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  1. Torana
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    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

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    A few reviewing tips.

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Torana, Dec 29, 2007.

    Recently I have been going through the reviews in the poetry, lyrics, short stories and novels section and I have noticed that there are quite a lot of people just saying:

    This is great, I really liked it. You have done a great job with it.

    This is a really good poem great work

    WOW that is very creative


    I don't like this piece

    You need to work on the structure and grammar

    I am not reading this because I don't like this...

    These things don't really help the writer. While it is nice to receive praise, it is always great to receive suggestions and THOUGHTS of the reader. You can still give praise, but you can do it in a constructive way.

    etc....

    I know it can be hard to do a review on a piece, especially if you do not know how to.

    When it comes to reviewing all you simply need to do is read a piece and if you can't find anything wrong with it, tell the writer what you did and didn't like about the piece.

    Look at the title, beginning and ending. Do they all fit? The title is meant to grab the readers attention and at the same time still hold some relevance to the story, lyric, poem. So let the writer know if it does or doesn't. Let the writer know if the beginning kept you interested or not. And with the ending did it tie the piece off or leave it open?

    If it seems like they have just added words just to fill space then let them know that. Sometimes it is something that has to be done, but it has to be done in an unnoticeable way.

    Try and look at the flow. Did at any time while you were reading the piece, it get hard to read? Where you felt as though you were getting tongue tied? If so let the writer know.

    The language. Was it too simple? Too technical? Too advanced? Did it complement the piece or detract from the quality? The language used in any writing holds a huge effect over how a message is delivered and portrayed. If it is too simple it may come across as immature or trite. But if the language is too complicated no one will want to read it if they can't understand it...so keep an eye out for those things. Just tell them what you think of their word language and usage. Let them know if it fits the piece or you think that they should try and alter it a bit in some areas, etc.

    With poetry, let the reader know if the message was or wasn't delivered. Was it clear to you? Did you get it? If you didn't get the message behind a poem tell the writer and ask questions. Say why you couldn't get the message. Maybe it was because the piece was too abstract...let them know.

    Always ask questions. It is the best way to learn and understand...


    examples:

    I really like this piece. The flow was a little off in the second stanza, but it didn't detract from the quality of the piece too much.

    I think that your title is nice, but it doesn't do anything for the poem what so ever. Maybe you could try changing the second word to ........

    Your imagery is really good. I specifically liked the third stanza how it spoke of the breeze being no more than a memory whispering into your ear. It was really well written and a very beautiful image.

    This is just a way of saying yeah I like it but this is why I liked it

    All else fails simply take a look at reviews left by the other members around the forum. Frost, Myst, Etan Isar, Bluemouth, Eoz Eanj, Cogito, Banzai, Adamant and there are so many others it is hard to name them all really. But these are just a small number I have noticed that have done some amazing reviews in the past. If you look through the forums you will find some great reviews and they will show you things that you yourself can look out for and will help to teach you how to review well.

    The best way to improve upon your own writing is to learn how to review as once you do you will pick up on faults in your own writing before you post it on the forum.

    Well I hope this helps a little bit.

    Torana

    (By no means am I saying that I am correct with what I have posted here, we all have our different methods. This is how I first began with my reviewing steps before I became a reviewer.)
     
  2. Torana
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    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

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    If anyone has anything they would like to add to this than feel free to do so.
    Also if you have any questions feel free to ask them and we will all try to answer your questions as soon as possible.
     
  3. pet.
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    pet. Senior Member

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    It seems to be a common mistake to assume that disjointed or awkward flow is always a flaw. If the writer has broken the rhythm of a piece, one should always check to see whether the awkward flow mirrors a negative tone or message in that section of the piece. This especially applies to poetry, though I've seen it used in prose a few times.
     
  4. Vivienne Crow
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    Vivienne Crow Member

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    I've never liked reviewer's who only post one or two line reviews. If you're taking the time to read the piece, mull it over and then write down exactly what you believe is right and wrong about it then you surely need more then one sentence. And not a broken sentence either.

    I think it's a good idea to copy the piece you're reviewing, print it out [if possible] and go through and highlight parts that need commenting on and then write notes in the margin about the highlighted sections so I remember why I highlighted it.

    I know it's a lot of work but I find it's easier to write a post when you've done all the work.

    xxFrostyxx
     
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  5. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's never really been that hard to break it apart technically - the grammar and logic of the story - but I have quite a difficult time expressing the other parts of the story.

    When it's a longer review, I usually just put it into a Word document. That way, even if my internet does decide to die, I don't feel like taking an axe to it.

    With those that generally write those really obnoxiously short reviews, I just about never critique their work.
     
  6. ILTBY
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    ILTBY Contributing Member Contributor

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    I thought this might be helpful, too-

    "When I'm reviewing a piece that I enjoyed reading, I try to pull it apart, analyse things that could be changed, pick up any SPAG errors and maybe alter a few things that don't sound quite right. If I've noticed quite a lot of errors, I go through the entire piece and mark all corrections/suggestions in bold, underling the specific ones. Then I'll do my best to justify the changes I've made, give my opinion on the piece and state my personal comments :)

    As a side note, when reviewing a piece that I thought was no good or couldn't get into, I'll say so and suggest what could be improved and then finish with something I enjoyed about the piece :)"

    Great post.
     
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  7. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    I to do that with longer peices.

    This is a good starting point for reviews, Torana, thanks for sharing it. It seems that you have pointed out the basic place for anyone to start with their reviewing.

    Do remember though, that you can also comment on things like description, whether there was enough, not enough, whether it was in the right place. Also speech can be a useful thing to comment on. If there is a lot of speech in the peice and you don't think it fits, or it sounds a little fake, then you can comment on things like that. comment on anything really, as long as you have a reason for saying what you say.

    A good quide though Torana, I am sure it will really help people. :)

    Heather
     
  8. Torana
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    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks for adding some bits and pieces to this everyone. Hopefully over time we will have more in here. I will add more just not at the moment. My reviews are keeping me busy at the moment. :)
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    When I run into a piece that is filled with SPAG errors, it's tempting to either put down a laundry list of them, or to throw up ny hands and just say it's too hard to read. But neither of those is particularly constructive.

    If I can make sense of the piece through the errors (not always easy), I might try to see if the overall flow of the story shows promise. If it does, I'll mention the SPAG, but try to suggest where the story can benefit. If the story is worth developing, there's not much point in focusing on the SPAG that may well be replaced anyway.

    But if the SPAG is the main issue to be worked on, I try to categorize it, to find a pattern to the errors. Then I choose the most pervasive 3-5 errors and explain what makes them incorrect. That way it's not just an overwhelming flood of strikeouts and corrections, but a few rules the writer can become an expert in applying.
     
  10. mercy
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    mercy Senior Member

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    This is great advice cogito. I was wondering just what to include in a review. It is tiresome to edit the same errors again and again. Plus it may be hard for a member to see grammar corrections in every sentence. It is kind of like ripping the work into tiny pieces in front of their face.
     

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