A brief guide to reviewing Or how not to offend and still say something worthwhile.A Story by Allan Eddings
Not that anyone will read the damn thing
A brief guide to reviewing
Or how not to offend and still say something worthwhile.
It is perfectly okay to say that you don’t like someone’s work, whether for the ideas behind it or how they are expressed, etc. There is no need for false flattery or praise; you are safe here not only because you are amongst fellow writers but also because you have anonymity of the internet. No one is going to track and hunt you down for something you said. Also why waste your time writing out a meaningless review, and the author’s time having to read a fabricated truth? There are so many better things you could be doing: writing your own work, getting drunk, having a “hand shandy” I mean really why bother?
Now this doesn’t mean be deliberately rude or that you have to review things you don’t like. If you are anything like me - God help you - you only review pieces that really grab your attention anyway. If I don’t absolutely love a piece I won’t review it, the only exceptions being when I am asked to. Because frankly I have more important and definitely more interesting things to do with my time, (see above).
Explanations and Length:
For the love of everything holy, explain why you like something. There is nothing worse in a review than one line: “LOVED IT! :D” My response always is, “Great, why?” And unless I message the reviewer - which again I have better things to do - I will never get an answer from that one line review.
So explain. Give a reason, because there is always one. A poem or story or picture speaks to you, why? Maybe it’s because of some method used by the author, did they use a trochaic tetrameter and you just get off on that (which prompts me to say, you are really strange if trochaic tetrameter gets your rocks off...still each to their own)? Or maybe it’s because it reminded you of something in your life, or something else you’ve read? There is always a reason, and as an author I want to hear it!
Now this doesn’t mean give a comprehensive literary review to every single piece you read, nor do you have to find something “deep and meaningful” in everything. Just explain why you liked it. A poem about daffodils may appeal to one person because perhaps they saw it as a metaphor for vanity and another person because they like flowers; neither is wrong and I want to hear both reasons.
Now this is arguably not essential to a “good” review per se but it is essential to fostering a good community - which I think is important. Be constructive, criticise where it is needed or when an author asks for it, but do not be rude - as hilarious as it may be. When someone uses ‘there’ instead of ‘their’ point it out - please! - but there is no need to add that ‘THEY are an idiot who cannot use THEIR words.’
This is just an outline on how to give a review, I am sure that others have more eloquently and in more depth explained how to do just that. But my intent is not to develop your abilities as a literary critique because I am not qualified to do that (and to be honest I doubt anyone here is). But it is my intent to provide you with a guideline to writing a review which is actually useful: whether to provide constructive criticism or to more accurately convey your appreciation for a work. If you take nothing else away from this: DO NOT GIVE ONE LINE REVIEWS.
© 2012 Allan Eddings
Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia
AboutA noble man compares and estimates himself by an idea which is higher than himself; and a mean man, by one lower than himself. The one produces aspiration; the other ambition, which is the way in whic.. more..