|Issue #13 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 ]
Have you ever reviewed an item that seemed perfect? Did you have difficulty finding any fault? Do you ever wonder what you could say about an item that, to you, simply is
flawless? Worry not, writing a critical and in-depth review for an exceedly good item is
[ Letter from the Editor ]
Let’s say you come across a wonderful story one day in your daily reading and reviewing routines and are a little intimidated by what you could possibly say about the item itself. One might ask, how an in-depth reviewer approaches a story that’s simply too good. There are, as things always seem to be, many ways to approach this situation. And all of them can yield critical and in-depth reviews.
Before you tell the author how perfect you think their story is and rate them a five, stop yourself and sit back. There are a few questions I ask myself when I come across an item that I find is perfect, or thoroughly enjoyable. And while a review that says in brief that you loved the story is a supportive way to give the author feedback about their work, there are other and more in-depth ways to let the author know what they did right.
Try looking at specific areas in the story that you thought were well done, then discuss why you thought they were well done. This is the first and easiest way for a reviewer to tell a writer what they did right in the story. Now, it may seem like you didn’t offer a very critical review if you just highlight areas and discuss what you thought was successful about them, but take the following passage for example:
I thought the way you developed your character, Carrie, was very realistic. I love how she reacts to her environment and explores her world with an open-eyed sort of wonder. I also really like the inner voice you gave her that expresses her surprise and awe so clearly that it made me feel like I was there with her.
A critical comment is not always one that points out something wrong. It can be something
that points out things that are perfect or are correct. In this case, the reviewer has told their writer quite a few critical things. Such as what about their character that was so appealing. How the author treated the character’s reactions that made her a likable character. And how the story and character made the reviewer feel. All of these things tell the writer what they were successful at and will encourage them to continue doing those things in the future to gain success in later writings.
If a story is perfect, it is okay to highlight passages or make comments like this one.
Because while you don’t have criticism to offer, you do have your complements, which can sometimes be just as helpful. So if you find yourself with a perfect story, don’t stop at the paragraph where you tell the writer how wonderful their story is, go into a little more depth as to why, and they’ll be thankful for the specifics.
Another way to write an in-depth review of a story you thought was perfect is to go through and tell the author what certain passages make you feel like, or how you laughed at a passage, or thought a particular sentence was very well written. This goes along with the principle of telling writers what they did right as well as what they may need to improve on. It can help both ways, and telling writers in detail what they did right in a story that you thought was perfect offers them your unique perspective on their story.
So, in terms of telling the writer how you felt throughout their story, you can highlight
passages that you thought were well formed in a technical sense, or a sentence that made
you tear up. The key is to tell the writer what sorts of emotions you have when you read
the story. Emotional appeal is very important to the story and if someone’s funny story makes you laugh, let them know which parts really busted your gut. Or if a story is sad, let the writer know which areas made you shed a tear. If you can pinpoint the areas that made you feel a certain emotion, it helps your writer understand what makes other people feel the feelings that they do. In the future the writer who knows what a reader may be affected by in their story is a writer who can write something really hilarious or something that is completely heartbreaking.
The final tip I have for an in-depth review of a story you find to be perfect is to go into discussions with the writer during the text. If a certain sentence you read gives you an idea for a future scenario with that character, write it in. You’re not suggesting things, remember, this story is something you find absolutely fabulous, right? So your suggestions are less suggestions but more like ideas that you want to bounce off your reviewee, and if they should choose to use your suggestion, then you might have another really awesome story to read very soon.
Now those are three ways you can show a writer some critical feedback when you don’t know what else to say about their story because you find it perfect. Just remember to read things over. Perfection is something that most people strive for, and something you might find is perfect may not be the same way for the writer. But even if you don’t view your positive comments as critical, your writer will find use in them to help them understand what their readers enjoy reading the most. So it’s always helpful to give everyone your full opinion when it comes to reviews. You never know when your opinion might come in handy and make all the difference.
[ Editor’s Picks ]
Check out these awesome review forums, for a wide variety of opinions on your items.
[ Ask and Answer ]
“Great newsletter & great tips. I agree about adding the jokes into the newsletter.”
Thank you, it’s definitely good to lighten up the mood once in a while. Especially when you feel things start getting a little too serious.
“Thanks so much so writing this. The timing couldn't be more perfect. I recently wrote my own list of review tips and someone said I was teaching reviewers to be soft and if they review someone unharshly it wasn't teaching them to handle reviews by editors and publishers. I'm going to try to put what you wrote into my own words and add it to my list because I want to share how reviews can be helpful without being harsh.”
I personally think it’s best to be honest, but you don’t have to be “harsh” to be honest. I think an honest and lighter-hearted approach is always good. Thanks and keep doing what you do, because an honest but encouraging review is always more welcome and nicer to read than a harsh but honest review.
[ Useful Links ]
"Feedback Central" – Send the editors some suggestions and general feedback.
"Reviewing Newsletters" – View previous issues of the Reviewing Newsletter.