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Rated: E · Article · Reviewing · #1753780
A lesson on how to create and use WDC's Review Tool Templates
A Lesson to Demystify the Review Tool

         When I was a new member of Writing.com (WDC), I couldn’t figure out the Review Tool to save my life. Back then, I typed every character of every review directly into the review dialogue box. As my review practice grew and I became more comfortable with the format, I began adding headings with WritingML tags to organize my feedback and improve its presentation. I lost valuable reviewing time retyping the same headings and tags for every review. Learning how to use the Review Tool was an enormous time-saver, allowing me to deliver more feedback in each review session.

What IS the Review Tool?

The Review Tool is a helpful feature offered at WDC that allows you to create and store review templates, so you don’t have to retype the standard headings and signatures you include in every review. And, it’s possible to store many different Review Tool templates, one for each genre you typically review (short story, poetry, essay, article, etc.) or one for each group for which you review.

Where do I find the Review Tool?

The Review Tool is linked from the review area of each reviewable item. It provides a pop-up, full size review box with additional tools. Before you can start using it, though, you have to create your template.

*Right* There’s no better way to learn than by doing, so let’s work together and create a Review Tool template for Short Stories, to get you started. I suggest either printing out this lesson to have in front of you as you create your template, or keep this lesson page open while you work so that you can click on the tabs and move back and forth between these instructions and the Review Tool page. Ready? Here we go!

Instructions for Creating a Review Tool Template

1. From the left sidebar of any WDC page (except shop pages and web pages), scroll down and click ‘My Account’. From the pop-up menu that appears, click on ‘My Review Tool’.

2. Read the information in the box that appears. Under the heading 'Review Tool Manager,' you will see the Tool defaults to ‘Choose a Template’. Eventually, by clicking on the arrow to the right of this, all your future templates will appear in a drop down list. For now, look to the far right, past the currently unavailable buttons labeled ‘Edit’ and ‘Delete’, and find the ‘New’ button. Click on ‘New’.

3. Read the information that appears. Then, in the 'Template Name' box, please type:

Short Stories

4. Tab over to the main dialogue box. This is where you will type the following review outline. Please note, we will be using WritingML to spice up our reviews. If you are not familiar with WritingML, please take a moment to read up on it: From the left sidebar, click on ‘Site Places’. From the pop-up list that appears, click on ‘WritingML Help’.

         A. It’s nice to begin the review with a friendly greeting to the author that includes the title of the item being reviewed. So, please copy/paste the following line exactly as it appears here, into the review tool main dialogue box:

Hi ! After reading {item:#######}, I offer you these comments:

Note: Each time you use your review template, you will add the author’s name after ‘Hi’, and you will replace the #’s with the actual seven-digit item number you are reviewing. Please click ‘enter’ three times after the word ‘comments:’.

         B. The main body of your review will be organized by heading, so that you will have places to discuss positive feedback (Story Strengths), Negative Feedback (Suggestions), and Grammar. So, from the cursor’s new position, copy/paste the following three headings exactly as they appear here, then click ‘enter’ three times after every line, creating space between each heading and so your cursor is ready for the Step C:

{c:green}{b}{u}Story Strenghts:{/c}{/b}{/u}

Note: Remember, when you begin using your template, you will be able to delete or change any part of it for the specific review you're writing. If, for example, you didn't have any grammatical feedback, you could simply delete that heading for that review -- without affecting the template for the next time. It's as flexible as you need it to be!

         C. Okay, almost finished! Since our goal is delivering a Well-Balanced Review with BOTH positive and negative feedback, it’s an excellent practice to end the review on a positive note. I like to thank the authors for sharing their work, or simply encourage them to ‘Write on!’. For a place to add these positive comments, please copy/paste the following exactly as it appears, and click ‘enter’ twice:

{e:star} Thank you for sharing your work!

Note: Feel free to add more comments here, perhaps tailored to the author you’re reviewing. However, I dissuade you from self-promoting or asking the author to review an item of yours ‘in return’. Most WDC members enjoy reciprocating when they receive a review, but not all have the time or inclination. It’s best not to ask. And as for public reviews, the practice of self-promotion on the Public Reviews Page is frowned upon, as public reviews are intended to endorse the author, not the reviewer.

         D. Last thing: Signatures. Many members at WDC have personal signatures that they attach to reviews, emails, etc. You may add one of your signatures here, or simply your name/handle. It is important to note that the Review Tool allows more than one signature/image; however, if you choose to make your review public, only the first signature/image you use in the review will appear on the Public Review Page.

         So, from the cursor’s new position, type your name or add your signature here.

5. Now, you have two options at the bottom of the template box where you are working: ‘Store Template’, or ‘Preview Template’. Please click on ‘Preview’. Take a look, does it look like this:

Hi ! After reading "Invalid Item I offer you these comments:

Story Strengths:



*Star* Thank you for sharing your work!

(Your name or signature here)

*Right* If yours does not look like this, you may have added a space in your WritingML tag that must be deleted (No spaces between the curly brackets in WritingML tags!!), or you may have a typo. Look it over, make any necessary adjustments.

Note: This reason you see "Invalid Item is because we only have #'s in place of the item number. Once you have a valid item ID number in there, that title will appear. To test this, try putting this article's ID number in place of the #'s: 1753780.

6. When you are satisfied, click ‘Submit’.

Congratulations!! You have created a review template for short stories. Great job! Remember, you can access the review tool from any item you choose to review. Just click the ‘Review Tool’ button at the bottom of a reviewable item to launch the Review Tool containing all of your saved templates. Select the template you wish to use and away you go!

Once you have become comfortable creating and using review tool templates, explore your personal review style and create other templates that reflect your unique “voice,” or to use for the types of feedback you enjoy conveying. You can also create different templates with headings specific to poetry reviews, chapters, articles and essays; and templates with signatures or banners that reflect various groups you belong to, for example reviews for the Angel Army, Simply Positive Review Group, etc. The possibilities are endless!

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