What I look for in giving reviews.
|Every person, on Writing.com or elsewhere, looks for and sees different things in what they read. For me, I mostly look for grammar, sentence structure, continuity, and unanswered questions.
Grammar: That entails, spelling, punctuation, and misuse of words such as there, they’re, and their.
1. Those pesky adverbs. Many times they can be replaced with more active verbs. For example: “Jane cried loudly.” can be replaced with “Jane wailed.”
2. Passive verbs: “was” “were” “am” “is”. Many times, like above these can be replaced with more active verbs. I have found these passive verbs show up when we use the wrong noun as the subject. Example: “Jane was heartbroken.” can be rephrased to “Jane’s heart broke.” or “Fred broke Jane’s heart.”
3. Wordiness. I look for ways a sentence or paragraph can be tightened up without taking away the power or meaning. This varies from sentence to sentence and is difficult to break down to a simple statement or example.
Sometimes a character does something -- well -- out of character. Breaks in continuity can also be plot specific. For instance, your character drives to the mall, and she ends up at the grocery store (without giving a reason why the destination changed).
Readers love detail (though not too much). For instance, if a person is dying from a terrible disease, what is that disease? Or you have a character appear in a scene, give them a personality, physical description and they either do nothing, or they don't leave the scene at the end. The reader then wonders why you introduced the character in the first place. As one more example, you bring up a past experience, but never relay how that applies to the present.
While many reviewers look for cliched storylines, I normally don’t unless it’s too predictable.
In short, I try to think dlike an editor would, as though you intend your item to be published.
If you find any review overly harsh and cruel, please understand that’s never my intent. I know what it’s like to have something you love so dearly torn apart.
I try to think of it this way (I wish I remembered the person who came up with this analogy):
“When an editor tears apart your writing, your baby, you see a person grabbing hold of the little one and slashing it with a knife. Your first instinct is to grab your baby away and attack the person who tried to destroy what you created. That’s not it at all. An editor is merely taking your child in his or her arms to give it a bath, put on a clean diaper, and dress it up to make it more presentable.”
I also recommend these three books be an essential part of every writer's library:
"The Elements of Style" by William Shrunk & E.B. White
"Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" by Renni Brown & Dave King
"Write Tight" by William Brohaugh
I will leave you with one more, but nonetheless important point.
I'm not a writing expert, just a person who loves the written word. I am but one, flawed person who sees things a certain way. I could easily misunderstand your point, or you perhaps like how you've worded and structured your item better than what I come up with. You can ignore any or all of my suggestions.