1. Natbutterflyblue
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    Natbutterflyblue Member

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    How can I review 'constructively'?

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Natbutterflyblue, Mar 5, 2011.

    So I thought I was doing the right thing on here and I reviewed (well I thought I had) several pieces (5 actually) before submitting a chapter of my story to be reviewed only to have a mod close my thread saying I hadn't given two constructive reviews?

    Now I don't claim my reviews were great but I wanted them to be honest and not just post them for the sake of getting my stuff reviewed. Problem is everything I felt qualified to comment on had already been extensively reviewed and any point I would have pointed out had already been pointed out. I confined my comments to things others hadn't already picked up while still trying to help with my comments. Yet apparently they weren't constructive.

    I feel as though I commented honestly and with the correct intentions so why am I being judged as not providing constructive reviews. Am I supposed to ignore what has already been said and say what has already been said for it to be considered a 'constructive' review.
    Is it just me or is repeating information the very opposite of constructive?

    So the question I pose to you is, what sort of information can you give to an item with several reviews on it?

    Do I just have to hope I get in and review first on a new post to become part of this forum or is there extra information I can provide?

    I have no skills in spelling or grammar, so the only things I can point out are general flow, language used and the feel of the story.

    What hope is there for me? Desperate for your input! The comments I received before the thread was shut we invaluable and I really want to be able to be an active member but I don't know if I can be useful around here or not as apparently my reviews are worthless.
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not a mod - but the ones you have done today look like they would be classed as constructive.

    Basically they show how to improve rather than just run off a shopping list of wonderful qualities or faults. Would be worth PM'ing one and asking if they are OK, if they are they will unlock yours.
     
  3. Natbutterflyblue
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    Natbutterflyblue Member

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    Well it cant hurt to try I guess. How did you go choosing a beggining BTW?
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I haven't lol - got an ending once I have the beginning I get the middle filled in. Might be going with your choice :)
     
  5. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    I just read a couple of your reviews and they are constructive. PM the mods.
     
  6. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I follow the formula:
    1. Identify something in the text, good or bad you react to in a certain way.
    2. Explain how you react to it.
      "I think the flow in passage X was nice, it made the reading feel effortless"
      or
      "I think the flow in passage X was bit problematic, it made me lose track."
    3. If possible give concrete example, with quotes.
    4. Give a suggestion how it could be change and how the changed would effect you.
      "If you shorted the sentence lengths in this passage, I believe I would have an easier time reading it."
    ...

    Try to identify a few different things, follow the formula for each. Try to begin with something positive you noticed, and end with something else positive. Mix in the negative or neutral stuff in the middle, with some more positive stuff if needed.
     
  7. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Welcome to Unit7's Wonderfully Not So Wonderful Guide To Reviewing. :D

    Rule 1) Ignore the other's posts until AFTER you finish your critique. Heres why. The philosophy behind the Review Room is quite simple. The idea is that by learning how to properly give a constructive review of another's work you can apply that critical eye on your own story. In this philosophy the reviews are more for you then the writer.

    So for now ignore what other people are posting. Don't look at them. Pretend they simply do not exist. This helps you forget that yeah someone else might have realized that the Princess went from being a blonde, to a redhead, to a blue haired alien all within a few short paragraphs. In fact everyone who reads it might notice this and comment on it. But this is ok because part of the reviewing is to strengthen your critical eye.

    So simply ignore what others have posted. It's just you and the story.


    Rule 2) Don't be scared to point out anything.

    Maybe you noticed some awkward phrasing. Maybe you noticed a slight contradiction. Maybe you thought they were using big words to sound impressive(well be nice about it.). Point this out.

    Maybe they included a bit of infodumping. We don't need to know how his second cousin on his mom's side got a promotion and how his dad scored 4 touchdowns in a single game in high school and that he is a womens shoe salesman and how his dog buck died and was reincarnated as punishment as a new dog. Now such information might become important later but we really don't need to know it now. (I do a poor job of explaining things. So I would suggest reading up on info dumps)

    If you recieve random information like this during the course of the story and it bored you. Then point it out to the author.


    Rule 3) Don't be afraid to giving suggestions.

    Don't rewrite the entire thing for them. But you could give an example of what you think is a better way of saying something.

    Don't worry if you think the other person is a better writer. This is mostly for you. The author will go over the reviews and if he or she finds you were correct then they might change it. Even if they didn't they may look at a particular sentence or paragraph differently and consider changing it.


    Rule 4) We Do Not Talk About Fight... wait wrong rules.(bad humor is bad? :D )


    The Real Rule 4) ....

    Actually I think I covered everything.

    To sum things up.

    1) Ignore other's posts.
    2) Don't be scared to point out anything.
    3) Don't be afraid of giving suggestions.


    Oh one last thing.

    Give your thoughts on what you liked and didn't like about the story. Do not be general. For every good thing try and find two things you didn't like.

    Also if something in the story doesn't make sense make sure to talk about it. Say why it didn't make sense.(think this goes with Rule 2)


    This concludes Unit7's Wonderfully Not So Wonderful Guide To Reviewing. :D


    Hopefully it helped and if there is anything you should take from this is Rule 1. Its important to forget about the other's reviews. These reviews are just as much about improving your writing as it is the authors. After you get done with your review and want to look and see what other people have brought up and suggested then that's fine. But when you are reviewing act as if you are the first to post.

    :)


    EDIT: I have gone over some of your reviews and it seems like you are doing this more or less. I can see why some of your reviews wouldn't count but atleast two of them seemed like they would count.
     
  8. Natbutterflyblue
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    Natbutterflyblue Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions and comments guys, Ill stick at it and see how I go.
    I'm sure in time I will get the hang of it. In the mean time however, I will PM a mod and see if I can repost something or have the last thread reopened.
    The helpful comments on here really are great, and already Ive seen a marked improvement in my writing.
    Thanks again everyone.
     
  9. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nat, you also may want to take on pieces which have very few reviews on them already. There are always plenty of them lying around, and any feedback is better than none. The guy with 3 pages of discussion is likely at a point where he needs deeper criticisms than you are comfortable with at this point. The person with 2 comments and 89 views is likely crying in a corner feeling rejected. Help that person out :)
     
  10. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    actually I have a couple of threads where due to the rule you have to keep rewrites and parts 1-3 etc together on one thread where I have unreviewed work because people see it and think it has three pages and doesn't need it. I've taken to deleting the main post so people have to go down to the rewrite as it usually gets ignored.
     
  11. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    A more elegant solution would be to add a disclaimer to the top explaining that a new portion is on page XXX or that a new version is on page YYY. Preserving the old versions allows interest parties to see how your current draft evolved.

    I do feel your pain, and I have suffered through a similar headache with a longer piece of my own. I do think there is room for that rule to be refined, but such cases make up a very small percentage of the review-room's entries.

    I primarily wanted to point out that people who are nervous about starting out can easily find an overlooked, low post count thread to cut their teeth on.
     
  12. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I tried that one - and doing Islander's trick of part one, rewrite one etc People still reviewed the first one. It's harder with one where I added three different parts.

    When I delete the first one they have to move down, usually someone has replied using the whole of my first draft anyway.
     
  13. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    Agreed. They would revise the first draft on page one, even though I deleted it and post a revision. They'll look at the first quoted post and use it as a reference to review that one instead of the intended revision of the post, which gets very annoying and irritating.
     
  14. Infinitytruth
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    Infinitytruth Senior Member

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    Well, I never read other people's critiques until I have given my own. So what if its said twice? It'll stick in their head that much better!
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Do NOT delete or deface the original post! You may place a notice in the post that there are one or more revisions further down the thread, but PLEASE LEAVE THE ORIGINAL CONTEXT INTACT.
     

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