Although we aren't professionals and writing may be more of an outlet for expression than our actual aspirations, I believe that like ALL things we do in life, there is always room for improvement.
This post comprises a list of guidelines I plucked from various Internet sources and reworked into a shortened list for this forum. It is by no means a must use but provides a good indication for both writers and reviewers on how a story/ written piece can be judged.
If any of you have points to add feel free to submit inputs however if you reproduce any guidelines, make sure to quote the source so that none of us get sued. Here goes : -
A Guide to Writing Reviews
What is a review? Certainly it comprises a certain degree of "I think this is nice." or "I liked it." But a review is more than that. It analyses in detail the reasons those statements were given. Reviews should never be a one-liner and should be finished, polished pieces of work. So next you ask, how do I write a review?
- This is the simplest of all skills to comment on. Simply note if a person had unintentional typos or did not know how to spell a word.
- Now this is tough. I would consider this even tougher to handle than grammar but that's just me. Typical punctuation usage in fictional writing includes the fullstop (. ) the comma (,) the semicolon (;) the apostrophe (' ) and the long pause or dash (-). I'll provide a rough guideline on what each are used for but note that usage varies depending on your story's style, tone and manner.
(i) The fullstop - Full stops should be taken for their literal meaning, a full stop. It means the sentence is finished. No more. End of sentence.
(ii) The comma - This is used to denote a short pause, to seperate a string of adjectives or to simply demonstrate how I've just used the comma.
(iii) The semicolon - The semicolon has two uses. Firstly, it breaks an extremely long sentence in a paragraph and secondly, it links two independent clauses together. "What what what?!!!" Here's an example :-
The house looked gloomy and dull; its paint scratched off by 10 years of wind, rain and sand; its roof gutters dangling in perril and making ghostly creaks.
(iv) The dash - Can be used to denote a long pause, which makes it similar to the semicolon but the one difference is that it can link two unrelated clauses together. "What again?!" Here's an example :-
The house looked gloomy and dull - it had been a long while since Jerry stepped into that decrepit place.
(v) The apostrophe - The apostrophe seems often abused in the its and it's department. Just to provide a reminder, "it's" is a shortened form of "it is". It does not denote "belonging to it" One more common mistake as pointed out by Sanosuke, "you're" is "you are" and "your" is used to describe something that belongs to you. Please keep this in mind. Its a relatively simple mistake to avoid.
Additional : There = A place away from you
Their = belonging to them
They're = they are .....
- The grammar lesson is way too long to post here. But tense is important and there have been frequent misuse of tenses, i.e. mixing present with past and continuous, which is a "no-no" in fictional writing. Choose a tense and stick to it and it's your job as reviewers to point out the flaws.
- While reviewing style, ask yourself these questions :-
(i) Is the language too flowery or not flowery enough for the context?
(ii) Was it too descriptive?
(iii) Is there enough imagery?
(iv) Is the tone suitable for the story and does it convey the emotions effectively?
When reviewing plot effectiveness ask yourself these questions :-
a) Was there a hook to begin with?
b) What was the author's intention of writing the story?
c) Why did the author choose to follow up one incident with another?
d) Was there anymore that he could do?
e) Was the overall story boring or interesting? (Here's where you can put a one-liner)
f) Was there enough impact from plot follow-ups and supporting narration?
g) Is there interest to read on?
Finally, like in all things, there is no right or wrong, only opinions. I have only one request I'd like to make and that is to review. Yes, please review. I've seen lots of work being put up but no one feeding back. Great time, effort and courage is needed to post a written piece of work for the public eye. So please do the writers a favor and help them improve.
As for the writers, when you put up work, expect criticism but do not fear it. Feedback is heavily beneficial to your writing improvement though not all criticism is correct and you may choose to either bin it or apply it. Also, do take note of reviews by posting a reply, a revision of your work or feel free to express why you feel a reviewer's opinions were flawed.
I also have one request for the writers. Please run through your stories at least once before posting. If you're posting, it means you're looking for feedback. If you're looking for feedback you should also spend some time making sure that you are satisfied with your work before posting. What I'm trying to say is spend as much time checking your work as a reviewer will spend reviewing it.
Topping all this off? Always remember to be nice and tactful with comments. Though this is difficult to practice remember we are all here to contribute, not subtract. To the mods, sorry for sounding a little over-the-top but I thought something like this might help a little with feedback in the threads.
Additional : Please read following posts for "The Four Golden Rules to a Good Plot"
Additional : Please read following posts for short grammar tips on tenses.