This week: Reviewing Should Be Collaboration Edited by: Annette
More Newsletters By This Editor
1. About this Newsletter
2. A Word from our Sponsor
3. Letter from the Editor
4. Editor's Picks
5. A Word from Writing.Com
6. Ask & Answer
7. Removal instructions
|Criticism is the defense reaction that scared people use to protect themselves against change. |
Criticism is the disapproval of people, not for having faults, but for having faults different from your own.
Criticism comes easier than craftsmanship.
~ all quotes found on the internet, sadly not attributed to Aristotle or Nietzsche. But they should be.
Reviewing Should Be Collaboration
As a novice writer, I came to Writing.Com with several books written in the action-action adventure genre with fantasy and some romance thrown in there for good measure. I posted them to the site and received many encouraging reviews. Usually, they included the advice that I really needed to do something about my grammar and punctuation. I knew that and these comments were warranted. The comments on the content or plot of my stories usually felt genuine in the sense that I was able to trust that the person who left the review actually read my story, felt for the characters, and fevered along with them. Or the reviews told me how a plot element felt jarring to them.
Over time, I noticed certain reviewing trends taking root. Adjectives are bad. Third person is outdated. Omniscient narration is so 18th century. Past tense is so yesterday.
Mass-hysteria broke out. Reviews became copy and paste variations along the theme of: You need to delete at least half of your adjectives. All the publishers now want first person narration. Stay in one point of view only, readers can't handle more. Present tense is the fashion now.
These reviews are not collaboration. They are not working with the author. These reviews are trying to press an author into a specific writing style that they don't want to use for their story. These reviews take the fun out of writing. They also make me wonder if the people giving these reviews have any imagination left.
Reviewers who really want to help another writer to get better should be open to a new adventure. They should work within the framework presented by the writer. A story that was written in past tense, third person omniscient narrative has a specific feel to it that the writer intended. The same goes for breathless first person, limited point of view, present tense narrations. To me, the last one feels like reading with blinders on as I'm not allowed to see the world, but I can accept that this is how the writer wants to present it.
Sometimes there are a few true mistakes in a text when it comes to spelling, punctuation, and grammar. While a reviewer isn't expected to fix all of those, it's nice to point those out to the writer in a way that they can be fixed. If a certain mistake is happening over and over throughout the text, maybe the reviewer can link to a resource where the writer can learn how to do it correctly.
As you send reviews, ask yourself if you are offering collaboration or if you are just sending cold, dispassionate critique because your horse is taller. Or at least you think so.
Can you review constructively and stay encouraging?
Have an opinion on what you've read here today? Then send the Editor feedback! Find an item that you think would be perfect for showcasing here? Submit it for consideration in the newsletter!
Don't forget to support our sponsor!
|Replies to my last For Authors newsletter "Organization Matters" with the question: What do you do to organize your writing projects?|
brom21 wrote: Great NL. It was short but sweet. We have all heard the idea we should write every day. That is hard to do. Consistency can be writing four days out of the week for three hours. Sometimes just turning the computer on can be hard but the more you do it, it will get easier. And sometimes you can kick start a long writing session by just committing to write for ten minutes. Thanks for the advice!
You are so correct that writing every day is not for everyone. I know it's not for me. If anything, it's a sure way to get me to do nothing at all. I find it easier to follow a plan that goes more like the one you describe: do something on some days each week.
To stop receiving this newsletter, click here for your newsletter subscription list. Simply uncheck the box next to any newsletter(s) you wish to cancel and then click to "Submit Changes". You can edit your subscriptions at any time.