Since better reviews make better writers - and we think it also helps US as reviewers in our monthly examinations of the work of others - the four of us on the RAC agreed it would be a good idea to come back to SPEW with a couple of pointers for how to improve your reviewing skills.

Just a small bit of information from your friendly neighborhood Review Award Committee to round out the end of January. With the new review period we'll give you our first hearty tip/suggestion, but for this month we'd like to pass around just a little bit of something for you all to think about.

We started off discussing what made a good review and what we wanted to examine as we evaluated the reviews for the award. As we split up the reviews, we took notes, and then we all came together and shared those and some other general observations after all was said and done. We all agreed that the best kind of SPEW reviews are the reviews that give helpful and notable feedback to the author. The most obvious thing we saw that were holding us back from giving phoenomenal feedback to those that we're reviewing are just some basic house-keeping kinds of things, and so we decided to just give everyone a quick reminder of what a SPEW review should be from the SPEW rules:

III. Members’ reviews should include some or all of the following:

-> Grammar and/or spelling corrections.
-> Comments on writing style, canon accuracy, and character and plot development.
-> Use specific examples from the story to illustrate a point.
-> If criticism, be worded in such a way as to be helpful to the author, rather than hurtful.

Members’ reviews should NEVER include:

-> Incorrect grammar or spelling.
-> Personal insults against the author.
-> Put-downs or criticism that is unlikely to help the author.
-> Excessive use of exclamation points or a single word repeated many times.
(bold emphasis added)

There were a lot of good things in the reviews from December, but we really can improve in this area. Try not to be too fangirly (or fanboyish, as the case may be when we have male members). We all love to receive that kind of fun reaction from our readers, but it's not very helpful to our actual writing.

We also recommend writing up your reviews in a word processing program so that you can give it a quick spell/grammar check before submitting the review. While having a mistake or two isn't the end of the world, the author you're reviewing will definitely take your feedback more seriously if it's not full of errors, right? That just makes sense. This will also help for the random times that MNFF may log you out while you're reviewing, etc, so that you don't lose the work you've done on writing the review!

Until next month, we remain lovingly yours,
The RAC - Mar, Haylee, Britt, and Bine