The Subtle Art of Reviewing by Ariana Deralte (Thanks to Biichan for betaing.)

Reviewing is hard. It can take months or years of reading fan fiction before a reader chooses to become a reviewer. And even when someone does decide to review, the reviews mostly consist of such scintillating phrases as, "This is great! Write more!" Are they reviews? Of course. Are they of any use to the author other than as a small ego boost? Probably not.

Why review then? It takes a lot of effort to write a good review, and it can seem daunting if you've never done it before. However, a well written review is not only a joy for an author to read, but it is also an advertisement for you as the reviewer. When an author sees a fantastic review of their story, they are twice as likely to examine your own stories. Reviewing is a writing exercise that challenges you to be inventive and original, so why not get as much practice as possible? There are easy methods of bringing the quality and size of your reviews up to par. Simply look at the reviews on your own stories that bring you the most joy (or alternatively look at good reviews on other stories). What was different about them? What did the reviewer do and say that put a big smile on your face?

Still not sure what to say in a review? Here is a simple method of giving good reviews. Before you start reading a story, scroll down and click on the review button (or open up an email or writing program). Position the review window next to the story. Scroll up and start reading. As you read, note down the things you like, the things that you didn't enjoy, questions to ask, speculations and anything else that comes to mind. Did you like the opening line of the story? Tell the author that. Did their portrayal of a character please you? Do you want to know why a character made a particular decision? Ask (the worst the author can do is ignore your question). If you like a particular line, quote it in the review and tell them why you like it. If you spot a mistake, type nitpick or complaint and explain what their mistake was, whether a canon mistake, grammar or spelling. At the end of the review, summarize what you truly liked about the story. Read your review over once to check for typos, and that you've said all you wanted to say. Then click review.

Some other things -

Proper grammar and spelling please - A few typos are always excusable, but you have no excuse for typing 'u' instead of 'you' or other such shortenings. Show the author that your grammar and spelling are at least equal to (or even better than) the author's grammar and spelling. It helps to use full sentences as well, since it will make the review longer and allow your ideas (of praise and criticism) to flow.

Review every chapter - Stories are written in chaptered form for a reason. Each chapter should be able to stand on its own, and be examined on its own. A story may be perfect as a whole, but maybe you didn't like what was done with a certain character in chapter three, or perhaps there's an excellent scene in chapter seven. The author wants to know about this. Most of us are trying to improve our writing and if you go to the end of the story, how are we going to know that the horror scene in chapter eleven was worthwhile?

Reviewing is never easy, but it is an easy habit to form. You can start off right now by adding an extra sentence to the next review you're writing. Do the same to your next review, or maybe add in two extra sentences. Perhaps the next fantastic review you see will be your own.