1. Lilithmoon
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    Lilithmoon Member

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    Am I capable of a constructive review?

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Lilithmoon, May 16, 2011.

    I am an avid reader. I am very opinionated and out spoken. I believe respect is paramount when dealing with people and their feelings. And, I have copious amounts of free time. All these things I believe are advantageous to being reviewer. Here is my concern.

    I am not confident enough in my own grammar, punctuation, and usuage to judge others. Is it possible to give a useful critique, that adheres to the reviewing requirements, without delving into actual writing mechanics?

    I am quite anxious to start giving reviews because, of course, I would like to eventually have the favor returned. I just can't helping wishing someone would review my reviews.
     
  2. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Spelling and grammar are the least important parts of reviewing. They're so elementary that a computer can basically do them for you. Instead, use your experience as a reader to judge the quality of what's being written and look for ways that the writing can be improved, not just corrected.
     
  3. Dial
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    Dial New Member

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    You sound like you'd be a good/capable one. The essence of a novel isn't in the annoying intricacies of grammar. Use your passion for reading to help others, tell them what you think works well and why you think so and what doesn't work well and why.
     
  4. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    It doesn't matter how much actual skill you have in writing, you can still review a piece. There's one thing you possess that's gold to another writer, and that's an external view. The actual writer of the piece can be the most eloquent wordsmith out there, but they'll never be able to completely separate themself from the work, which will hamper their critical analysis. If you have an opinion never feel afraid to share it. It's more valuable than you might think.
     
  5. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    Asking a writer what he thinks about criticism is like asking a lamppost what it feels about dogs.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Not really. Critique and criticism are two different things entirely.

    Critique is a way of looking at writing to find ways to improve it. It is an essential skill for any serious writer.

    You learn it by doing it.
     
  7. Lilithmoon
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    Lilithmoon Member

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    It just seems pretty callous of me to subject writers to MY learning period. I believe opinions have weight. I am just worried I might influence someone's actions negatively through a bad critique.
     
  8. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    Unless you're purposely saying things need changed that you don't actually think need changed, I don't think you can really give a bad critique. If you read something and think "I would like this part better if it flowed more smoothly" or "this might be better if it had more detail," then say so. No writer is going to be negatively influenced with that.
     
  9. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Don't think of it this way, and you'll be fine. Too many bad reviewers seem to think their job is to judge the merit of a work. It's not. It's to do little more than judge your own reaction and perceptions of the work. There's a world of difference between judging someone's story as being ineffective and expressing that you weren't personally affected by the story in a way that may have been intended. Good reviews, in many ways, are akin to good listening, not good speaking.
     
  10. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    Would criticism refer to judging the writer and not the writing as exposed to judging the writing, not the writer, which is critique?
     
  11. Jessica_312
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    Jessica_312 Contributing Member

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    I feel the same way about reviewing, I feel like, since I'm not a published author, I don't have room to "criticize" the work of others. But then I realized that what I'm doing isn't "criticizing", but simply posting my observations as a reader, how I felt as I read it. This kind of feedback is priceless to a writer (it is to me). But also as a writer, it's up to their discretion whether or not they heed the advice because, as they say, opinions are like... well, you know the rest. One author's writing will not please everyone.
     
  12. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    If everyone one waited till their first novel was published before they felt qualified to give critiques, the review section of this site would be non-existent. So you are very right.
     
  13. darkhaloangel
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    darkhaloangel Active Member

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    Why don't you just think of you're reviewing skills as being linked to your experience as a reader, rather than your experience as a writer.

    You after all are a consumer of literature, and part of the target market that these writers are aiming at. This sounds to me like you are a perfect reviewer!
     
  14. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Y'know, I was just about to say that! No. Really, I was.

    The number one issue in a critique is not the nuts and bolts of grammar and structure and syntax etc. That stuff can be left to copyeditors and perhaps more skilled proof readers. No, the most important part of the critique is in the story itself. And the only way to judge that is by your own impression of the story. Did you like? Why? Did you have a hard time getting into the story? What do you think made it so? Were there particular passages that you felt flowed better or worse? Where were they? What about this or that one do you think made it better? More dialog? Great descriptions? These are things that only you can know. Share your impressions with the author and, while you don't need to feel the pressure to write a fee-worthy critique on something, just be as concise and honest as you can.

    At the same time, if you find yourself thinking, "Whoa! This sux like an Electrolux vacuum!", you want to try to be judicious about saying that. Take a backstep to find, not just what the problems are but where the good spots are, too. That's not to say lie about work. It does no one good to continue to be told their work is "Great!" , "Aweson!", etc. if it truly does suck. But, we all have feelings and, as crtiquers, we need to be conscious of those feelings when giving others critiques of their work. If you tell someone their work sucks, they will shut you out and are likely not going to hear any of the other constructive comments you make.
     
  15. AvihooI
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    AvihooI Member

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    Personally, I think if grammar is something that bothers you in respect to reviewing. Then by all means, study it.

    I myself am not a native English speaker (although, I've been studying English since age seven), and yet I've decided that it should never be an excuse for not writing or reviewing properly. Thus, I've taken my time to study the English language and the tedious mechanics of it.

    However, as others have mentioned in their replies; you don't have to review just grammar. That you could leave to computer programs or an English teacher, and focus on the more creative aspects of reviewing.

    I also don't think you should feel uncomfortable pointing out syntactic or grammatical mistakes. You don't need to be a qualified English scholar to say "this sounds wrong". Most of the time it is indeed due to some sort of language error.

    Cheers.
     
  16. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    I'm assuming you mean to say "opposed," not "exposed." Not really. Criticism is to judge the merits and faults of something. Critique is not judging, but instead giving a systematic analysis.
     

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