Corner Writing Club

United States of America

"Feedback is the breakfast of champions."
-Frank A. Clark

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How to Review Like a Boss *dabs again*

October 2, 2018


Reviewing others' work and giving helpful feedback is essential to any writing community.  And we are obviously a small writing community of our own, and we like any writer have a responsibility to read and respond and help using our own talent and intellect.  But sometimes... well, let's look at the Exhibits that I have handily procured for these purposes.

I have read the piece the entire way through and my eyes are blistering with the loveliness.  I love it to death, but there are a few things that need tweaking or that could be done better.  My eyes are boring into the page.  My mouse finds the "Write Review" button and I smash my mouse so hard that each of my fingers break.  I slam my pointer into the text, ready to make some highlights.  But the thing is I'm just so tired.  Surely, with this lovely piece, a simple like and comment would do...

I am so close to earning that badge!  I just need to review, like, five more pieces!  I have an idea.  How about I give like one line for each of the questions with just enough detail that it'll get submitted?  This is a great plan and it'll be so quick and easy. I'm so brilliant.

I love this piece so much!  I will be so nice that everything will be positive and every single word I say will be friendly and give praise.  Every highlight that I make, every question that I answer, will be in countless appraisal of this amazing work of art!

I want to show this person how much I enjoy this work and I want to answer the questions.  However, highlighting the bits doesn't feel necessary right now, you know?  I'll just leave them some praise and some constructive feedback without specifying or highlighting anything.  Perfect.

Every single one of these Exhibits happen super commonly, and they are all great examples of a not-so-helpful review.  However, I have collected a few tips on how to give helpful feedback, distinguish comments from reviews, and, most of all, learn how to review... a boss *dabs*

1) HIGHLIGHTS, HIGHLIGHTS.  The questions provided for a blank review are a great way to give an overview of what you thought; however, a review is nearly useless if you don’t A) give specifics and B) show them other little things that could be changed that would make it better.  I personally find that lots of the pieces I look at are great except for some awkward phrasing or extra syllables.  The highlights are a perfect place for this sort of thing!  The very first ingredient to a great review is strong highlights with lots of notes.

2) THE BIG TAKEAWAY.  Highlights are very important, but they act as sidenotes.  It is also very crucial to have some “Big Takeaway” remarks—mostly, what you put in the question section.  Do not only use this section for praise.  Also include what there needs to be more of.  This step is especially important if you are reviewing a novel or competition entry.  Do there need to be more rhythmic descriptions in a poem?  Is a political essay missing solid statistics?  Make sure that you include these things in the overview.  Don’t make your “Big Takeaway” remarks useless.

3) A GOOD BALANCE BETWEEN PRAISE AND CRITICISM.  It is human nature to be offended when people try to change your work.  However, it can also be frustrating if there is too much praise and not enough helpful feedback.  As a rule of thumb, I like to have around 60-70% of all comments on a review be praise.  It is definitely good to give feedback, but if you have something that is almost entirely criticism it does hurt your soul *sheds invisible tear.*  Also be sure to be polite in the critique part of that.

4) COMMENTING AND REVIEWING.  Don’t review something that should be commented on, and don’t comment on something that should be reviewed.  Comments are meant to be short and reactionary.  They can definitely be a good source of feedback, but they shouldn’t include detailed paragraphs on what the piece did well and didn’t.  If you want to write that kind of comment, you should probably be reviewing.  On the other hand, don’t review pieces that you should be commenting on—Don’t review things that are social or very short.  There’s not a lot you can put in a review of a one-sentence piece, and in that case, a comment might be more helpful.

That’s the end of my tips for reviews.  Good luck, keep writing, and review on... only this time, review like a boss *dabs a final time.*


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  • October 2, 2018 - 5:50pm (Now Viewing)

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  • Ashleigh2403

    thanks for posting this! I am trying to figure out how to be a good reviewer but I am a little nervous to try it out, maybe after reading these tips I can actually review something well thanks again ;-)

    over 1 year ago
  • Made4Love

    Thank you for this! This will be so much help! and like JediKnightGirl and Quille, I fall into the "Exhibit C" category, but I want to get better. I will keep all of this in mind now anytime I am reviewing. Thanks again!

    over 1 year ago
  • Kahasai

    I am a part of the rare Exhibit E: Highlights! And highlights! And ... more highlights? (This is the Exhibit where the managers occasionally have to contact you for being heavy on the critique side of things--it can be way too easy to get carried away).

    These are good tips and an excellent representation of most of the reviews I receive *facepalm*. People don't seem to believe me when I say I want honest feedback. (Seriously, I'm one of those people who can take a harsh critique. I live in an honest, teasing, sarcastic household. You can't do me harm, at least not in this website.)

    over 1 year ago
  • Quille

    I always end up writing a review a little too much like C because I don't want to offend anybody by telling them how to write their pieces........ But I do correct grammar/spelling mistakes :)

    over 1 year ago
  • JediKnightGirl

    I've received all of those kinds of reviews before and they always annoy me a little bit (despite being unable to review something without being the embodiment of Exhibit C, because I still kind of suck at giving criticism, lol). But this advice is really helpful and I'm glad you published this, especially with the reviewing assignments and all.

    over 1 year ago
  • janice

    Yes thank you!!! I needed this.

    over 1 year ago
  • Corner Writing Club

    Thank you @~KateT! It actually did take me quite a long time to think of and write out. I hope you find these useful :)

    over 1 year ago
  • ~Kate T

    Great tips! You go into a lot of detail which I admire because I know that it didn't take five minutes to do, you actually put this very unique thing that you may never have heard of which is commonly called... *drumroll* "time and effort." So I applaud you. (Not kidding, I actually read the line 'handily procured for these purposes' and laughed out loud. Then I read exhibit A and laughed out loud again).

    over 1 year ago