1. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do/dont like to review

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by w176, Jun 27, 2010.

    What do you and what don't you like to review?

    I love to review good material. First I enjoy reading it, then I like analysing it and then I need to be really smart and creative to give any good pointers.

    And I'm ashamed to say this. I got really big problem reviewing something that needs a lot of work, is written in an yet immature way or is just plain bad. If i wince all the way though reading it, and wince having all the faults stab me repetitively in the eyes and then wince trying to find supporting and diplomatic things to say feeling like a liar,,,, I just rather not review those pieces. There are fantastic people out there that can review those kinds of work in a fantastic way. I'm not one of them.
     
  2. rainy
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    rainy Senior Member

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    Probably the most obvious answer, but the truth: I don't like reviewing anything that I'm not interested in. Usually that's along the lines of biography, romance, or simply scenes that have been done to death.

    If it's a good piece then, like you said, it's fun to have to mull it over and really dig into more complex aspects. I don't mind critiquing bad pieces, as long as the heart of the story seems intriguing in some way. But I usually have to sit on it a day or two before I take a deep breath and plunge in.

    However, if the piece just doesn't catch my interest--I don't like the character type, I don't like the time period, or not particularly interested in the genre--I probably won't crit it, no matter how good or bad it is.
     
  3. Fantasy of You
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    Fantasy of You Banned

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    You're doing yourself, & future writers whom you'll be reluctant to critique, a disservice by forcing yourself to read tripe that repelled you so strongly in the opening. If a rabble of typos and horrible proses sends your head spinning, don't continue to read. Reply to the thread and say so! It's perfectly acceptable to say, 'Hi, there. I intended to buckle down & read your story until the end, unfortunately there were too many errors with which I was distracted.' Go on to explain how it is important to proofread work, as people put in a lot of effort to help you & reading half-assed attempts is off putting. End with perhaps a comment on how else he could have improved to hook you in the intro, and say how you are looking forward to reading some improved work.

    - Andy
     
  4. Shinn
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    Shinn Banned

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    I love reviewing material that catches my eye (i.e. war, action, adventure, drama, etc, etc) and I won't review any piece that doesn't seem to spark off interest or have a gripping plot. My main bug is that if I see loads of spelling errors or typos, I'll read it, the author might go overboard if they see that I've made their work look like a piece of poop.
     
  5. Speedy
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    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

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    I will not review peoples work if it looks like its a first draft and looks like they never looked over it a second time. People who type, finish, cut and paste, than ask for a review/critique. No thanks.

    I do like going over material that is flawed though. (through my eyes). The more i see that has a few issues(thats not REALLY bad), I'll try and go over it, makes me better at dealing with those issues when i try and write.

    Also, if i see a thread that has been gone over a few times, and seen replies back from the OP, I'll take my stab. I don't like the idea of spending an hour or in some cases longer to have it not read by the OP, or thanked or replied back to (not the ego thanking stuff, just the thanks for your time stuff).
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sometimes I seek out the stories that look like they have been carefully written and proofread, but still fail to grab me on some level. If I can put a name to what isn't working for me, it helps me look for it in my own writing.

    I rarely assume the writer will return to read the critique, or will benefit from my dissection of the writing. If he or she does, even better. But I know it will help me learn by making the effort, and I can also hope other critiquers will see another way to look at people's writing. I know that reading other people's critiques shows me new approaches.
     
  7. Aconite
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    Aconite Senior Member

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    Like Shinn said above: I review prose pieces that look like they have a plot. After the third paragraph, if I'm still reading a description of the main character's flashing green eyes and fiery red hair, 'click' goes the back button.

    With regards to poetry, if all it is is Love Poem #498427, I won't bother, either. Lots of other writers have written love poems, and while that maudlin stuff is an important step for a beginning writer to work out, I'm just not interested in slogging through that stage of development.

    If it's so badly written that it's The Eye of Argon (Google it; I dare you! You'll thank me later), I won't read it, but that seems to be par for the course around here.

    If the writer has gotten nasty with other reviewers, I also won't read it: I don't like wasting my time on a lengthy, if blunt, critique, only to get the brush-off in response.
     
  8. Northern Phil
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    Northern Phil Active Member

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    I enjoy reviewing, but there are a couple of things that bother me when I'm trying to find a piece to read.

    My main gripe has to do with the author not mentioning the word count. There are some fairly long pieces here and I will read and review them if I have the time, but if the author does not post the word count then I'll look at something and get the feeling that it goes on and on forever. Especially reading on a pc you don't have a sense of how long it will take you to read. If I know the word count then I can estimate how long it will take to read, this will give me the opportunity to allocate sufficent time to read it, analyse it and post an honest review.
     
  9. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    I can't relate to what some of you describe. When I start a review and I discover I really don't like the text, I don't mind briefly describing why I didn't like it and didn't keep reading.

    The only reviews I'd rather not do are on poetry. For me a poem can only be bad if it doesn't make me feel anything, and I have no idea about what to say to the author that would help with that.
     
  10. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I've no trouble reviewing an item that requires some serious "remodeling."

    I do have great trouble reviewing items outside of my preferred genres. If I had to review a romance piece, I might actually trade the task for a session of bamboo slivers stuck under the nail beds.

    Yeah. I might.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sometimes I DO choose to critique outside my preferred genre. When I first started here, I was solely focused on short stories. I had no interest in poetry at all, so I didn't even read from the Poetry section.

    I didn't understand poetry. There was too much stuff out there labelled as poetry that to me was just defecating emotions onto paper. So I started asking what is and is not poetry. I went back to my college Literature texts and read what they had to say. And I began critiquing.

    I'm still not primarily a poet, but I'm no longer intimidated by it. I've even written a few I'm happy with.

    I still stay away from scripts and screenplays. For now. But I'll critique in pretty much any genre, and I have learned a lot by doing so.
     
  12. Aeschylus
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    Aeschylus Contributing Member

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    I like reviewing (though I generally try to stick in my own genres too). Having to evaluate another person's work helps me become more aware of what needs work in my own writing. It's so much easier to see flaws in other people's writing than in my own, so reviewing helps me as much as it helps the person whose work I'm critiquing.
     
  13. Nalix
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    Nalix Member

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    I have done reviews before, though not yet on this site (still trying to figure out the details of the process, see some other reviews, and get a feel for what is expected).

    I've found that there is no story so bad or so good that I cannot find something to say about it. Even truly horrible writing has the seed of an idea in it, and that is something I can work with. Even exceptionally good writing could always have been done differently.

    The author always must make choice on how to portray the story, and every choice has its pros and cons. I try to build on the pros and consider what they bring to the story that otherwise would not be there.

    What I like most about writing any review is trying to get into the head of the writer and imagine what choices are driving the story. To me, that's the heart of a review: giving the author (and yourself) a mirror of the story, to see what would otherwise not be seen.
     
  14. orange
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    orange Member

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    I might catch some flack for this, but I hate fan-fic. Every now and then I'll poke through it just to see if I'm missing something, but it irks me. First of all, if I've read the book the story is based on and am cringing at the departure in writing style, tone, etc. And then even more-so because there's something offensive to me about taking someone else's characters and original project, and twisting it to your own devices. I'm sure, though, that it might be an interesting way to learn how to write in the style of someone you particularly admire. Maybe?

    I like to review short stories and poetry. But I agree with OP that sometimes something just needs too much work, and I wimp out on reviewing it. Mainly because I'm not sure there's anything nice I could say. I'm not saying I could write it any better, we all write total crap sometimes, but I hate writing a review when I can't find anything good to focus on.
     
  15. Aeschylus
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    Aeschylus Contributing Member

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    I agree with you about fanfic, Orange. I can't stand it either. The thing is that someone who constantly writes someone else's story is disrespecting himself far more than the original author. It's a writer submitting to the superiority of other writers.
     
  16. Imo
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    Imo Member

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    I am new here and aside from the introduction, this is my first post so I cannot yet say what I like or don't like to critique here. From my experiences on other forums however, I discovered that I simply hate commenting on romance. All too often I found the characters too sweet, too feminine, too masculine, too perfect for my tastes and it blinds me to any merit the piece might have.

    On the upside, I love writing critiques for action scenes, or stories with bold characters whose actions surprise me but don't make me question. Throw me a well written protagonist and I can spend many happy hours picking at your writing.
     
  17. Jane Beryl
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    Jane Beryl Member

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    A point needed and said from Andy, it's better just to say up front that you can't read it. I personally will read anything, but I know what it's like to be a bad writer. I am, however, good at critquing. We can all give claps to my very different animation teacher for teaching me the ways of the master. If you don't tell other's they need to revise they will end up thinking nothing is wrong with it and continue posting without ever learning from there mistakes.


    Well, most fan fictions don't get published, if you consider this publishing we're in trouble on this planet. I know very few fan fictions that make it out into the wild. There is a reason for this, it's just too difficult for anyone to be the master of someone else's creation. When I see a true master I'll drop on by and say something but otherwise there is no point in critquing since their audience is limited to the walls of someone else's design.
     
  18. orange
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    orange Member

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    Jane Beryl, I agree, but was referencing the Fan Fiction section in The Review Room, in which people do critique fan-fic.
     
  19. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it's more satisfying to review bad material, because it makes it easy to find constructive criticisms.
     
  20. MissBelle
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    MissBelle Member

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    I am a college student, studying to be a Teacher (Art/ Art History) and plan on making my students write a lot of Essays on Art History. I like to crit works that will be good practice for reveiwing papers.

    I sort of just like doing crits for works where I feel like I have a strong opinion. Where My opinion might help.
     
  21. JessaNova
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    JessaNova Senior Member

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    My biggest problem with a lot of writing is seeing people use 'thug talk', which usually ends up using improper terms and ways of saying things. I think it's just stupid... so I just move on.

    I don't know if it's okay for me to say, "You know what, I understand you grew up in the ghetto and feel like everything you write should be about that. But do you really need to express that you missed out on education?"
     
  22. Zane
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    Zane Contributing Member

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    I think the constructive reviews needed before posting is an excellent idea!
    I think the two needed should be changed though. Two reviews to post novels it´s okay, but two reviews to post a poem or a songlyric, I think it´s a bit too much!

    I´d also like to know, if when reviewing a story, poem... If you can´t see any mistakes, you could make a compliment considered "constructive"... For example by showing what the story/poem made you feel, why it did that...... Does that count as constructive?

    I´m a little confused because sometimes I can´t really suggest anything to improve, or what i´d like to suggest was already proposed...

    A little help?
     
  23. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    Yes, I do have my preferred genre which I enjoy reviewing (which are general fiction and romance btw :)), but reviewing pieces in genres outside of my taste has helped me in my writing. For example, I am awestruck by the world and creatures and demons the writers create in fantasy writings. The effort they give to provide the readers the details of their world is just fantastic. They have provided lots of insight on how I can approach descriptions of my settings and chars. Needless to say I have new found respect for such writers.

    Similarly, I think fantasy writers can learn a thing or two from say, romance writers. Fantasy writers can sometimes get carried away in their ... umm.. grand fantasy world and neglect the finer details of the relationships between their chars. How to turn a seemingly unimportant event into something that says a lot about the char. Good romance writers do that very well.


    It's alright to point out the mistakes others have already pointed out. The writer will only be more convinced.
     
  24. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    Saying that you enjoyed reading a piece and couldn't find anything to change in it should be valid, as long as it is the actual truth. If you really have combed the piece several times and can't find anything to quibble about, then I'd think it was constructive to state that in your opinion the author "got it right"

    If you just say that you couldn't find anything to correct in a given piece as a cop out, just because you are lazy or simply worry about hurting someone's feelings if you point out a mistake, then such a statement is not valid.

    The important thing to remember is that part of a critique is technical, checking spelling, punctuation and grammar.

    Another part is subject matter accuracy. Few things kill a story's interest faster than a writer detailing a subject he/she knows nothing about, such as someone who knows nothing about race cars trying to describe the high tech engineering of formula one racers. If your readers are reading your piece because they have an interest in the subject, and KNOW the real details, a piece full of inaccuracies will be a big turn off. Research can remedy this problem.

    Another part is presentation and perception. When you critique a piece of writing consider your own perception of the piece. Did you find it entertaining and enjoyable to read? Why or why not? Did it hold your attention or bore you? Why or why not? What could make it more interesting to you personally? It is important for the critic to spell out the Why or Why Not of his comments. Just saying something "Sucks" doesn't qualify as a valid critique.

    Another part is detachment from "hot button" subjects. If a piece is about controversial politics, social problems, peace in the middle east, etc. it is often sometimes hard to stay on track (especially if you have a strong opinion about the subject). The job of a critic is to evaluate the writing, not debate the issues presented.

    Post your critique BEFORE you read what others have said. That way, even if you do mention a topic that someone else has already brought up, at least your criticism will be your own opinion in your own words.
     
  25. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't like reviewing things that are trying to be an artistic intelligent piece of writing instead of just a good story. Unless it is a piece of poetry that is different.

    It is so hard when you get something that has clearly taken that much effort to tell someone actually I don't like it.
     

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