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Thread: WeasleyMom's review thread

  1. #1
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    WeasleyMom's review thread

    Username on the archives: WeasleyMom
    Current SPEW Ranking: Beginner? Is that Bronze?
    How long you've been in SPEW: about 20 minutes
    Link to review page: click
    Review(s) you've left: Twenty-One by Verita Serum, The Mirror Cracked by Minnabird, Dangerous Liasons by eternalangel, Serenade by EquinoxChick, A Year Tomorrow by ithinkrabis2people
    Stories of yours you would like to see reviewed in depth: Another Horcrux Down, What War Takes, Seventh Year Slytherin, A Light in the Gap... and anything I've written in the last few years
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    Good idea. I'll re-post this in the right place also.

    Here is a critique for Lori/WeasleyMom’s review of But For Oceans Where Feet May Fail by paperrose, a link for which is here. I’m not sure if I am supposed to post this critique in my thread or elsewhere, but doubtless you will let me know if I am doing it wrongly.

    The tone of this review is very positive and supportive. It includes remarks on the mechanics of the story with phrases such as “..nice flow of your writing…” and “…captured her well in those younger years…”. It also includes remarks, in paragraph 2, about the logic of the story line and an analysis of how this story line exemplifies real-life truths.

    This review also includes extensive remarks not only about the quality of the writing but also about the reviewer’s reaction to the story. Examples of this are “She is actually one of my favorite characters…” and “My younger brother…” and “…the ring of truth,” and “The song…is one of my favorite songs…” It might be debated whether including personal-reaction remarks like these is useful to the writer in helping her learn to write better, but there is no doubt in my mind that a mention of the ways in which the reader feels close to the story (parallels in one’s own life, or favorite characters or moments in time) will assure the writer that his/her work has value and will impel the writer to continue writing. That, in the long run, is more important that technical perfection.

    The comments in paragraph 4, “My only hesitation with the piece…”, are very kindly stated. I like your disclaimer, “It’s not a huge deal, really…”, as you point out that, even though Hannah’s friendship with other ‘Puffs is not the theme of the story, the reader might be aware of its absence because it is such a salient quality of the ‘Puff nature. Of course the author knows that he/she can’t include everything in a short story or expand upon every passing reference without losing the focus of the story, but it is probably useful for the reviewer to mention any omission that particularly stands out.

    I was not familiar with the song that provides the title of this story, so I Googled the lyrics, expecting from your review to see fragments or paraphrases of the lyrics in the story, but instead found that the basic premise of the song was reflected in the story. Without your remarks I would not have known why the title was what it was.

    I noticed that you did not mention something about the story that did strike me—the frequent switching of verb tenses between present, past, and past perfect, not always seeming to be entirely under control. But perhaps this is the responsibility of the beta reader, and if she did not address herself to it, then we should just ignore it.

    A good review, and the author seems to be pleased also.
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    Here is a critique for your review of Serenade by Carole/Equinox Chick.

    I notice that you have no remarks about Carole's style, word choice, structure, etc., because there is "nothing ever in need of editing"; your only remarks, but not critical, just inquisitive, are about the use of parentheses. I myself have been chided for using parentheses in a work of fiction, so it is interesting to hear the suggestion that that rule is not necessarily hard and fast.

    There is a good discussion of the comparison between the redemption potential of Draco and that of Pansy. And it's good that you pointed out that there was a crucial difference between Harry's death by being handed over and Harry's death by voluntary self-sacrifice. Since Harry was, in fact, not handed over, and since the episode of Pansy's outcry in the Great Hall was so brief, it is easy to fail to ask oneself what would have happened if...

    We like to think of JKR as the resident Goddess of the Shrine of Harry Potter, but your review, and Carole's interesting response to it, show that some of the characters did come across as unrealistically flat in the seven books, perhaps because the focus was necessarily on Harry, Ron, and Hermione, so that we writers have the opportunity to finish the unfinished business by rounding out these minor characters.

    I enjoyed reading your review.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oregonian View Post
    Here is a critique for your review of Serenade by Carole/Equinox Chick.

    I notice that you have no remarks about Carole's style, word choice, structure, etc., because there is "nothing ever in need of editing"; your only remarks, but not critical, just inquisitive, are about the use of parentheses. I myself have been chided for using parentheses in a work of fiction, so it is interesting to hear the suggestion that that rule is not necessarily hard and fast.
    Hey Vicki. Thanks for your comments on my review. I just wanted to clarify something... I didn't mean to imply that Carole is incapable of making an error. When I read it back in your review, I agree that it read that way, but I was merely trying to communicate how polished her work consistently is, in my opinion. I did mention flow and word choice and structure -- I just didn't have anything to criticize about any of it. Regarding the parentheses, it's probably not the choice I would have made if I'd been writing it myself, but when it's done well (as it was here), I find my mind opening to the idea, at least in someone else's work.

    I appreciate your insights though... I can definitely see a couple of places I should have worded things a bit differently.
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    I never thought for a moment that you considered Carole to be incapable of error; we know that we are all capable of error, Your Humble Servant being not the least of all. But Carole probably also has a very good beta for both technical and stylistic matters, and that goes a long way in achieving a polished, error-free presentation.
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    Hi, Lori. This is an excellent review. (for Her Fatherís Girl.) I canít find anything to suggest in the way of improvements. You give it a personal touch, mentioning having heard only good things about this authorís work and skimming the list of her stories, and ending with a similar statement of how you related particularly to this story.

    When you talk about the story itself, you combine analysis of the story and your personal reaction to it, and I think that that is important; the author wants not just a scholarly analysis of her writing techniques but also a feeling for how the story affects the reader.

    I see what you mean about the confusion regarding which character is speaking at the beginning of the story, and I agree with your comments there.

    After reading your review and the story it pertains to, I ran my eyes down the authorís page to get a feel for how much and what she wrote, and read a couple of her earliest stories to compare them with this one. It is interesting to note that back in the olden days, circa 2006 or 2007, stories received many more reviews than stories do today (a larger readership then, I guess) but that those reviews were almost all very short, along the order of ďI loved itĒ, or ďThatís so sweet.Ē Perhaps the art of reviewing has evolved since 2006, or perhaps the average age of reviewers is greater now.

    Talk to you next month!
    Vicki
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  7. #7
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    Hi, Lori. I am glad that you approved of the review for Pat-a-Cake by Foolondahill. The latter part really was a beta job, and as you say,
    I'm sure neither of us would endorse turning ourselves into betas when reviewing, as we would certainly offend more authors than we would please.
    On those rare occasions when I take a beta job, it is when the author is specifically looking for a grammarian; it is gratifying to be able to teach the mysteries of some point of grammar and to see that the author is able to use those new skills in subsequent chapters.
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  8. #8
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    This was an excellent review (for A Year Tomorrow by Ithinkrabis2people). You address the authorís concern that the story may be underdeveloped and reassure the author that the degree of development is adequate. Although you donít quote lines from the story directly, you cite several details too support your judgment that the characterization was good.

    In the face of many readersí wanting to see more of Molly in the final paragraphs of the story, you defend the authorís choice not to add more explicit information about Molly, giving good reasons why this is a valid choice.

    Your suggestions for improvement are useful and inoffensive. There is the universal recommendation for one more troll through the sentences to pick up the last few little typos; that happens to all of us, so no author should be inclined to take it badly, but it is good to reiterate that clean text does add a plus to the readerís enjoyment. And your two mentions of the things that struck you a little oddly are useful too, since an author can never predict all the different ways that readers will view his story; even ďauthor + betaĒ canít predict them all. These are the questions that get asked in reviews and answered in the authorís response.

    Your final paragraph is a neat wrap-up; the line ďÖpeople trying to move under its [griefís] weight do contradictory thingsÖĒ is a succinct explanation for what goes on in this story. Your review shows that a review doesnít have to be as long as the story it reviews in order to be thorough and insightful. I have no suggestions for how this review could be improved.
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  9. #9
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    Hi, Lori. I see that we both chose to review the same story, <i>I Suspect Nargles</i> by foolondahill17. I guess that speaks to the value of this story!

    I like your line where you say that there is just enough description in the story without bogging the story down. There <i>is</i> a lot of vivid detail in this story, so that each reviewer can cite the particular details that stood out for him/her, without much duplication. It was good to mention the specific images that stood out for you.

    Your suggestion for improvement was kindly stated, with an example of what the weakness is and a suggestion for how it can be improved. The readerís grateful response indicates that she took the suggestion in an accepting way.

    It is good, I think, for a reviewer to mention how he or she relates personally to the story; Iím sure I have said this before. In your review you mentioned that Deathly Hallows is your favorite of the seven books, and in my review I mentioned that the immense differences between Dracoís and Scorpiusí adolescent lives made me wonder about the survivorsí long-term resolution of their experiences.

    This was a nice, supportive, helpful, laudatory review. I donít have any suggestions for improvement.

    Vicki
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