I finally got to do a long review again! This time, it’s not just one story, but many short stories. It’s a collection of short stories that are all romantic and if you know me, you know that I can never say no to a good romance story. Let’s see if these stories make me a happy reader! If you’re an author and want to get a review for your work as well, you can sign up here.
Title: Risqué Whispers
Summary: This is just little risqué whispers of romance stories from the imaginations of a few. Starting from a prompt on the Shanniiwrites forums, myself and a few others spend a week or two adding to the story. Each whisper (story) will be different, but they will have one thing in common, they will all involve overly romantic and/or partially sexual content.
For some time, I thought the background of the cover was sand. That’s the general problem with details on covers on Tapas. Most of the time, the covers show up rather small. After zooming in the red heart reminds me of blood splatters, which probably isn’t what it should look like. Also, the title could be written a bit bigger and the “Risqué” is barely readable when you just have a quick look at it. I think the cover would be a lot better if it’d show more of what the novel really is about.
I really like the title. Even though the word “risqué” seems rather uncommon, that makes it even more interesting! The “Whispers” already kind of shows that the novel isn’t one story but several short stories, however, it’s not that obvious. The description takes that up pretty well and tells the readers that they can find more than one story here. Calling these stories “whispers” is actually such a great idea. The description in general is okay, it could just be a bit more catchy. Slightly talking the work down by calling it “just” little whispers might not give the best first impression. Maybe mentioning what these stories are about would catch the readers’ attention more. Then, mentioning where they’re coming from gives some extra information to those readers who already show interest. I’d also suggest some rhetorical or suspense-creating questions at the end. They always make summaries more interesting.
The thumbnails are the same as the cover which might not bother the readers but it’s extra space that can be used to make a better first impression. My idea for that would be to have different thumbnails to show that there are different stories. However, I’m not suggesting big differences between the thumbnails. For example, just the same heart but in different colours would already have an effect.
There’s sadly no banner that I could talk about. It’s just one colour, nothing that really catches the reader’s attention. I’ll explain later why having an interesting banner can be useful.
Going into detail
Now it’s time to have a closer look at all these stories.
What I noticed first was that the dynamics between the characters always seem to be different in every story. The relationships shown are unique and realistic which is something I really enjoyed while reading. Some characters got a bit more attention than others, especially when it came to describing them. However, that’s not a negative thing, I actually liked that there weren’t too many full-body descriptions of all characters. I could create a picture of the characters in my head but sometimes had to fill up some empty spaces with my own imagination. That was pretty easy, thanks to amazing explanations and descriptions of the characters’ personalities! There was a lot of “show” but also “tell” and both together gave me a complete image in my mind.
Most characters seemed realistic and relatable. There were just a few characters that I couldn’t build a connection with at all but I think that might be intentional. One thing that I realised after reading the stories is that I feel like one character in each story always got a bit more attention than the others. So, even if sometimes I wasn’t really sure who the main character is and if there are more than one, I always knew a bit more about one of the characters in a story.
Some of the stories left me with thousands of unanswered questions. That might sound bad at first, but it’s a good thing for short stories! Even if I can barely accept not getting all the answers I want, I know that this is what people like about short stories. You don’t get all the information you want, only the one that you need.
The plots of the stories are all unique and interesting, there’s something for everyone who likes romance and maybe even for those who don’t. There’s nothing too cliche here and some great twists keep the reader wanting to continue. Honestly, I have nothing to say here that I didn’t like about the stories. I’m just a big fan of romance, I couldn’t stop reading.
The writing style is mostly easy to read. For native English speakers, it’s probably really simple and quick to read. As someone whose first language isn’t English, I sometimes had to look up a word or two to understand what’s going on. However, that’s something that doesn’t keep people from reading a story. The sentences are clear and there was never a time when I thought that I just want to skip something. The descriptions had a nice length, the action happened quickly and I didn’t get bored while reading.
The pacing was great because the tension built up at the right places. Sometimes I was wondering why nothing’s really happening until the end finally made everything understandable. That’s also an important aspect of short stories: The end explains everything in many cases.
However, there was one thing about the writing style that I wasn’t so happy about. I’m not sure if it’s intentional or maybe even just a language barrier but to me, the writing style sometimes seemed a bit… cold? Sometimes, when there is a dramatic scene, I wonder why it doesn’t really feel that dramatic. The way it was written just seemed very objective and observing to me. Again, this could be intentional and some readers really like that, it’s just something I noticed. I’m also used to reading stories from a character’s perspective, so that might be a reason for this feeling I have. Check out the stories yourself and let me know if you have the same feeling!
Performance on Tapas
For this part, I can finally use some of my knowledge of Tapas! It’s about how well I think the story does on Tapas and which improvements could bring in more readers.
Primarily, the Tapas algorithm really likes schedules. Every time a story gets updated, it gets on top of the “Fresh” page which means it can easily be found by potential readers. This only works once a day, but it explains why many Tapas authors post every day. Your story is also more likely to be recommended to new readers if you post regularly. I couldn’t really find a regular publishing pattern for these stories, so that’s something that the author could improve, even if it’s just one specific day a month and not every week. The readers would probably like to know when they can read new stories as well!
Another important part is the banner. I already mentioned that it’s not special but there is a good reason why it should at least have a bit more than just one colour on it. On websites that recognise Tapas links, the banner appears together with the title and the summary. There’s no way to change it yet, it will always show the banner and not the cover. To give potential readers the best first impression, the banner should have something interesting about it.
The genres the short stories are placed in fit perfectly. However, I’d suggest adding Drama as a subgenre as well, because some of the stories would fit into that genre. That would give the novel even more chances to be seen. The author used the mature tags at the correct places, I don’t think Tapas will hide the story. A few days ago, Tapas even added the option to specify why an episode has the mature tag, so that’s something to watch out for in the future to give the readers the best experiences. The hashtags are also used perfectly.
The last thing I want to mention is that the story doesn’t have a custom ad banner. That’s the custom ad that shows at the end of an episode. It’s a simple way to get the readers’ attention to the creators’ websites or whatever they want to advertise. The same goes for the description of the episodes. They can be used in various ways to engage the readers or lead them to other stories. There’s space to use, so it should be used!
Would I continue reading?
I don’t know if that’s really a question I have to answer now. I mean, everyone who read this far probably already knows that I enjoyed reading the stories. I’m also always looking for good, new romance stories. Since these are short stories, you can read them whenever you have a few minutes of free time. However, you can also binge-read them like I did, that’s also a great experience. Give them a try, even if you’re not the biggest fan of romance!
My Final Suggestions
Generally, trying to get the readers’ attention is a very important part of publishing online and something that I didn’t really find here. The stories are amazing but the readers won’t see them if they don’t click on the story when it shows up for them. The title is already really good because it stands out thanks to the uncommon word. However, the cover could be a bit more attention-grabbing.
The general first impression a reader gets should show what makes these stories special. Why should a reader start reading these stories and not any other story out there? The first impression should make a reader start reading, the stories should make them continue reading. The second part already works, the first one could use some improvement in my opinion. I’d suggest changing the summary a bit, adding a banner and rethinking the cover and the thumbnails. Give the reader the chance to see what amazing stories they can find here!
To pick up what I said at the beginning: Yes, I was a very happy reader after reading these short stories. But you should go and give them a try yourself! Tell me which story you liked the most and which characters you could really relate to! I’m sure the author would appreciate some thoughts on the stories as well. I also did another long review and many other short reviews already, you can check them out here!