Reviewing is an integral part of our community. None of us should expect to be reviewed if we aren’t actively reviewing others. We know that it can be difficult to find the time, with all of the other things we have going on in our lives, but even taking 20 minutes a day to read and review a few people is a big help!!
How can I write an effective review?
When reviewing/replying to a post, try asking yourself these questions:
1. What type of feedback would I like to receive if this were my piece?
2. Do I want a general pat on the back, or would I like something more detailed, with suggestions and constructive feedback?
3. Would I want a reviewer to point out my SPaG? (Spelling Punctuation and Grammar)
4. Do I like hearing what the reader enjoyed and parts they may not have?
5. Would I want to know how they interpreted my piece? (this can be especially helpful with poetry, which can often be interpreted many different ways by different readers!)
In summary, give the type of review you would like to receive from others!
Now, you may be asking yourself, ‘What is constructive feedback and SPaG?’ or ‘How could someone interpret my piece differently than I wrote it…it seems pretty clear to me?’
Constructive feedback is a term I like to use rather than constructive criticism. We don’t have to be critical of one’s work, but if we see areas that may need a little cleaning up, it is beneficial to the author if we let them know. Sometimes pieces are written a certain way on purpose, and other times those areas may have just been an oversight.
“I noticed that you used the word ‘garden’ three times in two consecutive sentences. Maybe you can take one of those three out, as you have already established the fact that you are talking about a garden. You could also say ‘I was standing amongst the flowers’ instead of ‘standing in the garden.”
In this case, the reader noted an area in a piece that was a little repetitive, pointed it out to the author, and offered a few suggestions of ways the author could rework that particular part of their writing.
SPaG stands for Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar. This is a term you will probably hear a lot. Some also refer to SPaG as ‘nits’, but essentially, they are just areas in the writing that need to be fixed to make the piece cleaner. Some think of SPaG as a bad thing, but we all have spots in our pieces that need ironing out.
Some of the most frequent issues involve words that can be spelled multiple ways, such as ‘there, their and they’re’, or, ‘to, two and too’. A few more examples are the use of ‘then vs. than’, or, ‘effect vs. affect’.
When pointing out SPaG problems, always make sure you have a solution or suggestion for the author.
“In this sentence, ‘I was walking to there house too play with they’re new puppy,’ the forms of their and to are not correct. Here’s how that sentence should be written, ‘I was walking to (their) house (to) play with (their) new puppy.’”
In this instance, not only does the reviewer point out areas that need to be fixed, but also shows the author how to correct the sentence. This is an incredibly helpful way to review.
Interpretation of a piece is up to the reader. Many times, a reviewer will think the author means one thing when they really don’t. This can be considered misinterpretation, or, just a different viewpoint. It all depends on how the author considers the feedback.
When we think about reading a book chapter, the plot, location, descriptors and dialogue all paint a picture in our minds. However, someone else reading the exact same words may have a completely different picture in their mind of what is going on, being said, etc.
Letting an author know how you are interpreting their piece is always very helpful. Some authors will take that piece of information and use it to revise, while others will leave the interpretation up to the reader. Either way, it is good to know how others are viewing your work, and whether or not you are getting your point across.
The take-away message here is understand and appreciate that not everyone will take your words at face value. Whether or not it is what you intended your message to be, be gracious when you reply back to your reviewers, for they have taken the time to read through your piece and leave you feedback. Above all, be respectful of one another when reviewing.
So go out there and start reading and reviewing!! It’s a great way to make new friends and you’ll find some incredible writers and pieces in the process!!
~Kelleigh, Writer’s Carnival