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Review Tips

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Sat Jun 29, 2019 1:35 am
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Shady says...

Review Tips

cowritten with the lovely @alliyah

We all know that the very core of YWS centers around our shared love of writing and our desire to improve our ability. We build our writing skills in a few different ways -- one of the main ways to improve your ability as a writer is obviously to write. But equally important to improving your skill is reviews -- both writing them and recieving them.

By receiving good reviews, you can get helpful feedback from writers that have a vast array of perspectives and approaches to writing.They can point out areas where you can improve your specific story but also explain other concepts that improve your writing overall and help you advance your skills as a writer.

By writing good reviews, you learn how to critically evaluate a written work and figure out what works and what doesn't work quite as well. You can help other writers see areas where they can improve through this process, but also improve your own writing by learning to follow your own advice on pacing and characterization and plot.

There are already numerous articles out there on how to write a good review. The YWS Critique Sandwich (and another sweet option The YWS S'more) give a helpful overview of the general format your reviews can take and Review Templates provide a framework to assist you in ensuring you're writing helpful reviews.
A Rundown on Reviewing is a FAQ-esque article that runs through how to write a thoughtful, constructively critical review. How To Write A Good Critique explains how to balance criticisms with compliments and also how to ensure your criticism is actually constructive. And Tough Love or Just Being Mean? is another excellent article that discusses how to ensure your critiques are helpful to the author.

The YWS Reviewing Dictionary is also an awesome resource that addresses many situations you're likely to encounter while reviewing and advice on how to handle them. There's even an article about Reviewing Writers More Skilled Than You that offers advice about critiquing those "scary" writers on YWS that you feel like much better than you and therefore that you can't review for them, which just isn't the case! And finally What isn't a good critique? offers advice on how to ensure that the feedback you're providing for the author is actually helpful, instead of trite statements about how good -- or how bad -- you think the work was in only the most broad contexts. For example, it's not bad to say things like "I think the characterization was really good" because that gives a specific area where the author did well. However, if feedback sounds more like "omg you're so talented, I loved it!", that may be a nice ego boost but is not actually helpful at all.

These awesome resources are a great place to start if you'd like to learn how to start reviewing like a pro. And if you're still not confident in your reviewing skills after all that, feel free to ask someone! No one on this site is "too good" for you to approach. No. One. So drop a line to that user that you've noticed is an awesome reviewer and ask for pointers. You can even hit up one of the mods for their best reviewing advice. And get out there and start reviewing!

We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.
— Arthur O'Shaughnessy