Reviews for Say What?: A 101 Guide to Reviewing Chaptered Stories
Crimson While Stealing chapter 1 . 9/27/2016
This was really helpful. Now I know what to do when reviewing and I can improve my stories. Thank you.
luluhunnie chapter 1 . 5/15/2014
this is seriously all the writing websites' gospel right here when it comes to helping a writer out! if only everyone could read this before or after they read a story, b/c this seriously helps. a lot more readers would really get into a story if they would pay more attention to what they liked and loved :)))
DragonOwl chapter 1 . 4/29/2014
Thank you for this! Sometimes I feel my reviews are not helpful at all, but after reading this I know some extra points I can include to make then better. I really found your examples useful in this as they illustrated the point will and showed my why that type of review would be better. As well as that the easy to read layout made it easier to search through the article.
Moon Prynces chapter 1 . 10/13/2013
Wow. You put so much of what I've thought recently into words! I hope this gets through to a lot more people. Clicking on this guide wasn't a fully thought-through move on my part, but it did pique my interest. And as I'm between doing laundry right now and deciding what story I should go back and review, I decided to give it a go.

First off, I'm more of a fanfiction writer. It kinda makes me cringe to tell anyone because I feel like most (those who aren't into it) are just going to judge from that. I have tried my hand at original stories, but only when inspiration strikes. Also, I've been lazy at re-editing them lately to keep up with my growth as a writer and improve what's been already written. But my point was that I've been writing a fanfiction recently and so much of what you've said in this little guide is what I feel when I put up a new chapter. I want to hear what people think and if the writing evoked some emotion from them and what they didn't like and what they think/hope will happen next! I wanna know if anything was confusing or lacking so that I can improve or make things clear when I update! Alas...

Honestly, I'm one of the (few?) people that leaves terribly long reviews when I do take the time to do so. I usually review when a story has struck such a chord in me or really taken me on an emotional rollercoaster. Then, I feel like I must let the author know what their work has done to me – pointing out tiny details and instances and dialogue, commenting on the characters or the story, talking about the interaction or chemistry between characters, telling them what I loved and liked and what might have seemed strange. So, I've already been the kind of reviewer an author would love to hear from. I put so much time and effort into reviews because it's just the same as writing a story: I'm putting a piece of myself into it and giving it away. Also, as a writer myself, I know what it's like to receive feedback and how disappointing it is to get the lackluster type. Receiving feedback at all is nice, but sometimes I just get angry and frustrated with thoughtless, quickly-typed responses.

I liked how organized you were with all these sections and sub-sections. I didn't actually consider the difference between the "review" and "criticism" parts of a review. I'd always been eager to talk about what happened in a story/chapter, but in the past was uncomfortable in criticizing others. I guess it was partly due to my own lack of experience so it wasn't easy to be critical of other's hard work, and I just felt bad about saying anything that could be considered offensive. I have since grown out of that, but I wish I had seen this guide (or something similar) sooner. Your examples on what is considered constructive criticism would've put me at ease and I might've been more eager in helping others improve. Sometimes I still find myself writing more of a "Constructive Review" without much "Constructive Criticism".

And I absolutely love that you addressed some of my greatest irritations – the "update soon" and vague, short words of praise. Sometimes being told something like, "Looking forward to more!" or "I can't wait to see what happens next!" is better than the dreaded "update soon". Your sarcasm in that entire sub-section for it, as well as the one following, made me chuckle. The comparisons about the shirt were a great way to show people how ridiculous they sound.

There were some lines in there, specifically, that make me want to quote them because they seriously capture how I feel and things that I've thought but never written down. My favorites were, "The author has spent hours, days, perhaps even months slaving over this chapter. Virtual blood, sweat, and tears are splattered all over the word doc. The author has taken great pains to craft each scene, each paragraph, each word. They want to know that none of that was done in vain." That paragraph was so beautifully put; it seems like something I need to hang up on my wall or something. Also, when you addressed "Constructive Reviews" and said, "I know when I post a chapter, I'm always nervous because these kinds of questions will plague me" before going on to list some of them. Lastly, "I love when readers scream/cry/flail/laugh/keysmash and express very strong emotions." YES. Just, so much yes! Sometimes I would love for a lengthy review (my own or someone else's) to open a discussion about stories and characters and everything in-between. But then I think maybe I'm way more enthusiastic than other people, so such a conversation would be one-sided.

Is it strange that as a writer I get emotional over the characters when I'm in the process of writing them? As I'm currently putting two beloved cartoon characters through emotional turmoil and ridiculous-ness, I'm finding myself laughing almost hysterically at how things are working out. I guess because before being a writer I'm a reader and I write things that I want to read, so I react to the things I've written as if I'm just another reader seeing them for the first time. Maybe that was confusing and poorly put.

Anyway, thank you so much for capturing what so many of us feel and want to say!

AlysonSerenaStone chapter 1 . 7/5/2013
Hum...I found this very helpful and I may make this a required reading for my the writing forum I moderate on. We all need to work on our reviewing. I find the constructive reviews I receive to be the most helpful. It tells me what I need to look out for when I writing. I find constructive reviews to be the hardest to give to some stories. They are just so wonderful the way they are. Anyway, thanks for writing this.
let.this.go chapter 1 . 5/17/2013
Thank you for writing this! I'm a constructive reviewer when I do review, but I'm not a consistent reviewer. This has opened my eyes to the importance of reviews, so I will definitely be leaving more from now on and I will try to leave more helpful info.
nothingtralala chapter 1 . 3/18/2013
Thank you for writing this! :) This was so much helpful, especially about the constructive criticism. I really like what you wrote.
lollipop addict chapter 1 . 2/26/2013
Gave me a lot to think about. I realised that I usually just write OMG! LOOOVE! In a review. I think I'll try to write a little more elaborate reviews from here on.
Noellesco chapter 1 . 2/19/2013
Ahhh, oh my gosh. I'm so glad I came across this. I totally agree with everything you've said and it makes me wish more people read this essay. That said, you should probably advertise it more, hahaha.

- I laughed at the CR bit. Mainly because CR stands for Comfort Room (aka the bathroom/toilets) in some countries. xD
- "...or the style is needs work..." This sounded awkward to me. ;)

Thank you for the read. I'm jealous. You have such an awesome writing style!
my princess ending chapter 1 . 1/25/2013
I am truly thankful for this. It turns out that I always talk about nothing when I review a story. Hahah(: Thanks again, it helped me a lot and now, I have stuff to actually write about when I leave a review.

hopelessromantic0160 chapter 1 . 1/22/2013
WOW! I never realized how unhelpful my reviews were. Thanks, this is actually very useful. I will DEFINITELY refer to this when writing my next review. :)
I especially liked all the analogies you used; they allowed your voice to come through. I also really liked, and agree, with the part at the end saying, "We are the future J.K. Rowlings, Margaret Atwoods, and Stephan Kings." -SO TRUE!

Hope this review follows some of the guidelines you outlined. :D
fellintothemoon chapter 1 . 1/22/2013
V, my darling! This amazing spectacular guide is now featured on ADoR. You deserve it so much. Here's the review:

Melissa Thinks: I know what you’re thinking: this is not an actual story. Yes, you would be right about that, but there are a few things you should consider before skipping over this piece entirely: 1) it’s written by the ever so lovely and legendary Vena Cava, 2) it covers the always controversial and extremely important topic of how exactly one should review a story, and 3) I mean... it’s Vena.

Being a part of a site that reviews stories can teach you a thing or two about the importance of reviewing which is exactly why this is an essential piece of writing in our small community. Vena outlines a few of the necessities that make up a helpful, critically constructive review. She keeps things organized with an easy to follow format and includes examples that make the read fun. All points and suggestions made were concise, helpful, and extremely easy for the average reader to integrate into their daily Fictionpress using lives.

I cannot recommend this piece enough to all the readers and writers out there. Fictionpress is filled with young aspiring writers looking to improve their writing and bring it to new levels; something that a simple “Update please” or “Good job” can’t achieve. Vena’s guide was extremely helpful to me and I hope it can be to you too.

It only takes a few moments to read, so I strongly recommend you click the link above.
liamafra chapter 1 . 1/22/2013
Thank you. I've been afraid to review for the past 9 years, mainly because English is not my first language and I'm afraid of making mistakes, but also because I've never believed that the author may actually be interested in what I've to say, I always think: "someone must have said that before me" or "the author has to many reviews to read them all". You made me realize that the reviews I'm able of writing are good enough for the author care about it.
InkWitch chapter 1 . 1/21/2013
VENA! I am very upset with you right now!
YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO GIVE SPOILER ALERTS BEFORE GIVING A SPOILER (Referring to the McSteamy line)! (Not a GA fan though, so I have no idea if he actually dies or not)
Bad Vena! Bad, bad Vena!

Ah. "We are the future J.K. Rowlings, Margaret Atwoods, and Stephen Kings." What a lovely line. If all writers could firmly have faith in them like this, we'd see magic everywhere!

I love that you posted this. First of all, you are an excellent writer and MY GOD YOUR VOICE NEVER DIMINISHES DOES IT? I feel like when people write non-fictional stuff on FP, they tend to lose their voice a little bit (at least, in the ones I've read) but yours didn't at all. I LOVE YOU. And your voice. I want to be friends with you.

The explanation of CC really helped me because I realised that a lot of my reviews, however well-meaning, are destructive. And I really don't want that to happen, that my review could demoralize somebody. I know very well how awful it is to get a hateful review.
On the other hand, what happens if an author is extremely amateurish and his/her work has a lot of flaws? I feel like I should criticise all of them because then they'll get the feedback they posted their work for; but how do you criticise SO MUCH without sounding like a horrible bitch?

I loved your examples in the beginning btw. Thank you times million for writing this- and do tell me if my review is up to mark ;)
Moira Inori chapter 1 . 1/21/2013
Ahaha, I'm feeling a bit nervous about posting a review to this, but I just wanted to thank you for that very informative and very helpful guide. All my reviews in the future will have to go through your "qualities of a constructive review" checklist.

Although, at the risk of sounding narcissistic and self-centered at the extreme, it was the way that you captured the sentiments of an author awaiting reviews and feedback that struck me the most. So, in addition, thank you too for making me feel a little bit more normal for acting and feeling as if I'm starved for reviews. _
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