A Lesson by The Perfectionist

Telling it like it is


Okay, I may have put my foot in my mouth a little bit last time. Because WC doesn't alert me, I don't know when someone comments on one of these but to go through and check them all manually. I don't make a habit of this, and as such, I missed a comment left a couple of weeks ago asking if I would talk about being blunt (and diplomatically so if possible).

So let's talk about that.

As tempting as it is to say "suck it up and be mean" and knock off for lunch, I unfortunately have to recognize the fact that some people just don't work that way. So instead, here are a few tips on how to make your reviews the best they can be.

1. Always remember why (aka don't fluff)
The absolute most important part of giving a constructive review is knowing why. Why is a certain part good? Why does their grammar suck? Why do you hate this character? Why did reading it make your brain hurt?

Telling them what you feel is the biggest mistake people make. Yes, it's good to know what someone else thought, but in order to grow as a writer, you need to know what made them think that. Always back up your statements with an example (or better still, an explanation) of your reasoning.

2. Don't be afraid of backlash

I would be lying if I said that my harsh style has been met with no resistance, but the fact is it doesn't really bother me, and fearing being hated is paranoia talking. If you're worried about people bad mouthing you or sending hate mail or whatever because you review them and don't praise everything they do, don't be. As near as I've been able to figure, I'm the meanest person on this site (at least consistently so) and the handful of people that hate me for it disappear beneath the waves of people that love me for it.

Seriously. Don't take my word for it, go take a poll if you don't believe me. Therene even created a group (which I've been neglecting. Sorry!) for people that wanted a beating from me, and it has upwards of thirty members. Yes, there will be backlash, but you will hardly notice it next to all the respect you're getting.

Besides, are the people that don't understand what you're doing really the sort of people you want to associate with anyway?

3. Develop a system
I was messaged an absolutely wonderful idea by someone the other day, and I actually think he just posted a blog about it. He has a series of questions that he lays out for himself and tries to answer when he reads through a piece. It practically develops the review for him.

While I personally would not use such a system, it's the greatest reviewing idea I've seen on here. If you are struggling to be constructive, try something like that. Write down a few questions (they don't have to be more complicated than 'What did I like?' 'Why did I like it?') and try to focus on those each time.

4. Be honest
I know a lot of you out there consider yourselves fairly nice people. You probably don't like telling someone their story is a pile of rabbit turds covered in sewage. And that's okay. You're allowed to be nice, so long as it doesn't get in the way of your honestly. If someone's story is awful, tell them so. You don't have to say that it made you want to vomit if you don't like (actually, it's probably not advisable), but you should say something on the lines of: "This is bad."

Remember #1 though: don't forget the why. Telling them it's bad is just as useless as telling them it's good if you don't tell them why. You just look like an a*s; an honest a*s, but an a*s.

That took a lot of writing, but they really are simple tenets. I'll recap just in case though:
1. Always remember the why
2. Don't be afraid of backlash
3. Develop a system
4. Be honest

Okay, NOW I can say that if you want any more lessons, comment or message me.

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Posted 11 Years Ago

Thank you. Try as I might I've never been able to figure out how to give constructive criticism without criticizing. I gave up trying years ago much to the dismay of several teens and tweens I've met since. To hear it said in 14pt type on a public site makes my heart dribble. Yes, the construction is the mightier of the two, but your carriage ain't going nowhere without the horse! So there!
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Added on June 9, 2010
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The Perfectionist
The Perfectionist


Send me Poetry RRs at your own risk. They will be read but they will not be reviewed unless I actually have something to say. All stories, no matter how terrible or boring, will be reviewed. Review..