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The Daily Life of a Compulsive Writer

Review reactions: The Good, the Bad, and the Ehh June 13, 2012

Filed under: Writing — katblogger @ 11:02 AM
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In my last post, I talked about good and bad reviews. Today, let’s look at reactions to said reviews.

The Good:

A thank you is a must, always. Even if they say something you don’t like, they took the time to look it over. If you don’t thank them, it’ll get around that you’re ungrateful and you’ll have a hard time getting other reviewers.

The Bad:

As a rule of thumb, reacting like someone murdered your baby is never a good idea. If the review stings, cool down. You don’t have to agree with everything they say. Do not, under any circumstances, write them an impassioned and angry response about how stupid and tasteless they must be not to understand your masterpiece. You asked for their opinion. Deal with it.

The Ehh:

This one is debatable. Personally, I like it when the writer I reviewed responds to my comments with their opinions or explanations. It’s a way to see into their thought processes and learn the ‘behind the scenes’ information about their story. Likewise, I’ll respond to another person’s review if I feel they’d be interested. Not only can it open up discussion between two writers, but it lets me think ‘out loud’. If I have to clarify a point to multiple people, I must have done something wrong. I can look at the explanations I gave and work them into the story. Some of the most fun I’ve had on writing sites is bouncing ideas back and forth after a review.

However, some people find this annoying, especially if the reviewed writer tries to say all their comments were wrong. Remember that they only see what you sent them. Saying “Don’t be stupid. That’s explained later” is silly when they can’t possibly know that.

The bottom line is: be tactful and gracious. Reviewers put a lot of effort into their comments. (Or they ought to. I’ve received my fair share of reviewers who clearly didn’t even look.) Respect that.

 

 

Reviews: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly June 11, 2012

Filed under: Writing — katblogger @ 9:47 AM
Tags: , ,

There are good reviews and bad reviews.

I’m writing this because I heard (through the tumblr grapevine that I illicitly wiretap) that a swarm of bad critics have descended on a popular fanfiction site. They’ll gang up on a story, telling the author how terrible it is and how they ought to be embarrassed. Then they report the story en masse in an effort to get it removed.

These are bad reviews. Obvious, right? Tearing other people’s work down is not cool. When I was critiquing on Inkpop, I tried to avoid being too harsh. Even if a story is god awful, the writer is trying. They’re taking a huge risk and being brave by putting themselves out there, and an attack could end their writing career forever. They don’t need hate. They need help. Of course, these fanfic critics are trying to hurt people. However, there are some people who think overly harsh is helpful. It’s not, unless the writer in question has a self-esteem of adamantium. Typically, it’s closer to tissue paper.

The other type of bad review lies on the other side of the spectrum. It’s the peppy, 100% supportive one-liner that does no one any good.

But I just said writers had a low self-esteem, right? Yeah, but it’s not the reviewer’s job to patch it up. A comment like “This is perfect. No suggestions. Great job!!!111111111” might make us feel warm and fuzzy, but it doesn’t help. I got loads of comments like that on a project. Now that I’ve pulled it out again to prep for an incoming review, I can see loads of errors and issues. I wish someone had pointed them out.

So what is a good review? It’s a critique. It’s balanced. It points out what you’ve done wrong and suggests improvements. It also tells you what you’re doing right. I always search for at least one nice thing to say after a review full of corrections.

A format I often found useful was this:

Grammar/Spelling:

Style:

Hook:

Characters:

Story/Idea:

Overall Comments:

I’d fill in questions, comments, and corrections as I read. Being a critic taught me more about writing as well, showing me what not to do. Reviewing is a way for people to learn and help each other out – but do it right.

Next time I’ll talk about the good and bad of reactions to reviews.