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A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

General, open discussion regarding writing, getting published, markets, pointers, and other related topics. All are welcome! No advertising, please!

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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby lish1936 » Fri Feb 14, 2014 9:15 pm

Colin wrote:Maybe there should be a third option box to tick for writers that want measured feedback: occasional red ink, more pink ink but mostly green ink.


:rolling :rolling :rolling - My laugh for the day. For a brief moment, I forgot I had the flu!

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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby Cinnamon Bear » Sat Feb 15, 2014 3:02 pm

I am finding this conversation very interesting. I am posting on this thread so that I will receive notification of any additional posts. :)

Cinnamon Bear

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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby Shann » Sat Feb 15, 2014 3:38 pm

Cinnamon Bear wrote:I am finding this conversation very interesting. I am posting on this thread so that I will receive notification of any additional posts. :)

Cinnamon Bear


Maybe you would like to join us in committing to leaving at least five constructive critiques each week. I must say, when I made the decision to challenge myself to read and comment on every submission, that is when I really started getting it. I began to understand more fully what I liked and didn't like in writing. I wouldn't necessarily point it out in every piece, but it enabled me to see what worked or didn't work for me. This is just an example: I know many people like to use a mysterious stranger who turns out to be an angel...maybe or a situation that ends up being a dream...maybe. For me personally those aren't my favorite ways to get my character out of a sticky situation. While there is nothing wrong with these literary devices, for me it just didn't satisfy me. I know others absolutely love those scenarios. By reading and commenting, I was able to figure out it wasn't my cup of tea.

Plus another perk is I found people werte grateful for me posting on their article so they would make an effort to find my stories and leave comments as well. I have had people ask me how I get so much feedback on my pieces. Sometimes I toss a brick, but mainly it's because others are paying it forward.

So there are two more benefits for leaving good constructive feedback. I hope more people will join in. It's a wonderful feeling to know you helped someone. Many people will say I haven't been writing long enough to feel comfortable with leaving feedback. The thing is, when we write it isn't for other writers, but for the reader. I'd guess that almost everyone has had a long history in reading and therefore are just as qualified to leave feedback as I am. :book2 :D
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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby Cinnamon Bear » Sat Feb 15, 2014 7:25 pm

Shann wrote:Maybe you would like to join us in committing to leaving at least five constructive critiques each week.


I don't feel qualified to critique entries. I see many entries that I dislike---and some of them do very well. So my personal likes and dislikes are not indicative of how the judges will view the entry.

I might think that a given entry is boring, inane, uninformed, even offensive. But maybe other readers like it. I don't think it makes sense for me to critique an entry for which I will never be an audience---no matter how good the writing. Back in the days when Challenge participants took turns judging I served several times, and of course I suspended my likes and dislikes. But I would rather not write critiques for such entries.

I think there may be valid reasons why some Challenge participants shy away from critiques. For example, I sometimes get comments that clearly indicate that the reviewer did not read the entry. This is just as true for some positive comments as it is for some negative comments. If my entry is so confusing that they didn't understand it---that would be a valid criticism. But if one is going to write a review, I feel that they should carefully read the entry first.

I have also received comments that were sarcastic and/or patronizing. And I have seen such comments on the entries of other participants as well. I think that criticism would be better received if all Challenge participants had to start at the Beginner level. If they truly are not at the Beginner level they will move up very quickly. The only level for which it is certain that the writer earned a place is Masters. In the case of Advanced we don't know if a person worked their way up through the ranks or was already a published writer when they joined Faithwriters---or has delusions of grandeur. Writers in Advanced need constructive criticism to be sure. But if reviewers could be confident that Advanced actually meant something they would be less likely to leave patronizing comments implying that the writer is semi literate.

The Bear (has finished her growl.) :)
Last edited by Cinnamon Bear on Sat Feb 15, 2014 10:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby Come forth » Sat Feb 15, 2014 9:31 pm

Hi guys, I love what is happening here; constructive conversation moving forward.

I just got back from a trip so will need to catch up here before I put both feet firmly between my teeth, :lol:

Love your coment, Colin :lol: :lol: That was so good.

I know that we are all on the same side and just wanting to help make this site the best (it already is so I should say the better best). :?

I'll catch my breath and catch up with my garden and be back to comment on so many wonderful posts.

Can I just suggest for this week that seeing as bricks have laready started flying that we concetrate on making sure there are at least two constructive comments on every brick launchers posts (if they asked for red ink). That would be a fantastic start; and if two are full, make it three.

Blessings, Graham.
May we all get eyes to see and ears to hear,
A Revelation of His Word, crystal clear.
Admitting our need to be drawn in,
Less of self, more of Him.

My prayer for us all.
God bless us with the Revelation of His Word, Graham
http://www.shekinahcloud.com/page/page/8464330.htm

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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby lish1936 » Sat Feb 15, 2014 10:08 pm

CinnamonBear wrote:
I don't feel qualified to critique entries...

...I think there may be valid reasons why some Challenge participants shy away from critiques. For example, I sometimes get comments that clearly indicate that the reviewer did not read the entry. This is just as true for some positive comments as it is for some negative comments. If my entry is so confusing that they didn't understand it---that would be a valid criticism. But if one is going to write a review, I feel that they should carefully read the entry first.

...I have also received comments that were sarcastic and/or patronizing. And I have seen such comments on the entries of other participants as well. . But if reviewers could be confident that Advanced actually meant something they would be less likely to leave patronizing comments implying that the writer is semi literate.

The Bear (has finished her growl.) :)



CinnamonBear, you've made your case for not giving critiques, but your comments about getting one is a little too late. Upon your request, I critiqued you, but tried not to do any of the above. If I did, please don't growl at me. :lol:

Blessings,

Lillian
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I write even when I think I can't, because I must. :-)

I love to write. Nothing escapes the crush I have on the written word. I'm hooked on words!!

"Let words bewitch you. Scrutinze them, mull them, savor them, and in combination, until you see their subtle differences and the ways they tint each other." Francis Flaherty

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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby Cinnamon Bear » Sat Feb 15, 2014 10:35 pm

lish1936 wrote:CinnamonBear, you've made your case for not giving critiques, but your comments about getting one is a little too late. Upon your request, I critiqued you, but tried not to do any of the above. If I did, please don't growl at me. :lol:


Dear Lillian,

Thanks for commenting on my entry for "Dead End". I sent you an e-mail via my Faithwriters account regarding fragments.

Cinnamon Bear

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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby RachelM » Sun Feb 16, 2014 3:25 am

Yikes! :shock:

I didn't know how hard it would be to try to leave constructive criticism. I'm definitely sticking with Shann's advice of praying first!

I just left several comments; in some cases there was already plenty of red ink, and I didn't feel right about adding to it. In other cases the writers were obviously above my level, and I didn't have any red ink to offer.

This is just going to have to be something I grow into. Challenging, but I also think it's a real opportunity to learn. I'm excited about this! :thumbs
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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby Cinnamon Bear » Sun Feb 16, 2014 11:01 am

I continue to think about this topic while reading recent comments on both mine and other entries.

What types of constructive criticism should we give and/or want to receive? Lillian has made some specific helpful suggestions in the first post on this thread.

Should we focus also on the eight criteria or rating categories that Deb described?:

http://www.faithwriters.com/Boards/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?f=54&t=31273

(I know you are all familiar with these criteria. I just wanted to post them here for reference.)

Since these are the criteria upon which our entries are judged, it is helpful to know if and how we are falling short. For example, I received a comment awhile ago to the effect that my beginning was weak---which it was. (Thanks Graham!) :)

However I am noticing a recent flood of red ink that may not be useful. Some people seem to be running a race to see how many comments that can post but without bothering to read the entry first. As I had mentioned in my post on this thread yesterday, even if a comment is positive it is meaningless if the reviewer didn't read the entry.

Other reviewers are reading the entries to be sure, but seem intent upon finding every tiny flaw. (Lillian, I'm not talking about you. I respect your expertise in grammar and punctuation. :) ). In some cases the "corrections" are actually incorrect!

As I understand it mechanics are part of one of the criteria, namely crafting of the entry. According to Deb "Judges consider grammar as one aspect of the crafting rating."

In my view it does not make sense to correct only the grammar and usage when it is clear that the reviewer has no understanding of or interest in the entry as a whole. It does make sense to correct mechanics if the reviewer is also correcting/commenting on other aspects of the entry.

I am not underestimating the importance of mechanics. My department chair regularly gets e-mails from my students along the lines of "Tell Professor Bliss not to correct our grammar and spelling. It's not important!" :roll:

I just feel that when posting comments, mechanics should be accorded its proper place in keeping with the eight rating criteria for the Challenge.

The Bear

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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby lish1936 » Sun Feb 16, 2014 1:47 pm

I wrote the following on Saturday, but did not post:

Yikes, again! I left two comments so far, and in each case was challenged (pun if you like :D ) to justify my comments. So first lesson on this new adventure: The prerequisites for the task are a thick skin, a willingness to learn, and an ability to say, Oh, okay, now I see why you wrote it that way. I rescind my comments.

I love it when learning takes place because of a friendly, civil interaction between two aspiring writers who are unwilling to parade as know-it-alls.

The following is an expansion of the above comments that I wrote today:

Since I feel responsible for initiating the dialogue on this thread, I would like to suggest that we focus on the positive aspects of the review process. As I indicated, commenting should and can be a learning experience for both the author and the one who is leaving a comment. We are trying to encourage more would-be reviewers who make no claim to being professional editors.

We're just sharing and learning together. For example: CinnamonBear referred me to a site that discussed sentence fragments as acceptable forms of writing in some cases. While I felt her use of fragments in her piece did not need the expanded use of fragments to accomplish her intent, I afforded her the right as an author to use them. But we now have a potential topic about the use of sentence fragments that I'm sure will benefit many.

I'm sure this truth is not original with me, but we know little until we are willing to know more. So let's not make this thread an attack ad that will discourage others.

Many blessings,

Lillian
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I write even when I think I can't, because I must. :-)

I love to write. Nothing escapes the crush I have on the written word. I'm hooked on words!!

"Let words bewitch you. Scrutinze them, mull them, savor them, and in combination, until you see their subtle differences and the ways they tint each other." Francis Flaherty

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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby Come forth » Sun Feb 16, 2014 4:35 pm

Hi everyone, I'm reasonably back in action and looking forward to joining back in with this great conversation.

I just read this by 'The Bear':
Other reviewers are reading the entries to be sure, but seem intent upon finding every tiny flaw. (Lillian, I'm not talking about you. I respect your expertise in grammar and punctuation. :) ). In some cases the "corrections" are actually incorrect!


I think I see this as being a true complaint about the review process; but there is a really important point here. Both the reviewer and the writer are only sharing opinions for the purpose of learning. Reviewers can and often will be wrong, but I have found that even when their comments have been wrong on my articles, I have still learnt from them and appreciated them. Remember, we do not have to take every thing said as being correct, it is only a shared comment as part of a discussion -- a learning process. We will never agree with every comment we receive, but if we can see why they made that comment, even though we disagree, then we learnt something from it.

My next comment to this is that we have asked everyone joining this group to use the sandwich model which is one positive, one negative, one positive. Finding every flaw is certainly not encouraged. But if we can help each writer to grow in one small area each entry, it won;t be long before that writer soars like an eagle.

CB, obviously some comments have hurt your feelings, and I understand this because I have been hurt by them quite a few times too. I've nearly left this site a few times over either too many ridiculous comments or not enough constructive comments. But I can honestly say this, not only has my writing improved with the help of my brothers and sisters on this site, but so to has my patience and my 'love for the unlovely'. :lol: :lol:

It's true to say that I don't get anywhere near as ruffled as I once did, and I have been attacked very directly by some people on this site. But I know this to be true, not everyone who goes to church is saved and not every person visiting here has a loving heart. That's okay, because even those who attack us help us grow.

I'm not trying to patronize you; this is just the truth that is a serious part of giving reviews.

Blessings; Graham.
May we all get eyes to see and ears to hear,
A Revelation of His Word, crystal clear.
Admitting our need to be drawn in,
Less of self, more of Him.

My prayer for us all.
God bless us with the Revelation of His Word, Graham
http://www.shekinahcloud.com/page/page/8464330.htm

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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby Come forth » Sun Feb 16, 2014 4:56 pm

I want to also jump into the conversation about punctuation and mechanics.

One of the problems, in my flawed opinion, with todays schooling is that it does not teach the correct mechanics of writing. Add to that the txt msg boom, and the incredible shorthand it has introduced, and the result is that many young folk couldn't string a sentence together if they tried. I often hear young people say (I have thirteen grandkids and have some very interesting conversations with their parents and them) that punctuation is not necessary and a waste of time.

Okay, I can see that in a text message or maybe used as an art form for one particular piece; but come on, wasn't your fav book punctuated correctly and the story that mesmerized you mechanically correct?

When I started writing here my punctuation was all over the place, and my mechanics terrible. Structure especially was poor and use of commas and semi-colons. Jan and Shann especially, but also many others, made comments on these issues and I had a great conversation with Jan via PM that really corrected my structure, took me to the wood shed over the semi-colon and introduced me to the dash (--).

My writing is better because I now understand these issues, but because I do I can often break the rules to good effect for a moment or two.

An interesting thing about this is that two of these young folk who are really into writing not having to follow the correct mechanics and punctuation, and have been quite verbal about the lack of need for that sort of thing in today's modern world, are avid readers. They love to read and I know that if a book is not right they soon lose interest in it. The writers they follow are good writers and that is what holds their interest. They wouldn't read a book for long if it was not following the rules of punctuation and mechanics.

Blessings, Graham.
May we all get eyes to see and ears to hear,
A Revelation of His Word, crystal clear.
Admitting our need to be drawn in,
Less of self, more of Him.

My prayer for us all.
God bless us with the Revelation of His Word, Graham
http://www.shekinahcloud.com/page/page/8464330.htm

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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby Shann » Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:00 pm

I'll admit I'm a tad confused. I can't imagine anyone leaving comments without reading story. I have been guilty of it when I'm leaving the highest rankings. I know many like to have what they placed on the comments for future reference.

I like doing that too. It's my favorite thing, even when I haven't entered, I can't fall asleep until the rankings are posted, even when I didn't enter. Although, sometimes, especially if I'm feeling pretty sick, I will post the rankings without always reading. Because I've tried to comment on as many as possible, it does happen from time to time. Unless I'm super sick, though, if the person hasn't received many comments I make a point of reading it and leaving a quick feedback.

I like when people point out whatever on my pieces. Even if I don't agree, it still shows me that someone cares about me.

Last week, I'd asked for red ink and the penultimate person gave me the red ink that I spelled wander as wonder. I was so grateful because each time I read it my mind knew what it should say. I hope to do more with it and am grateful someone pointed it out.

It can be hard sometimes to remember it's just someone's opinion. If it makes the author think, then I believe I'm doing my job even of they don't agree.

Rachel try not to get overwhelmed. You may not see anything constructive to comment on. That's okay and it happens. On the flip side there are some stories where you could fill a binder with all the things that were missed.

I focus on the criteria that the judges use, for both praise and for something I may think needs to be tweaked. Personally, I don't care for words like very, really or so. Often I'll suggest they use the words to make the point. Instead of a very fat man, obese fits quite well. It's just my opinion though, not a hard fast rule. Usually if I point out the very, I won't say much else. I also will suggest instead of exclamation points, let your choice of words do the exclaiming. It doesn't make them wrong and me right, but unless someone points it out, the author may choose to keep the exclamation points and that's fine, it just gives them a chance.

You definitely don't want to beat up the author, which is why I make a point of praising the good things. I know many people say it's okay to start a line with and. Personally it's not my choice, but that's okay.

We need to remember the ultimate goal is to glorify God.

Hope to see you all on the challenges. Hugs
Shann

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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby Come forth » Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:09 pm

Lillian said:
Since I feel responsible for initiating the dialogue on this thread, I would like to suggest that we focus on the positive aspects of the review process. As I indicated, commenting should and can be a learning experience for both the author and the one who is leaving a comment. We are trying to encourage more would-be reviewers who make no claim to being professional editors.


You are right Lillian, you did start the thread and the thought occurs to me that I've hijacked it. I apologize. The original purpose of this thread was to give 'A few tips for the Reluctant Reviewer' and I've taken it down the road of a campaign to get constructive reviews happening.

Should we start a new thread for those who wish to be part of this review group? It makes sense to me and we can still use this thread for the tips and reviewing ideas.

Blessings, Graham.
May we all get eyes to see and ears to hear,
A Revelation of His Word, crystal clear.
Admitting our need to be drawn in,
Less of self, more of Him.

My prayer for us all.
God bless us with the Revelation of His Word, Graham
http://www.shekinahcloud.com/page/page/8464330.htm

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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby lish1936 » Sun Feb 16, 2014 6:05 pm

Welcome back, Graham.

You are right Lillian, you did start the thread and the thought occurs to me that I've hijacked it


Not for one minute, Graham, should you entertain the idea that you hijacked anything! I was in the middle of writing the following when your previous post came through. So I will keep writing, except to say that I think it is a good idea to start a new thread with guidelines and ideas just for reviewers. We might even solicit a name for the thread, something catchy. :D

As our Coordinator, what do you think about trying to elevate the conversation here, so that we don't have to address every adverse reaction to comments made? We've already acknowledged that there will be differences of opinion. A once very expressive Faithwriter buddy always admonished me when forwarding her reviews "to eat the meat, and spit out the bones." That should apply on both sides.

I would love to see this thread as one that supports the reviewer, not discourages him/her. In my opinion, anyone who has a problem with a critique should address it directly to the person. As I've previously stated, we're all aspiring writers who should be willing to learn and to share.

Some ideas for the new thread might be:

1) Post samples of anonymous reviews from the Challenge that demonstrate the sandwich approach.
2) Post samples of anonymous, negative responses and discuss how one would handle it.
3) Post a sample fiction and non-fiction article, and give each reviewer an opportunity to write a critique using the sandwich method, followed by a corporate discussion. We would use Faithwriter's Guidelines as well as those posted on this site.

More ideas welcomed. The learning component kicks in when we take our questions to Jan, which will give her more topics. I already have one in mind.

All this, of course, would be for those who are interested in giving and receiving improved critiques. I hope this isn't too much to swallow. :lol:


Blessings,

Lillian
E-Book - Retirement Lane - How to Celebrate Life After 60

Fortunate 500


I write even when I think I can't, because I must. :-)

I love to write. Nothing escapes the crush I have on the written word. I'm hooked on words!!

"Let words bewitch you. Scrutinze them, mull them, savor them, and in combination, until you see their subtle differences and the ways they tint each other." Francis Flaherty

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