The Review Game
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As a writer here on Fictionpress, I'm pretty sure that I can say that everyone here wants one thing more than anything else - reviews. But we have all encountered those "crappy" reviews... the ones that are perhaps two sentences: "luvd it. update soon." What makes these kinds of reviews "crappy?" And how can we avoid giving (and, in turn, receiving) these kinds of reviews?

First, and perhaps most obvious, READ THE STORY THAT YOU ARE GOING TO REVIEW. Many times, these kinds of reviews result because the reviewer has not actually read the story. In order to leave a good review, you must read the story.

Second, and perhaps most importantly, BE SPECIFIC. This is what is considered CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM (concrit). If you liked part of the story, tell the writer WHICH PART, that way, he or she can use their own writing as an example and hopefully write well again! If you didn't like part of the story, tell WHY and cite specific examples so the author can improve. Flames can sometimes be turned into concrit if only they told WHY the story was so bad. Also, if you catch a typo, point out the specific paragraph. If you want to correct grammar, please TELL the author WHERE - that way, if the author wants to revise the story, he or she can find their mistakes easily.

Third, BALANCE YOUR REVIEW. If your review has ONLY concrit, you may turn the writer off, and they might interpret your review as a flame. Balance your concrit with compliments - your review will be appreciated much more.

Fourth, DON'T WRITE IN CHAT SPEAK... PLEASE! Even if what you're saying is quite intelligent PLEASE don't type it in chat speak. Chat speak simply weakens the review - it makes it seem as though there wasn't any thought put into the review.

And fifth, DON'T REVIEW JUST FOR THE SAKE OF REVIEWING. A good review takes time to write - don't submit a half-baked review because you want the author to review you back. While giving reviews to get reviews is completely acceptable, giving "crappy" reviews just to get reviews is NOT. Also, don't drop a review just to thank a person for reviewing your story - that's what review replies are for. If you want to thank a person by returning a review, then LEAVE A GOOD ONE.

If you are giving good reviews and aren't getting any back, don't get discouraged! Try to find that handful of people who give good reviews and try reviewing some of their stories. Your patience will be rewarded. :)

Now get out there and give some good reviews!


11/11/2007 . Edited by Fractured Illusion, 11/7/2008 #1
Fractured Illusion
Shesh. Took me long enough to reply to this thread, didn't it? *rolls eyes at self and own laziness* *is in reality supposed to work on political science assignment...TWO of them... Cough cough* Your first point feels a bit "duuh". I mean, have people really reviewed when they have not read? I have never gotten reviews where I feel like that is the case O.o *suddenly gets paranoid* Your most important point to me is the concrit. Ah, authors can't live without the concrit! WE BREATHE THE CONCRIT! So concrit, people :3 No, but seriously. It's a great way to improve and to state your opinions without coming off as mean (ie, "I didn't like your story because of this and that" as opposed to "I didn't like your story. End of conversation.") I grow a whole lot with each chapter/story I post because of concrit and I hope others will too! ^^ A bit of sugar never hurt anyone though har har!
11/24/2007 #2
no seriously... there have been people who have a "formulated review" ie... "i like this story. update soon! ps: please review my story." like... that definitely doesn't come from READING the story. XD especially when the same person who reviewed gives the exact same review on someone else's story... -_-;; so anyway... i have one or two reviews like that and decided that it would be a good point to make. :) -Lefty
11/24/2007 #3
Fractured Illusion
Oh yeah! I remember that! We even had a discussion on that formulated reviewing person at Review Revolution, right? :P But aside from that person's formulated reviews, does it really mean a person did not read the story if they just write "i like this story, update soon!" (I took out the last part since this is what *I* mostly see around). I'd say, if the person leaves the wish to have their own story reviewed: They might've skipped reading. If they do not (and you as an author don't have the promise of returning all reviews given) then they might've read, but don't know what to say more. It's all about that promise of reviews that decides it, in my opinion ^^
11/25/2007 #4
haha, i got these kinds of reviews before i said that i would try to review people back. XD oh well, maybe it's only happened to me... o.o?? -Lefty
11/25/2007 #5
Fractured Illusion
Well, maybe, since when I used to say that I'd review them back, I actually had the criteria that it had to be more than a shallow review for me to return the favour :P Mwahahah! I am full of win, and you full of fail ^^ I got those kinds of reviews a lot of Fanfictionet though, if that helps :3
11/25/2007 #6
Midnight In Eden
[q]Third, BALANCE YOUR REVIEW. If your review has ONLY concrit, you may turn the writer off, and they might interpret your review as a flame. Balance your concrit with compliments - your review will be appreciated much more.[/q] What if there is nothing good about the poem or story? Do you advocate lying?
12/12/2007 #7
there is usually something good. i wouldn't advocate LYING, but do try to be a bit gentler with your concrit... that is... if you say "this story has horrible ... because of ..." throughout the review, then it might be interpreted the wrong way... if you know what i mean. basically, try to be nice about it... even if there is nothing particularly good. :) -Lefty
12/12/2007 #8
I'm really bad at that whole 'being nice' thing. Unless it's obvious the writer is pretty young.
12/15/2007 #9
Fractured Illusion
[q]I'm really bad at that whole 'being nice' thing. Unless it's obvious the writer is pretty young.[/q] Seconded. That's why I try to give as much valuable concrit as I can, as compensation for my lack of empathy ^^; I see it as a fair trade, at least.
12/15/2007 #10
okay, so maybe not "nice." but do you guys know what i mean? the whole... they might misinterpret your review as a flame kind of deal...? ...maybe not. oh well. XD -Lefty
12/15/2007 #11
Fractured Illusion
I know what you mean. And I'd be offended if my concrit were ever thought of as a flame. In my view, a flame is a review that contains no significant advice on how to improve, and it may even go as far as attacking the author's persona, not to mention that it simply attacks the piece all together, which is an unnecessary thing to do. My harsh concrit, however, while sometimes without mercy, do point out the exact mistakes and why they are wrong, hoping the author can take it from there. Sometimes I even give a direct example of what I mean to manifest my suggestions. I find that I can be (though, of course, not always am :P) quite helpful in my reviews, should the person recieving them go beyond the offense they might have picked up from my not so kind words :P I live by the whole "you reap what you sow" kind of mentality, and such harsh concrit is what I find most helpful. Of course, it helps if the person is *right*, har har ^^;
12/15/2007 #12
Some people seem to feel that concrit should be given in a pleasant 'this is just a suggestion' way. Which is fine, if the problems I see in a story are minor and my thoughts really are 'just some suggestions'. But I feel that if I don't give my honest opinion of a story, in a tone that matches, then it's still not a completely honest review. If I say: "Well, hmm, this dialogue is a little stiff and unnatural." And my real feeling is: "This dialogue sounds like two windup dolls spouting off recorded one-liners, it's so stiff and unnatural." Then I'm not giving my full honest, opinion. If there's something someone -really- doesn't like about one of my stories or that turns them off in particular, I want to know it. I wouldn't review anyone differently (again, unless I thought the person was really young).
12/18/2007 #13
There are times where in I review some stories and just because I have the habit of giving really detailed reviews, people often drop by my fics and review 'just for the sake of reviewing without even reading it' only to be invited to give criticism for their work. Really, I'd appreciate it more if they message me / leave an email asking for their fics to be reviewed even though they haven't read a single work rather than pretend to be reading my work with the hopes of getting a review in return. ^_^
12/23/2007 #14
Haha...I can be ruthless when I give someone concrit, but I try to point out their mistakes and what they should do to go about fixing it --then I 'try' to find /something/ that I like about the piece, even if it's only just a single line. A lot of the times, I'm reviewing something like fantasy --a genre I'm not to keen on reading, but I try to keep an open mind, which is the difference between a flame and concrit. Flames are the typical comments you're likely to see on youtube with the whole, 'Omg this is crap!111! Laern 2 rite!!11' Whereas constructive criticism /can/ be harsh but still point out the mistakes and ways to improve. i.e. "This really is terrible, you've used no punctuations anywhere, you've capitalized every word, and you've mispelled so many words that I cannot even read this. Quit the caps, read a grammar book, and use the spell-check.' {Paraphrase of what I actually said to someone} Anyway, you get the point. I find that I can be downright mean on some of my reviews, but I'm respectful to each writer and I at least /try/ to help them out. It takes me about half an hour for one review --maybe even an hour, if I'm /that/ peeved. That does not include the reading part either... But anyways...Good reviews don't /always/ have to be concrit. either. While an author /strives/ on good criticism of their work, I understand how there might be some people who don't have as keen of an eye as the rest of us and are not quite up to the level where they can tear up someone's work completely (takes practice, believe me) And so, from what I've heard, they simply don't leave a review because they don't know what to say other than the whole 'updt soon plz!' --which is clearly not wanted either. But I find that if you like something you should quote it in the review or at least mention the part you liked about it. I really love reviews where the reader would try to guess what would happen next, those are always the most fun to read and really it helps the writer too. I always wonder whether I'm leaving too many hints or if I'm characterizing this person right...and I could always ask someone, "Are there too many hints in this?" But then that only puts attention to what would've been subtle-esque hints and I end up real frustrated. So yeah --reviews like that make my day. The craft of writing is not only about grammatical and spelling errors. It's also about story-making and atmosphere-building, so a review that addresses the plot is just as helpful.
12/25/2007 #15
I like to be positive, I'm never really any good at concrit. But usually I just say what I what I see and use the fantastic review template from Critique circle. I'm never sure if I come across as gushy in my wording, most people on fictionpress are really quite talented. I think I need to work on my own confidence in my writing too because it affects my critique- I always feel like a bit of a hypocrite ripping into a person's work as I'm thinking that I do some of the mistakes I'm talking about in abundance.
1/2/2008 #16
Yes, KnittingKneedle I feel that way as well. But I'm here to tell you that your writing is fine, and I'm not just being nice.
1/4/2008 #17
Some people, however, are very much open to such negative criticism. However, in my case, if ever I'd give some negative criticism, I wouldn't do so much as to put rather 'hurtful' remarks even though it would be overridden by a corresponding correction/tip. I'd prefer saying it in a 'nice' way. I dunno... Perhaps I have the habit of being 'nice', haha. But if I were given such flames or 'constructive but hurtful' reviews, I would consider it provided that there's a corresponding reason and concrete 'pointing out' of what the reader/reviewer particularly think 'sucked' in my work. In fact, I'll be more thankful than discouraged by the remark.
1/4/2008 #18
KnittingKneedle! You're a ccer! I love critique circle. I even paid for premium membership and all that. The only problem with it is that it tends to be a lot more technical advice because there's not guarantee that your critiquer will have read the previous chapters. Though I'm thinking of making a private queue to solve that problem.
1/7/2008 #19
CC is great...I use it for my english language creative stuff (I'm not sure if that's actually allowed so don't tell the exam board!) so the technical help always comes in useful. I need to motivate myself to review more...I have bare few credits! But the templates are so useful- I always use them when I'm reviewing stories because you can put your critique in a nice table as you write it.
1/7/2008 #20
There is a great guide to both critiquing and receiving critiques on therthdimension(dot)org. I highly recommend checking it out, for anyone that's interested. I just reread it (first read it a year or so ago) and it reminded me of some things that I haven't been focusing on when I review.
1/23/2008 #21
[q]I'm never sure if I come across as gushy in my wording, most people on fictionpress are really quite talented. I think I need to work on my own confidence in my writing too because it affects my critique- I always feel like a bit of a hypocrite ripping into a person's work as I'm thinking that I do some of the mistakes I'm talking about in abundance.[/q] You find the majority of fictionpress writers are quite talented? Send me to the authors you're reading! Those I've read from this forum are talented, but when I go around reading other authors I often find myself very much disappointed. The scary thing is that some of the ones who don't seem to understand English grammar have a dozen or more rave reviews. Also, KnittingKneedle, I'd argue that you should especially point out mistakes which you know you make. The fact that you make them as well means that you're sensitive to them and might notice them when other reviewers would not. You're also more likely to be gentle about it in your review. When I'm reviewing, I generally just read and, as I reach things which I either adore or believe need to be changed, comment upon them. I have the 'submit review' window open during my reading. Then I'll often add a general review of the chapter either first or last in my review. While specifics are helpful, its also good to give an author an over all representation of the story.
2/22/2008 #22
Haha...yeah I wrote that last month when I was still a relative newbie... I've definitley gotten better/quicker at reviewing...thanks to templates etc. But I'll never feel truly comfortable leaving a negative review constructive as it is, so a lot of the time, the worst stuff I don't review. They usually don't want concrit anyway.
2/22/2008 #23
I wholeheartedly agree on the "DON'T WRITE IN CHAT SPEAK" rule; it really does lessen the sincerity of the review. I must admit that I am guilty of leaving one of those meaningless "luv this +fave" reviews every once in a while, but now I will definitely try my hardest not to do so. Your Rules of Review are really insightful and helpful, and I thank you for posting this.
2/23/2008 #24
[q]"Fourth, DON'T WRITE IN CHAT SPEAK... PLEASE! Even if what you're saying is quite intelligent PLEASE don't type it in chat speak. Chat speak simply weakens the review - it makes it seem as though there wasn't any thought put into the review."[/q] Being a fan of proper English and seriously disliking chat speak, I agree, but I can't help but wonder if this includes smilies. I leave my reviews in proper English (for the most part) without chat speak, but I find it hard to write any sort of review without adding a little " :3 " somewhere in there, or an " XD ".
2/24/2008 #25
If I think I sound like a dick throughout most of the review.. I find it necessary to throw in a compliment at the end and then add a little :D it's different than chatspeak I think it adds a little personality I guess otherwise... not in my case though hah...
2/25/2008 #26
Otseis Ragnarok
Yeah, Emotives are alright... sometimes. [h]: )[/h]
2/25/2008 #27
I like emotives because they're a way of telling the author that I'm not trying to be mean, just honest. Unless I'm trying to be mean (which I'm usually not).
2/25/2008 #28
Fractured Illusion
[q]Unless I'm trying to be mean (which I'm usually not).[/q] Me neither. I'm mean by nature. But chatspeak is: OMG, lyke, and everything that Webster does not agree with, basically. Naturally, smilies ought to belong to that category, but I think most people don't mind them (including myself). Like D said, they add personality. But also, the chatspeak part: who will take you seriously if you tell the person that their grammar lacks, when you can't live by what you teach? That's one factor to consider, definitely.
2/25/2008 #29
Yeah, I tend to write my username and then a :3 at the end of my reviews. But I think more people don't use chatspeak than people who do, or at least on this site. Which is good, of course. :) And I try not to be mean in my reviews. If I really, REALLY hated the story, I avoid conflict by not reviewing at all.
2/25/2008 #30
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