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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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lish1936
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A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby lish1936 » Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:22 pm

A Faithwriter, who is also a friend, continues to share her frustration over the lack of constructive comments on her Challenge submissions. Despite the great guidelines for critiquing that's available on the Forum, I found the following "how to" on another site that might further encourage those Faithwriters who read, but shy away from reviewing or giving constructive reviews.

Six Key Characteristics For Reviews
Your reviews should...

Be Honest.

Helping writers improve their craft is the goal. Honest opinions are what help writers improve. Giving false feedback doesn't help anyone and can lead an author down a long road to bitter disappointment.

Be Encouraging.

Everyone at every level should be encouraged to continue writing! Encouraging reviews are more likely to be used by an author which means the time creating the review was well spent. Whether the author decides to use the reviewer's honest suggestions or not, the review should be motivating and encourage the author to keep writing

Be Respectful.

Regardless of an author's level of skill or talent, a reviewer should always respect that the author is an individual person. A reviewer flaunting that they are better than the author they're reviewing is not respectful and is counter productive.

Be Well-rounded.

While honesty is very important, a review that points out only flaws without any mention of an item's positive points is not nearly as helpful to an author as a well rounded review with both positive and negative remarks. Don't forget, the same goes for reviews that only point out positives! Even the greatest pieces of writing have room for suggestions and opinions.

Be Appealing and Easy to Understand.

When reviewing, presentation is very important. Emoticons can highlight important points in the review and can be creatively used to make the review feel more friendly. Double spaced paragraphs and other appropriate spacing makes reading a review much easier on the eyes.

The Content Of A Review

Keeping in mind the six points highlighted above, a review should contain your opinion. While grammatical, typographical and other errors can be included within a review, don't forget to tell the author how the piece made you feel. Give them your thoughts about the inside of their writing, not just the outside.

Some example questions you may ask yourself about the piece to help you get your opinion across are as follows:

How did the writing make you feel? Did it invoke any emotions?
Can you relate to the writing through a personal experience?
Did the plot interest you? Were the characters believable? Did the dialog flow naturally?
Did the time, place and other setting characteristics work together?
What did you like most? What did you like least? Did anything stand out?
Is there anything you would change within the writing?
Was the writing memorable? Why or why not?
If this were your own writing, what would you want to know from a reviewer?

Incorporating these thoughts within your reviews will expand your own analytical skills allowing you to regard your own writing from another viewpoint. Whether the author agrees with any of your suggestions or ideas is not relevant. You have given them another perspective on their work they would not have otherwise had. They may hear the same thoughts from a number of different people which may give them a better understanding of their readers as a whole.


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

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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 glorybee » Sat Feb 08, 2014 2:37 pm

This is a superb list!

Unfortunately, writers tend to fall into two camps--those who crave constructive critique, and those who dislike it. Some writers are perhaps just starting to be brave enough to submit publicly, or some just don't have thick enough skin, and they take even constructive critique very personally. So for every person who responds positively to a critique, you get another who either bristles at every suggestion or just decides that maybe writing isn't for them.

You really can't win, especially when the Challenge entries are anonymous. Once the names are posted, if you know that the writer is one who only likes positive feedback, you can do that--conversely, if you know that the writer is one who likes honest critique, you can do that, too. But usually, once the names go up, people are done with leaving comments.

I'm not sure what the answer is to this dilemma.

j
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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby lish1936 » Sat Feb 08, 2014 4:44 pm

I know. It's a constant beat of the drum, but I thought maybe the added tips would inspire a few- perhaps in the Regular Article section

We can always hope. :D

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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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby Come forth » Sat Feb 08, 2014 8:06 pm

How much I would love to see good reviews become the main theme of the Challenge. It has been and remains my main disappointment within FW; and yet I too have fallen foul and now only leave positive comments. Honest reviews on this site are dangerous to your reputation; but i also worry about hurting someone and the sore remains.

Even writing this is sort of scary for me, but I would love to see a whole group of us jump in and thrash this subject out. Entering the Chalenge should be about LEARNING to write, not about a contest with winners. I know that sounds 'challenging' (pun intended) but when our motivation to enter is to win then the constructive reaction of others isn't what we are looking for, we are already preset in our minds to only receive favour; we want to win.

If somehow, and I know it's hard and I don't have the answers, the entries could be graded by the biggest winner being the one who learnt the most (think of the biggest loser mentality) then when we enter we would be looking for constructive feedback and our motivation to enter would change.

Or perhaps the prize could go to the best critique in each level; to give a critique you must enter the Challenge and both receive and give critiques; the winner would be the best critique given by a member in each level.

And before anyone tells me, I know, submissions would fall through the floor. :lol:

But it is sort of counter productive to be a website designed for the improvement of writing skills, and good critiques are essential to that, and yet most comments simply use words like great, wonderful, powerful and well writen.

Sorry if I've offended anyone; that isn't my intention. :bow honest :sorry

My last point is that I know giving a good critique is very time consuming and I really do not have any answers at all. But, just a thought, a few members could be enrolled to the task of giving one good critique a day to a Challenge entry. Say maybe 8 members, two to each level, starting from the top (to encourage earlier entries), one on the odd numbers and one on the even so they don't both do the same entry; maybe to make it easier they only have to do five a week. All of a sudden at least 40 good critiques would go out every week, ten to each level and every entrant would know that red ink is a part of the deal. For those worried about negative comments being left on display for the general public (and I do worry about doing that to someone else, although I don't care about them being left on my entries as long as they are constructive) maybe these critiques could be by private message.

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 RachelM » Sun Feb 09, 2014 1:28 am

These are amazing guidelines! Thank you for sharing them, Lillian.

I guess I feel overwhelmed when I contemplate leaving reviews, because I can't possibly leave feedback on all of the entries. I like Graham's idea of sharing the load; I could probably leave one thorough comment a day.

I think the idea of rewarding the best critique every week is wonderful! Here's an idea that might work without further burdening the FaithWriters staff:

Everyone who enters for the week needs to leave one comment per day that both encourages and offers constructive criticism, and then each of the people who entered for the week would vote for the person who left the most constructive comment (not themselves :D ). The prize could be something like a free article edit by one of the approved FW editors, credit for the critique circle, or a challenge entry feedback by Finesse editing.

I think that people would be less likely to be offended by constructive criticism if they saw that it was common on everyone's articles--even the best ones.
My FaithWriters profile: RachelM FW member profile

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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby tomoral » Sun Feb 09, 2014 4:36 am

I came into Faithwriters almost two years ago, and I knew absolutely nothing about writing. I only knew I wanted to be a writer more than anything. The constructive criticism I received from people like Shann and others helped me immensely. Now that I have moved to Masters, albeit reluctantly, I still could use some writing tips. As I have written before, I feel like a little fish in the ocean there. So anyone who can tell me how to be a better writer, please do so. If I don't agree with the reviewer's opinion I'll let it go, but I am aware that I still need guidance in some areas.

I want to grow as a writer, and Faithwriters is giving me the ability to do just that.

Blessings, Lyn
God Bless the beasts and the children
Give them shelter from the storms.
Children are our tomorrow
Keep them daily from the sorrow
Of the beasts in life

http://www.faithwriters.com/websites/my ... p?id=57394

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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby lish1936 » Sun Feb 09, 2014 9:56 am

The reality about reviewing an article can't be ignored. It takes time to read, and then write a critique. One of the things I found helpful in Faithwriter's guidelines and those on this post was information about what to comment on in writing the review. Knowing this is a time-saver for me. I no longer stare at the article, and wonder what to write other than pointing out errors in grammar or word choices.

So with my newly acquired information, :D I'm ready to join Graham and Rachel. Let' change the status quo! :thumbs

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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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby RedBaron » Sun Feb 09, 2014 12:50 pm

If you don't mind, I'm going to make this a sticky so it doesn't get lost/eaten by the system :)
<><
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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby lish1936 » Sun Feb 09, 2014 6:33 pm

Hi, Shari.

What's a "sticky?" :roll:

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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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby lish1936 » Sun Feb 09, 2014 8:06 pm

:lol: :lol: Let me amend my question. I know what a sticky is, but how does that apply to the
Forum?

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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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby RedBaron » Mon Feb 10, 2014 12:25 am

It means that this post is stuck, or "stickied" to the top of the forum, so it doesn't get buried or lost when newer posts are made. Also, sometimes if posts don't get a reply for a period of time, the system autocleans, "or eats" the posts.

lish1936 wrote:Hi, Shari.

What's a "sticky?" :roll:

Lillian
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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby lish1936 » Mon Feb 10, 2014 1:40 pm

Okay. :thankssign

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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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby Come forth » Mon Feb 10, 2014 7:27 pm

So far we have three starters who are willing to leave one good review per day (let's say for five days per week); Rachel, Lillian and myself.

Are you prepared to join this list Lyn? That would give us four. I reckon we could start with that. It would give us 20 good reviews a week and at least be a start.

Let me SUGGEST this, and it is fully open to discussion.

I offer myself to cordinate the process so that no further load is placed on Deb, Mike or Bea. I'll draw up a simple roster where we each take turns at each level for the week (four levels means we have them all covered).

Following, and hopefully simplifying, all the guidelines on a good review, here is how I SUGGEST we write our reviews.

Start with a simple statement of how the entry impacted on your personaly. Did it grab you? Did it teach you something? Was it exciting? Did it make you happy or sad for the MC? Was it easy to read? (just examples of questions you could ask yourself) Choose a positive impact to share with the writer so that the review is off to a positive start.

Second; pick ONE thing that you feel could be improved upon. Look at things like 'show not tell', conflicts in POV, time differences, use of too many conjunctions, sentence variance, did the entry have a good hook, did it end well, did it flow smoothly from start to finish (again just examples). Pick only one thing so that the writer is not overwhealmed or discouraged and remember that if we learn one thing, just one, then we have improved and there is always next week to improve some more.

Third and last is to pick one thing that you felt was really good. maybe a particular phrase or word choice was excellent or perhaps the entry started with a really good hook, or maybe it ended particularly well. Again just one thing to share with the writer and so end the review on a positive note.

This simple plan puts Debs sandwhich principle in action (a slice of positive, some meaty negative and another slice of positive (I learnt it as the 3Ks, Kiss Kick Kiss).

Obviously we would need to run this by Mike, Bea and Deb and it would be great to have some more volunteers. But it's a start and it could grow.

Okay, what do we all feel and do we pass it on up the ladder for feedback.

Blessings, Graham.

PS. I know we don't actually need a roster, we can just comment on any article and are free to do so. My idea is that if we do have a roster we spread the joy, we don't double up on one writer (who may feel picked on or bullied) and we make the whole concept flow through all levels and make it more a part of Challenge life (entrants may hopefully embrace the idea quicker if we cover more bases and do it as an even spread).

I'm not trying to take over here and will gladly join in if anyone else wants to coordinate it or has a better idea.
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 tomoral » Mon Feb 10, 2014 8:10 pm

Sorry, Colin. I simply don't feel qualified, and my time is limited at the moment with obligations at home.

I will give an honest opinion of an article when I review. That's all I can say.

In fact, I have been given permission to move back to Advanced Level for the time being, due only to the fact I never achieved a number 1 ranking in that level, and my ECs came only in the weeks that the number of entries were minimal. I am not a Master at writing, and so I need to hone my craft a bit before claiming to be.

Blessings!
God Bless the beasts and the children
Give them shelter from the storms.
Children are our tomorrow
Keep them daily from the sorrow
Of the beasts in life

http://www.faithwriters.com/websites/my ... p?id=57394

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Re: A Few Tips For the Reluctant Reviewer?

Postby Come forth » Mon Feb 10, 2014 8:46 pm

That's fine Lyn; don't feel stressed or pressured. Writing is as much about enjoyment as it is about improving and if you feel out of water then the enjoyment will soon cease.

Be blessed and enjoy the level that is comfortable for you; 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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