1. Kaij
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    Kaij Senior Member

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    Any Simon Cowell reviewers?

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Kaij, May 6, 2008.

    A thing on my own reviewing ways.

    First off, I love Simon Cowell. He's so awesome. If someone's done something that's utter crap he won't hesitate to say so, and he'll state his reasoning for it. A lot of reviewers miss out on stating their reasoning for saying something, and instead tell the person, "That doesn't sound right." or "I love this! Keep at it!" I can't tell you how much this bothers me. Especially on places like FictionPress (no offense to those on there). It's so hard to find good reviewers.

    If there was a price for perfection, it would be death, as there is nothing perfect in this world.

    I review just the same as the people who go by the quote of "Review how you wish to be reviewed." I've got a thick skin, am snarky and sarcastic, and if someone tore into my work, I'd be greatful--as long as they back up their reasoning. I don't mind if they're wrong in thinking something. Like above, nothing and no one is perfect. I usually reply why something is like how it sounds, and debate on changing it if it's worth the effort.

    Does anyone else review like this? Just curious.


    -----

    How I review:
    Disclaimer.
    I always have a disclaimer at the beginning of one of my critiques (maybe not for poems, but always for stories), just to let the author know everything is my opinion. Even though you people should already know this, us writers can be oh-so dense. *grins*​

    Critique as I read.
    Which means I don't read the whole story and then critique it. Each sentence is studied by me, read over and over to see if there might be anything wrong with it. If there is something wrong with it, I'll state the reason why I think it's off. And if it's messed up for a retarded reason, I will probably slap you in the face with the sentence itself. XD If you want sugar-coating in your reviews, I'm not going to give.

    Not everything is sugar-sweet in this world--some people are allergic to the stuff and I happen to be one of them.

    Also, I try not to point my finger at you as the author. If you see me writing something alone the lines of "What's wrong with you?" I'm pretty much yelling at either the character in the story, wanting to run them over with a Steam-Roller of Stupidity, or am just furious at the story itself. It's not you, because I'm not looking at you. I'm looking at the story. I know, I'm weird.​

    Title.
    If it's a short story, then I make sure the title fits in with the writing. With a book, it's hard to tell by just one chapter if the title is right for it. Instead, what I do in the first chapter I critique, I state if the title is something that would grab my attention if I were searching for a book in the specific category.​

    Opening hook.
    If the opening is in a lame and bland and roll-over-on-my-back-and-die type of style, then I'll say so. I'll tell you why I think this, and possibly if I'm able to, show how to make it better at grabbing someone's attention. The opening hook is one of the most vital parts to any story.​

    Show vs. tell.
    As the reader, I like to be able to picture myself in the story. I want to use all of my senses; hearing, tasting, feeling, seeing, and all that. Don't put me on the sidelines and tell me everything. If you do so, I'll sit on you with my 86 lb body... XD;​

    Characters.
    Your characters have to be believable. No cardboard cutouts. I want to empathize with them. You need to stick with your character's habits, keep them consistent with everything they do. If they are snide and witty, don't all of a sudden out of nowhere make them nice--unless they are devoted to a certain person. I also look out for infodumps. Writers just loooove dumping a bunch of info about the character on a reader's head. It's like lobbing a portapotty at us. We don't like it.

    Now, sure, I want to see what they look like in a sense, but it doesn't have to be all in one part. Separate the bits and pieces for the reader to keep the action going. If someone's standing there studying another, then that's fine as long as you make it fit. They have to feel and act real, and most of all fit into the scene. If there's a rich guy walking in the sewers below a poor city, he'd better have a good explanation, and not, "I got lost."​

    Setting.
    With certain scenes, I want to be able to picture myself in the place. Once again, I'd like to use all my senses. What am I hearing, if anything. Is there a scent in the air? What's the atmosphere like? All that juicy stuff. I want to be able to imagine everything around--at least, the vital details.​

    Dialogue.
    Oh please, please, please be consistent with the dialogue. If you're in a fantasy realm and a character is talking from the ghetto, then there's something wrong there. If a poor kid from the streets is speaking efficiently with no background of schooling or being taught anything, there's something wrong.​

    Cliches.
    *heavy breathing, with eye twitching* Don't. Use. Them. I will drive a nail through your head with my Mallet of Thwomping >[​

    Grammar and punctuation.
    I'll tell you your major problems in this area if there are any at all. ​

    Favorite lines.
    Self-explanatory. I'll state the lines that caught my attention and intrigued me.​

    -----

    I'm a member of the Masochist Thick Skin Club
    I'm a member of the Scold Patrol

    -----

    An example of a piece of my sarcastic critiquing I did for someone:
    Hello, Fate. Nice meeting you, bye now.

    Bloody hell, I think I might kill this thing called Fate. Fate this, Fate that. Screw Fate and born legends. There's so many things about this out in the book world, why would I bother reading another? Oooo, Fate has declared him the Greatest Wizard in the Land. I feel like I'm in the Wizard of Oz. Toto, I don't think we're in an original world anymore.
    Their response, as this was the second time I reviewed their work.
    Well, no, now that I'm getting used to it, it wasn't that bad. It wasn't good, but not bad, kinda like getting punched in the head repeatedly - after a while you sorta numb out and the same blows that used to bring pain and shock now just sort of blend into a low, dull throb.
    I try--try--to be humorous, but it's in my own way XD In reality, people laugh at my sarcasm, online it can be taken the wrong way >>; So there you have my critiquing style~
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There's nothing wrong with being direct. However, on this site it is very important to remain respectful toward other members.

    I know that other sites allow and even encourage bloodletting reviews. Here, however, honesty is not a license to shred the author.

    By all means, if you don't see much potential in a piece, say so. But do it in a way that tells the author what he or she could do to make it better, or to make the next piece better.

    No one will high five you for destroying a beginner's hopes. More likely, they will report you for an infraction.

    I have had to deliver bad news to writers who requested reviews. It is, and should be, the most painful critique to write.
     
  3. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    I must agree with Cogito. Constructive critism is always good as that is the only way people can learn, and by all means, don't pad it out with rose tinted glasses or whatever the saying is, but do not be mean. I know that sounds a little ... childish, but everyone is entiltled to have their word treat with respect, and if you are saying "that is just crap", it isn't really respecting it is it? Just try and make your critism constructive rather than nasty.
    Heather
     
  4. Kaij
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    Kaij Senior Member

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    Oh yeah, I know what you're saying, Cogito. I've never been the real softy type when telling someone they are doing it wrong, not that I'd ever call the author a crappy writer. Everyone starts out somewhere. I just give in-depth reviews as to my reasons why I dislike things. It's the author's choice whether to listen to me or not the whole way through.

    It's not exactly shredding the author, but rather shredding the work. It's like a 5k piece puzzle, in a way. You dump all of the pieces out on the ground, and what do you get? A muddled mess. But with time and corrections as well as other people's opinions on how to go about putting the pieces together, it can become a beautiful piece.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    And that is the crucial distinction. Shredding the work can definitely be the best approach, as long as it does not cross the line into shredding the writer.

    But if something is so fundamentally flawed that you feel it is beyond salvage, then another approach might be to say something like:
    That way, you aren't overwhelming the writer with more detail than he or she can reasonably address, you're helping the writer deal with the largest problems first, and most importantly, you show the sensitivity you would want someone to give you under similar circumstances.

    On this site, Simon Cowell would be booted in short order. I don't care how talented writers the reviewers may be, if they aren't being constructive, they are a liability.
     
  6. Kaij
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    Kaij Senior Member

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    Oh yeah (<-- geez, I say this a lot), if I start seeing more mistakes than I can handle by doing the sentence-by-sentence critique, then I would choose an alternate route like that. I've had to do that a few times, but not many.

    On one of my critiques at another site, I began with a line-by-line critique, but found I had to stop as there were just too many complaints to put within each sentence. Instead, I told them their writing was stuttering due to switching tenses at random moments, the overuse of adverbs, knee-jerk reactions to a certain character, and too much of the passive voice. I explained each point to the best I could, gave them examples and how to tweak their writing and was done with it.
     
  7. MumblingSage
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    MumblingSage Contributing Member

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    I love people being direct and honest, especially if they compliment me, because I know that means I earned those compliments and nobody's taking it easy on me.

    That said, people who make an art of the snarky review tend to strike me as obnoxious at best. Thurough reviews are good, nitpicky ones are to be appriciated, honest ones at to be valued, but remember Simon makes his money by being obnoxious, and we stand for it because he's yelling at someone else :D.
     
  8. Mr Sci Fi
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    Mr Sci Fi Senior Member

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    I think you're missing something. The whole idea behind Simon Cowell's persona is that it attracts ratings. Ever notice all the "American Idol" advertisements that focused on the rejects? It's because Simon's cruelty, sadly, is what people want to see.

    Frankly, NO artist deserves to be treated the way Simon treats them. But you've got to remember it's all for show. They signed the dotted line on the disclosure agreement, and they knew what they were getting into. It's mainly for publicity.

    I'll bet that Simon, if ever critiquing when not on camera, will go about it more professionally.
     
  9. Kaij
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    Kaij Senior Member

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    On the contrary, me and my family agree with mostly every single thing he says regarding whether someone has sang good or lousy. It's all a matter of opinion, of course. Heck, I want to say some other things to some of the singers, but you know. Sometimes they just downright suck with the song they choose, and other times they are bloody brilliant.

    I take criticism as it comes. I might fume about it or become upset, but later I look at the critique someone gave me again and realize they are right at times, and that I need to work a bit more. Sure, Simon Cowell is the main attraction. In my eyes, it's because he is truthful. Half the people in American Idol who say an artist is great is because they think they're sexy or just that their voice is cute.

    I'unno. That's just my opinion.
     
  10. MumblingSage
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    MumblingSage Contributing Member

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    Oh, I'm not saying (speaking for myself, Mr. Sci Fi has his own opinion no doubt) that Simon's lying or anything. If he thinks you suck, he will certianly say so, and he is perfectly willing to tell someone when he likes their voice as well. But it's HOW he says it that's the important thing. It would be just as easy (or even easier) to say 'I didn't like it. You squeek. Goodbye' as 'I want to kill myself right now'. But it wouldn't sound as cool to the viewers.

    The thing to remember is that people don't post on this forum looking for Simon Cowell reviews of their own or other's work. I think there are Livejournal communities for that. But trying to sound cool by digging up henious insults won't get you far at this point.

    Now, I'm not ranting at Kaij here. I'm glad she brought up this point, and I see what she means and what she likes about Simon Cowell and his style. But I don't like seeing it on amateur writers who aren't claiming to be fantastic, 'American-Idol' style material. And I've seen it before, on other sites, which is why I get snappish about it.
     
  11. Nodin
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    Nodin Member

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    Back when I used to critique manuscripts, I made it a point to first praise the best portions along with the reasons why, and then point-out why the worst portions were bad. I sometimes wrote more in explanations that what an author wrote for a whole article, but my customers were happy with the results.

    The first person to critique my first novel never said anything good about my work. He thought critiquing meant to 'negatively criticize.' I suspect that a lot of good authors have likely abandoned writing after receiving nothing but negative responses. The best that an author can hope for from a bad critiquing is that the author receives no reply at all, which in itself can be very damaging to the author's sense of self-value. It is psychologically damaging to be shunned by the public or one's peers, and likewise, negative critiquing is an act of psychological violence.

    I believe that I have only once observed Cowell's critiquing style (I rarely watch television, and I have never watched "American Idol" for more than half a minute). I was very displeased with what I saw on that one episode. Cowell and the others were profoundly crude to the contestant. I would have to watch an entire episode (eek!) to properly comment on Cowell's style. :)
     
  12. Mr Sci Fi
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    Mr Sci Fi Senior Member

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    Cowell's style in the long run is ten times worse than what you saw from that little snippet. His antics cross the borderline of plain disrespectful to downright vicious.

    No artist deserves to be treated the way Cowell treats them, and I don't care how bad they are. It's one thing to be critical, but it's a totally different thing to be abusive. And Cowell is blatantly abusive, to the point where you wonder why no one has yet punched him in the nose.
     
  13. Kaij
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    Kaij Senior Member

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    MS, I'm a girl XD LOL.

    I've stated before that I am sarcastic in my reviews, and I do love to pick apart sentences. But it's up to the author to listen to anything I say, right? In a world of millions, not everyone is going to be on the same eye-to-eye level. Granted, I know amateurs don't expect their work to be godly, and other writers shouldn't either--published or not--but the fact still remains negative comments do help the author out by being point out why something doesn't sound right. I don't mean the negative comments such as "Die in a fire." I might say that to the character in the story, but not the author. By negative comments, I mean pointing out the screwy stuff in the writing. Cliches, overuse of words, grammar and punctuation, etc.

    I've done this style of critiquing on...I'm going to say around twenty people so far, and I've gotten good feedback from a lot. Most of the ones who were snooty about my reviews were on FictionPress, but that's no surprise to me. There were four there, and didn't change a thing on their work *shrugs* It's all what they want to do. I'm just the reviewer, the author is the only one that can and will decide what's done with their work.

    One thing I do try to is put humor into some of my lines, just to try and lighten the mood. I don't nuke the entire work.
     
  14. Mr Sci Fi
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    Mr Sci Fi Senior Member

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    Sarcasm is to the internet what drug intervention is to Amy Winehouse.

    And Kaij, if you ever reviewed my work that way, I'd rather you didn't bother. I don't have time for somebody that wants to be callous for the sake of being callous, like Mr. Simon Cowell. It's one thing to not sugar coat a review and be as critical as possible. But sarcasm? Vicious insults? Come on now. Nobody deserves that abuse. Not even Dan Brown.

    Ok, we can make an exception for Dan Brown.
     
  15. Kaij
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    Kaij Senior Member

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    I dont see anything wrong with the sarcasm, if put into good humor. I honestly can't go one day without being a sarcastic little girl. That's just how I am. My parents don't even know where my being a smartass came from. My friend at work always calls me that, but it's in good humor. Each one of the below examples had me, the person, and the people around laughing.


    The author may not deserve the insults, but maybe the character(s) in the story need it.
     
  16. MumblingSage
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    MumblingSage Contributing Member

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    My apologies. And I am doubly stupid for not looking right at the pink 'female' sign below your avatar. I will edit my post immidiatly.

    Heh. Fictionpress. Don't waste your time on Fictionpress authors, that site isn't a critique group, it's a social circle.

    But is the humor you inject at the work or at...what? Because if an author thinks you're making fun of their work, that just makes them snootier, and with some justification.
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Just be sure to know the difference between mean sarcasm and banter. If you don't know the other person well enough to know how it will be received, it's bet to err on the side of caution.

    Not directed so much at you personally, but for anyone else following this thread.
     
  18. Mr Sci Fi
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    Mr Sci Fi Senior Member

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    "Satire is focused bitterness." - Leo Rosten
     
  19. Nodin
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    That is what I suspected, and I for sure won't watch the show now! I agree with your previous thoughts that Cowell's attitude likely has a lot to do with ratings. It's interesting to me to observe how different people prefer different types of critiquing, and what some TV people will do for money.

    My wife keeps reminding me that most people don’t know when I’m joking. A joke is created by applying an absurd metaphor to a serious topic, but if the listener does not know why the metaphor is an absurdity, the listener will not interpret it as a joke. I prefer dry humor that appears serious but the logic has a purposeful error that, when summed, creates the desired absurdity. The problem is that the people I tell the joke to usually don’t sum the logic to discern the humor. Ah… what’s funny to one person might be an insult to another person.

    A secretary once asked me how to spell “relief valve.” I began by replying “r-o-l-a-i-d-s.” She had already written more than half of the word before realizing the joke. I need to stick with the more-obvious humor. :D
     
  20. cboss2
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    cboss2 New Member

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    Have to agree with this.

    When people don't know you that well a harmless sarcastic comment could be received as a direct insult, and that's never good. :)
     
  21. Al B
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    Al B Senior Member

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    Simon Cowell's trademark directness, some might say nastiness, is ultimately about promoting himself rather than anyone else, and I daresay he would not deny it either. The same is true of many reviewers who review for nothing but the pleasure of hearing or seeing their own voice.

    But while it is true that the never-ending stream of hopefuls who stick their head above the parapet to enable him to take potshots at them, in many cases, ought to know better, he would do well to remember that when people grow tired of him, as he grows tired of others with no talent other than to annoy, he will be left with little else of what both he and they desire most, i.e. attention. When that day comes, and he should be under no illusion that it will not, and viewers grow tired of him, he will perhaps know how those people feel.

    Al
     
  22. Lucy E.
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    Lucy E. Contributing Member

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    I personally find that Simon Cowell is brutally honest. That's all. Admittedly, reading reviews full of nothing but direct criticsm is very unseating. It does nothing for confidence. I believe that all reviews should highlight at least one positive point whilst still being completely honest. There is always at least one positive point in a piece, even though it may be difficult to find.
     
  23. Wolfie©
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    Wolfie© Member

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    If I come across an emo teenage poem, I turn the computer off so I don't make anyone cry.

    But I won't point out something that's "wrong" with a piece if I don't think I can back it up, and I do challenge people if they comment something I don't agree with (someone didn't like something I used in one poem because they "didn't get it", so I explained the allusion to them. Nice, while still explaining my own work). But that doesn't happen too often. Mostly because nobody comments on my work, hence I came here.

    Poetry is a dead art form :(
     
  24. Undefined
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    I prefer someone who will tell me what is wrong with my work rather than 'it's good' or 'I liked it'. When I show it to someone to review I know there is something that needs to be fixed and I have tried everything I can think of.

    How a critique is given, good or bad, depends on how it is received. There are some people out there who can tell you that your writing is absolute excrement and do it in a way that doesn't even make you blink. Simon is just brutal to be brutal, some people need that bash over the head though.

    As for poetry I do not review it on the grounds that I do not feel qualified. I do not read poetry and rarely do I write it whereas fiction I read constantly and attempt to write it about as much.
     
  25. Rebekkamaria
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    Rebekkamaria Senior Member

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    Hmm... many people like to mask their cruelty with honesty. I like honesty. I like critique. I like to hear what's wrong with my words. Of course I like to hear about the good things as well, but mostly, I want to improve if I ask someone to tell me something about my work.

    I don't like Simon Cowell. I don't think he's honest. I think he's just cruel. And I agree with Al B. :)

    Edit. Oh, and I agree with Cogito as well.
     

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