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Pre-Writing Questions for Annotations, Book Talks & Reviews


The following items will help you generate and focus your ideas when writing an annotation, book talk, or book review. Don’t feel you need to address every item. Many of the answers will help you focus your thinking and shaping of an annotation, book talk or review.


Plot Summary—2-3 sentences about the major plot/theme of the book


Appeals—consider these and similar adjectives

            Story—Is the story complex, straightforward, compelling, linear, flashbacks, plot driven, character focused. Good for book groups? A beach read?  

            Characters—Are the people realistic, recognizable? Stereotypes, layered, quirky, colorful, over the top, everyday

            Pacing—“timing is everything” how quickly does the story move? Quickly, lively, rollercoaster, meandering, leisurely, considered, relaxed, speedy, page turner

            Frame, Tone, Type, Language, Detail, Setting, Subject—A combination of facts and feelings. When and where does story take place? Is there a special subject mentioned in the book? (i.e. antiquing, vampires, civil rights, true crime, sports, living with a disability, etc.) How much detail about the subject/setting/time period does the reader receive?

            What emotions does the story elicit? Is it sad, tragic, serious, humorous, thrilling, heart-stopping, romantic, suspenseful, surprising, comic, darkly comic, downhome, earthy, high-minded, preachy, conversational, academic, lyrical, elegant, lofty, sardonic, snarky, etc.


Fill in the blanks if all else fails:


The pace is:

The tone is:

The special feature of this book is:

What you need to know about this book is:

Why you should read this book:

This book is similar to:

If you watch/listen to ______________________________ you’ll like this book.


Can the book be compared to a movie/tv show/podcast? Could you create a playlist in Spotify for it?  Use those adjectives.


What questions

  • What are you reviewing? What is the book about? What's the plot?
  • What's the theme?
  • What is the author's purpose?
  • What genre or classification does it fit?
  • What is the book’s tone? What is the point of view? What's the mood?

When and Where questions

  • When does the action take place?
  • Where does the action take place?

Who questions

  • Who wrote it? What else have they done?
  • Who are the main characters?
  • Who's the intended reader?
  • Which character do you identify with?

Evaluation questions

  • Did I like this book? What did I like about it? Why did this book resonate with me? If I didn’t like it, when did I make that decision and why?
  • Did I agree with/understand the main theme? Why or why not?
  • Is there a reader I know might appreciate this book even if I do not?


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