Writing Tips

Reviewing a story like a Pro!

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Hola Artoons,

We know you had a wonderful time in February by writing, reading and reviewing for various events conducted by ArtoonsInn. For the record, 98 stories were published in Feb 2019, that’s an average of 3.5 original stories per day, without any doubt, it was the most successful month for ArtoonsInn!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, fellas, who made this platform a hub for budding writers and being awesome in general. You people are Awesome, as some of us would like to call you AwesomArtoons (Awstoons?).  With so many stories to review, rate and #rulfy, readers had a hard time coming up with reviews and some of us even chose to stop doing so. While reviewing is not a complex thing (How hard can it be to select your views about a certain piece of literature?), but, coming up with reviews with a delicate balance of appreciating a writer and giving him/her a detailed analysis helping them to improve is a tough task. That’s what makes reviewing on a platform for budding writers (like ArtoonsInn) different from that with a platform for established writers( Like Goodreads). In this article, we will dig a little into this aspect of maintaining a balance and try to come up with some pointers for better reviews.

Before we proceed any further, let us look at the wiki definition of Reviewing:

A review is an evaluation of a publication, service, or company such as a movie (a movie review), video game (video game review), musical composition (music review of a composition or recording), book (book review).
Sounds ‘meh’, right?

That’s exactly what reviewing is about, making ‘meh’ sounding reviews look awesome.

Joining a writing community can be one of the best decision a budding writer can make. Especially ones like ours which is blessed with honest critics (we aren’t blowing our own trumpet). The readers/reviewers here are not just readers who give passing comments. They are aspiring writers themselves who know the grind. Writers understand other writers. They understand what it’s like to fall in love with a character, the struggle to create a conflict and come up with a satisfying resolution. The most important thing a reviewer can offer is the indication that something is wrong irrespective of whether they know how to fix it or not. Categorically, there are three stages of reviewing – Pre-read, while reading and Post read.

Reviewing is not just about sharing personal opinions and views about a story, It is an art, where one critically analyses every aspect of the story and appreciates it for its originality, clarity, and flow while also taking into accounts the strengths and weaknesses of that piece. The first step towards becoming a better critic is knowledge. The more books or stories you read and appreciate (While trying to read the lines between the lines, trying to grasp the unsaid messages the writer has conveyed), the more you get acquainted with the task. For example, if you have never read a YA fantasy, even Twilight will look like a masterpiece since you have no reference point for comparison. While comparison itself is not the right thing to do, having an idea about what has already happened (People often call this literature survey while designing a project), is nice.

Here are some questions you must ask yourself while reading a story:
From what point of view is the story written?
What is the genre of this story, does the story fit into the general norms of its genre?
What is the writer’s style? Formal? Informal? Is it written for a specific audience in mind or it written for the general public? If yes, Can everyone follow this style?
Are the ideas well developed?
Are the characters well defined?
Are there any instances where a character take uncharacteristic decisions? If yes, is it justified by the plot?
Did the writer resolve the conflict in a convincing manner? If not, is it justified the plot?

While you are asking and answering the aforementioned questions, you will form a holistic opinion about the story, this will help you in articulating your thoughts while writing your review. When you write your review make sure you follow the below pointers:

Do not be intimidated by the writer’s name: Treat each story as an independent piece of literature, be it Claws, Beaks or some guest writer who is already published. Many of them have written multiple mediocre stories, its a part and parcel of the trade. Don’t let your opinions get clouded by Writer’s previous works. Be objective (or try to be)

Avoid Spoilers: Spoilers are the number one enemy of readers worldwide. Readers take spoilers very seriously. Don’t be a prick and rob any of your fellow readers the genuine emotional reaction and discovery. Avoiding spoilers while reviewing can be very tricky. The benchmarks can be as low as ‘I like the way the story had a happy ending’ to high benchmarks like ‘It was shocking that Dumbledore was murdered by Snape’. NEVER SHARE A SPOILER IN YOUR REVIEW. If it’s Absolutely necessary, prepend your review with a *Spoiler Alert* tag.

Find your style: Readers chose a particular reviewer because of similar reading taste, but also because they enjoy their review style. Make sure your reviews are unique and contain insights which only you can fish. Don’t go superfluous about the plot while writing your reviews if that’s not your thing. If you mean to say that the Window is blue, make sure it is Blue.

Appreciate and Criticise judiciously: Never make it one-way traffic especially in a cuddling platform like ours. No story is Perfect 10/10 if its read objectively. Make sure you dole out praise and criticism in equal measure. Elaborate a little, don’t just say that the story has memorable characters—explain what makes them great. Don’t just mention that the story was boring—explain which elements failed to capture your attention. Don’t be overly negative about a piece, no story is THAT bad!

Beware of the Rating system: Take it seriously. If you give 9s and 10s all the time, you will be in a fix when there is a story which actually deserves a 10, You won’t be having anything extra to show your praise when you were unnecessarily generous in your previous reviews. If you have any doubts, Follow the ArtoonsInn scale :
1-3: Bad
4 – Needs improvement
5: Average
6-7: Above Average
8: Good
9: Very Good
10: Perfect

Lastly, write to EXPRESS and not to IMPRESS. People appreciate unique free-flowing unbiased views, rather than superfluous words. So, make sure to keep your reviews simple, unique and to the point.

Happy reviewing!

Introducing Eyes Club
I Hold my Ground


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