A quick "How To" and resources reminder for meaningful reviews!
What are the Keys To Reviewing Success???
Welcoming positive summary.
Write a welcoming sentence letting the author know your overall positive impression of the piece. The author is trying to get your attention and want to be taken seriously. You are in essence trying to win the author over to your way of thinking. Starting with a truthful positive statement is one way to have an Open 'handshake" and get the author paying attention.
Remember your Persuasive essay abilities...?.
Use your tactics in persuasion to get the author to see it from your perspective. Some ways to do this is to share what you understood out of the story or how it made you feel. If you felt it was too pigeon holed and it wasn't supposed to be, show a place where they were successful at it and then share where they may want to recreate a similar response.
For example: 'You opened the readers mind to a few different emotions here "Insert sentence for reference" in a persuasive manner, however here, there wasn't room for the readers own imagination to go there gradually. It was more forced and less natual. You have shown you are a natural already in getting the reader to come along with you with little cohersion, force is not needed. '
This is one way of giving a negative feedback statement but not making the author feel as if they failed somewhere. You are still in essence keeping the feathers from rustling and still giving constructive criticism. In addition, if you are finding that, you are having a hard time giving any criticism; one thing I find that the majority of writers can improve upon is they flow. Even great writers will have one paragraph that just does not flow as well. Point that out. If you ever have to re-read something.. .that is a point to bring up. If is not clear enough for you to comprehend the first time, chances are they could do some word-smithing to make that issue disappear.
Give examples, therefore take notes
Notes are a great way to keep track of your thoughts and have quick reference to what you wanted to share with the author. Notes and citations are very important if you are reading a lengthy piece. It saves you the time from missing something that was critical to your review or trying to find that one sentence in the middle of paragraph 10! I use Microsoft One Note- it is marvelous and you can organize all your thoughts any way you want. You can use it like sticky notes for your computer or for long word docs. It is basically Word but made simple... You never even have to save-does it automatically. I have even written some stories in it and edited them using its built in tool. If you don't have it, not too worry, most windows based PC's have notepad built in which does the same thing or you can use any method you find most useful. Pen and paper can also do the trick!
Last but not least...end with a bang!
If you have followed the above steps, you most likely have all the 'critique" in the middle. We should never end on a presumably sour note! Always end with a synopsis of how or what you enjoyed the piece. Let them know they have worth and where they were successful. Even if the piece wasn't pleasing to you, maybe their use of descriptions, rhyme in poetry, or the development of the character are positive attributes. Make sure you share any positives you may not have stated in the beginning. Alternatively, if you are really having a hard time, be creative and reword the opening.