Good Reviews are Critical
A good reviewer reads objectively.
By rating honestly -- and providing the all important constructive criticism, we do a great job of helping everyone. It is always better to rate honestly, regardless of age. If we were to rate highly, and a younger member submitted an item to their English teacher, expecting an "A" and got back a "D", that wouldn't be good at all, would it?
On the other end, if it is an older person, and they're rated a "5" when they deserve a "3", then they submit their item to a publisher or publication and get a scathing rejection letter, they'd be devastated.
Hopefully, while you are helping others by pointing out mistakes and corrections and giving suggestions, it helps you to explore your own writing style and learn what you like and don't like as you go. Reviewing is one of the best ways to improve your own writing and creative processes. So keep that in mind when you're doing it... remember to take it in for yourself as well as the author you're reviewing.
All serious writers find it necessary to have someone read their draft and offer useful comments. Each honest, critical reviewer has a hand in helping a writer turn his draft into a piece of literary excellence. You may even see your name listed in the credits someday.
If you find a piece you consider
wonderful, and you say so with, ‘this is wonderful!’, then give
it five stars, that's not a critique, that is praise. We all do it
and sometimes the item is perfect, there really isn’t any more to
say. The author would rather be told though, why you think it’s
wonderful. Is it the story? The characters? Did you relate to the
plot, or did it make you laugh or cry? These writes can be critiqued too, spell out what was done well. Don't you want to know so you can spot them in your own writing too?
I love praise. Everyone needs a good dose regularly. Praise is my pay for writing. But after all, I joined the site to learn the meat and potatoes of writing. If I also receive a little praise, that’s the gravy.
What makes a good story, in the end, is the opinion of the reader. Everyone is not going to like or agree with everything they read. A good reviewer reads objectively. The writer doesn’t need your rating or your opinion on either his opinion or his choice of subject, he needs it on how well he wrote the piece. If you feel you can't give an unbiased review, don't review it.
Writers must be able to trust their reviewers. Most authors in a peer-to-peer writing group are working toward learning to write better. Be honest and encouraging. They can learn without you, but it will be much more difficult without a few tips and assurances that they're going the right way.
Honest and constructive critiques are important to both the reviewer and the author. As we learn to read critically, we are learning to write more intelligently. Reading critically helps you to become aware of how you, as a reader, respond to repetition, or where it becomes boring, (for example). You will begin to avoid doing the same things in your writing.
Be honest with your dislikes too. Did you dislike something because it reminded you of something personally, or because the words were strung together awkwardly? Avoid rating with your emotions.
I read items seriously, as completely as possible, with two intentions.
The first is to help the author to the best of my abilities. I help in the areas I can. I don't attempt to cover all the issues of a critique because I don't have the knowledge.
The second is for me, it helps with my own writing. As I read a story and notice things that may need changing, then read my own items, I can more easily see where I have made the same mistakes.
So you see, learning to give a good review is critical to both the review’er and review’ee.
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