View Full Version : Guide to writing reviews/ Basic writing skills - Do read

01-28-2008, 05:45 AM
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 : -

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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?

Techinal Aspects
a) Spelling
- 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.

b) Punctuation
- 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 .....

c) Grammar
- 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.

d) Style
- 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?

Plot Aspects
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.

01-28-2008, 04:53 PM
This is a really helpful guide. It's brief yet detailed. I could really use it. If I could save it in my pc, I would but I'm using my cell now. I think this should be stickied.

01-28-2008, 10:55 PM
*stamps this thread Brody approved!*

Ichiro Matsuchani
01-30-2008, 02:01 PM
*stamps this thread Brody approved!**Does likewise*

It would be nice of people would read this.

Alicaryn Silentread
01-30-2008, 02:03 PM
Oh! Oh oh oh!
I love this.
This helps oh so much!

01-30-2008, 02:30 PM
Oh and btw!!!!

This aint no sticky cos people don't read them :(

When I get back from vacation I will work on consolidating the stickies, even creating a website for the rules so they can be extensive like the chat rules.

(Also I still want to get kaitou to let me have a fanfiction section on animeglobe to post fiction on. If not maybe I can make a site for it)

01-30-2008, 04:31 PM
I've really slacked off. I used to write detailed reviews for many stories here, largely because I know how useful they are. There has always been a tendency on forums such as this one to use one of the two extremes. The "review" is nothing but praise (which, while nice once in a while, does not help the author to develop) or straight negativity ("it was bad, you should write better" and so on).

Hopefully this will get me back into it and other members to give it a shot ^^ Thank you.

Aies: An archive? Or your own fiction?

01-30-2008, 06:11 PM
Something where we can post all contest winners, all exceptional fiction (after edited and etc to be more or less perfect) the poems of the month, things like that.

01-30-2008, 07:44 PM
Just to add, there's a similar mistake to it's and its when it comes to you're and your.

It's probably as common as it's and its.Just remember, "you're" is "you are" and "your" is used to describe something that belongs to you.

01-30-2008, 10:12 PM
Just to add, there's a similar mistake to it's and its when it comes to you're and your.

It's probably as common as it's and its.Just remember, "you're" is "you are" and "your" is used to describe something that belongs to you.

Good call on this. Will edit the post to include this one as well. By the way, I'm glad to see that people have taken notice and that my efforts weren't wasted. Thank God!

On having a site solely for fanfiction do you mean an "animeforum members only" fanfiction/fiction site?

01-30-2008, 10:47 PM
Yeah, I guess my reviews are pretty much useless. Should've elaborate more so I'm sorry. I'll try to work on that using the guidelines when I use pc next time. Using my cell is a nightmare, kinda. Limited space when posting.
Oh, other site dedicated for fanfics/fictions? I kinda like that idea.

02-13-2008, 11:08 PM
I went browsing and managed to come across this, which I thought would be useful to know. "The Four Golden Rules for a Good plot" Added some comments to further explain.

a) Choose your complication and the steps to its resolution as detailed by the plot skeleton—this is your plot.
Putting it simply, start with a complex head and make sure there's a solution at the tail end

b) Flesh out your plot with colourful characters, a vivid setting, and carefully plan each scene and event to bring the readers a step closer to the climax (resolution).
Here's where you should think about whether or not some events you've added into your story proves beneficial to the plot, or just drags the pace.

c) Let your story end at a natural stopping place. Don’t give in to the temptation to let it linger on.
Not sure if any of you have experienced these but I have read a couple of stories that seemed like it had a hanging end. Do not mistake this for a story that leaves you wanting more. Look to your animes for the prominent differences. Some animes leave you "Hah? What does that mean?" This meant that it was left hanging. Others leave you with this, "I wanted more experiences from that world, more matches, more fights." This is what makes a good end.

d) Make sure that you haven’t created a ‘paper dragon’ and that your character(s) resolve the issue (or not) under their own power.
Imagine this. Johnny is trapped in an alleyway, the wall behind him too tall to climb over, there are no doors or windows at either side of him; just walls -and right in front of him is a menacing monster about 15 feet tall. There's no way he'll survive and he's going to die, eaten alive. But out from no where a strange lazer zaps the monster and it disintegrates. Keep in mind that the lazer nor technology of any form exists in this story. The lazer really came out of no where. Rather illogical and out of place right? Avoid this.

Just to add, I've just remembered another SPAG mistake I make pretty frequently, the "their" and "they're" syndrome. Know the difference and don't keep making this mistake.

02-13-2008, 11:29 PM
Hypergraphian: Don't forget "there." It happens quite often, especially among younger folks.

02-14-2008, 01:49 AM
I do their there thier all the time.. <.<

02-14-2008, 08:31 AM
Hypergraphian: Don't forget "there." It happens quite often, especially among younger folks.

Yup... lol... thanks and "there" too :) .... gonna add this onto the main post

02-14-2008, 08:42 AM
I suppose you might as well throw its, it's, and its' in there too. They're also commonly misused.

02-14-2008, 11:56 AM
I suppose you might as well throw its, it's, and its' in there too. They're also commonly misused.

erm.... it was in the initial post already :p

02-14-2008, 05:02 PM
Yes, you touched on "it's" but the others could also be elaborated on ;p As I said, they're commonly misused.

02-14-2008, 07:19 PM
Did I confess that I only skimmed it all yet? :D

03-05-2008, 12:22 AM
Lately, I've been noticing horrible abuse of tenses in writing. Here are some simple tips to follow. Generally, writers maintain one tense for the main discourse and indicate changes in time frame by changing tense relative to that primary tense, which is usually either simple past or simple present. Even apparently non-narrative writing should employ verb tenses consistently and clearly.

General guideline: Do not shift from one tense to another if the time frame for each action or state is the same.

1. The ocean contains rich minerals that washed down from rivers and streams.
Contains is present tense, referring to a current state; washed down is past, but should be present (wash down) because the minerals are currently continuing to wash down.
Corrected: The ocean contains rich minerals that wash down from rivers and streams.

2. About noon the sky darkened, a breeze sprang up, and a low rumble announces the approaching storm.
Darkened and sprang up are past tense verbs; announces is present but should be past (announced) to maintain consistency within the time frame.
Corrected: About noon the sky darkened, a breeze sprang up, and a low rumble announced the approaching storm.

3. Yesterday we had walked to school but later rode the bus home.
Had walked is past perfect tense but should be past to maintain consistency within the time frame (yesterday); rode is past, referring to an action completed before the current time frame.
Corrected: Yesterday we walked to school but later rode the bus home.

04-02-2008, 08:06 PM
Bow to sensei!