The problem with a beginner like me doing reviews is that I am giving an uneducated, untried opinion to people, and understandably...it frustrates them. Short story short, I was given a bad review score, even though I helped as much as I could, given my lack of experience. It's upsetting because I am giving these reviews my best attempt. I was hoping to get some advice on giving better reviews, so I'm not wasting time (others and my own) writing worthless reviews.
I read the review you did. Overall, I think the biggest problem is the few inline comments, which are really the heart of a good review. I'd suggest more in line, point out more things that worry you or were odd etc. And maybe a bit less praise - praise is good to a point, but it has become most of your feedback. Just keep in mind, when someone puts a work up, they hopefully want you to be more critical then a normal reader might be. Though some people just want the praise. can't win. :)
This is n example of what I mean:
You mention in the comments that you would have liked more southern descriptions - "I'd like to see a few more sensory desciptions of the south." If you had instead pointed out the parts where you wanted the embellishment in the inline comments, it would have been far more useful.
Medi is always on the money. Do your best. Point out flaws or just things you may notice in plot structure and character development. Ask certain questions that might help the writer further their piece. Compliment or comment on scenes you may like such as 'I really felt the tension here'. But all in all everyone wants something different. Some want you to just kiss their butt others want you to give detail help with grammar (
crapola it cut off my comment! the last part was
screw this dang page
Medi, I was actually was worried about my review of a piece called Monster, which was called worthless. The review on stubborn was rated well, but I am still happy for the feedback. I see where I could have made that review better. I guess I was worried about being too specific because I didn't want anyone to think I was taking over their story. But, you are right. We are all here because of a want for improvement and praise isn't helping anyone. I did mean what I said in that review, but I would rather someone focus on the growth opportunies rather than what I'm doing right. Thank you! Also, Harlequinn, don't give up! I want to hear what you have to say!
Forgive me for the double post, but as an after thought, Harlequin brought up a good point. If you review someone who just wants the praise, and they rate you poorly (and I am NOT insuniating that is what happened in my case) are you doomed to in turn get bad reviewers? Is there a way to know what kind of review a person is looking for beforehand? Would it be wrong to review a person based on those wants?
Eaterofcrow-- No, you aren't doomed. You change your review history based on the quality of your reviews. I don't know about you, but I try to give each author three strengths in a piece. Look, when you play in to the idea of what the person you're reviewing wants, you play out of honest feedback. It's why we're here, you know? As long as you use Medi's tips and become more specific, you'll be fine. Inlines are excellent for impressions, sentence critiques, etc. Those are all really helpful. Of course, it is also more than okay to use encouraging, constructive language.
I don't know if this might help anyone, but here's a critiquing guideline I came up with for a critique group I helped start. It's a compilation of questions I found helpful in an in-person group.
How to Critique.
Read through someone elseís writing with the attitude of wanting to help them make it better. They do not need to conform their ideas to your own personal style, but they do need to hear how to make it easier to read and understand.
These questions might help you as you read othersí work.
Do you notice errors in capitalization and punctuation?
Do you notice words used wrongly?
Are there words you do not understand?
How is the personís use of grammar?
What questions are you left with?
Do you understand what is happening?
What seems pointless?
Is there a scene that needs to be expanded?
Is there something that needs to be explained further?
Is there a passage that jars, or one that delights? Make a note of it!
For short stories:
Does the plot flow well?
Are the characters introduced convincingly?
Is the beginning interesting?
Is the ending satisfactory?
Has the author advanced the plot in the chapter?
Has the theme of the chapter contributed to the plot or enhanced our understanding of the characters?
Have the characters remained true to themselves?
Are you bored, or interested?
Comment on things you like as well as on things you dislike. Note improvements when you see them. Above all, always be kind. If you canít think of something good to say, look again, even if itís only at the description of the heroine.
See if this improves your scores!
Thank you!I'm eager to try this. Is it alright if I control+c your guide onto a word file?
Sure! I don't mind if you do anything but publish it! :)
There is no way to know what someone will want. I need a lot of help with grammar and I usually ask for it in the beginning of my work but not everyone does this. You go with your gut and give a review. I have given close to 50 reviews and gotten back just as many. In the beginning I got marked that my reviews were worthless as well, now I am preferred by some premium members. You learn as you go. Also take into account some people on here are looking for support, someone to tell them that yes there work is good and they should keep trying even if it isnt the best in the whole world. So try not to be too harsh with reviews, some people need a happy review only because they feel worthless but not everyone needs a stroke of the ego.
It would be a good idea for everyone to put in their chapter description the kind of feedback they're looking for. I always give as detailed feedback as possible, but to be honest, I don't want to waste my time on someone who only wants a "wow that was soooo good, write more!"