1. RobT
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    RobT Active Member

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    What about a review template?

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by RobT, Apr 1, 2011.

    Just wondering what peoples thoughts are on having a generic (document) template that covers the main elements of things that would be useful in a review.

    By having a review format that by consensus people agree is useful it may help those who're unsure of how to review, or what to put in a review. The upshot of this would hopefully be to increase the confidence of the "novice" reviewer and an increase in the number of "quality" reviews people receive. This obviously doesn't have to be cast in stone, but a document template with some generic headings, explanations of what would be useful, and maybe an example of a "good" review were my thoughts.

    The highlevel type of thing I'm thinking about heading wise, would be along the lines of below.

    Interested to know your thoughts on this idea, and comments on what would be useful headings etc . . .

    Plot:
    Does the action make sense.

    Pacing:
    Too fast, too slow

    Hook:
    Does it grab you from the start.

    Characterisation:
    Are they believable

    Names:
    Are they good.

    Dialog:
    Does the dialogue fit the characters and story.

    Point of view:
    Is it consistent?

    Tags:
    Does it have bad speech tags, over used tags like “she exploded.”, “he mumbled.”, “they gasped.” etc . . .

    Originality / Creativity:
    Is it original, clichéd, imaginative etc . . .

    Spelling and grammar:
    Obvious mistakes.

    Additional thoughts and observations:
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Critiquing is a creative skill. A template limits creativity. If you wish to use one yourself to organize your thoughts, feel free. But the site will not endorse any such template.
     
  3. RobT
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    RobT Active Member

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    Not everyone has natural creative skills, sometimes these skills have to be taught.

    Why do you believe, a template limit creativity to a point where it wouldn't help someone who was unsure how to critique, or what to put in a critique?

    There are enough posts throughout the forum from people effectively say "Help! I don't really know what to do." Is there an alternative solution to this problem? Is it even a problem?
     
  4. NateSean
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    NateSean Active Member

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    Critiquing isn't really a skill that needs to be "taught" per se. Watch an episode of Kitchen Nightmares sometime to see a form of "critique". That critique comes from years of experience in cooking, working in a restaurant and being a loud British person.

    If you write a science fiction story, I am going to use my experience in writing and reading science fiction, my world knowledge, and my general grasp of grammar to help you improve your story.


    Because if they don't know how to critique something, your template is going to imply that there are set in stone rules for doing so. They're going to be more focused on making their critique fit the rules than on doing what the critique is supposed to be meant for.

    Not here. Maybe in other forums where "You wrote this really good" posts are common. But from what I've seen here, most of the posters are very adept at providing needed critiques, without a template.
     
  5. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Actually I think some sort of guide as to writing a short critique would be good, maybe not a template though, just a few point headings which people could talk to. For the piece I got critiqued I was very happy with the feedback I got back, but I would have preferred maybe a bit more, (probably most of us do) and maybe something like a short critique model would encourage more to take the time.

    Also, I sometimes wonder if the critiques I give are helpful or too critical or picky or whatever. Maybe something like that would help me.

    Cheers.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    We have a brief guide: Constructive Critiques.

    Furthermore, the purpose of the Reviewing forum is to discuss critiquing strategies and problems.
     
  7. Serieve
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    Serieve Member

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    I think that, for people who have never reviewed anything in their lives, a set of questions somewhat like what you have here and what Cogito has provided a link for makes a nice push for them, but if you gave them a template, some of them would grow dependent upon it and never give it up, thereby ultimately undermining their capabilities as reviewers.

    I think that I see your point, though--about the first review being the hardest. Especially considering that amateur writers are usually very hesitant and unsure of their ability to criticize anything, or terribly afraid of offending someone.

    Something that I think would be really helpful, though, might be a sort of glossary of terms, for words like "Pacing" and "Tags." Not because they can't find out what those terms mean, but so that they can more fully understand what exactly they're looking at and being asked to talk about.
     
  8. IgnisTemper
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    IgnisTemper New Member

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    I would agree that templates are a crutch, useful at first, but, inevitably, bad for personal growth. We might also want to keep in mind that critiquing is not a beneficial exercise for only those being reviewed, but also for the reviewer.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    And that, my friends, really is the point.
     
  10. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    What if a template like the one RobT provided was a sticky, so that people who have no idea how to critique and don't know what to say can use it to get started. So it's an option, but not something anyone feels forced to use. Then, once they get more comfortable critiquing on their own, they don't have to use it, and if they have other points that the template doesn't address they can mention those points as well.

    I mean, I can see how we don't want to impose an overly structured method on anyone, but some people (esp newbies) might find it helpful.
     
  11. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have been evaluating speeches for nearly fifteen years. I know I do it well because I compete on a regular basis with my country's top evaluators. Speakers Club has a template to follow a basic idea - and far from being a crutch stifling creativity it helps give initital security so people start to do. The more a person does the better they become.

    Two of the best speech evaluators in the country - you still see the 'guidelines' in their evaluation (we also evaluate the evaluators) but the creativity is also dripping from them. At present most reviews in the review room here are not creative, they are great to have but generally lacklustre. We are also no getting a lot of reviews some pieces remain unreviewed.

    The principles involved in evaluating speech and reviewing written work are very similar. The template suggested here is so basic that the only way someone can be uncreative with it is by answering with one or two word answers - using it properly there is plenty of scope for creativity. It is very similar also to the tick boxes, and evaluation sheets that are used in short story contests.

    Unless something is 'taught' and not many here have time to do full blown teaching how to review workshops - this is a good place to start. Like Mallory suggested maybe use it as a sticky it is clear and simple to use. Someone who wants to can use it and learn, someone who feels they are better than it can ignore it.

    The other alternative would be maybe a board with reviews - where the reviewers can be reviewed. At present this site claims to be about critiquing but we have no critiquing contests, no facility for reviewers to learn improve and workshop. And that shows in the review room. At present the site makes reviewing in practice a second place to writing.

    Whereas I actually agree critiquing should be the most important part it improves everyone.
     
  12. Serieve
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    Serieve Member

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    Hm, what if we did a thread that was designed as a sort of... crash course in reviewing? Something that takes the listed review prompts (the template, I guess), defines some terms, offers some advice, and then shows examples of different people doing an short review (maybe on the same piece, maybe not?).

    That would not only be a starting point, but a big push, huh?

    Then again, you could argue that the struggle involved in forming your first review is beneficial in itself. Maybe it helps build confidence, or encourages you to say what you think in your own way, rather than trying to formalize things according to a template or a review 'course.'
     

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