|Table of Contents:
1. Letter from the Editor
2. Editor’s Picks
3. Ask & Answer
Issue #5 of the Writing.Com Reviewing Newsletter is: vivacious
Letter from the Editor:
“Dang, that is one ugly baby!”
“You let your child go out in public wearing that?”
I can’t imagine any parent not bristling at such comments. The same holds true for reviews that tear apart a person’s writing and have nothing positive to say about it.
Writers pour so much heart and soul into what they write, they consider every finished item their child. And yet, for any one to put their writing on display and open for critique takes courage. How many of us would put our literal children on a stool in the middle of a public square and invite total strangers to say whatever they want about them?
I think we all understand that about our writing, and it’s important to always remember every other writer feels the same way when we review. We’re invited to say what we will about their babies, both in public and in private.
While being honest in our assessment of any writing is paramount, doing so with compassion and encouragement is equally important. We’re here to improve our writing, and I think everyone reading this newsletter wants the same for every other writer, on this site or elsewhere.
A bit of an aside, but I think writers have the most fragile egos anywhere, yet at the same time, we need to have the toughest. Writing is one of the few careers that either succeeds or fails based solely on the opinions of others.
So how does one review a potentially fragile ego who nonetheless swallowed their fear and
allowed us to review their babies?
Everyone approaches this a bit differently, but some of the best reviews I’ve received, and read, have a similar basic structure:
1. Start with a positive: Mentioning what we liked most about the item, whether we’re intrigued by the title, the first paragraph, the author’s voice, depth of the characters, or how it made us think and feel.
2. The critique: Describe here any grammatical mistakes, what could be improved as
far as clarity, continuity, loose writing, or any other ways to improve. It’s important to say with compassion. Show instead of telling is as important to reviewing as well as writing. Give examples as to why a sentence doesn’t work, or what word they misspelled. A template works well with this part if you want to highlight Plot, Setting, Characters, etc. Some of my editor’s picks give excellent examples of structuring the critique part of reviews.
3. End with a positive: We always remember the first words and last words of much
of what we read. Ending with an encouraging word, even if it’s a simple “Write on!” pushes the writer forward to keep writing and work towards improving.
In-depth reviews like these take a lot of time. As a reviewee, I always appreciate the lengthy reviews - even if I don’t agree with all their suggestions - because I know of the time and effort involved. The reviewer cared enough to take so much time out of his or her day to help little ole me when it’s something they didn’t have to do.
As a reviewer, I enjoy giving lengthy reviews, because I want to help other writers improve their craft. So many have done that for me, it’s the least I can do in return.
Ask & Answer:
No one asked questions from my last contribution, but two of you sent me links in response to creating a “How I Review” item. I thank you!