1. write_star
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    write_star Member

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    I want to start reviewing, but

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by write_star, Dec 15, 2010.

    I want to start reviewing others' works, but I'm a little nervous too. So, I'd like to hear from all of you experts - as a writer, what is the thing you would find most helpful about my review of your work?
    Thanks, write_star. :)
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Me personally I want to hear what you think as a reader - is there anything glaring wrong. What would make it clearer for you to understand.

    EDIT: I personally like to also know what you do like about it - what grabs you etc
     
  3. Sarah's Mom
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    Sarah's Mom Member

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    I want to know when you get lost or confused. I want you to say, "for the luvva mike, what's with all the "actuallys?" I'd like obvious errors in word useage and grammar pointed out.

    I do not need to have my ego propped up, I just need information.
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Plain honesty. Just tell me what you REALLY think, without sugarcoating or slanting in any way. I can't trust anyone who says "This is wonderful and brilliant and I love it and you're a genius, but I think it might be even a tiny bit better if it had different characters and a different plot and was written better ..."

    If it sucks, TELL ME it sucks in so many words. That's what I'd want from a reviewer - plain honesty.
     
  5. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Don't beat around the bush about it (like in minstrel's example), but don't be a jerk either. You can say "This method of introducing a character doesn't work for me because ____" wihout saying "IT SUCKS." :)

    Main thing is to be specific. Don't just say something doesn't work for you - say WHY.

    Also, if you point out a lot of flaws, do try to point out one good thing to two and why those techniques make the story good. But only if you actually can; don't be fake just to be nice.
     
  6. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    Don't get too paralyzed worrying if you are "right" in what you say. First, much of what reviewers say is opinion. Opinion tempered with experience, mind you, and opinion that should usually be considered.

    Being someone new to reviewing, you will also write a handful of things that turn out to be way off the mark. Don't worry about that either. In that case, this advice will likely not be heeded so you won't "hurt" the other person's writing, and we'll at least credit you with being considerate enough to take time to try.

    After you post your review, go back and read the other reviews of the work. This will open your eyes to other points of view - keep in mind, though, that some of those reviewers are young and learning too.

    Good luck,
    Frank
     
  7. Evelyanin
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    Evelyanin Senior Member

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    As has already been touched on, it is vital that you be specific in your critiques. I once had someone says some things they liked about my story, which is useful, but then go on to say, "Good story, needs editing."

    For someone who does the old, "I jst gott home frmo teh bar ad rote tis wif mye frind," Using, "needs editing" will suffice. Afterall, most people here don't want to clean up someone else's story just because the author were too lazy to put in a little effort himself.

    However, if you find that the SPaG mistakes are fairly consistent throughout the whole story, then it is likely that the author doesn't know any better. "Needs editing" is just going to confuse them. When I read that comment, I was at a loss. I couldn't see anything wrong with my story. The comment made it sound like my story was filled with problems. So I sat in a corner and began to cry. Just kidding, but honestly, I didn't get anything out of it.

    Don't get me wrong, there were useful comments explaining what had to be changed. However, the few problems that others pointed out never quite covered the huge amounts of problems that "needs editing" implied.

    Being vague and "right" looks a lot more stupid than being specific and "wrong" (Most people will correct you, after which you own up to your mistake and admit you were wrong. Admitting you were wrong actually makes you look smart. :)
     
  8. Clumsywordsmith
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    Clumsywordsmith Active Member

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    By definition any really good and constructive critique will be at least marginally painful to read -- painful as in, the reviewer has doubtless picked your work all to pieces, pointing out the parts which just don't work. As others have said already, specific brutality is a good thing. Focus on the parts that jarred you most as a reader, point out the parts which were awkward, fixate on any moment where you found yourself suddenly torn away from the story at hand and making an awkward mental grimace (or maybe a physical grimace...). A nice little summary at the end is nice, outline where your feelings our thoughts were, and whether you actually cared much, or had any interest to keep reading -- and, if so, what you felt was lacking to lead to that feeling of disconnect.

    Sometimes critiquing might seem a little harsh, but trust me, it's better for the writers in the long run -- to suffer a stinging slap from reality rather than to allow a subpar work to languish in mediocrity forever.
     
  9. Gholin
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    Gholin Member

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    But what if you really did enjoy it? You noticed some technical issues, but it actually floated your boat? I just wrote a review and I really enjoyed the passage I reviewed. I noted the writer's technical issues and explained where I got confused, and I even said what I thought of each paragraph and why, but I really did give a more positive critical review. I guess I don't read into things as much as some, critically, but hey, I guess I'm learning how to review too.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Even if you enjoyed the piece, you can find nothing you would change to make it even better?

    Presumably you like your own writing. Even if you don't, you will reach a point where you start to think it's pretty good, but it still won't be good enough to submit. That is when you really need to dig deeper and find ways to improve it.

    It will be easier to practice on someone else's writing than in your own, at least at first.
     
  11. Gholin
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    Gholin Member

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    Oh I agree, Cogito. Practicing is one reason I read one of the pieces and reviewed it. My point was that I didn't smash the thing to bits like a previous poster suggested we should always do. Make it painful.

    Now, I pointed out the flaws I saw in in the piece I reviewed so that the writer could make it better, but I also let the writer know what I liked about it so they knew they did some good things in their writing that impressed me. That was my straight analysis, and since it wasn't all painful, I hoped it wasn't frowned upon by the community.

    As for my writing, I definitely like it, but I also know I need a lot of improvement. I can tell that just by reading it again. I hope to have others critique my writing on this site and give it to me straight, but I also hope they will tell me what they enjoyed about it.
     
  12. write_star
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    write_star Member

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    Thanks, guys. This makes me feel a lot better rather than just delving in. :) write_star
     

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