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Explanations and instructions of all things Writing.Com.
#698741 added June 11, 2010 at 7:37am
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Guidelines To Great Reviewing
Reviewing is a writing exercise and writing a detailed review is time well spent. Creating detailed feedback for a fellow writer is one of the best tools available for improving your own writing. That said, if you're going to spend the time to do it, helping the author is important. There is a better chance for the ideas in a review to get through to an author if they are well presented. This article contains a few basic guidelines for great reviewing.

Six Key Characteristics For Reviews
Reviewing is extremely important on Writing.Com, not only for honing your own skills, but of course for the author receiving your review. There are six key characteristics that we recommend.

Your reviews should...

be honest.
Helping writers improve their craft is the mission of Writing.Com. Honest opinions are what help writers improve. Giving false feedback doesn't help anyone and can lead an author down a long road to bitter disappointment.

be encouraging.
Writing.Com is a site for writers of all ages and skill levels. Everyone at every level should be encouraged to continue writing! Encouraging reviews are more likely to be used by an author which means the time creating the review was well spent. Whether the author decides to use the reviewer's honest suggestions or not, the review should be motivating and encourage the author to keep writing

be respectful.
Regardless of an author's level of skill or talent, a reviewer should always respect that the author is an individual person. A reviewer flaunting that they are better than the author they're reviewing is not respectful and is counterproductive.

be well-rounded.
While honesty is very important, a review that points out only flaws without any mention of an item's positive points is not nearly as helpful to an author as a well-rounded review with both positive and negative remarks. Don't forget, the same goes for reviews that only point out positives! Even the greatest pieces of writing have room for suggestions and opinions.

match the rating.
If you're sending a review full of corrections, it's important to consider that with your star rating selection. 5.0s shouldn't need any corrections. On the other extreme, a 1.0 should have endless errors and you couldn't possibly list them all. Offering to return and re-rate the item after a round of updates makes it more likely your suggestions will be considered.

be visually appealing and easy to understand.
When reviewing, presentation is very important. Use WritingML to make corrections stand out or quote small portions 1 of the work. Emoticons can highlight important points in the review and can be creatively used to make the review feel more friendly. Double-spaced paragraphs and other appropriate spacing makes reading a review much easier on the eyes. Remember: Too much WritingML can ruin your review; use it in moderation!

The Content Of A Review
Keeping in mind the six points highlighted above, a review should contain your opinion. While grammatical, typographical and other errors can be included within a review, don't forget to tell the author how the piece made you feel. Give them your thoughts about the inside of their writing, not just the outside.

Some example questions you may ask yourself about the piece to help you get your opinion across are as follows:
*Bullet* How did the writing make you feel? Did it invoke any emotions?
*Bullet* Can you relate to the writing through a personal experience?
*Bullet* Did the plot interest you? Were the characters believable? Did the dialog flow naturally?
*Bullet* Did the time, place and other setting characteristics work together?
*Bullet* What did you like most? What did you like least? Did anything stand out?
*Bullet* Is there anything you would change within the writing?
*Bullet* Was the writing memorable? Why or why not?
*Bullet* If this were your own writing, what would you want to know from a reviewer?

Incorporating these thoughts within your reviews will expand your own analytical skills allowing you to regard your own writing from another viewpoint. Whether the author agrees with any of your suggestions or ideas is not relevant. You have given them another perspective on their work they would not have otherwise had. They may hear the same thoughts from a number of different people which may give them a better understanding of their readers as a whole.

Review Examples:
Reviewing can be daunting. Every member has their own reviewing style, however, seeing reviews by other members may help you in developing your personal style. While you can't see every review given to an item, you can view reviews posted to the Public Review page. This page can be accessed by clicking on the Reviews link found in the left navigation under the Writing.Com logo. 2

Recommended Reading

1  Use "copied and pasted" portions of the item you are reviewing as little as possible. Posting sections of an item within your review leads to "review bloating" and takes away from the impact your comments and suggestions will have on the author.
2  Written by The StoryMaster

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