1. dandjurdjevic
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    dandjurdjevic Member

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    Replies to reviews

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by dandjurdjevic, Jan 6, 2009.

    This isn't a suggestion to the site owner and moderators but to the contributors:

    Looking through the various threads I notice that many lengthy and considered reviews are sometimes not acknowledged - either properly or at all. If someone takes time to read and critique your work I feel you should be responding to them appropriately - even if you disagree with their suggestions. If the review is brief it can be dealt with briefly or in conjunction with other brief reviews, eg: "Thanks x, y and z for your comments, I'll consider them". If the review is detailed you should show some appreciation for the work that has been put in. A more specific acknowledgment is called for and you should address some of the points specifically; ask some further questions or perhaps offer a revised version based on the comments.

    In the end, detailed critique/editing is usually something for which you have to pay good money. I have friends in this business who charge a hefty fee per word.

    I had a mate pay $600 to have a draft of his book reviewed in the most cursory way. I gave him a line by line review of his first 3 chapters which he said came to the same thing, but with greater detail - except I did it for free because he was a fellow writer.

    And another point: don't post stuff if you only want praise. Your parents and friends will do that. Any and every work can be improved upon. Post things here that you know need work - or if you are just starting out. Expect there to be MANY suggestions.

    To the reviewers I suggest this:

    DON'T just say some kind words in order to justify your own posting of a 3000 word extract. I've seen some that read: "Really great - I love it and want to read more," when the posted material was devoid of any "hook", characterization, plot or coherence. This just takes up space and gives a false sense of security.

    To posters I suggest that you not get upset because you haven't got it right. No one gets it right first time. And if you're a beginner - albeit a "talented" one - be prepared for lots of editing. It's not just SPaG. There are basic rules of creative writing that I learned the hard way - through critique after critique in workshops. Honest and fair - but still hard to swallow when you've poured your soul into a piece. We've all been there.

    Learn - that's why we're here.
     
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  2. garmar69
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    garmar69 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree completely. Also, I almost always give positive rep to those that have taken the time to help me with my story. I've been fortunate that nearly every time I've done a review for a senior member, they have reciprocated. It's really a fun but fairly useless feature, but it can lead to some positive interactions among members.

    Now members that have less than 100 posts can only give neutral rep, (gray box) so saying thanks is all the more important.

    As a matter of fact... good post. Have a cookie or two. :p
     
  3. dandjurdjevic
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    dandjurdjevic Member

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    Thanks mate! :)

    Two more things I just thought of:

    Doing reviews is very educational; by reading other peoples work you often realize why your own stuff isn't quite hitting the right note.

    Last, I find writing to be lonely business. Being part of a like-minded community helps break that loneliness. To be part of a community you have to share...

    My 2 cents.
    :D
     
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  4. Daedalus
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    Daedalus Active Member

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    I agree completely. If someone has bothered to take the time and effort to critique my work in a constructive manner, the least they deserve is acknowledgement of that fact. I also feel that defending your work to a person who's after spending their own time critiquing it in an effort to help you, is bad order. You may not agree with their critique, but you take what you need from it, thank them (possibly rep them; that's always nice), and leave it at that.

    I also feel that by people who critique my work deserve to be critiqued in return. I think it's just good manners.
     
  5. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that this might more properly go in the "Reviewing" section. But you make some good points.
     
  6. dandjurdjevic
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    dandjurdjevic Member

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    Sorry - I agree that it should go into "reviewing". Can one of you mods move it there please?
     
  7. Bob Magness
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    Bob Magness Senior Member

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    Yeah, this should be where it will receive a wider audience. It is likely only staff and those of us who use the "New Posts" feature will find this.

    Dandjurdvejic, I could not agree more. I have only done a few critiques myself so far and I don't think I have been blown off yet. One of the best ways to learn about writing is to get a dialogue going about a piece of your work. And if you disagree with another reviewer then come out and say that also. It is always beneficial for a writer to get opposing view points about his/her work from multiple people.

    Going through some the archives it does look like some people just post "Good job" a couple times so they can post their own work. I guess the board could make a rule stating only people with like 100 posts may post their work. But then the place would probably just be swamped with a bunch of short posts with no content in order to meet THAT requirement. A better alternative would probably be before reviewing someone's work, look at their past posts in the Reviewing forum and see if they actually gave an effort in their reviews. I haven't gone that route yet but I might start.
     
  8. Daedalus
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    Daedalus Active Member

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    Don't review another review! That's something that starts flame wars left, right, and centre. I also thing that the staff don't like it, but I'm not sure on that one. Besides, it's bad order to review another person's review, in my opinion. If you disagree with something another reviewer has said, PM the OP and tell them privately. But don't do it publicly.
     
  9. dandjurdjevic
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    dandjurdjevic Member

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    I have considered that. I put a lot of effort into one particular review and the writer hasn't bother to even acknowledge my existence. A bit disappointing really. It made me wonder whether I should have looked at his/her own reviews first to see if this person was interested in being part of a writer's community or just wanted someone to "ooh" and "aah" over his/her "masterpiece". Those who just say "cool" or "it really sucked me in" just pander to this vanity.

    I don't favour any kind of institutionalised "review of reviews" however. Things start to get a bit too mechanical. I admire the way Cog and others have a good sense of who hasn't really bothered to participate. It seems to work as well as it can.

    I'll probably just continue reviewing what I think needs to be reviewed (particularly if no one else has given a detailed review). I can't bring myself to start doing an "audit" on someone's reviews to see if they are "worthy".

    It seems to me that we ought to want to read other's work, not just out of obligation but because it might just be interesting - if not educational.

    The selfishness of some would-be writers was brought home to me just today. An associate of mine has continually asked me to give detailed critiques of their writing on a monthly (sometimes weekly basis) over the past few years. Today I asked this person to have a read of something I'd written. This person said: "Honestly - I don't think I'll ever get around to it."

    That really pissed me off. From now on I "just won't be able to get around" to this person's stuff either.
     
  10. Daedalus
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    Daedalus Active Member

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    You shouldn't really be doing critiques for acknowledgement. I get what you're saying, though. It would be nice to be acknowledged for putting effort into someone else's work, but that isn't always the case. Besides, doing reviews not only helps them, it also helps you. So, I wouldn't be overly annoyed if they didn't respond to me, but it is good manners to thank someone for a critique.
     
  11. Bob Magness
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    Bob Magness Senior Member

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    What exactly do you mean by "review another reviewer" though? If you mean we shouldn't critique the method the person is using to do the review, then ok, I can go along with that. But if you mean we shouldn't say anything if we disagree with the reviewer on a point he/she is making about the posted work then I have to strongly disagree, and I hope that isn't the policy of this board.

    Take a post I made today as an example here. I disagreed with another reviewer but I did so in a respectful way and in a way that directly related to the posted work. I hope this type of thing is allowed and encouraged here.
     
  12. dandjurdjevic
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    dandjurdjevic Member

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    Acknowledgment of a review is just a manifestation of courtesy - not of payment or praise. Discourtesy might indicate selfishness, but it might not. It might indicate defensiveness, for example. I don't do reviews to receive courtesy. However if I discern selfishness (ie. that I've just been used - like the person I referred to in my previous post who wanted my help but "would never get around" to helping me) then that is a different matter.

    I agree with Bob that you should feel free to disagree with your reviewer - if you do so respectfully and courteously. I remember having some work critiqued at a workshop by a senior editor of a magazine (a person I call "The Dragon Lady"). She was brutal in her assessments. On this particular occasion she noted my use of dashes and said they were "never acceptable" in fiction. I begged to disagree and tried to suggest that it might not be such a hard and fast rule but she got really cranky and said: "If you don't want my advice, I won't give it!" I backed off and made apologetic noises. I think we should be able to have a decent discussion with our reviewers - just not an argument.
     
  13. Daedalus
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    Daedalus Active Member

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    I don't mean to speak like I'm an authority on any of this, because I'm not. However, there were a few people (who will remain nameless) that told me not to review another person's review. I was told that some people may become offended, thus starting a flame war. Now, that isn't some Gospel truth on the matter, and it would be ignorant for me to say otherwise. Hopefully someone like Cogito or Raven can clear that up.

    Sorry if I sounded officious in my earlier post.
     
  14. Bob Magness
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    Bob Magness Senior Member

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    Not at all, Daedalus, and thanks for clarifying.

    I can see where the concern of flame wars comes from, as I have seen plenty of them on other boards. I just wouldn't want the fear of flame wars to stifle good old fashioned discussion and debate. And there will always be people who take offense to criticism or disagreement but I don't think a discussion board can afford to cater to such people.

    I do think review threads should stay on topic, however, and any debate going on in the threads should revolve around the OP.
     
  15. garmar69
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    garmar69 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'll lend a bit of my thoughts on this.

    Bob, you were respectful and handled the situation just fine. That being said, disagreeing with someones review can open you up to a potential fight. It can also lead to some constructive debate that benefits everyone. It depends on how mature everyone involved is.

    Really, such as the case you provided, it's a matter of my interpretation versus yours. This can lead to problems, but not always. So tread very carefully.

    If I feel another reviewer didn't fully comprehend something, I will just voice my thoughts on the story and address that particular aspect without openly saying, "Hey, I disagree with you."

    Just my 2 cents of course. :)
     
  16. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    On the topic of "reviewing" reviews, there is no site rule against it. You are encouraged to avoid arguments, but expressing disagreement over a few points is not going to get you in trouble. It's not just the writer who learns from seeing critiques. It is everyone who reads the thread. Members new to critiquing can see how it is done, learn general guidelines in writing, and even see things that they might not have been able to articulate in regards to their own writing. Especially if you think someone is giving bad advice, or advice that might be a little too absolute: "never use dashes!" then it is good to disagree. They might see how they can revise theor opinion, and the author of the piece will not be misled. It is important to phrase you disagreement properly, though. No attacks on the person, no being rude, etc. Just note the point, state your opinion, and let the person who started the thread draw their conclusions.

    As for getting the thread moved, you could pm a moderator. It is deffinitely moving in a direction where it should go into the reviewing section.
     
  17. dandjurdjevic
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    dandjurdjevic Member

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    I sent a PM to Cog asking him to move the thread a while ago. Hopefully he'll get a chance to do it sometime soon.

    I agree that it is moving well into "review territory". When I originally started typing my first post on this thread I didn't intend to stray so much into the review side, but it soon became apparent to me that "responding to reviews" is intimately connected to reviewing!
    :redface:
     
  18. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, it seems to have been moved. It's an interesting topic, as always(ie, it's been done many times, but still fun to discuss).
     

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