|Issue #29 of the Writing.Com Reviewing Newsletter.
Your guest editor is: Lynn McKenzie
[ 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 ]
Happy Friday the Thirteenth! I'm Lynn McKenzie, your guest editor for this issue. May
that be the unluckiest thing that happens to any of us today.
While it's important to have an effective reviewing style, a review that one author loves may well cause anguish to another. This newsletter discusses how to alter your style to suit individual writers.
[ Letter from the Editor ]
One Size Doesn't Fit All: How To Evaluate Your Reviewee & Respond Appropriately
If everyone were the same, reviewing would be a simple task. You'd click on a piece,
evaluate it using your favorite method, and rate and review it appropriately. People aren't all the same, though, and your reviews should reflect this. Reviewing a thirteen-year-old brand-new writer is far different from reviewing a sixty-three-year-old veteran who's been published in several magazines.
So the first thing you should do when readying your review is to evaluate your victim--excuse me, your reviewee. What's the best way to review him or her? How will s/he respond to your comments? How can you be most helpful to this particular person and the piece s/he has written?
It's not as difficult as it might sound. There are several things to consider.
THE SOURCE. What kind of item are you reviewing--a short story, a poem, an
image, or a "fun" item like an interactive or quiz? Where did it come from--the Review page, a listing, a group, Noticing Newbies, or did you promise it as a prize for a raffle or contest? Is it for a close friend, or someone you've never heard of/reviewed before?
These are all important points to consider even before you view the item for the first time. While it's important to stay honest and helpful when reviewing, your approach can vary greatly from person to person and piece to piece. I would not expect to get the same in-depth reviews for an image I designed or a puzzle I created that I would expect for a short story or poem I wrote. Going further, I wouldn't expect in-depth reviews on a one-stanza haiku or a piece of flash fiction, either.
THE WRITER. Try to find out something about the person who created the item.
Male or female? Young or old? A new writer or an experienced one? A newbie to WDC or a
long-term member? All of these factors should affect your review.
You may be saying, "But how do I tell?" Look at their BioBlock, for a start, and see what they say about themselves. Go through their ports. Read their blogs. Read other items, or at least skim them.
All of this can give a better idea of the person you're reviewing--and once you have a picture, however fuzzy, of your reviewee, you're more likely to be sensitive to his or her personal needs and wants from your review.
THE ITEM. What's it like? Is it fluffy or serious in tone? Chock-full of WritingML, or straight text? Witty or somber? Riddled with spelling, punctuational, and grammatical errors, or with nary even a typo in sight?
I'm a firm believer that you can gain great insight into someone by the items s/he
creates and how they're created--and with great insight comes great reviews. So read
the piece not just for the work, but to get an idea of what the author's like. That will give you an idea of what tack to take when reviewing.
Your last question may be, "So how DO I review different people?" You've got to use your best judgment. With new writers who are obviously inexperienced, I'm a lot softer than I am with more talented ones. If I click on a piece that was clearly written by a teenager who is lousy at spelling and grammar and uses the most hackneyed characters and plots, and I can't avoid reviewing it, I'll try to suggest things tactfully.
For instance: "A lot happens in this story, but maybe you'd want to have more dialogue and show more things, rather than just tell us what happens." Or: "You use 'it's" instead of 'its" frequently; remember, 'it's' means 'it is'." Anything helpful which the reviewee can understand will do more good than a harsh, line-by-line indictment of the countless errors in his/her piece (and save you a lot of time as well).
As far as tone, I'm also harsher on people I think should know better than on newbies. If I've been reviewing a close friend for a couple of years, and s/he makes a big mistake, I'll jump on it (in the nicest possible way, of course). Some friends can accept criticism better than others, too. You as reviewer should consider all these factors. It'll make for more helpful reviews with fewer headaches for you in the long run.
[ Editor's Picks ]
In the spirit of the day, here are some appropriate items from group members.
[ Ask and Answer ]
As a guest editor, I have no comments or questions to respond to here. If you have
comments or questions about this newsletter, you can post them at "Feedback Central" , and
I'll respond to them there.
[ Useful Links ]
"Feedback Central" - Send the editors some suggestions and general feedback.
"Reviewing Newsletters" - View previous issues of the Reviewing Newsletter.