1. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    How can I get reviews on my reviews?

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by DefinitelyMaybe, Sep 7, 2012.

    I've made a number of reviews, some short, some pretty much as long as the original piece.

    Is there any way that I can get reviews on my reviews? I.e. can someone more experience give me some comments on what I'm doing wrong, what I'm doing right.

    I know the FAQ says that people should not critique the critiques, but I feel that I will be able to contribute more if I get some feedback. Perhaps in this thread, or people could PM some feedback to me.

    Edit: I hope that I haven't broken any rules in posting this.
     
  2. Danvok
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    Danvok Senior Member

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    +1. Interested to see what people think about this.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The moderators do spot critiques of critiques from time to time, time permitting. We used to have a role called Reviewer that primarily focused on mentoring the critique process. I was a Reviewer before I became a moderator, and frankly, I preferred that role.

    The role no longer exists, I'm sorry to say. However, the critiquing guidelines in the reference post Constructive Critiques describes the goals of critique. Examine your critiques against those guidelines, and you'll have a pretty good idea of how you are doing.

    And push your limits. Stick your neck out and propose changes you aren't fully certain about. But examine your reasoning for coming up with the recommendation, and write it down with the recommendation. You may spark discussion that helps you develop your reasoning further, but even if you don't, having gone through teh analysis will often bring new insights.
     
  4. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks for the comments. I have read the posts on Constructive Critiques, but feel that while those guidelines provide a good overall framework, there is still a lot more detailed knowledge necessary to write good reviews.

    E.g. even as an unskilled writer, I can recognise when language (for me, other people may and do disagree with me, which I consider positive) flows and reads smoothly, When it sounds natural. But I'm not sure what words to use to describe this. I've used "polished" and "easy to read", but perhaps I need to say something different.

    In some cases, I find that some text either lacks or has too much in the way of imagination. In terms of the descriptive language used, the metaphors and other imagery, etc. I'm not sure how to critique this. I've used words such as more or less "floral" language, but I need better vocabulary to home in on what I perceive to the be the problems of "too plain" or "too <something>".

    I do believe in pushing my limits. With the two week limit for putting my own work up for criticism in mind, I'm working on a short story which is in the romance genre, and written in first person. "Romance" because I thought to myself - what is the genre that I'd have most difficulty writing in? First person because I haven't written in it for at least a very long time. And I'm finding it difficult. But if I push myself as an individual, nobody else suffers if I get it wrong.

    But when I "push myself" in terms of critiques, it's not just me involved. There's the poor unfortunate author (AKA "victim") who may be unnecessarily discouraged, or unrealistically encouraged, if I get it wrong. Or offended if I'm simply tactless. So, there's a potential for someone else to suffer, with the worst case being when they suffer, but don't realise it.

    I've received some detailed critiques of my critiques via PM (thanks m), and am going to spend some time going thinking about them very carefully. I will continue reviewing, because I know what it feels like to post on other forums, have 500 views of your work (which I know doesn't mean 500 full reads), but get just one or two very minor uncritical comments. But I wish there was a "critical analysis pill" that I could buy which I could take, and hey presto! I'm reviewing like a master.
     
  5. Hettyblue
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    Hettyblue Member

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    I think the reason there is little debate about the quality of reviews or reviewers on here is that there is little to be gained from it. The act of reviewing is a learning experience for the reviewee (is that a word!!:confused:) and the reviewer alike - I have gained much insight into my own writing from critiquing as objectively as I can extracts bravely posted here for consideration. I have learned much from reading reviews of my work and other peoples. The quality of the review (if that can be truly measured) is immaterial as even a review that says little that can be considered constructive shows what kind of responses your writing can inspire.

    You learn from other peoples opinions whether you agree or not - I do not spend time agonising over writing a critique. I aim to give the writer my gut response to the piece and let them decide if what I say is worthy - I look at the flow of the piece and whether there are conflicting images/ ideas/ lack of clarity/ grammatical errors, also if I enjoyed the piece and wanted to read more. Reviewing the reviews would be a little too meta for me. ;)
     
  6. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    Comparing the critiques you give someone's piece with the critiques others give it may tell you something about what you need to pay more attention to. Not that every critique needs to say the same things, but if multiple people say similar things (e.g., POV switches, passive voice, over-use of adjectives, or whatever) and you didn't, you may want to think more about that aspect.
     
  7. Jamie Regent-Villiers
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    Jamie Regent-Villiers Member

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    Can someone who has not been published or someone who is not an editor/agent whatever, really constructively critique another earthling's writing? Personally I think not.
     
  8. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    I think all the qualification needed to do critiques is to be a competent reader and understand the basics of the language.

    The majority of comments I see on this forum's critiques are confirmed by other reviewers. Even if they don't agree on the details or the degree of seriousness, they tend to agree when something is not adequately described. If you understand most published works and do not understand the piece being critiqued, then a lot of readers would have the same problem. If the character's actions are not what a similar person would do in the situation, other readers will also see it as a problem. If you recognize run-on sentences, improperly used apostrophes, etc. you don't have to be a professional editor to point them out.
     
  9. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    Someone who is not published or an editor/agent can say whether or not they enjoyed the excerpt and wanted to read more. And they can also say whether or not they could work out what is happening or not.

    After all, the vast majority of people who actually buy books are not published and not an editor/agent.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That isn't what we call a review or critique on this site. Avoiding that confusion is, in fact, why we prefer the word critique.

    A critique is a set of specific recommendations on how to improve the writer's writing, using the offered example as a basis.

    Not everyone can do it well. But the more a person practices it, the better they become at finding opportunities for improvement, both in other people's writing and in their own.

    Most people can find spelling or usage errors, so that is where many critiquers begin. But with practice, they learn to find where too much description bogs down the flow, or where dialogue is ineffective, and so on.

    Specific recommendations is an important point, because a vague recommendation doesn't help the writer truly see the problem and the solution. A specific recommendation is what you would settle on if it were your writing you had to fix - and the goal is that it will be your writing you will be critiquing next.

    It's how to improve the writer's writing, not just the particular passage posted for critique, because what was posted is probably not what the writer will ultimately need to publish. So recommendations should include the reason for the change, a reason that can be generalized to other writing.

    And using the offered example, because that is a specific reflection of how the writer currently writes. Also, it provides concrete cases where your recommendation can be clearly seen to illustrate the point.
     

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