|How NOT to write a review
I’ve been writing reviews since I first joined WDC, years ago. Even when I knew nothing about poetry and my prose writing was only a newly acquired trade, even then I tried to point out in my review the weakest parts and suggested ways to correct them.
Throughout the years, I’ve learnt that some people do not like to be criticized. They would reply with a spiteful note, ask me who I think I am to dare tell them their work is not perfect and so on. Those characters are few, thank God. It taught me to be more careful in what I say in my reviews, and more so when I review pieces by friends, I mustn’t feel too free with my criticism. A while ago, I did a colleague’s poem and because I knew him, I dared tell him that his poem was “not good”. I shouldn’t have said that, no matter what. My comments and suggestions pointed out the weak spots in his poem and were enough to indicate the fact that the poem wasn’t well written. I’ve learnt my lesson.
The issue of reviewing is a cherished tradition on WDC. It is the life line of this magnificent group, and lots of effort is put into instructing members how to write good reviews. Everywhere you turn, you find ads about reviewing and about treating fellow writers with kid gloves. True, we don’t need to be cruel to each other. A simple way to avoid “killing” the writer is to avoid reviewing VERY badly written pieces. Sometimes I think this is cruel of me to do so, for how will that writer get the help he/she needs? But we are not here to teach elemental grammar, spelling and syntax, but to serve as an objective outsider who can help “improve” a piece.
Now, since reviewing is the going trend in our community, it became much like the jewelry trade. Some of the jewels are genuine, and some are custom jewels made cheaply in the Far East. Everyone needs to show a couple of reviews hanging under their belt, and this yields reviews as the following ones (were sent to me):
1. “Hi, this is a rhymed and metered poem. Signed (xxxxx)
Why bother sending a review like this? The reviewer didn’t even say whether he liked the piece…
2. ”An excellent and intelligently written poem about a wizard and his son who torments animals! This is fabulous! A very smart and creative poem, well rhymed and cutely written!”
This reviewer sends me a lot of reviews, usually better than this one. He liked my poem and said so. The question is if this can count as a “review”? It is more like a cNote. So why don’t we send cNotes when all we do is compliment?
3. ”This is a good funny poem!” I should have thanked the writer for this, but decided not to.
4. ”Wish I had read this instead of watching the 2 and a 1/2 hour movie haha:) good work, vivid picture, and great flow.
This one warmed my heart, true, but it’s not a review.
5. :Awsome! Signed (XXXXX)
OK. I think by now you’ve got my meaning. There are two factors playing in this game. The first is the need to show that you are doing the “holy work” and sending reviews, but on the other hand, all members need good ratings for their items, and without reviewing, how can one get rated? So the result is hundreds of worthless reviews and happy members.
Am I criticizing the system? Not really. It’s human vanity that stands accused. We don’t like to be critiqued, so we don’t do it to others. Wrong. I want honest opinions on my work, so I give my honest opinion in my reviews. If it’s “bad news” for the writer, I try to point errors out in a none offensive way, and I state at the beginning of my review that I am not God and what I think might be wrong or irrelevant. Not like some reviewers who are afraid of their own shadow and keep repeating in their review that I can disregard their views…
I would love to hear what my fellow members of this group think about REVIEWING.
Click on the image
and see where it will take you!