Learn to Review to Learn to Write
You Say You Don’t Know How to Review?
If you are a beginning writer you may feel you can’t review because you’re not confident in your skills as a writer. How can you tell others how to write when you’re not sure how to yourself? There is important feedback you can give as a reader.
After you read a piece, think about your reaction. Did you like it? Tell the author why you liked it. Did you want to read on to find out what would happen to the characters? Did the characters feel like real people? If you didn’t like it, explain why. Were you unable to see the scene? Maybe the dialogue didn’t sound real. Keep it simple until you feel confident enough to expand. Feedback helps both the writer and the reviewer.
You don't have to 'like' the piece to know if it's working. Are the scenes clear? Are the emotions real? Keep personal bias out of your comments by focusing on the rules of writing and you'll be able to give useful feedback.
Each genre has its own specialties beyond basic writing rules. A change that is correctly suggested in drama might be wrong in fantasy, so be aware of the genre you're reviewing.
Remember, the writer knows what is happening in the story. They believe you will too, but sometimes they leave out important details that they see clearly in their head, forgetting to write them into the work. If you believe this is happening, speak out, the writer needs to know.
You are able to give the author a reader’s reaction. You may see the theme as something completely different from what the author intended. Your reaction will help the author know if he’s on the right track or not. That's all you need to do at first.
As your skill develops, you can figure out why something doesn’t work. Did you wonder why the characters did something? Tell the author where he needs to be clearer. This is where critiquing helps you in your own writing. You know why your characters did something, but did you tell the reader? Reading your work aloud helps you find more than typos; it shows you areas that may need more clarifying.