|Issue #46 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 ]
I'm going to celebrate the good things in Reviewing. In this issue, I will be going through my top ten list of things reviewers do that I love. I know your own lists of top ten favorite reviewer habits will be different from mine, so, I hope this list will inspire some of you to write in or post about some favorite reviewer habits too. Variety is the spice of life after all!
[ Letter from the Editor ]
Once in a while I’ll be stuck in a writing rut. I may have ten projects in the works at a time but I just can’t shake the muse awake long enough to help me finish them off. What I find really helps me is getting a review that has all the right components to put a smile on my face and the sugar in my muse’s cup of tea.
We all know reviewers should be able to identify problems in a piece, that is one of the
major roles of a reviewer, but there are other things that make the review just a little bit better. The following is a list of my top ten favorite reviewer habits.
10. Has an easy to understand and navigate review layout
All of us have different ways to format our reviews so our reviewees can easily spot the
comments. The easier and well designed your review layout is, the faster I can access your
comments which is really what I’m most interested in. It’s nice if you’ve got a great format too, but don’t sacrifice clarity for beauty . Some of the most difficult reviews to decipher are those that don’t use any WML to separate the quotes of my item from the reviewer’s comments. On the other side of the spectrum, there are some layouts that use too much WML that end up obscuring the reviewer’s comments in a ton of pictures and colors.
9. Reviewers who get the basic elements of my item correct
What I mean by this is that the reviewer has spelled my character’s names correctly, has taken a look at the genre listing of my item, and has taken the effort to try their hardest to understand the intention of my piece. I know this sounds incredibly fundamental, but I’ve had many reviews in the past where the reviewer consistently spells a character’s name wrong, doesn’t read the whole story and gets confused, or even worse, gets the title of the item wrong! It is always understandable for reviewers to make mistakes, but it shows me that a reviewer is paying attention if they get the major elements right.
8. Sharing interesting facts related to my story
While it’s no good to go off on a three paragraph tangent about something in a review, I do love it when reviewers relate something they read in my item to a fact that they know and share it with me. Does my giraffe character remind you about a fact you heard about how many neck muscles a giraffe has? Great! I love to hear about that stuff. Just remember to keep it in moderation though.
7. Offering to re-review an item
Offering to re-review a story is one of the things I appreciate the most. To me, re-reviewing an item tells me that this reviewer is willing to invest their time into helping my story get better and that they can truly see room for improvement.
6. Having a friendly voice and cheerful attitude
All of us take writing seriously whether we’re doing it for fun, for improvement, or for publication. It’s great to take reviewing seriously too to help your fellow writer. But taking things seriously doesn’t mean you can’t have fun or be genial with your reviewee. I tend to like reviews where the reviewer is willing to share a joke or sound friendly a bit more than reviews that sound formal or stiff. Both reviewing tones can be equally useful, but I can’t deny that I’d like a cheerful reviewer a bit more.
5. Offering a fair balance between criticism and compliments
Critiques are what drive most of us to improve our work, but don’t underestimate the power of a good compliment. I appreciate critical opinion on my pieces but I also appreciate it when a reviewer tells me what they liked. Achieving a good balance between the two is a great way to help me learn but also put a smile on my face.
4. Explaining concepts that I may not understand
If you’ve read my previous newsletters then you’ll know that I am a strong supporter of reviewers taking the time to accurately and clearly explain why something in a story may not be accurate and how I can fix it and avoid it in the future. I am not the best at using commas, so every time a reviewer takes time out of their day to explain things to me, I appreciate them and their willingness to help even more.
3. Suggesting scenarios
In addition to offering compliments or explaining problems, I love it when reviewers suggest scenarios for me to think about in relation to my item or characters. Even if these scenarios are just jokes or weird scenes the reviewer’s thought up. It shows me that they’re really digging into the item and are willing to share their ideas with me. Suggesting scenarios may also help me if I’m stuck on how to fix a plot-related problem and just need that little extra push that a hypothetical scenario provides.
2. Telling me how my story or characters impacted them emotionally
One of the best feelings in the world is knowing that something I wrote inspired a strong
emotional impact or was so interesting to someone that they talk, in detail, about how they felt when something happened and why. I love it when my reviewers tell me that something a character said made them laugh. Or that something sad that happened in my story made them cry. I even like it when reviewers tell me that some of my character’s actions made them angry. It means that I am hitting the right nerve if I can elicit an appropriate emotional response.
1. Reviewers who stick around
A lot of reviewers usually happen upon a story and review it then move on. But many of the best reviews I’ve ever received are from people who’ve been reviewing my items for years. I come to get to know these people who keep coming back to my port and they get to know me, my writing style, and the sorts of things I struggle with. This makes it easier for them to focus on areas that I need to work on. On the other hand, I get a feel for what they like about my writing. A huge bonus with reviewers who keep coming back are that you develop friendships with them and thus will have someone you can go to for advice or ask to read over a piece before you make it public. Never brush off a reviewer who wants to stick around, they might just be one of the best sources for writing and support you’ll ever have.
So what about you? What does your top ten list of good reviewer habits look like?
[ Editor’s Picks ]
[ Ask and Answer ]
If you have any questions, comments, general suggestions, or suggestions for editor’s pick (even your own work! ), please send them to me. I’ll be more than happy to feature them in the next newsletter and address them to the best of my ability. It should be noted that if you send me e-mails, I will ask to use your comments in the Ask and Answer section.
essence of thought Wrote re: “Mental Preparation Prior to Reviewing”:
I would like to thank you for this wonderful newsletter. Most of us have received such
random reviews or have viewed many of them on the public page. I think your advice are so
much helpful . For if we are in a bad mood we don't have to pass it to others or hold someone back in writing just because we don't feel alright.
We could definitely all benefit from a little sitting back and consider how our comments affect the person on the other side. Thanks for the comments and for writing in!
Lynn McKenzie Wrote re: “Mental Preparation Prior to Reviewing”:
As usual, a marvelous and insightful newsletter. I agree that we should never let our
personal lives' troubles affect our reviewing. That's also good advice for any sort of public encounter. Thanks for plugging my novel folder! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I have a lot of love
for those people.
Happy New Year, and all the best to you in 2009!
No problem, and thanks for writing in. It’s definitely good to always consider our comments and actions whether it’s online or offline .
Dark Lady Wrote re: “Mental Preparation Prior to Reviewing”:
Look at you, sending out a newsletter when everyone else seems to abandon WdC in favor of the holidays!
Thanks! This place is totally a ghost town around that time.
[ Useful Links ]
"Feedback Central" – Send the editors some suggestions and general feedback.
"Reviewing Newsletters" – View previous issues of the Reviewing Newsletter.