1. Auty
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    Auty New Member

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    How to Review

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Auty, Jul 14, 2010.

    Okay this may seem like a stupid question but, how do you review people who are better at writing than you, the vast majority of the people on this site are amazing writers, and whereas people have critiqued accordingly and their critique sounds helpful me, myself wouldn't of found those things to improve first hand. Any tips of how to critique effectively?
    Thank You.
     
  2. Sonata
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    Sonata Member

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    Review it from a readers point of view and don't be shy. I appreciate all feedback, whoevre it's from, good or bad. Even those suggestions that I disregard because that I'm unable to use them in the context they were given. These suggestions are still helpful because they help me to look at my work from a viewpoint I haven't considered.
     
  3. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Great writers also make a lot of mistakes. Sometimes they write themselves into a corner and have to use a far-fetched explanation to cover up a plot hole. Sometimes they forget to give a character characterisation. Sometimes they're lazy and write something like "She looked at him in a way that indicated she didn't believe him" just to get the point across. Sometimes they get so engrossed in their own work they can't see the forest for the trees. The writer has to get a zillion things right, while the critic only needs to spot a few wrongs.

    Personally, I always appreciate when readers tell me how they felt about my story. Even if they find it disgusting and the characters unsympathetic, it means I managed to convey something to the reader.

    As a beginner, it may be helpful to go through a checklist (plot? characterisation? exposition? spelling/grammar? etc.) when reviewing a story. I think Cogito has a checklist stickied somewhere.
     
  4. MissBelle
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    MissBelle Member

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    Just give your opinion on what might be improved. Just because someone is a better writer than you does not mean that they will have everything prefect the first time. Writing is a process, no matter how good a writer you are and getting constructive crits is an important part of that process.

    Even telling somewhat what parts especially worked for you and why is helpful. (At least in my opinion.)
     
  5. cellofr3ak
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    cellofr3ak Member

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    *agrees with Sonata*. The biggest thing here is that you can review a piece two ways - as a reader, or as a fellow writer. Usually both types can be helpful, but if you can't aid them in any way in terms of how you'd write the piece differently, then just explain to them your thoughts in reading it. As a reader, you are as experienced as you need to be even if it is the first book you've ever read, because the reason people write is for themselves; the reason they post is for you.
     
  6. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    Remember this is a critiquing workshop, you are here to learn critiquing as well which will in turn help you write better. So as a beginner don't worry so much about how much your critique is helping others. First of all forget the writer(don't even expect the writer to respond), just treat it as a critiquing exercise you are doing to help yourself. Take your time.... read the piece several times if you have to. After reading the piece either you'll like the piece or you won't. Now, ask yourself why? Writing down the reasons will give your critique of the piece.

    Just like reading is a way of learning to write, reading critiques by others is also a good way of learning to critique.

    This was the way I critiqued others work in the beginning. I am sure Cogito (one of the moderators) will give you a more formal approach on how to critique.

    And have a nice stay here.
     
  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am fairly new too, but I am an avid reader, I know when I look at a book and i read a story what captivates me. I can say what frustrates me, or what i find difficult to read. That's how I have been reviewing.
     
  8. tranquility
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    tranquility New Member

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    Not at all , your question is to the point.... Most of us need an answer for it.
     
  9. Chel
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    Chel Member

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    As a tip, read some of the critiques posted here.

    There are some people who are gurus at grammar - I'm not one of them, but even I can spot a typo sometimes. When I write a critique, I have to focus on other things and only point out the typoes/grammar mistakes that I am absolutely 100% sure of. (For example, myself wouldn't of found should be myself wouldn't have found ;).

    I focus on what the writer is trying to convey. This means that now that I'm still new at it, I need to find stories that I can relate to - I can't try to critique something I'm not the least bit interested in, or something the writer hasn't even ran through a basic spell-checking program.

    If I find something I can relate to somehow, though, I'll read it from start to end first and form an impression. Then I'll go through it again and comment on things I think were difficult to understand, or feels like a hole in the logic, or doesn't feel characteristic for the protagonist, or the writer needs more information about (like how fast a person would start shivering if he went out shirtless in the snow) or maybe a sentence that is so long I forgot what was going on (a bit like this one!).

    If I find nothing like what I described above to comment on, I'll probably applaud the writer and let him/her know why I liked it, and if there was something I liked particularly much, a description maybe, or a piece of dialogue, or a surprising plot twist.

    Someone I'm acquainted with writes stories that are really up my alley. He's a brilliant writer, and very productive too. But even he makes mistakes sometimes, and sometimes I stumble a bit while reading his writings which I point out in my critiques.

    I suppose my other tip, apart from reading critiques, is to start critiquing something in or close to the genres you yourself enjoy writing. If there's anything you'd have done differently, point it out along with a reason why.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you aren't good at X (e.g. not good at grammar). all the more reason to tackle X in critiques. You'll learn very quickly that way.
     

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