1. Hudsonian
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    Hudsonian New Member

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    The Perfect Reviewer

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Hudsonian, Oct 16, 2011.

    What is the perfect reviewer in your opinion? That rare person that comes along (or you wish came along) and gave you a great critique? For me, the perfect reviewer would have the following traits.

    Never attacks the writer: I think that's a given. I know sometimes a critique can be misjudged as an attack, so I'm referring to obvious direct attacks to the author. As well as smart ass criticisms as well.

    Gives critiques, not opinions: Not to say that opinions aren't appreciated but they don't do much to help the writer. There's always good opinions and bad opinions for a given work. What's more important is pointing out what can be fixed.

    Gives not just the negatives but the positives: I think this is an important aspect that most reviewers I stumble upon forget. I know it might sounds silly to add the positives, since it might come off as ego inflating or just to be nice. But pointing out the positive aspects is equally important as pointing out the negative aspects. Pointing out the positive aspects helps a writer identify his/her strengths and the direction they should start heading towards. Sometimes when I get no "well these are your strengths", I feel like I'm left in the dark.

    Sends the critique on time: Not to say that it has to be exactly on time. But it helps when they send something within about two months, rather than wait a year (at which case I've pretty much set the novel in stone). Or worse, say they would give it a look and then never respond. I rather they just say that they don't have time for it. Rather than leave me hanging and wondering if they've read it (or if they hated it too much to give a response).

    Shows how to fix the problems: If someone's going to give a major critique, I wish they would at least suggest how to solve the problem. One example is of my first novel. The reviewer has said that the first third of the novel is slow, which I get. But they never say exactly what the problem is or how it can be solved. So I'm left hanging there.

    Is interested in reviewing my next work: This is a given. It's always nice to have the perfect reviewer ready to review the next work, regardless of how they felt about the previous one.


    I'm pretty sure that's it for the qualities I'd find in the perfect reviewer. Pointing out grammar is nice but I know that's tedious and there's always an editor that can do that.

    On another note, if anyone thinks they have those qualities for reviewing, I'd love to send my work for critique. Not sure if you'll like it or hate it but I'd appreciate it either way (as long as there's a level of respect). Likewise, if anyone has some writing that they'd want someone to review, I'd love to give it a try. I always attempt to follow the above qualities. Maybe you'll appreciate my critique, maybe you won't. But hopefully I'll give a critique that's full and satisfying. Plus, I'm pretty laid back and open minded with my tastes.
     
  2. ShadowScribbler
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    ShadowScribbler Member

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    Actually, the things you look for in reviewers is pretty much what I look for, too. My work has had such limited exposure mostly because I want reviewers that can say and do something about my work instead of telling me "wow, that's pretty good". I don't mean to sound arrogant or anything, but you usually have a fair sense of whether your work is good or not, right? Having someone tell me this makes me want to bang my head against a brick wall.

    "Yes, I know, BUT --"

    The most important thing is to know how to differentiate between the writer and the actual writing, the story and the form. Those are things one needs to review separately in order to construct evenly.

    If you want, you can message me and I can take a look at your stuff. I've been bored a lot lately and since my writing is paused, I'd love to have something to edit or at least review.
     
  3. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    I for one, find it hilarious when someone tries to attack me for my work. In one of my pieces, the irony of the title went well over someone's head, while others understood it.

    A good reviewer tries to understand why a person did what they did, then tell them if it worked or if they are confused by it. They are honest on how they feel about the work, but they refrain from being dismissive. They state how they feel and then explain why they feel that way. Also, being a polite and overall pleasant person is always a plus.

    I agree with the points you made. However the grammar Nazi in me makes me pounce on any error I see.

    However, I would recommend posting your work in the workshop section or make sure you keep a list of whom you send your work to, on and off site. Records for legal stuff, you know. I'd be willing to read your work, but will probably be pretty slow in returning it.
     
  4. Silver. Fox
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    Silver. Fox Member

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    THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS!!!!

    Personally, I like reviewers (not that I've had many that I actually call reviewers...) to give just as many opinions as critiques. Got an opinion? Let it fly. "You thought that was disgusting? Cool, now tell me why..." I like to know what people think, and trying to get something published, I REALLY like to know what X guy thinks or X girl thinks who is Y years old, etc etc etc.

    As you stated, I also like people who give negs and positives too. It's nice to hear, "hey man, you need help here, here, there, here, and here..." but when that's all you hear, it's kinda painful, y'know?

    I like someone who is always (okay mostly...) open to talk, whether it's about a WIP or just life in general. Maybe this one is because I hate feeling like I'm using people...

    but most of all, I can't stand reviewers who just kinda say "wow...this is good."
    Just like ShadowScribbler, it's definitely not out of arrogance and I definitely don't want more of a compliment. I just feel that everything I do, especially everything I write could be much better. It just kinda leaves me brokenhearted when that's all someone has to say on the topic and there's really nothing you can say to convince them to say something...useful.
     
  5. ShadowScribbler
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    ShadowScribbler Member

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    Personally, I like reviewers (not that I've had many that I actually call reviewers...) to give just as many opinions as critiques. Got an opinion? Let it fly. "You thought that was disgusting? Cool, now tell me why..." I like to know what people think, and trying to get something published, I REALLY like to know what X guy thinks or X girl thinks who is Y years old, etc etc etc.

    As you stated, I also like people who give negs and positives too. It's nice to hear, "hey man, you need help here, here, there, here, and here..." but when that's all you hear, it's kinda painful, y'know?

    Right?

    I have noticed one quirk I have is that I need to talk about what I'm writing. I need to tell someone and I need that person to be interested in what I'm saying, to tell me if I'm letting my imagination run wild or if I'm thinking sensibly. It helps me develop my ideas much easier and better than writing them down immediately. In that sense, I am blessed to have amazing friends who care (or do a HECK of a job pretending they do) about my stories and plots and stuff. These people are the sort that will ask questions and tell me their point of view, which I love.

    The thing with compliments is, they scare me. I'm not going to lie. It scares the crap out of me when people compliment my work too much because I don't think it's nearly that good and when they tell me that they love it I'm like "BUT DON'T YOU SEE IT COULD BE BETTER IF --"

    I am aware that it is borne out of my own insecurity, but it's not something I can really change. The fact that I show them my work is proof enough that I consider it's not utter garbage, and though it's always nice to hear compliments, sometimes they are really counter-producing. Without criticism, we cannot improve. This is factual.
     
  6. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    I'm not sure that there is such a beast as a perfect reviewer, just as there's no such beast as a perfect writer or reader. But I don't think I would want a reviewer to be perfect. If he gets my work wrong, misunderstands what I was trying to say etc, then that's as much my problem as his. I have to assume that as a reviewer he's going to see the same things as other readers, and if he gets it wrong, they will too. My writing may be perfect (well that's unlikely), but if people don't understand it, respond to it, like it, then it's still failed.

    Cheers.
     
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  7. TurtleWriter
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    TurtleWriter Member

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    I agree on most points brought up in this thread.

    Such as a constructive dialogue about both the negatives and positives of my writing. I haven't done any writing for entertainment itself, but I've done several papers for college. It was helpful for me to know both the strong and weak points were in my story.

    However, on the flip side, I actually don't like people telling me what to do unless I ask that of them. Some people seem to feel the need to freely tell me how to shape my work. I don't like it when people do it in such a gun-ho fashion. I'm okay with such suggestions if they ask me if I would like them. Or if they critique me and I ask, "How do you think I could make this better," then again, I'm okay with such advice.

    I don't think, in my humble personal opinion, that critiquers are their to help you write your work. I think they are their to tell you where your work is weak and where your work is strong (in my ideal critiquer). Then it's up to the writer to make the changes and present the work again to be critiqued again. Afterwards, you repeat until "perfection."
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    For the most part, anything the reviewer has to offer can be valuable in some respect.

    The only thing that is really bad, in my view, are the reviewers who feel the need to go line-by-line and rewrite the work they are reviewing.
     
  9. TurtleWriter
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    TurtleWriter Member

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    That would drive me insane!
     
  10. L a u r a
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    L a u r a Senior Member

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    Gives positive feedback: As a writer, I need to know what's good. After reading my own work over and over again, I lose interest. Perhaps a line that I think sounds dumb is brilliant in another person's eyes. Plus, praise makes me smile. Everyone likes to get compliments. ;)

    Points out EVERYTHING that's wrong with my piece: Grammar, flow, voice, plot, characterization...I want everything spelled out. If I missed an apostrophe someplace, I want to know so that I don't look like an idiot. If my plot sucks, tell me. Be blunt. Of course, there's a fine line between being blunt and being mean...and my dream critiquer could define that line.

    Be specific: Just saying that my plot blows won't help me. WHAT is so bad about it? Is it unrealistic? Okay....WHAT is unrealistic about it? Give me specific examples. Quote my writing. Not only that, but tell me how to FIX my suckiness.
     
  11. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    I think that some reviewers are harsh and rather attack the writer instead of helping the person to improve. The only thing those reviewers care about is earning money. I do not believe that there is a perfect reviewer. Some of them are cheap and only care about themselves. I call those "The Polluted Reviewers." They are polluted in their own selfish ways.

    The other group of reviewers would just say "This story is alright," give them a score, and move on. I think those kind of reviewsers are guilty that they may lose their friendship with the writer, so they review in a nice manner, and not in a selfish manner. I call these "The Cookie Clutter Reviewers."

    The other reviewers actually take the time to review the work constructively. They even offer additional help even though the writer feels that he/she doesn't need it. I call those reviewers "The Time Value Reviewers."
     
  12. matty@!#
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    matty@!# New Member

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    Yep, second that from another 'newb,' spot on.
     
  13. Acid001
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    Acid001 Member

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    You're right, it is important to show the writer a bit of praise. If all a writer gets is sarcastic criticism, then they're unlikely to continue writing. Operant conditioning in action.

    That said, if there's absolutely nothing to praise the writer about, have a field day. I don't profess to having expert knowledge of the craft, but I think lying in a review is probably a bad thing.
     
  14. foosicle
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    foosicle Member

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    Critiques are opinions, in my opinion.
     
  15. Alycan
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    Alycan New Member

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    This is one of those posts that makes me happy. I'm not the only one.

    I've let people read my work so far, one of them is totally on the same wavelength as I am, but its always "Amazing" and "Awesome" where I'd also like to hear that a certain aspect didn't come over as clearly and how he would've done it.

    Not tell me what to do, but what he would've done. Thats the kind of reviewer that I want. Objective, always friendly and ever helping.
     
  16. PumpkinLord45
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    PumpkinLord45 New Member

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    The perfect reviewer to me is my mother or Creative Writing teacher. Both are very honest in what they say and tell me how it is. Once I get done with something, they are usually the first to read it.
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The perfect reviewer is the writer of the piece, but only if able to step back and view the piece more or less objectively. And that takes a lot of practice.

    But no one knows the actual intent like the writer. Unfortunately, that's also the greatest handicap of the writer donning the critiquer hat. An outside reader without preconceptions will encounter the ambiguities that make the author's intent unclear, and the mistaken assumptions that are revealed in the analysis are very instructive to the writer.

    So the writer-turned-critiquer has to try to misread intent in every passage to overcome that handicap.

    But knowledge 0f the true intent will help more than it hinders. You will catch nuances that just slightly off, that a reader less familiar with the story will overlook.
     

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