1. free2dream
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    free2dream Member

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    My own WaY of Reviewing...

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by free2dream, May 10, 2008.

    I don't believe that there is ONLY one way to do things. I try to stay aware that everyone has their own take and approach to expressing a story.

    One of the major points I focus on (that is more of an objective aspect) is grammar, spelling, etc. I feel that once this is fixed, the story reads out more smoothly and effectively. (I constantly reread my own writing over and over again, smoothing out the grammatical errors.)

    So basically, when I read a story...I try my best to feel where the author is going and as much as I can, try to understand their direction. I definitely don't like criticism that tries to change an author's style since everyone is entitled to their own way with words. As a reviewer, I don't think it is productive to nitpick and dictate my opinion, merely just to fit it according to my own preference.

    I want to appreciate and experience it for what it is rather than what I WANT it to be.

    So my reviews are pretty simple and relative. I name things I like and errors I caught. I will also express some advice based on clarity and background. Generally, this is about helping the author and giving personal, direct input. (no fluff) :)
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There is merit to that approach. And certainly a lot of the pieces I review, the spelling, punctuation, and grammar (SPAG) is the squeaky wheel that needs,and gets, the oil.

    However, I don't think there's anything wrong withsuggesting structuiral changes. Reviews are exactly that - suggestions. If a writer has a style that works for him or her, that's fine. But if the writer is open to developing some style changes, the sugestions from reviewers may be worth exploring.
     
  3. feather
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    feather Member

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    I feel a bit differently.Spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes can always be fixed, but I need to feel something from the words-almost immediately, or I put it down.
    In reviewing, I would tend to look at characterization and dialogue as well ( the latter of which is not my strongsuit)
    I've been on some writing forums where people's work was just massacred. That's not cool to me. It's hard enough to put your 'self' out there, so any feedback has to be constructive, and encouraging, no matter your style of critiquing and what you look for.
     
  4. free2dream
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    free2dream Member

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    Ya, I definitely do understand what you mean. Constructive criticism is always a good thing. I never said it wasn't.
    What I specifically meant was that I don't like to put out my opinions in such a cold way...as if I know the "right" way and they don't. There is a line between constructive and such criticism that's biased/arrogant/offensive. Such reviews become rather negative and very disheartening. Rather than actually helping the author's writing, it's just a stab in a person's confidence.

    Sincere advice is most positively a good thing. When it comes down to it, I just try to fit my review depending on the author since problems vary, styles and genres vary. (help them with their style if need be) :)
     
  5. Cobra517
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    Cobra517 New Member

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    Yes! It is important to hook the reader right away! If you don't, they won't want to continue reading the story.
     
  6. Haribol Acharya
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    Haribol Acharya Member

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    Criticism can be constructive, but not always. It depends upon your point of view. When a book is reviewed it must be done so from all angles and taking of course different dimensions of it into consideration. When a reviewer comes upon something to comment on and from his perspective he finds flaws in the writing he has to point it to the writer. And the writer can look at from a different angle and does not agree, something, some misunderstanding is likely to come up. Then the idea that criticism must be or will be constructive will not work here.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Constructive criticism does not mean only praise. Constructive criticism can point out flaws and suggest ways to fix the flaws.

    An example:
    is not constructive. It is vague, and fails to tell the writer anything useful in how to improve.

    Also:
    is also not constructive. It is empty praise that doesn't tell the writer what made that piece of writing work well, where other writing may have fallen flat. This kind of review is usually pure laziness.

    A constructive comment might be:
    (Sorry for using your ownb words as an example, but perhaps it will help.
     
  8. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Misunderstanding, though unfortunate, does not mean that criticism is not constructive.

    "Constructive" criticism basically means that the critiquer points out what they felt to be issues (or virtues) in the writing and takes the time to explain their reasoning and give examples. Not all "constructive" criticism results in agreement and/or change, but that doesn't mean it isn't constructive. It just means that the author has a different opinion which they feel strongly enough about to support in the face of comments to the contrary. "Constructive" is not an adjective intended to describe end results as much as it is an adjective intended to describe intent.
     
  9. Daedalus
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    Daedalus Active Member

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    I think "good criticism" is actually a misnomer because criticism, by definition, implies a disapproval of something based on the mistakes or faults within it.

    Having said that, a review doesn't have to be all criticism. I've said this on a good few occasions: A good review consists of a combination of criticism and praise. Few reviewers (that I've seen) actually put this into practice. I'm guilty of it myself. I tend to look more to the negatives than the positives, but I generally tell the OP whether or not I liked the work.

    I suppose it's possible to enjoy a piece of work rife with mistakes, though I have yet to encounter such a thing. A good story is important, yes, but equally important is the layout and SPaG. Generally, I can run my eye down a page and spot the mistakes immediately. It's just something I have a knack for.

    I agree with Cogito, though. A constructive review isn't something like: "I thought this was good. Keep it up." That's generic, pointless, and a waste of time.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Critique is a better word than criticism for that reason. Critique can pointy out what is outstanding, not only what can be improved.

    The truth is, I am ALWAYS critiquing when I read, these days. Even books I thoroughly enjoy, I am looking for ways they could have been better. And, of course, I have my eyed wide open for techniquess that work extremely well.

    Remember, finding an area for possible improvement doesn't necessarily mean there is a mistake. It just may not have all the power it could.

    ANY piece of writing can be improved. Even Hemingway's 6 word story.
     
  11. garmar69
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    garmar69 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've said this a few times before, but just because a review is all the negatives doesn't discount it as a good review; especially if all the points are correct.

    Having the reviewer tell you they liked the story does feel good, but if someone critiqued my story and didn't have a positive thing to say, but my story became tighter, and better for it; I would love that person just the same. :D
     
  12. Daedalus
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    Daedalus Active Member

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    I'm the same. I can recall countless times where my recognition of faults and plot-holes in a story has disrupted the flow. Most times, the book is put back on the book shelf and never opened again. It can be frustrating.

    There is always room for improvement in everything.
     
  13. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is one of the few things I hate about being a "writer". I read a lot of books, and watch a lot of anime(pauses for groans), and even if I'm thorougly enjoying the story, I'm also critiquing it. Wacthed a wonderful
    "anime movie" called "5 cm per second", and I'm forced to say I cried at the end of the first act, but all the time my brain was going: 'Damn voiceovers, I'm gonna strangle the writer if I ever have the good fortune to meet him, and I'll make sure to narrate my emotions while I'm doing it." There were plenty of other issues, too, though not quite so obnoxious or cloying. I still enjoyed the movie alot, and even enjoyed analyzing it, but sometimes I wish I could shut that voice off once in awhile. I never actually quit reading/watching something until I started writing.
     

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