Author Topic: The Art of Reviewing  (Read 1359 times)


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The Art of Reviewing
« on: December 27, 2009, 03:41:30 PM »
Gyppo posted this in the Welcome center, and I would like to expand on the topic.

Gyppo Said, "What many writers find useful is critique from a reader rather than a fellow writer.  When we sell  a book, or even an article, most of the intended audience are ordinary readers, not writers with their own definite and sometimes contrary opinions on how a thing should have been written.  An 'ordinary' reader who can tell us what did or didn't work, even if they're not always sure about the why and how, can be a priceless asset.  They can remind us of the 'real world' when we get a bit too big for our own boots.  Just because we're 'right' it doesn't always mean we're communicating effectively ;-)"

The reason I find this an interesting topic is that reviewing can consist of several different components. There is content, word choice, grammar, proofing, etc.

When I'm reading anything, I proofread while I'm reading..that is a bad habit that I cannot control. However, I type stuff with typos all the time. When I'm reading a piece within my area of knowledge, I tend to read for content, structure, and whether or not the purpose of the writing has been achieved.

Now, when reading fiction? I just read it and make a call as to whether I really want to turn another page and keep reading. There are so many books on my shelf that I could never get through the first chapter. And then there are other books on my shelves that I could read over and over again, and each time find something new or insightful.

So, I guess what I'm wondering is if most people have one particular way in which they review/critique written pieces? Or are there different criteria for reviewing depending on your purpose or your time or your whatever??

And additionally, is there any "right" way to go about it?

Just curious.


Offline A.J.B

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Re: The Art of Reviewing
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2009, 04:01:41 PM »
I distance myself from a piece I am trying to critique and just give it a heavy handed 'i'm not here to make you smile' sort of approach. I can't critique and be nice.

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Offline Don

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Re: The Art of Reviewing
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2009, 08:16:13 PM »
Just because we're 'right' it doesn't always mean we're communicating effectively ;-)"

Anyone who wants to be a writer should have this tattooed on the inside of their eyelids.

In our efforts to be witty, we sometimes forget that the purpose of writing is to tell a story. Enamored with our cleverness, we don't recognize when we have failed our readers. That is the value of having a fresh set of eyes look at your work.

Even if specific criticisms lack merit, they force you to reread your work from a fresh perspective and for that alone, the reviewer deserves a thank you. Nothing changes in a vacuum. Learn from your detractors.
I have a motto: when in doubt, go for the cheap laugh.

Offline Writermom

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Re: The Art of Reviewing
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2009, 08:24:10 PM »
Personally I review as a reader, mainly because i know I'm not the best at the technical side of writing.  I know what I look for when I pick up a new book, but I can't say I know where grammar may be off or if there is a missing , .  and what not. 

As far as if there is a right way.  I don't think so.  If the person for whom your reviewing asks for weather or not the story works or grabs the readers attention then that's what you should give them.  But to each their own.  ^_^
When things look bad, write it down, could make a good story.

super fly

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Re: The Art of Reviewing
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2009, 07:03:13 PM »
To answer your question I aim for content. Writing a book is about telling a story, and if you have a good story then people will read it. As

for the critiquing goes, I try to be sugar and spice.  General when I critique, I will start out with areas of improvement then move into what

I did like about the piece. Because the truth is we do not know each other personally or seen each other in person. You don't know if you

are critiquing a 12, 22, 32,42, 52, 62, or even a 72 year old.

Offline Spell Chick

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Re: The Art of Reviewing
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2009, 07:11:15 PM »
I will go for an overall tone in a general way.

I'm a grammarian by OCD and tend to point out issues with grammar, spelling (who would have guessed that?) and punctuation. I'm a stickler for the right homophone and will point out issues there, too.

I am not any good at the show vs tell issue for a variety of reasons. I'm also not very good at eliminating modifiers; find a better noun/verb thing. So I don't go there.

I critique from my strong points. Unfortunately, I write from all my points ...
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Re: The Art of Reviewing
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2009, 08:07:29 PM »
I review, critique, and proofread as an editor. I can't help it, and I shouldn't have to.

A year ago a poster, long since disappeared, commented about this. He asked me to review his work as a reader.

It's not my job as an editor to read your work as a reader. It's your job as a writer to force me to forget editing and charm me into reading your work.

If I say nothing else on these boards, remember this.

It's the one skill required in publishing.

« Last Edit: December 28, 2009, 08:09:20 PM by Wolfe »


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Re: The Art of Reviewing
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2009, 08:29:31 PM »
Wolfe, your comments ring true. As a doctoral student I met the editor of our dissertations. He once had a dissertation that was so "interesting" he said he had to put it aside because he was 'reading' it with interest as opposed to 'editing' it.

I fully comprehend. Thank you for the feedback.


Offline PretzelGirl

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Re: The Art of Reviewing
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2009, 08:53:46 PM »
I haven't really thought about which approach I take.
I think it depends on my mood to be honest! Usually, if the work needs many things improved, I review as a reader and only read as far as I can and comment on why I couldn't read further.
I'm fairly good with grammar and sentence structure, so that never escapes my attention. When people say "I know this has many spelling/grammar mistakes, so please focus on content" I ignore them. If they KNOW this, it's rude to dismiss it and ask others for feedback anyway.

Grammar is important, more important than many writers think. If there's any good content, it will be overlooked anyway if the writer can't do his/her job and WRITE properly.
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