|Issue #7 of the Writing.Com Reviewing Newsletter.
Your editor is: Arwee
[ Table of Contents ]
1. About this Newsletter
2. Letter from the Editor
3. Editor's Picks
4. Ask & Answer
5. Useful Links
[ About this Newsletter ]
One of the elements to more in-depth reviewing is explaining yourself. It takes a keen eye to spot errors in a piece, but when you go the extra mile to explain yourself, your reviewee has a more clear idea of what they may have done wrong. As a result they will know what they can do it fix it and how avoid it in the future. This newsletter is all about explaining yourself and why it’s important to an in-depth review.
[ Letter from the Editor ]
I, personally, love it when my reviewers tell me I did something wrong, then go into detail about why they think I did something wrong, whether the problem is technical, character, or plot related. More detailed explanations help me pinpoint the problem and also help me avoid making the same mistake again.
But how is a reviewer, explaining their reasoning behind something they point out supposed to help? The first benefit I can think of is more information. When you have a reviewer who points out a problem, it probably helps to know there’s a problem there. But wouldn’t it be great if the reviewer also told you why they thought it was a problem? That way, you know why they think it’s a problem, and if need be you’ll have an idea of where your weakness is and will be able to avoid it again in the future.
Another benefit is for the reviewers themselves. By explaining yourself, you’re helping build a better understanding of the subject you’re explaining. For example, over the years, I’ve had to research some problems I’ve pointed out simply to educate myself in order to give my reviewee as accurate a correction as possible. This has led me to a better understanding of a wide variety of subjects, everything from different types of flowers to how to accurately represent a dialogue tag. And while you help out your reviewee with your new found knowledge, you also help yourself learn and understand new things as well.
Now that you know a couple of the benefits of explaining yourselves, how do you actually go about doing it? It’s really quite easy. Just think of why you see a certain thing as a problem and then write it down. I know, I know, pretty obvious right? But for the sake of completeness (and explaining myself ) let’s take a few examples:
Say you noticed the writer is consistently getting something technical wrong. Perhaps they seem to be confusing the word ‘their’ and the word ‘they’re’ all the time. While it’s true that you can say something like:
Their should be they’re
In your comments. Your writer might not understand why you made that suggestion if you
offer them no explanation. If it’s a consistent problem, then it’s very likely that your reviewee doesn’t understand. So, as a reviewer striving to explain themselves, it is now on your responsibility to make sure your reviewee knows why you think what they’re doing is incorrect. It would also be nice to include an explanation on how to fix it. So, instead of just correcting them, tell them why. For example:
Their should be they’re here because they’re is a contraction of “they are” while “their” is a possessive.
Explaining yourself applies to almost every type of suggestion too, not just technical stuff. Let’s do another example, this time, we’ll use a character who seems to be acting out of character. Say your writer has a character named Lisa who is usually quiet and nice, and all of a sudden, without warning she starts swearing like a sailor halfway through the story and, I don’t know, punching kittens. While you could say:
Lisa’s swearing and sudden violence is out of character in my opinion.
You could explain yourself so the author knows exactly what you’re having trouble with, and make sure to put why you feel that way, remember, we’re trying to explain ourselves here:
Lisa’s swearing and sudden violent behavior feels out of character in my opinion. Up until this point she was so quiet and shy, that I got the feeling that she was a really nice and timid character. So that’s why I feel like her swearing isn’t matching up with the Lisa I’ve gotten to know.
Now, all this explaining is well and good. But there are times when you shouldn’t explain yourself because it isn’t necessary. Generally those events are for typos. Typos are just typos, they’re minor mistakes in a piece and who can really explain themselves when they’re pointing out a typo, anyway? The other area is for spelling mistakes or grammar mistakes that only happen once or twice. Perhaps the write really does know how to spell that word, their mind was just thinking too fast for their fingers. Always try to give your reviewee the benefit of the doubt. But when it feels like they really are confused about something, it’s best to point it out and let them know why.
In the end the decision to expand upon your review and suggestions is up to you. But explaining yourself is a very useful tool for you to learn more about the world, or about
writing in general as well as being a useful resource for your reviewee to refer back to
during an edit.
[ Editor’s Picks ]
An encouraging group for all case colors with a focus on providing reviews for people new to WDC.
Jeremy P. Belknap is on the lookout for some of the best reviews you can give him.
A wonderful item from Rebecca that highlights some of the site’s in-depth reviewers. Thanks for compiling the list, Rebecca!
[ Ask and Answer ]
essence of thought Wrote:
“It is much true what you've said and all of us have received such reviews. I once
received a review telling me how much my short story was a good one; the funny thing is
that it was a poem! Thanks for such a useful newsletter.”
Oh, that must have been really embarrassing for that reviewer when they
realized what they’d just said .
“Hey, Arwee, it's another great newsletter! Well written and an interesting topic. And thanks for featuring my forum along with those other good ones! I enjoyed reading this.”
Thanks, esprit! And I hope everyone enjoying this newsletter as well.
Thanks for writing in, and feel free to write in with anecdotes, comments or suggestions for highlighted items!
[ Useful Links ]
"Feedback Central" – Send the editors some suggestions and general feedback.
"Reviewing Newsletters" – View previous issues of the Reviewing Newsletter.