Re: How do you balance reader-value and writer-encouragement?

#1
I am very bad at reviewing because I'm largely blunt and opinionated. But I want to get better.

The problem I find myself running up against is the dichotomy between wanting on the one hand to be nice and encouraging and cheer the writer on, but also to provide a truthful assessment of the story to my fellow readers. If I find something that's unbearably dreadful, I can't rate it highly or praise it. But if I rate it poorly, the writer might be discouraged and give up, which I'd never want. They just need to keep practicing and improve next time, not stop entirely.

Is there any way to find a proper balance? Or is it one of those just do whatever and other people will do their different whatever and it'll balance itself out somehow?

Re: How do you balance reader-value and writer-encouragement?

#2
The classic method is the compliment sandwich. There are three layers:

1) Start with something you liked about the novel.

2) The center is your biggest dislike. If there are multiple things you disliked immensely, include those, too.

3) Finish with something else you liked.

This provides encouragement and advice to the author, and a warning to the reader.

Re: How do you balance reader-value and writer-encouragement?

#3

Asviloka Wrote: I am very bad at reviewing because I'm largely blunt and opinionated. But I want to get better.

The problem I find myself running up against is the dichotomy between wanting on the one hand to be nice and encouraging and cheer the writer on, but also to provide a truthful assessment of the story to my fellow readers. If I find something that's unbearably dreadful, I can't rate it highly or praise it. But if I rate it poorly, the writer might be discouraged and give up, which I'd never want. They just need to keep practicing and improve next time, not stop entirely.

Is there any way to find a proper balance? Or is it one of those just do whatever and other people will do their different whatever and it'll balance itself out somehow?
 

On sites such as this, where we're all amateur writers and almost all looking to improve; I tend to look at them less like book reviews and more like critiques. What did the author do well, and instead of what wasn't great: what they can do to improve? Criticism as actionable feedback, rather than just saying things like 'your pacing was bad' or 'your characters felt like boring finger puppets'.

Re: How do you balance reader-value and writer-encouragement?

#4
In my case, when I find something entirely dreadful, I PM the author without rating the story and explain to them as gently as possible where the problem lies and how high my rating of the story would be in its current iteration. Although, I sometimes get carried away, in which cases I also apologize to the poor soul and explain that my arguments got heated not because I hate them as a person but because I want to see the work improve. Up to now, I have had very civil discussions with both people I have reviewed and have reviewed me.

Re: How do you balance reader-value and writer-encouragement?

#5
A good review is a balanced assessment of the work, appended with your personal opinion of it. This is how it works. It must, as review readers are going to survey those you have tendered before generally in order to decide if your tastes are similar to theirs, or totally different. A good review from someone who likes stuff you wouldn't touch is not a recommendation, but a warning. People need to understand you have a consistency of judgement they can use to decide with.

In chapter comments, you can, if you wish, critique work, which you should and are supposed to approach by pointing out what areas you found exceptional, and what errors or possible problems you encounter, and specifically noting each, and if an error or problem, provide a possible correction or example improvement. This is to aid the author.
A review aids the readers choice.

Hope that helps you.  Some people simply do not review work they feel bad about. This is the issue with review swaps. You are obligated to state an opinion, and loose this choice. Personally I think a reader who has decided to provide reviews, should take doing them seriously, and not compromise themselves, loosing personal respect and street cred. Reviewers are often both lauded and feared therefore, but are respected for their consistency and forthright boldness.  Many readers, dependent on their tastes, might even want to avoid work you like, and want to focus on works you didn't  - if your tastes are opposed. What is important is that you represent your opinions as your own, and not infer everyone should respect them, just know where your tastes lie.

Re: How do you balance reader-value and writer-encouragement?

#6
The way I see it, as someone just starting out, is that hearing 'this is bad' isn't helpful, hearing 'this is bad because...' is extremely helpful.

I left two comments this morning that weren't glowing endorsements, and I deliberated on posting them at all, but eventually did, being as clear and as honest as I could about what I thought didn't work, because first, they asked, second it's done out of respect for people brave enough to put themselves out there (not something I found easy) and third, it's better than silence 

The worst thing you can do is say something is good when it isn't, that isn't just unhelpful, it hurts because you don't know where the cracks are

Re: How do you balance reader-value and writer-encouragement?

#7


FAHyatt Wrote: A good review is a balanced assessment of the work, appended with your personal opinion of it. This is how it works. It must, as review readers are going to survey those you have tendered before generally in order to decide if your tastes are similar to theirs, or totally different. A good review from someone who likes stuff you wouldn't touch is not a recommendation, but a warning. People need to understand you have a consistency of judgement they can use to decide with.

In chapter comments, you can, if you wish, critique work, which you should and are supposed to approach by pointing out what areas you found exceptional, and what errors or possible problems you encounter, and specifically noting each, and if an error or problem, provide a possible correction or example improvement. This is to aid the author.
A review aids the readers choice.

Hope that helps you.  Some people simply do not review work they feel bad about. This is the issue with review swaps. You are obligated to state an opinion, and loose this choice. Personally I think a reader who has decided to provide reviews, should take doing them seriously, and not compromise themselves, loosing personal respect and street cred. Reviewers are often both lauded and feared therefore, but are respected for their consistency and forthright boldness.  Many readers, dependent on their tastes, might even want to avoid work you like, and want to focus on works you didn't  - if your tastes are opposed. What is important is that you represent your opinions as your own, and not inferr everyone should respect them, just know where your tastes lie.
Thank you. I feel like I've learned something important out of this, because in my reviews I often end up adressing the author more than the reader. In hindsight, that's obviously wrong. I use comments too, but much of what ends up in the review could've been the subject of a comment instead.