hotspot46, it's not your responsibility to rectify issues with other people's works - you're not taking over their work and re-writting it. You're giving them feedback so that they know what to change.
Does the dialog seem awkwardly or inappropriate?
Is there a plot hole?
An unexplained inconsistency or incongruity?
Are you confused by any of the sentences or actions?
You don't have to make the sentences less confusing or fix the plot holes or dialog, you just need to point out what you feel is wrong with it.
The only thing is, DO NOT just say something like the dialog is awkward in the score box. That's not useful. Use the in-line feature to point out the issue by saying things like:
this person is supposed to be a hillbilly with a thick accent, but they are speaking perfect English.
The more inline comments you do that aren't grammar or spelling, the better.
Medi brings up some good questions you should ask yourself when reviewing. Have you ever wondered why you loved a particular piece of writing? What made it work? What words were used? Is the dialog dynamic and real? Do you feel like you were there next to the heroine when the villian kidnapped her from her parents?
Writers don't hope for the best in writing, we work at the craft and make it better. Is piece logical? Are the rules of writing followed? If the rules are broken, does it emphasize a point and give merit?
The top boxes are there for general criticism and praise. The inline comments are gold. If a piece has a serious flaw, like characterization or setting, you mention it in one of those boxes. For specifics, the inline comments can illuminate what works and what doesn't. You don't have to be an expert, but you should try to work on being an expert. That alone will make for better writing and reviewing.
Holy cow! Ok, so here's my getting reviewed pet peeve: I used to be on here under a different name and purposefully stopped using one of my accounts to stop getting a premium member's work. Often all three of my reviews would be on this person's work, which I couldn't enjoy. I don't remember them, I know they were committed to writing, but I didn't feel right about reviewing their work halfway and wanted a fresh start. I'm also not particularly organized and often loose my user names and passwords (hence my name).
This cite has changed a lot since then and I've learned that being direct with your reviewer is very important. Ricki, Medi, Jon, you all bring up excellent points. We aren't on here to win praise, we want to hone our craft. As writers, we also need to read experimental styles that we don't often enjoy. It's part of becoming a better artist. When I review chapters, for instance, I treat them like short stories. The ninth chapter and the fourth chapter should be totally different. I get worried when someone doesn't allow me to make presumptions; no one wants to be a reader treated like an idiot. So for plot, I only say something if the context becomes confusing. I try to look at each work with the form, structure and theme in mind, rather than whether or not I enjoy that piece. As such, I find reading other people's work much more enjoyable anyway.
When I get reviews, I rate them down for a lot of these same reasons. I know I've gone back and improved scores for people because some part of my ego smarted (eh, rick?), but honesty is the only way we get anywhere on this site. In fact, controversy here, I hate it that people don't rate down bad reviewers and give back criticism. As everyone has already pointed out, it's an entirely fixable problem.
I'll be the first to admit that I am a top-ranked bruiser of egos! It's all good though, my ego gets battered regularly on my stuff. I should honestly change my username to BlackandBlueface.
Medi-I totally agree about peoples personal taste. I recently had someone tell me they dont like the genre I write in and then gave no helpful critique only told me how stupid and worthless my writing was. Um, ok then thanks. I proceeded to give them the proper scores for their review. Was it helpful? Not at all. Did they phrase it in a constructive manner? Partially. And so on and so forth. There are helpful 'bad' reviews and then there are people who just aim to be rude and bash your work.
As for the first person narration- When people tell me that I shouldnt do first person I reply, Laurell K Hamilton is a successful author who has written over 20 books all with first person narrators. It may not be what others like but that doesnt mean publishers wont accept it. The same thing goes for genre. Just because one person doesnt like it doesnt mean another person wont.
MARIA123-If you works are public I would be more than happy to review it for you. I posted a dream I had not too long ago that I mostly just wanted feedback on whether the premise seemed plausible. I mostly got people who nitpicked every inch of it. I thanked them for their help and reviewed them accordingly. Never let other people tell you the value of your work. Its Art, not machinery, it will never be perfect to all and there is no 'right' way, only your way.
@Harl---Who the heck told you that 1st person shouldn't be done?! A lot of great works out there are done in first person! Moby Dick anybody?
@Rick-A stupid person lol. Its just peoples taste. I know plenty of stories that wouldnt have worked if they were done in first person so I can agree its not meant for every story. But a lot of mine works better because of it.
Oh and also, you may be a hardass but its valuable hardassery! If I cant take a peers review I will never be able to take an Editor or Publishers critique.
I hear you on that. I've made a personal promise not to respond to any critique until I've stewed on it for two days. Even the good ones. Emotions run too high in the immediate moments following a review and I know they cloud my better judgement.
Except for the one that said I should've introduced my characters better in Ch. 12. Umm...hello? I did that WAY back in Ch. 1. Jerk.
But you should've described their bedroom better, cause you know I need to be reminded of the exact same scene I saw last chapter in this chapter! If all books were written that way they'd be 1000 pages long and boring after the first 10. When someone makes a 'chapter' comment I barely pay it any mind because its not worth the stress. I'm up to chapter 8 and I had someone remark that they couldn't understand the character dynamics....there are no words for that kind of comment.
I don't mind getting grilled on setting if the person hasn't read the chapter where it's already been established. It's just those things like "the presence of magic caught me by surprise, you should've made it clearer that these types of elements are involved." yeah I did that in chapter ONE.
@Harl- I've read some of your pieces and I think they are perfect with 1st POV. We do have to be courteous even to the bad reviewers. Some reviewers may not have the same love of the craft as some of us do. God forbid, they aren't paying attention to that Blatant title "Chapter 13."
One thing I ask myself when one of my pieces gets returned is: How much energy did the reviewer put into it? I look how they write the reviews. Is the review demeaning? Does it have grammatical problems? Is there a topic of concern about my piece that is supported logically with the reviewers points? These are important questions when composing any piece of written prose. It begins in simple conversation and blogs.
It irks me when a reviewer does a poor job. I believe a person should put everything into what he or she is doing. That makes for a good review. When I get a poor review, I thank the reviewer, give a low score, and look forward to the next review. Is that being too cold? It's no colder than the poor review received. The reviewer gets back what he or she put into it.
If a bad reviewer/writer wants to improve, he or she has to ask why and more importantly be open for the criticism from a colleague.
@JonCallot thank you I think so as well.
I'm glad were able to review the people who critique our works because sometimes when I get those barely intelligible one line reviews I feel so cheated. I get over, it but for some writers who need encouragement and inspiration to keep on its horrible that they come to their peers for help and get short changed.
I tend to give way too much on reviews. I once spent two hours reviewing someone's work, commenting on how much I liked the premise of the story, and how a little rearrangement of the sentences would make it more plain. There were a number of things out of sequence and several run-on sentences (yes, they were long, but they weren't grammatically complete). She had asked me to review her work. I posted the review, only to hear back from her shortly after: "Quit messing with my story! I write in long, convoluted sentences on purpose because that's the way it would have been done back then!" (No, they were Romans, and would have spoken Latin!) and went on and on about how terrible I was to her--"I should know grammar, I'm a profreader(sic) and can point out grammtical problems myself!" This is an example of a bad receiver! The most hilarious part was the amount of typos in her rebuttal. (That's an actual quote.) Then, about a month later, she forgot all about it and asked me again to review her work. Sorry, but I deleted the request.
In my philosophy, if I spend several hours giving an in-depth critique, you can at least be nice to me. So, if I get jumped on for doing what I've been asked to do, that's very hard for me to handle. Also, like @Jon said, if there are grammatical problems with a piece, I'm one that will point them out. It's not a thorough critique without that.
So, with that said about the type of review I give, it is irksome to feel that someone's rushed through my piece and not said much. If I don't leave much comment, it's because I don't see much room for improvement.
If I don't like something to the point that it interferes with my view of the writing itself, then it's only fair to the author if I let the piece expire and go to someone who likes it well enough to give it a fair hearing. I can't stand blood and guts (I'd have been a nurse if I didn't have a fainting problem) or dark, witchy themes. So those of you who write such stories probably won't get reviews from me. However, I do glance over the chapter, no matter the tags, to see if I am able to review it without nightmares. If I can, I do it.
There's a lot of writing that isn't to my personal reading taste. My favorites are history, mystery, and happy endings. But I always try to judge according to the individual merits of the piece. What emotions does the piece portray? Are the characters "alive" on the page? How well does the author express the sequence of events? Is it farfetched or too commonplace? Is it boring, or interesting? I can admire writing that is good even if it won't turn into my next favorite book. This is especially important to me, as I hope to have my own editing business someday. I must learn how to fairly evaluate all sorts of pieces.
Another thing I do here, which seems to give me better reviews, is to give a brief sentence or two to recap previous chapters' occurences, timeframe, and characters, at the top of each submission. Of course, this would be redundant on a first chapter or short story. But I do ask for each person to give inline comments, and since I've begun putting that request at the top of each submission, I've only had one person that didn't.
And I just have to say, Medi and Rick have both reviewed my work multiple times, and I've always really loved their reviews!! Thanks, guys.
@Hannah hear, hear! Couldn't have said it better! Especially the in-line summary for Chapter reviews. I noted that to someone as well. I liked the story but I didn't know the main character was a girl till halfway through and it was a 5th or 6th chapter review. I never take very long with reviews, because I can usually get what I need to say out quick and I feel too much may overwhelm the writer and actually backfire instead of help. I for one, like in depth reviews. I however, don't like certain ways people respond.
Two pet peeves-The illiterate and the over-literate. There are also combo's of those two. Yes, sometimes its OK to use slang or not be overly grammatical, but when I have to re-read a suggestion 8 times because its full of typo's I don't take them very serious. The same goes for someone whose response looks like they whipped out a thesaurus and just played-pick a word. As I said, combo people are those who cant spell easy words correct like-'the, chapter, sentence, sense(Someone once wrote cense)' and then use fanciful words to make themselves appear smart. Your contradictions make me giggle!
I am glad I found this. I spend at least an hour writing each review and I try to be as helpful as I can. I've gotten my first review back and it was useless. It was entirely one line comments that said how great the story was. I decided to use this site, because I thought I was likely to actually get feedback and I was disappointed to get nothing helpful. I'd rather get a review that's harsh, but fair. My goal here is to improve and I can't do that if no one tells me what's wrong with the story. It's good to know other people are feeling the same way.
KCoca-- Until you establish a history, you're probably going to get those reviews. Just remember to grade and look at your own grades. Sometimes, you can also develop networks on here (though, mostly premium members have this) so you don't get oggling reviews or depricating ones. No one is on here to get bad reviews, but some of us do forget that when we give them. Welcome to fuse, I hope it proves to be as good a resource for you as it's been for me.
@KCoca1313 it happens to everyone. Ive done close to 50 reviews and gotten as many back and I still get the occasional 1 liners, its what you get when people aren't obligated to do more. If you get a bad review give the proper rating back, sooner or later theyll stop being able to give reviews because they arent helpful. But rest assured you will get help, there are good ones out there!
I'm a poet and I like to give reviews a lot and i do my best but i get more nervous submitting my reviews than i do submitting my own work. I can handle criticism of my work but reviewing is not a task I've invested much time in prior so some times i'm afraid that i'll miss the plot of a poem completely and give totally useless review based on that. especially when i feel a poet is technically more sound than i am.
Collins, I just reviewed your work! I found your post on here interesting, so let's clear something up: it doesn't make you a bad reviewer if you miss the point of a piece. Sometimes, that lets the author know that they aren't being very clear. Sometimes it helps the reader find holes in their own work. Don't let technical knowledge deprive you of your viewpoint: you are the writer's target audience, so read from that perspective. If the poem is muddled, is the audience going to be able to adjust to that and find meaning in that poem?
Echo that iforgetusernames I know I like the reviews from people who dont normally read my type of work and are confused by terms or references that maybe only people who read the same books as me might understand. It helps you develop your work better so you can pull in a larger audience because sometimes writers dont realize something theyre doing might be alienating certain readers. Also a valid opinion (i.e. not telling the writer you think their works sucks or some other such rude comments) is usually welcome because it lets the author know how people interpret their work.