1. Spacer
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    Spacer Active Member

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    Review Room Usage?

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Spacer, Jan 14, 2011.

    Reading through the current posts, I see (for example) someone explaining that 6Kwords is so long that many people won't read it in detail or feel like reviewing it.

    Yet the forum description says, "post short stories here". Is it really supposed to be just a paragraph or two?

    I suppose there are many different levels that someone might need help on, from paragraph level up to managing subplots within a novel. True, it would be tedious to post a hundred-page novel and expect or need help on the level of the paragraph, such as knowing to use them and understanding the concept of topic sentences.

    But, in a long work, someone might advise about active and passive voice and point to a general area; he would not be expected to quote and highlight each one individually. So long works should not scare people away, if the expectation is for higher-level help.

    I've not read back very far, but it seems that the trend in the Short Stories / Science Fiction sub-forum is to post 300 to 1000 words, without first proof-reading it himself!

    So, is it possible to get reviews on deeper topics, and does that go on from time to time? I'd hate to scare everyone off by posting a completed short story.
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think 6000 is too much in one bite. 2000 or less is about right for me if you want a more indepth review. 3-4500 I will give a more general review and ideas. Longer then I may give some comments on intial paragraphs.

    Part of it for me is reading it on screen.
     
  3. jo spumoni
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    jo spumoni Active Member

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    It's not that you're not allowed to post works that are 6,000 words. It's just that readers are reluctant to read such long posts. For me, reading things on the internet is always kind of a headache because of spacing issues, so I almost never read something longer than about 1,000 words online. Reviewing takes me a long time because in order to really understand a work and write a helpful review, I really have to go through every paragraph; I'm capable of giving good "macro-advice", but in order to do that, I have to put a lot of effort. Therefore, I probably wouldn't review a post of 6,000 words.

    So you CAN post something that long, but if you want more helpful reviews, I really recommend you post something shorter.
     
  4. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    For me, the review room should not be used to Polish the piece posted, but rather to fnd deficiencies in your writing style and skills.
     
  5. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    My reviewing style is as SashaMeredith describes: I try to address the writer's style and skills, praising what they've done well and making suggestions as to what they should practice more (or in some cases just be more aware of). Obviously, some reviewers go for the line-by-line edits, and some go for more general "You have too much of this, try for that instead."

    Post length varies quite a bit. We won't penalize you for posting something that's particularly long or short, although I suspect the mods have their own private cap (so that someone couldn't post, say, 30,000 words). The reviewing / critiquing is strictly a volunteer thing, so some pieces are going to get more or fewer reviews, but that's not related to the site policy.

    I agree with the original poster that the really short segments which we often find in the Review Room aren't all that helpful. My own "preferred length" would be closer to a complete scene, so I can get a feel for how characterization, action, dialogue if any and setting / pacing all come together.

    But there are a lot of new folks out there who are just starting out, and some of them are stuck in the "I wrote half a page! Yippee! Now, to get it critiqued..." stage that a fair percentage of writers seem to go through. As a social ettiquette thing, it seems reasonable to sort of smile and nod and give the best critique you can under the circumstances. I mean, every writer's journey is a bit different, but a lot of us do go through the same stages, and there's no way I'm going to be snotty to someone who just happens to be going through one of the stages I recognise. Or, rather, if I am snotty, it isn't for that particular reason.

    In other words -- yes, really short segments are common in the Review Room. You don't have to submit one yourself. There isn't a mod-led shunning of longer pieces; they just get fewer critiques because the line-by-liners would have to do more work, and some of the rest of us have trouble reading long works on the computer monitor. That said, some people prefer to review longer pieces. It's something of a diceroll to see how many people respond, so you might as well post what you feel comfortable with and see how the dice land.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    note to mods:

    it may be best to change the category explanation to:

    that would help avoid folks posting thousands of words-long text that few will bother to read, while also help the writers avoid diminishing their chances of paid publication by making the whole story available to be read for free...
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    This is addressed in How to Use the Review Room.
     
  8. Spacer
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    Spacer Active Member

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    So, "style" and general writing skill level can be worked on with vignettes or a single (short) scene from a story. Help with integrating subplots needs to be arranged elsewhere, probably.

    Two comments about reading on the computer make me think that if I do make longer works available for whatever reason (private reviews among friends?), I should use a PDF file or ePub, and make sure it is nicely formatted and presented.

    Yes, that would help.

    No, this point is not addressed there.
     
  9. KrisG
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    KrisG Member

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    It does say:
    Post a reasonably-sized excerpt for critique. You want to post a large enough excerpt to reveal any bad writing habits, but not so much that potential critiquers balk at tackling it. Consider limiting the excerpt to a section with which you are having problems. There's no exact "best size", but it you can't fit it into a single post, it's probably too much.

    Although, I don't entirely agree with this, with regard to this sub forum. This forum is apparently for Short stories, not excerpts of short stories?
     
  10. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    Within reason of course. You could post your ten thousand word short story here. Some will read it, fewer willgive you setup advice for improvement. After that, you will be unable to publish your short story, as it has already been published.
     
  11. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    A short story can be anything from a flash fiction piece of a few words to I think aroud 12-15,000 words is still classed as a short story.

    When I write a short story it is usually around 600-2000 words long. I am not going to be posting an excerpt of a 600 word story that took me twenty minutes to write, I am only going to publish on my website anyway. It can go up.

    Think about it what are you most likely to review/read/critique use your own limits as a guide. Why are you writing your short story? I have no intention of professionally publishing mine anyway.
     
  12. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think you are being a bit to literal with the title. If its an excerpt from a Short Story. Where does it belong? The Novel? Script? Poetry? Short Story of course.

    Besides its easier to have just Short Story instead of two forums. Short Story and Excerpts of Short Stories.

    Its just simple and easy.
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    As Kris pointed out, it IS addressed. In addition to the point she quoted,
    That is why you should exercise judgment with regards to how large a piece of writing you post. You should be posting enough to allow critiquers to evaluate your writing, but not so much they set it aside to tackle later (later rarely ever comes).

    There may come a point that you need to post the entire piece, if the writing is okay in each smaller sample but you are having problems making it all hang together. However, chances are you will by then be able to find those problems yourself.
     
  14. The Degenerate
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    The Degenerate Active Member

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    The problem with posting only excerpts of a short story is that you're missing out critiquing a vital skill: learning how to write a complete story in merely a few thousand words. By complete story I'm assuming only the bare basics: that a conflict is present, a character is working through that conflict to achieve a goal, and regardless of the outcome, the character goes through some sort of arc.

    I noticed that a lot of the stories posted here are more of, "Hey, how is my writing? Should I continue with this?" than actual polished pieces of writing. This is why I'm more heistant to review. Critiquing exists to help a writer who is already confident with his story and has polished it to the best of his or her ability so that they can have an objective, critical eye look at it. It's part of the shared literary conversation. It should never exist to get validation of writing potential or works in progress.

    Of course, considering so many stories get posted here and the workshop is large, it's difficult to get that workshop feel, so nobody wants to slug through longer stories in-depth. It really is an exhausting process, especially when you have four or five other ten-twenty page stories to critique. But it's an integral one nevertheless.

    If I could offer a suggestion, it may be helpful to take a handful of the writers here who are really serious about the craft and give them their own private sub-section to critique longer, complete work. Perhaps a private area, unless that's the point of the paid members area. This could help eliminate the crits that are only there to get to the two crit minimum, at least.
     
  15. zaffy
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    zaffy Contributing Member

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    When critiquing, the reviewer needs to read the previous inputs.
    If the story is too long and there are already half a dozen reviews then that adds up to a lot of concentration. I have reviewed a few stories and each one short. I have noticed some reviewers do not read the previous reviews. This leads to repetition, and I feel a lack of interest in what others have to say.
     
  16. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm quite sympathetic to that, I must say, Zaffy.

    Yet there's some point to repetition: a lone voice may be readily discounted, but a chorus - saying perhaps, 'this bit sucks' - cannot be dismissed so lightly.

    More fundamentally, I think if the review process is as much about helping the reviewer as the reviewed, then repetition is immaterial.
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I disagree. It is far better to take on a critique with no preconceptions. If you end up making the same points, then the author can conclude that those points really do jump out at the reader.

    Also, critique is more an exercise for the critiquer, to practice identifying problems and coming up with solutions.
     
  18. zaffy
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    zaffy Contributing Member

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    Art and cogito, point taken but ...

    it seems to me the reviewer who reads the previous reviews say something like this ...

    'I will not comment on such and such because that has already been covered'

    Or

    'I agree with the points already mentioned'

    Or

    'As such and such says, you really need to'

    Maybe I am wrong but sometimes I get the impression people read just the story and then compose a review repeating everything that has already been said.
     
  19. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Here's how I generally approach the problem of cumulative comments on a writing site.

    1. I read the posted work before reading any previous reviews, because I like to come to the work without being influenced by what others have already said.

    2. I make notes as I am reading.

    3. After reading and jotting down my notes I look at the other reviewer's comments.

    4. I write my own review.

    In step 3, if I see that another point has been made multiple times in other reviews, I may leave it out or write a short sentence indicating I agree. Alternatively, I may focus only on an issue that I feel hasn't yet been addressed.
     
  20. jo spumoni
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    jo spumoni Active Member

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    It may be better to review with no preconceptions, but the truth is that no one really does it. The first reviewer almost inevitably sets a tone for the next reviewer and so on; so if your first reviewer is very harsh, you may get a group of exceptionally harsh reviews. However, you may also get a group of reviewers that think the first person was too harsh and instead give you a more positive review (this is not to say that "positive" reviews are more helpful; in fact, "negative" reviews are often the most telling).

    My point is that everyone feels obliged to read the thread first and understand what the general consensus is. The reviewer sometimes agrees with the consensus and other times disagrees. Sometimes, as Steerpike says, they prefer to focus on something that hasn't been addressed by the other reviews. And sometimes the reviewers prefer not to go through what has already been said (especially if it involves something small, like going through all the grammar).

    I don't really know whether this reality is good or bad, but this seems to be what goes on.
     
  21. Xeniyah
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    Xeniyah Member

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    I am not a very experienced reviewer yet, but this is how I review any piece of work on the site:

    - Pick a piece of work which has an attractive title
    - Read the entire story/poem/novel etc.
    - Making mental notes of things that are really positive or negative
    - Read the other reviews to see what was addressed and how it was addressed
    - Write my own review with all gathered information

    I have to admit, it is harder if a piece of work is very long, it works discouraging... So maybe it is an idea to make a section where there is a minimum word lenght and the reviewing is about the flow of the story: integration of paragraphs etc.
     

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