The Review Game
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Midnight In Eden
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.

I personally think that's a total cop out. I've reviewed poems and stories I've really hated and they've been chock full of constructive criticism aimed at everything I thought didn't work. More often than not I get a lot of thankful replies. You just have to be constructive in your criticism and people handle it pretty well.

2/25/2008 #31
Imalefty
uh yeah right. i've gotten review replies where the person is like: geez, what's your PROBLEM?? -_-;;

i like emotes. i use them all the time. :) they're not chat speak... they convey emotion over the net. XD

seeee? my post is already full of em.

-Lefty

2/25/2008 #32
Midnight In Eden
I've gotten exactly two responses like that.

One of them was from someone I hadn't even reviewed (it was a pm) but who had just "seen" some of my reviews and one was from someone on behalf of someone else who, after I replied, conceded that I had a point.

2/25/2008 #33
Imalefty
wow, someone PMed you from SEEING one of your reviews?? that's pretty intense! O_O

good for you, though! stand your ground. :)

i generally like putting the concrit in a way that won't be offensive. :) which is what i meant by being nice.

during the last RM, there was a story that was so crappy that i reviewed and told them so. they took it down... >_>

-Lefty

2/25/2008 #34
Midnight In Eden
wow, someone PMed you from SEEING one of your reviews?? that's pretty intense! O_O

Yeah eventually he admitted that maybe it wasn't really any of his business and I'm like ... duh you idiot (in a much more eloquent way).

during the last RM, there was a story that was so crappy that i reviewed and told them so. they took it down... >_>

Awesome. Maybe they'll edit it thoroughly and post it when it's somewhat better. So many people on here shy away from editing. It's weird.

2/25/2008 #35
Audy
Heh, that's happened to me too.

What I don't like is when I spend literally over an hour writing up a good (if I can say so myself) concrit and the person replies and is like, "Dude, this wasn't serious work, you didn't have to get so 'serious' about it."

I just stare blankly on the screen and I want to slap that person. Even if it's not your best work and you know it's not your best work, the least you can do is take the review /seriously/ because it cannot hurt you. I really don't see the point of posting up work that you know is crap. The whole point of fictionpress is so writers can display their /best/ work and get comments from readers and reviewers alike to help /improve/ their writing. That is the whole point. Posting up "empty" pieces just for the sake of it, drives me nuts. Like the writer just wants to see how many reviews they can get.

Another thing...writers should proofread before they put it up on FP. It bugs me to see spelling mistakes when there shouldn't be. I mean, come on, how easy do we have it, with an automatic spell-check? You don't even have to have word, there are spell checkers /everywhere/. Even on /published/ books, I'd fine a mispelled word and I want to circle it in red pen =P

But the point of the matter, if you don't /care/ enough to proofread your own work and run a spell-check, then why should the reviewers care to review your work?

And to get this back on topic:

I find that a reviewer who is "serious" enough to point out all the misspellings and all those errors that the writer /should've/ picked up, has got to be the most patient, most praiseworthy reviewer ever, because the writer certainly doesn't deserve it.

Of course there are some odd cases here and there, but I'm talking in general terms.

2/26/2008 #36
KnittingKneedle
aah spelling my old friend...

The amount of times I've had a red face because I've been pointing out the wrong british spellings when everybody and his mum on this site uses the american spellings- so the rest of my review seems less valid despite the concrit regarding plot that I might add.

PMs sometimes make me laugh, especially when I get the story explained to me like I understood it wrong, because if I didn't get it then surely it's the first clue that something needs to be changed. I mean I'm the audience not the author, and for goodness sake the worst writers in the world are the ones who need to explain things about their work.

2/26/2008 #37
Imalefty
ha. i have to explain things. i guess i'm the worst writer in the world. XD

actually, i just thought that people would catch on. but i guess not. ^_^;;

-Lefty

2/26/2008 #38
KnittingKneedle
well you don't have to explain things to me...and I'm the only person that matters ever ^-^
2/27/2008 #39
Thracian
"Dude, this wasn't serious work, you didn't have to get so 'serious' about it."

I've gotten that as a review reply so many times it just makes me want to beat a bitch. Seriously if you can't even take the time to read over your stuff before posting it to catch those stupid mistakes don't even bother posting expecting people to act like you're the second coming of Christ or whatever...I read over my stuff so many times before posting it. And when I do post it I read over it twice in the live preview thing because for some reason reading it in there makes me more aware of the mistakes.

Even on /published/ books, I'd fine a mispelled word and I want to circle it in red pen =P

I do that too. Or as I'm reading it I'll see it, pause, stare at it and just be like, "wow, you're an idiot."

2/27/2008 #40
Otseis Ragnarok
ha. i have to explain things. i guess i'm the worst writer in the world. XD

Yeah, I've done the same... It's just that I'm so used to the storyline, that it seems blatantly obvious when I look back at it. I suppose it is excusable...

Back to the chatspeak discussion, This is a writing site, so chatspeak, even (or perhaps especially) in reviews shouldn't really be allowed...

2/27/2008 #41
Midnight In Eden
Even on /published/ books, I'd fine a mispelled word and I want to circle it in red pen =P

I edit the newspaper and I can't count the number of times I've sent a letter to the editor demanding that they stop putting commas in front of coordinating conjunctions.

I'm such a nerd.

2/27/2008 #42
Fractured Illusion

I edit the newspaper and I can't count the number of times I've sent a letter to the editor demanding that they stop putting commas in front of coordinating conjunctions.

I'm such a nerd.

Haha, indeed you are :P I bet the newspaper editors just love you.

Anyhow:

Do you guys review differently when you review someone who you know, this is their first story here on FP? And if you do, do you still consider your review truthful and helpful?

3/3/2008 . Edited 4/30/2008 #43
KnittingKneedle
Sometimes, if there is a multichap story that I really like my reviews tend to flag as the fan girl comes out in me,

and if someone gives me a particularly extensive review, I'd try to give them an equal stardard of review...same if it was just a line.

3/3/2008 #44
Fractured Illusion
I am not sure if you were answering my question or not Ting Tong, but let me rephrase it if you did:

A person has posted their first story ever here on FP. You read it and wish to comment.

Do you review this piece differently, as opposed to if the author wasn't a newbie?

And if you review differently, do you think your review is just as good as you normally make it?

3/3/2008 #45
KnittingKneedle
No.

Not in the slightest...

I'm still a relative newbie (only one story up) and I would hate it if somebody patronised me like that. If their profile shows that they are like, tweleve, then I would consider it.

3/3/2008 #46
Zokolov
Do you guys review differently when you review someone who you know, this is their first story here on FP?

Nope. While I admit that my first FF.net stories were not that good and I have gained experience since that, your first story really shows your skills, and shouldn't be treated any differently. I agree with KnittingKneedle that it would be annoying and not so helpful to be patronized like that.

3/8/2008 #47
Otseis Ragnarok
I agree with you, Zukah, (I think it's an apt nickname...)

but you should hold back a little if they're bad...

If you're too mean, they might get discouraged and never write again... I don't want to live with that kind of guilt...

I'm only mean to people I know can take it. (Which means I'm nice to people I don't really know... Hmm...)

3/8/2008 #48
LucienofShadow
Sometimes I notice that I hold back a little bit on bad authors. But only a little bit. Other than that I'm equally mean to everyone.
3/8/2008 #49
theflyingcrabsareeatingmyhair
I'll "hold back" on bad authors because they just take too much effort to fix. (God, I'm such an English teacher O.o) I like reviewing and all, but even I run out of steam sometimes. I try to point out the things that I find the most appalling, and I try to do it kindly because I figure that most people don't deserve hardcore abuse- we all have to start somewhere, you know?

When I think about it, I'm probably at my worst when I read good work. Whenever I find typos or inconsistencies, I feel like it's a personal wound that needs to be patched up. I just want it to be PERFECT, you know? I always try to communicate how much I enjoyed the piece as well, but lately I've discovered that fp has a limit on the length of reviews.... O.o;;

I like getting replies from the author too...one of the reasons I'm hooked on this site is because it's so interactive. I can't talk to the authors who write my favorite books...or at least, I can try, but it would be tough to get a good reply, I'd bet, and it would take a while. It's so much fun to see what goes through their mind.

3/19/2008 #50
PunK.cHEw.AsIAn
Yes, I find sometimes too that when I read any work off of fictionpress, I'm always expecting it to have perfect grammar, punctuation, and such, and that I'm even offended when they don't. Yet, that's what constructive criticism if for, because like you said, we DO all have to start off at some point. I do have to constantly remind myself that there's no such thing as perfection, and we all are going to make some mistakes.

But yes, nobody deserves harsh criticism on their work; the fact that they are posting it in the first place shows that they're serious about their work and that it's from the heart. So the least that we can do is, if we do review, to do so with tact, not blunt harshness.

And yes, the interactive reviews are something I also really enjoy on fictionpress. I really do like the fact that you can talk to the authors you might review on and can ask them about the inspiration behind their work, or how they think they can improve, or if there's anything that helps them to write like they do; it's all very encouraging to me, as an author myself, to have the input of other authors whose work I admire.

3/21/2008 #51
Kumquat21
But yes, nobody deserves harsh criticism on their work; the fact that they are posting it in the first place shows that they're serious about their work and that it's from the heart. So the least that we can do is, if we do review, to do so with tact, not blunt harshness.

I disagree. If you're really serious as a writer, you should want all the criticism you can get. You may not agree with it all, but that is your own personal opinion. When writing something, yes, it should be from the heart. That's what makes a good writer. To be a professional writer however, as soon as you put something out to an editor or a beta or FP, you have to distance yourself from it. Take all the concrit you get. Not flames, persay, but harshness helps you toughen up. You need to first bleed to harden over.

Example? For years I have gone to a teenage writing program. My instructor was probably one of the toughest reviewers I've met, on this sight or off. A year ago I'd been privately working on a novel, and it was up to 264 pages. I was very protective about it and was currently reworking it, but it was a daunting task - as you can guess, I was much younger when I had started it. I wasn't sure of it's context, but I loved it and sheltered it - I didn't want to hear a bad word about it. Finally, I gave in and sent it to my instructor.

He told me it read like a Disney movie. Which, for a semi-serious novel, was not good.

So I stopped working on it. It did read like a disney novel. I was sort of depressed for a while, but soon it ceased. And I got better. I worked very hard. I put more depth into everything I wrote. And this month, I've been published twice.

Occasionally, tough love works.

On a completely different subject, Never defend yourself against a harsh review! Your writing is supposed to speak for itself. Only ask to clarify or say thank you. Do not say 'but I meant -!" or "It was supposed to be -!" or worst of all "But that's how it happened in real life!" Unless you are writing nonfiction, no one gives a damn about what happened in real life. Especially in poetry. Poetry is a fictional medium. It's meant to flow. Use your brain.

I can be harsh sometimes. ^_~

Haha, that was long! I feel majorly lame. I'll be off resting my fingers now! XP

3/22/2008 #52
Rumba Rumba
What I generally do with my stories is that if I'm not happy with a chapter, I'll post 'questions to the reviewers' so they know what I'd really like them to focus on...for example, I might say,

1. Was the main character believable? Could you empathise with her?

2. Is the plot interesting, and did the end make you want to read further?

Heh. I find that kind of thing really helpful when I'm writing reviews, so I know what to talk about, cause I tend to get review replies saying things like 'Oh, I knew that already, sorry, but what did you think of -insert subject here-?'.

I adore critiquecircle - I only crit though, I never post stories, so I have like, hundreds of credits...

Generally I find it easier to digest reviews that have points about the good bits of the story as well as the bad bits, because that way I know which bits to use more often and which bits to improve/use less.

[/twocents]

3/23/2008 #53
thefilmchick
A person has posted their first story ever here on FP. You read it and wish to comment.

Do you review this piece differently, as opposed to if the author wasn't a newbie?

I don't review it differently, but if an author has a thousand congratulatory reviews on what I might think is not that hot, then that kind of puts me in a bind. If I review badly, then I look like one jackass to the crowd, but I have to review based on my own standards, no matter the crowd.

But yes, nobody deserves harsh criticism on their work; the fact that they are posting it in the first place shows that they're serious about their work and that it's from the heart.

Honestly, I have to disagree with this in that I don't think it's true for everyone on this site, from what I have seen. Most people? Perhaps. Ideally? Yes. But there is a lot of ego involved in posting your work too; I don't think that should really be underestimated. I am bluntly honest and expect the same of others when they review my stuff. Maybe that puts me in a minority - but I'd rather be there than waste my time and others'.

3/30/2008 . Edited 3/30/2008 #54
KnittingKneedle
Flick,

I wholly agree with you...apart from looking like a jackass- I'm always drawn to reviewers who comment exstensively (negatively too) on pieces that are usually composed of one hundred and fifty 'lolz, omg this is teh awesomme'

About the crit; this is a writing site, you put yourself out there- you have to be prepared to take the blows. And I don't want to here about 'writing for fun', which is a response I've got to a lot of concrit...if you aren't interested in growing as a writer, why are you taking up space in my internet?

Is there ego involved on posting here? Masses of the stuff...which is why people respond so negatively to negative reviews, but then again I do believe that we're our own biggest critic, so I would never be so blunt as to turn them off completley

3/30/2008 #55
thefilmchick
I wholly agree with you...apart from looking like a jackass- I'm always drawn to reviewers who comment exstensively (negatively too) on pieces that are usually composed of one hundred and fifty 'lolz, omg this is teh awesomme'

That's why I'll never put my stories in 'easy fix' alone. It is, for lack of a better word, too easy to give easy critique, particularly if the writing isn't completely horrible.

About the crit; this is a writing site, you put yourself out there- you have to be prepared to take the blows. And I don't want to here about 'writing for fun', which is a response I've got to a lot of concrit...if you aren't interested in growing as a writer, why are you taking up space in my internet?

Agreed wholeheartedly. I have had a few short stories published and I don't think I suck as a writer - and yet I know there are parts that I can work on. I don't really care about description, and I tend to fall back to easy catchphrases like 'to be sure' - I had to excise five or six of those from the first chapter of the new story before I posted it up here. We all have room to improve.

Is there ego involved on posting here? Masses of the stuff...which is why people respond so negatively to negative reviews, but then again I do believe that we're our own biggest critic, so I would never be so blunt as to turn them off completley

There's a happy medium, I'm sure; but I think that medium's different with each person and with each story. I don't think there's a hard-and-fast rule and can't advocate it one bit.

3/30/2008 #56
LucienofShadow
I for one am disappointed when I get a review which goes on for a few paragraphs about how they thought my story was funny or how touching one scene was. My favorite reviews are either those which go through line by line commenting on things which need to be fixed or those which give me an over all view of areas I need to improve in, citing specific examples. For excellent examples see the reviews of Sourceworks given by Kyllorac (sp?) and Unbeknownst. I think Unbeknownsts's review is the very first given for the story, or maybe the second. Kylie's are more recent.

On the ego note- I know I have an ego, on my writing and on other topics. I'm one of those people who when handed a sheet of paper with writing on it, any writing at all, will begin revising it if at all possible- because I know I can improve it. And I also believe that my writing is solid in many ways. But I don't let my ego or my pride get between myself and getting better- because when I'm better I'll be able to support a bigger ego, right? ;)

I remember hearing recently that the author of what I consider to be one of the best fantasy books written this decade- The Name of the Wind- has already finished the rest of the series. But the next book isn't due to be published until mid 2009. Why? Because he plans to spend a year and a half more editing and revising it. Holy bloody hell. If he can spend that long having his work edited and revising it myself, I sure as shooting can take a few harsh reviews on my humble works to heart.

3/30/2008 #57
thefilmchick
On a completely different subject, Never defend yourself against a harsh review! Your writing is supposed to speak for itself. Only ask to clarify or say thank you. Do not say 'but I meant -!" or "It was supposed to be -!" or worst of all "But that's how it happened in real life!"

Tack 'You don't get it, do you?' onto this. Particularly for a shorter piece, the reader should be able to get it - the defense that you write a piece so that a reader can 'draw their own conclusions' is a cop-out.

If Kafka wrote 'The Trial' with a prefaced excuse of 'You are supposed to draw your own conclusions!' about what is going on, that would definitely blunt the punch of the novel, and that is a story with no easy answers and with multiple conclusions that can be drawn from the allegory. The reader can draw their own conclusions from what you have written, but using that as a catch-all when reviewed (as a defense against a review asking for more details) is kind of weak.

3/31/2008 #58
Roman C Lee
I have just recently realized that I give unintentionally "nit-picky reviews". Why? Because I gave someone a review and they replied back to me that I must have a steel rod drien up my arse or something. I felt like crap. Then I went back and read the review I gave then the response and laughed that steel ridden arse right off; we were both right. Everything i'd said to this person was true but the general feeling my review projected made me seem like a freaky, stiff, grammer teacher who itches to whip mis-spellers.

What did I learn from this about the reviwing process?

Replying to a concrit review on the defensive acomplishes absolutely NOTHING. But I did get a good laugh out of it after i'd let go.

Moral of this story: Take con-crit in your stride! ^_^

4/1/2008 #59
KnittingKneedle
I'll admit it does bug me when a reviewer thinks an extensive look at grammar is the holy grail of concrit...the driest, most cliche ridden, poorly plotted piece of work could be grammar perfect. I would much prefer to know how my characters/plot work etc. and while spelling mistakes and grammar are totally important, the story itself matters too.
4/1/2008 #60
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