I'd to review: what are some criteria?

Hey guys, I'd to give to the community by writing up some reviews but I'm wondering what is the best way to go about it? What would be the criteria? Some stuff I'm pondering is...

How much should you have read to be able to make the review? All of it? None of it?

What's the best way to structure? The good, the bad and the ugly?

Would you go willy-nilly on reviews or request or be offered to review?

What would you, as the one being reviewed, expect to get out of the review?

Thanks, guys!

I would like to know whether you enjoyed it, if you thought the characters were realistic and, since mine is unfinished, whether you will continue reading to the end and if not, "why".

Ha ha, big questions and there's been some long discussions in the past.



I've written only two reviews, because I only review stuff that I connected with strongly. You can find them on my profile: http://webfictionguide.com/shelves/dnsantana/ they might help you, though I tend to do somewhat long, verbose stuff and I don't want to seem like I'm promoting that exclusively. You can totally write short pithy reviews if you want, I think that can be done right. I can't do it though.

With all that in mind, here's my answers to those questions.

I don't think you have to read all of the story. Almost every serial will keep going for a while, and your review will only ever be of "the latest chapter I read," unless the author stops or you wait what could be a long time until it's over. As an author of a serial myself, I'd rather people not wait to review, since I plan to keep going for a long time. So read a chunk, and then review. However if you have strong criticisms of the story, you should probably disclose how much you read, so that people understand the context of your criticism.

As for how much you should read: if the story is just starting, like there's only 5-6 chapters or something, you might as well read it all. A story in this format is probably still getting its legs at that point so you might as well see as much as the author's got to deliver. If it's really long when you decide to start reading and review, then ten or fifteen updates should give you some idea of what the writing is like, though you should be clear that you don't know the whole story at that time.

Personally, I don't follow things update to update. I wait until there's a big chunk and binge it. Both stories I reviewed, I knew I was going to review them about two or three chapters in because the plots really captivated me. At that point, I kept reading mostly because I was entertained, rather than for review purposes. I stopped to review when I felt I had enough bullet points to cover.

I don't really have a set structure for reviews. I write a first draft that's just a list of stuff I've been aggregating that I found interesting in the story, and what I post on the site is that list fleshed out more and arranged so it reads better and isn't just a bunch of bullet points. I tend to go heavier on what people do right than what they do wrong. I feel like I want people to play to their strengths, because the weaknesses I perceive are probably up to individual taste. I mention criticisms, of course, but I tend to focus on what I believe the story was trying to do and what it accomplished in that realm.

Some basic lit things you can cover: writing style, 1st or Third Person, or something funky? What do you think it accomplishes? Viewpoint character or characters and your opinion on them, what their stories are, what themes you think the author is trying to hit. Genre, and how the author fits into one or subverts it (or multiples). Meta stuff like the layout of the website, update length, update frequency, any bonus content setups the author's got, and things like that. Remember though, that you're also talking to readers, not just to the author. Try to give the reader a good sense of what the story is.

Beyond that, you just have to develop your own style. I've been reviewing things for a long time. I used to work for a couple of gaming blogs, and I'm basically always thinking about things I consume, so I've got a list of things I look for, and it's hard to convey how to write a good review, because media tends to draw out reviews from me, rather than me sitting down and forcing one. Hopefully though the above ground work stuff can help you start and give you things to think about.

As the one being reviewed, I'd hope to get someone's perspective on what they think I'm doing. I'd like your personal opinion, drawn from your own self, and framed in whatever way is honest to you. I think perception is important and valuable and hard to acquire; I'd like to know what people are seeing when they read and what they take away from it. I'm less interested in stuff that can be patched up easily, like typos. I'm more interested in stuff that's hard or impossible to patch up, like if you think a character is boring and I've spent a third of the text following that character.

I think it would be fair to read however much you enjoyed reading. If you completely lost interest in a story after the third chapter, it's totally okay to not continue reading. Just mention in your review how far you got.

To add to what the others said: as a writer, I always get a little confused by reviews that read like 4.5 - 5 stars, but only give 3.5 - 4 stars. If nothing negative is mentioned, or only some tiny little thing at the end, then I still don't know what I can do to improve the story. Ideally, a review should help both the reader and the author. :)

As a reader, I also like to know what the reviewer didn't like about the story or why they thought it was somewhat entertaining, but it didn't blow them away.

Just so you know, I've felt like asking that too. My problem is I feel like I'd need to read more reviews first for a sense of that, then read more serials (to get a sense of what I feel is "3 star" vs "5 star"), then get over my own inhibitions for what makes me any sort of authority. Which takes time, and I feel like I'm so much better at individual posted comments versus holistic impressions anyway. (Hence why you haven't seen me review anything...)

You shouldn't have to read serials and their reviews to get a feel for the star ratings. Everyone's interpretation of them is different, so I'd say just go with what the stars tell you and what that means to you.

I think the rating is explained when you hover over it.

3 stars: worth a look

3.5 stars: fairly solid

4 stars: solid

4.5 stars: compelling

5 stars: I don't remember what it said there, but to me it's a story so good that it redefines the genre.

It has also been said that 4.5 stars and more would be the kind of story you'd be happy to pay a bit of money for.

Also, not all reviews are good examples of how to write a review, but I'd recommend reading some Wildbow reviews. His are excellent. Ideally, just state what you liked and didn't like, and why you gave that star rating in the end. Without big spoilers (though if you really have to, I suppose it would be okay to include a spoiler warning).

I consider five stars to be 'professional'. Something that could go in a magazine or potentially get accepted for publication. Something can have rough edges but be good enough to get attention despite such, or just be exceedingly polished on its own, and still warrant five stars.

Not all of my reviews are fantastic; I was experimenting with different review styles at a point and some of my reviews came across a little weird. The 'Bad Influences' review isn't my strongest, for example.

Thanks, guys. These tips are helpful. I do want to get to reviewing since I've started reading a number of serials so it just seems like the next step. Wildbow and Chrysalis--I read both of yours ;)