplishment of his actions if Miyamoto presented everyone’s game and talked about how everything was awesome.

So where’s the line? How harsh should I be? How much leeway should I give? I seem to be stuck between a rock and a hard place, staring at David’s image and wondering how the critics affected him.

I suppose I’m trying to say, I never really came to answer.