Don’t Cry, It’s Only a Review

by Tim Hillebrant

Okay, so you’ve received a review, and you don’t like it.  Maybe you felt the reviewer was unnecessarily harsh in their comments.  Maybe you’re upset because they didn’t like what you wrote.  The bottom line is, you’ve received a review that’s not positive and you’re not happy because of it.

So let’s talk about that for a second.  What was it about the review that didn’t make you happy, exactly?  Sure, you’ve spent your time in crafting a brilliantly written piece that shines, at least in your heart, as something of substance.  But that review still sticks in your craw.

To cover your bases as an author, did you review it for correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation?  Did you check for those pesky repetitive words such as had, that, or very?  Were there an overabundance of adverbs?  Did you read it aloud to make sure it flowed well?

Now, if you did all that, and have fixed any errors before posting your piece, then let’s move on to details.  It’s surprising how often this kind of thing slips by.  If your character is drinking Scotch, for example, the drink should come from Scotland.  Otherwise it’s not Scotch. 

This is a failing all too many authors make, and I can give you one shining example.  In his story, “The Green Mile,” Stephen King used the electric chair as the method of execution for the prisoners.  Great.  It is certainly a tool used for that purpose.  Except for one small fact.  The electric chair was first used in Louisiana in 1941.  “The Green Mile” is set in the 1930’s.  There was no electric chair in Louisiana at that time.

As a good friend once told me, the Devil is in the details.  As the author of a written piece that you intend to have published, it’s your job to check them.  Did you do so?

Now, if after all of this, you feel your piece is still beyond reproach, then maybe we move on to the reviewer.  It’s possible they prefer Science Fiction, and yours is Romance.  Maybe they’re having a really bad day.  Maybe they just honestly didn’t like the piece.  People are human and we all have our likes and dislikes.  Even reviewers.

That brings us to the point of this piece.  What you have received is, in fact, just a review.  That’s all.  You posted your work for that purpose.  Someone took their time, to read it, scan it for errors and give their opinion.  It’s just that: an opinion.  If you’ve put the piece up for publishing or to see what needs fixed, then thank the reviewer, make the corrections, and move on. 

If you’ve written a piece that you know has errors and published it anyway, you’re wasting your time and the reviewers’ who took their time to critique your work.  In which case they should still be thanked, and you move on. 

This brings me to my final statement.  You value your time.  The person reviewing your work values theirs.  When you receive a review, it’s okay to ask the reviewer a question or two and maybe have the point clarified.  In the end though, it’s your responsibility to make use of the gift they’ve given you.  To that end, thank them, and move on.  Who knows?  Maybe you’ll get a glowing review with your next piece.  You won’t know if you don’t try.  So hop to it, and write on!

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