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lianoid

Before someone vehemently disagrees that reviews should be approached with delicacy, and instead with tough love and a firm backhand for those who refuse to follow correct grammar rules, remember that "delicate" can mean "requiring great care, caution, or tact." With that out of the way, I think we can all agree that giving good reviews requires at least some care and tact. Some synonyms for "good reviews" are thorough, in-depth, crafty, and insightful.

Basically, this thread is a way to invite all WRR participants and passersby to weigh in on what they think makes a review good,what they like to see in reviews they receive, what they don't like to see, what their style of reviewing is, and some improvements they would like to see in the overall review giving conduct among the FP masses.

This is a discussion thread, so if someone posts something you agree or disagree with, drop your thoughts like they're hot and elaborate, clarify, deconstruct, rant, rave, angst, and blather. Just try to keep it clean and don't attack anyone for their opinions.

8/12/2010 #1
lianoid

Helpful pieces on Fiction Press and the web that discuss writing and reviewing

Fiction Press

How to Successfully Write a Successful Story by glitterjewele

Writing What People Want To Read by perverted.intellectual

The Web

Limyaael's Fantasy Rants -

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Please let me know when you find other good pieces that could be added to this list.

8/12/2010 . Edited 3/15/2011 #2
lianoid

Other discussion threads to check out

What Makes a Good Review? over at The Review Game forum.

The R's: Reading, Writing and Revising over at The Gossip forum.

===

Let me know if there are any others you've stumbled upon that could be added to this list.

8/12/2010 . Edited 12/2/2010 #3
lookingwest

I'll add in my two cents, as I've been meaning to for awhile.

My idea of a good review is pretty simple, XD.

1. check any spelling/grammar mistakes you find

2. at least include two comments about the content--like, full sentences, and if possible, point to specifics.

That's my most basic, but that keeps it pretty simple to me. I always like the review game's "pick two things you like or didn't like and explain why for each" rule, but you can still get away with skimming with that as well. Reviewers who point out to me specific examples of what I'm doing wrong, and then providing me with how I can fix it or improve in their opinion, are those I appreciate greatly, or even just commenting on what they like, obviously that's always great too, with examples, XD.

That's all I can think of for now o.O I perhaps will be back to add more to this later, haha. Fight Club is on, and it is distracting!

8/27/2010 #4
lianoid

I definitely agree with you on the points you've made above. My major thing is specifics, though. Each reviewer is going to be stronger in various aspects of writing, but I think it's important for every reviewer--no matter their strengths and weaknesses--to point out specifics. It really helps the writer know what's good and what's not so good. Pointing out specifics makes me more aware of repeated errors that I need to keep an eye out for in the future. When people point out specific things they like, it's especially helpful because it helps me pinpoint what's good about my writing and what I can try to recreate, spin, et cetera, in the future.

I'm in the process of writing some essays on this subject, so I unfortunately won't contribute much more until I've finished them. I encourage everyone to weigh in, though. I really enjoy hearing what other people have to say on this subject.

8/27/2010 #5
Engineer of Words

On specificity, I enjoy anything more detailed than "Very nice moar!" because it's never a finished product on the first draft I put out. On the other hand, I also appreciate people giving me reasons for why they think something sucks, because if you just tell me you didn't like something for no reason I'm going to discount you as a hack and ignore any legitimate criticism there is to be had.

8/28/2010 #6
RavenclawMoose

I think it's important to not just point out mistakes, but to also offer some ideas for how to rectify poor plotting/characterization/flow. I'll admit I don't always follow these rules myself, though I'm trying to do better lately, but it's been my experience that offering helpful suggestions as well as criticism goes a long way not only towards giving a meaningful review, but also towards having the writer you reviewed pay attention to what you wrote and take your suggestions into consideration. I know I generally feel the same way about reviews I receive.

10/7/2010 #7
lookingwest

I also appreciate people giving me reasons for why they think something sucks, because if you just tell me you didn't like something for no reason I'm going to discount you as a hack and ignore any legitimate criticism there is to be had.

Very true, I like suggestion on how to make those changes too--on how what they didn't like could be improved to get to a point where it's enjoyable for them.

At the same time, it can also drive me nuts when a reviewer goes, "I didn't like [this sentence] because [reason] and I found a lot of different ones just like that, so you need to go through and fix them." when it's vague and you're like "what other sentences? what?" I don't know if anyone has ever had that happen but me...o.o

12/2/2010 #8
improvisationallychallenged

Maybe it's just my masochistic streak and undealt with inferiority complex, but if I get a review that has no criticism in it at all, I find it hard to take seriously. The people who go through grammar with a fine toothed comb (cough*Emily*cough) are lifesavers for me, because without them, I know I'd never spot them. I think when it comes to dealing out concrit, there are boundaries you have to take into consideration, but you mustn't be afraid to say what you really feel, rather than sugar-coat it in the hope you'll get a nice, encouraging review back.

An honest review is worth about ten suspiciously positive ones, in my opinion, because then you know where you really stand, you know they really gave your work some attention, and you have a genuine reaction to your work.

Going back to boundaries, for me, it's when reviewers start rewriting sentences for you. It's something I sometimes find myself tempted to do, but I nearly always try and resist, because when a reviewer does it to me it really gets my goat. A correction is fine, but when they simply don't like your style and go, "it would be better if it read:" and then spout off something you wouldn't write willingly unless on mind altering drugs that I find myself seeing red.

And that's my two cents.

12/2/2010 . Edited 12/2/2010 #9
lianoid

Very true, I like suggestion on how to make those changes too--on how what they didn't like could be improved to get to a point where it's enjoyable for them.

That's key. I sometimes find myself unable to offer suggestions, but I always try to make at least one suggestion for improvement by specific examples, if I can manage it. I think that's super important to providing good reviews.

when it's vague and you're like "what other sentences? what?" I don't know if anyone has ever had that happen but me...o.o

Yeah, man. I hate that. Like, a lot. Ha-ha. I've had a few people do that and every time I find myself grumbling and wondering if it really is too much to ask for people to point out the line. I mean, I could even deal with just a whole bunch of quotes with no note after them, with a final one being like, "Yeah, I think these lines could use a bit of work. Here's why..." That's it. Not even suggestions for every one, just one final comment to summarize why those lines didn't work for that person.

if I get a review that has no criticism in it at all, I find it hard to take seriously.

Heh, I'm like that sometimes. More so in the past; nowadays I'm not as picky as I once was. But yeah, I totally understand. Sometimes it can be that the person really did like everything about the piece (I've read numerous pieces on FP I adore and can't offer any criticisms outside of personal stylistic and grammatical suggestions), and I've met a few people who seem to offer nothing but praises to all writers; it's those type of people I find myself doubting most often.

I think when it comes to dealing out concrit, there are boundaries you have to take into consideration, but you mustn't be afraid to say what you really feel, rather than sugar-coat it in the hope you'll get a nice, encouraging review back.

I've crossed those boundaries a few times, I'm sure. The majority of the time, I'm completely honest, but if I see it's a person's first piece, or they write an AN saying it's their first time writing in a while or whatever, I'll toss a little sugar into the mix to ease the CC.

Going back to boundaries, for me, it's when reviewers start rewriting sentences for you

Really? I don't mind that at all. Some of the time I'm like, "Yeah, no. Just no. Doesn't work." But most of the time I appreciate it because it gives me a chance to look at the sentence in a different light. I dunno, I think the reviewer should let the know that they "think" it "might" sound better that way, or that it's "personal preference" and you, of course, don't have to change the sentence to fit their style. That's a tough one, though.

What are other people's thoughts on this?

12/3/2010 #10
ranDUMM

Hi :) Just thought that I'd throw in my two cents...

I also appreciate people giving me reasons for why they think something sucks, because if you just tell me you didn't like something for no reason I'm going to discount you as a hack and ignore any legitimate criticism there is to be had.

Very true, I like suggestion on how to make those changes too--on how what they didn't like could be improved to get to a point where it's enjoyable for them.

True, but there's a difference to giving you pointers about what you could change to make it better for the audience as a WHOLE, and telling the author to change something because 'they don't like it'. It isn't a guarantee that every single person is going to like the story, and you can't please everyone; but if they give you a genuine thing to improve, for e.g., "If maybe you moved that paragraph to the second half of the story, it would make more sense", if someone wrote that, I'd be happy because it would actually help me. However, if someone wrote something like, "I don't like that Adam and Gene kissed; I think you should change it, because it seems too lovey dovey to me", then THAT gets on my nerves. Just because they don't like it, doesn't mean I'm going to change a (probably) significant aspect of my plot. That was just an example, but yeah.

I've had a few people do that and every time I find myself grumbling and wondering if it really is too much to ask for people to point out the line.

Ditto. Completely agree with that.

if I get a review that has no criticism in it at all, I find it hard to take seriously.

A few of my reviewers are like that, so I've gotten used to it. Sometimes as Liana said, they honestly can't find anyhing wrong with the story. But when they just completely sugarcoat the review, e.g. "OMG YOUR STORY IS SO FUNNY HAHAHAHAHA IT'S THE BEST STORY I'VE SEEN IN MY LIFE, UPDATE SOON KTHANXBYE." == THAT grates on my nerves.

Going back to boundaries, for me, it's when reviewers start rewriting sentences for you

Hm. I do that as well, rewriting sentences, I mean. I agree with Liana; if you make it clear that it's YOUR opinion that it COULD be better that way, then I think it's alright. But I may be biased because I do that in my reviews. But sometimes it's a bit too much that someone's rewriting, like if they change the sentence from "the cat sat on the mat with a rat" to "the elegant, brown speckled Siamese cat curled up gracefully on the ancient, red and green rug with his close, charming friend-with-benefits, rat, though to outsiders, they acted like enemies". Okay, that's an extreme example, but you guys get it right? There's a fine line between 'tweaking' or 'rearranging' because it might be in the wrong order or might sound better if tweaked a little, and just plain rewriting it because the reviewer thinks it sounds crap.

Okay, that's my opinion. I probably have more to say, but I'm running out of time :P

12/4/2010 #11
lianoid

There's a fine line between 'tweaking' or 'rearranging' because it might be in the wrong order or might sound better if tweaked a little, and just plain rewriting it because the reviewer thinks it sounds crap.

There we go; that's the wording I was looking for. Exactly. I definitely agree with that. I don't mind rearranging because the more opinions, the better, in my opinion. :)

(Super delayed reply, sorry!)

1/12/2011 #12
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