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Thread: February Activities 2009

  1. #1

    February Activities 2009

    This month's discussion was inspired by the Review Award Committee's review tips thread; I suggest you go check it out if you haven't already.

    This month, the RAC has started small, with a couple of suggestions (definitely take their advice on using a word processing document if you don't do that already). But also, very importantly, they quoted the SPEW rules for expected standard of review. I will requote it here:

    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.
    So, this month our discussion will be a self-evaluation - how well do your reviews measure up to the expected standard?

    Some things to consider in your post:

    • Do your reviews include what "should" be included in a SPEW review?
    • Do your reviews include what "should NEVER" be included in a SPEW review?
    • Other aspects of your reviews not explicitly outlined in the rules that you feel are either strenghts or weaknesses
    • What you feel you can do to improve your reviews
    • Excerpts of your reviews to enrich the discussion.* Use them as examples of any of the above discussion points, for issues to comment on, as evidence to support any statements, etc;

    *I want to see at least one or two review excerpts (of reviews you have written) in your post.

    You do not have to answer each question specifically/use questions as headers for your post. They are just guidelines. In fact, I prefer if you post using your own structure (which often involves a complete lack of structure But I love train of thought; especially SPEW trains of thought.)

  2. #2

    February Drabble Challenge

    I may have done a similar challenge last February. I'm not sure. Maybe I'm just crazy. Oh well.

    February is the month when love is in the air, the stores are filled with red hearts, boxes of chocolate, roses and candles. Love songs and romance are the preferred genres of arts and entertainment.

    So, because of that, our February Drabble Challenge will be having none of it.


    Write a drabble that is character-centric and does not focus on love or relationships - platonic, romantic or sexual - or the effects of it. This entails flirting, professions of love, proposal, marriage, as well as unrequited longing, break-up, adultery, etc; Relationships may be referenced, but should not be the premise.

    If you need help with a prompt, the following are suggestions, but you do not have to use any of them:

    • Discovery
    • Epiphany
    • Achievement
    • Insecurity
    • Memory
    • Beauty
    • Peace
    • Honour
    • Defeat
    • Death


    • Drabble can be between 250-800 words.
    • Content should not be any higher than a 3rd-5th Years rating.
    • All content that would require a warning on the MNFF Archive should be labeled.
    • This thread is for responses only. If you have a question, PM me.
    • Responses must be posted by February 28th, 2009.
    • Please post using this format:

      Title: Honour and Glory
      Word Count: 450 (This may be approximate)

      Story Text Story Text Story Text Story Text Story Text Story Text Story Text
    • As with all activities within the SPEW forum, this challenge is open only to SPEW members.

  3. #3
    Title: First
    Word Count: 799 (Aha! Just under the limit!)

    Hermione glanced up from the book that she was currently engrossed in to check the small clock that was hanging on the wall.

    Three o’clock.

    In the morning.

    Although she hadn’t felt tired before, a wave of exhaustion suddenly swept through her brain. Where she had felt quick before, she currently felt sluggish. It took the remainder of her energy to rise from her chair and take the five steps to her bed, where she promptly curled up on top of the covers.


    She awoke the next morning to the grating peal of her alarm clock.

    Six o’clock.

    Automatically, Hermione sat up and wiped the grit from her eye. She realized with a note of amusement that she was still dressed from the day before. She must have been too tired to undress. She dashed a hand out to silence the noisy alarm and stood up from her bed.

    Quietly, so as not to disturb her roommates, Hermione peeled off the very wrinkled robes and replaced them with a fresh set. She collected several books from her desk, placed them in her bag, and slipped out of the dormitory.

    The Common Room was completely deserted. House Elves must have stopped by earlier in the morning to clean, as the usual litter of torn paper and empty ink bottles was gone. No other student had yet to disturb the rather unnatural cleanliness of the room.

    Hermione, though, did not stop; she continued walking out of the portrait hole and down the corridors until she reached the Great Hall. The doors were still shut; she was too early for breakfast. With an impatient sigh, Hermione checked her watch. There was another eight minutes until breakfast began.

    The wait didn’t last as long as Hermione expected and the doors opened promptly, right on schedule. As she made her way to the Gryffindor table, she realized that she was the only person in the Hall. It didn’t really matter, though. It was like this every day – she was always the first for breakfast.

    Once she was settled at the table – bag underneath her chair and book next to her plate – Hermione reached to pour herself a goblet of pumpkin juice. The carafe must have slipped, though, because the juice missed the goblet and splashed onto her plate, narrowly missing her book.

    “Damn it,” Hermione muttered as she reached for her wand. Quickly, she Vanished the mess and managed to succeed in getting the juice into the goblet.

    Methodically, she buttered a piece of toast and took a bite while opening her book to where she’d left off only hours before. Although she was only in her third year, she was reading an Arithmancy book designed for students who were in their fifth year. It was absolutely fascinating to read such things and Hermione had always felt a bit of selfish pride whenever she impressed her professors with her rather extreme knowledge.

    Hermione rested her head on her left hand as she continued to read and feed herself bites of the toast in her right hand. It was very comfortable to lean on her hand like that…

    Hermione was startled by another hand suddenly shaking her shoulder. She had fallen asleep at breakfast!

    “Come on, Hermione, wake up,” a voice said gently.

    Hermione blinked slowly and raised her head to see the kind face of Penelope Clearwater – the Head Girl – staring at her in concern.

    “I’m okay,” Hermione mumbled while attempting to clear her head.

    “No, I don’t think you are.” Penelope’s voice was still gentle, but it had a threat beneath it.

    She began what sounded like a prepared speech to Hermione’s tired ears. “You can’t keep treating yourself like this, Hermione. It’s not healthy. I’ve caught you down here almost every morning before everyone else comes to breakfast, looking as though you haven’t slept in a week.”

    Hermione lowered her head, unwilling to meet Penelope in the eye. It hurt to hear the truth, even though there was still no one else in the Hall to hear it.

    “Look at me, Hermione,” Penelope demanded quietly.

    Reluctantly, Hermione met her eyes.

    “This has to stop. Now. You’re never going to be able to do anything if you don’t get adequate rest.”

    Deep in her heart, Hermione knew that Penelope was right. If she continued to drive herself so hard, she would only cause damage.

    “Alright,” Hermione acquiesced. Penelope looked relieved.

    “Good. Let’s get you back to bed, then.”

    Penelope helped Hermione gather her things and escorted her up to the Gryffindor Tower. Although she felt the small sting of defeat, Hermione knew that she really didn’t have to be first in every little thing. She only needed to be first in things that mattered and breakfast was certainly not one of those.

  4. #4
    Hermoine Jean Granger

    My very first discussion post! :O

    First off, I liked the topic of this month's discussion, basically because I could compare the standard of my reviews . Since I'm a newbie, it was fairly easy for me to see the marked improvement in my own reviews. Like... when I first joined MNFF, I used to write these one-line reviews which basically said something like "OMR that's awesome!!" I think I realised the value of a quality review when I first read one. That's what spurred me into writing them, too.

    Basically, from an author's point of view, when you look at one of these one-liners like the one I mentioned above, it does, no doubt, produce a smile on your face. I'd shamelessly admit that I actually jumped around for all of five minutes when I read my first review. But the whole point is, it doesn't actually help you improve, does it? Not much, at least in my opinion. Looking at the same review, from a reviewer's point of view, I would say that it would actually just point out as to whether we liked the story or not. Why we like the story needs to be elaborated. That, at least, points to the author's strengths. Also, a story which may look good overall doesn't necessarily have to be perfect in all aspects.

    Now, looking at my own reviews(the ones I started writing after making up my mind to write quality reviews), I'd say that I look at the strengths of an author more than the weaknesses. >.> When I read a story, I don't look at it with the view of finding what's wrong with it. Also, when I begin writing a review, I usually first write down what I like about a story, and what created an impact on me. Something which goes like this:

    Quote Originally Posted by A review for What It's Worth, by Aelan Greenleaf
    This is one of the best AU fics that I've read, and one which entirely changed my view of Lily/James. The characterisation of James and Lily have been done in a marvellous manner. We don't see the extremely kiddish and bragging James, nor the whining, or extremely angry and commanding Lily. Something that I enjoyed while reading this was the fact that Lily and James were being friendly and teasing each other; they weren't yelling or whining. Many stories that mention James and Lily have them fighting all the time, and I'm glad this story showed another side of their relationship.
    Basically, I think it puts off an author if you start off with something like: "The story was nice, but Lily's characterisation was terrible..." I've done it once or twice, I think. >.< Something that goes like this:
    The premise of this story is quite intriguing but I have a few nitpicks:

    1. 'So forget your argument of whose fault it is.'
    I think that should be: 'So forget your argument on whose fault it is.'

    2. What could possibly possess you to charm Mr Snape’s cauldron like that?
    This sentence is in present tense. The prank had already been played on Severus, so I think you should change the sentence to: 'What could have possibly possessed you to charm Mr Snape’s cauldron like that?'

    [And more and more of those...]

    A review shouldn't consist purely of nitpicks. There's ALWAYS at least one point in a story which is good. It wouldn't be up on the archives if that wasn't the case. All in all, before I go off on a tangent(which happens quite often), I'd like to say that a review should highlight at least one point which is good about the story.

    Moving onto the stuff that definitely shouldn't be included in a SPEW review, I'd say that the criticism that's unlikely to help the author in any way was the thing that caught my attention. Seriously, when you really really dislike a pairing or character, I don't think it's necessary to shove it under the author's nose. The story might be good, but if the character isn't of your choice, then I don't feel the necessity to actually point that as critique. After all, everyone is entitled to their opinions. That however, doesn't necessarily mean that we shouldn't point out a fact like bad characterisation or something.

    Apart from the standard requirements of a review, I also have a feeling that interspersing of praise and critique works best in a review. I somehow find that a good review doesn't have chunks of praise in a paragraph, and chunks of critique in another. Mixing the two works well, most often. Another strength that I find in good reviews is the fact that it never really heaps tons and tons of praise, nor does it totally affect the morale of an author harshly. Moderation works best, in my opinion.

    When I look at the grammar and spelling aspect in my reviews, I realise that I don't concentrate on it too much. It's a point I need to improve on, I think. Another point that I've seen, now that I analyse my own reviews, is the fact that I use a lot of quotes. Ugh. This was, in fact, brought to my notice when I read the most recent RAC post, which was really informative. I find that a lot of improvement of these quote/one-line critique needs to be there. >.>

    All in all, I think a balance between critique and praise needs to be achieved in order to write a really good review.

    I've got a VERY ominous feeling that I'm putting everyone to sleep now, so I'm going to zip my mouth shut. >.<

  5. #5
    Title: How Regulus Reacted (Or Didn't React)
    Word Count: 458

    The setting is elegant and decadent, which is only to be expected in the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black. Regulus is starting to grow up, and so these parties become less stuffy and a more dark and sophisticated to him. He likes that the decorations are tasteful, unlike some of the frills of festivity back at Hogwarts. They employ too much red in their decorating, Regulus thinks. Of course, Sirius chose dress robes with red trimming on them. Entirely unsurprising.

    There is dancing and drinking and delicious things to eat, and it’s the party he’s actually begun to look forward to. Sirius had been in a bit of a foul mood leading up to it, but Regulus knows his brother well enough to know that he always enjoys a party. They’re both in the sitting room with some of the various other pureblood sons and daughters of the high society, including their cousins, Narcissa and Bellatrix. The boys are talking Quidditch, and it’s a heated discussion over which team has the best Chasers this year when Regulus and Sirius overhear Bella’s unmistakable laugh. It draws attention, which she has always loved. She’s right behind them, talking with some of her friends who’ve left Hogwarts in the past year just as she has. She says things to be overheard on purpose. Like her upcoming marriage to Rodolphus LeStrange, how much the ring he got her is, and how lavish the wedding will be. “Even more lavish than my aunt’s party tonight!”

    But it’s the loudly whispered insinuation that she’s doing even greater things that has him glancing briefly over his shoulder. Regulus catches her flipping her long, shiny black hair over her shoulder, raising her head in her typical ever-haughty manner. Her friends press her for details. She refuses for the moment, but as soon as the girls finally give up and begin talking of something else, Regulus hears another not-so-subtle whisper from Bellatrix.

    “I finally earned my Dark Mark.”

    The words startle him and shoot through him immediately. His head spins. He chances a glance at his brother, and he can tell from the hardened look on his face now that Sirius heard it, too. But he’s not concerned with his brother’s reaction. He can’t figure out what the hell to think of it himself. It’s seemingly perfect for Bellatrix, for the importance their family puts by their blood status. But Regulus really hasn’t chosen a side yet. His housemates have been talking about joining up with the Death Eaters, saying it’s something to aspire to, to be proud of. Regulus doesn’t see how a whole house built on cunning and advancement would want to aspire to being one of Lord Voldemort’s supporters, when shouldn’t they be pushing for their own success, their own glory? There is so much to think about, but he would rather not yet.

    So he doesn’t. He pushes it fully out of his mind and dives back into the Quidditch debate.

  6. #6
    Title: How Sirius Reacted
    Word Count: 449

    The sitting room is dotted with various members of the pureblood high society, each of them sipping their drinks and popping hors d’oeuvres into their mouths. Sirius stands with Regulus among a group of boys discussing the respective merits of the Hogwarts Quidditch teams. He is fighting a losing battle as he defends Gryffindor, but that doesn’t stop him. He finds it ironic, actually; what a metaphor for his life.

    A derisive laugh and harshly whispered insinuation from Bellatrix has Regulus turn his head, and Sirius follows his brother’s gaze. They hear Bellatrix tell her friends that she is onto greater things than ever before, and Sirius is unable to return to the Quidditch debate. His ears strained, though not much because Bellatrix speaks to be overheard, Sirius listens.

    “I finally earned my Dark Mark.”

    And he is overwhelmed. Are these people really his relatives? If he did not have his father’s hair, if he did share his brother’s eyes, if his face did not reflect his mother’s bone structure – if he were not so obviously a Black, he would not believe that these people, these people, were his family.

    Sirius feels his face harden, and in the stoicism of his features, his anger is etched, carved as the emotion of a statue is chiseled into immortality. Sirius knows Regulus can see it, can see the eternal emotion. It is overwhelming.

    Bellatrix’s friends are impressed, they are fawning over the new Death Eater. If it were not a secret, however poorly kept, Sirius is sure that the room would have erupted into celebrations by now. He is disgusted. They are proud, all of them. Their smug smiles radiate from them, darkening the entire room, the whole future of – Sirius swallows forcefully – everything.

    How tempting it is to break up the party, right now, to destroy the sparse decorations, spill the drinks, knock the platters of food to the floor. Sirius wants to tear through the walls, stain the carpet, shatter the façade that is too true, too honestly terrible. He wants to interrupt. He wants to disgust them.

    He is still standing inside the tight circle of Quidditch enthusiasts. He glances over at Regulus, who is speaking, saying something about a new Slytherin practice drill. What is Regulus thinking? Or has he finished thinking – is a few seconds all he has devoted to this news, that their cousin is officially in league with Voldemort?

    Sirius’s mind is teeming. He feels, more than ever, out of place, removed. This is not where he belongs. He belongs in a place where it takes a lifetime – no, where it is impossible – to understand earning a Dark Mark.
    /twinly awesomeness

  7. #7
    Mmm, great topic. I'm not really all that happy with the standard of my reviews at the moment, so I've been thinking about the RAC's points this month as I've written them, and here we go...

    As far as the things listed in the rules and quoted in Jenna's post, I think my reviews fit the bill. The thing is, I don't think I have quite the right balance.

    I tend to include quite a few grammar nitpicks in reviews - and I know it's an iffy issue whether that's actually helpful or not, but I like to have my typos pointed out to me so I can fix them, so I do that in my reviews. I also try to get some fairly substantial comments on plot, characterisation, style etc. into my reviews - and I can usually find a lot to praise, but not so much to suggest improvements for. So, on the whole, my reviews tend to be praise-filled with a few nitpicks tossed in, and that's something I'm really focusing on improving - giving more constructive critique.

    I use quite a few quotes in my reviews, and I've taken the RAC's tips on board this month, because in the past my comments on the extracts I've selected have been more like "That was just gorgeous. I loved it." So, here's an example from my review for Haylee this month:
    The day, which had hinted of rain in the morning, had turned glorious by the afternoon, and was now, in the first ebb of dusk, absolutely perfect.
    That was such a simple, concise description, but the word choice was perfect and made that sentence really appeal to me. It set the tone for the fic so well – it’s not a sunshine-and-daisies fluffy setting, but beautiful with a hint of darkness.
    I hope that was a bit more helpful than just "I really liked that part!".

    Quote Originally Posted by HJ
    Apart from the standard requirements of a review, I also have a feeling that interspersing of praise and critique works best in a review. I somehow find that a good review doesn't have chunks of praise in a paragraph, and chunks of critique in another. Mixing the two works well, most often.
    I agree with this. I try to organise my reviews by themes, so for example, I might first comment on characterisation, mixing praise and concrit ("Hermione was very IC [...detail here...], however I felt that Luna was a bit off here..."), and then move onto the plot, and so on, so the the good and bad parts I pick out of the story are fairly well mixed.

    Lastly, one big thing I would like to improve in my reviews is looking properly at the whole story. I feel that all too often, I only pick out a few small parts of the fic to comment on, and then toss something in at the end about how the whole fic worked... so much of the fic doesn't get addressed at all. Of course, commenting on every little thing doesn't make a good review either, but I'd still like to broaden the array of things I comment on in my reviews.

    ... I doubt much of that made any sense at all. *cringes*

    -- Chelsea

  8. #8
    Third Year Hufflepuff
    Hut-on-the-Rock, The Sea

    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Ah. The first time I will be participating in a SPEW discussion. Interesting topic, though, I'll start up right away then.

    This topic made me go back and look at the reviews I used to write. I literally cringed when I saw the net speak, bad punctuation, no capitalization, and the I loved its!

    This is one of the first ever review submitted by me:
    Quote Originally Posted by Barbie Girl by CraftySlytherin
    LOL! omg!! man! that was really funny. =D


    It almost makes me want to delete the reviews. I won't do that obviously, and it makes me feel so much good that I have improved a hell lot in the past two years [the review above was dated 07/18/07].

    Reviews like the one above used to be submitted by me very often. I joined the forum a couple of months after I joined the archives but I got into it after six months or so. It was then when I had problems... I used to write netspeak, and then delete it and write the correct spellings since everywhere the posts were all so perfect and the rules about correct spellings had this huge affect on me. Gradually, I got over my problem, reviews used to be the same but with correct punctuation and spelling. Now, when chatting, I always write full form. >.> It comes naturally.

    Then I saw stories with these huge, reviews which I thought I would love to receive. I read the discussions in the forum related to good and bad reviews. I realised that since I would love to get these fantastic reviews, I should leave better reviews too. The two lines turned a paragraph and so on. Now, I can't help but leave gigantic reviews. I know it's not about the quantity but the quality, but I don't write a lot because of that. It comes naturally. But, again, with some fics, you don't know what to write in the review. I don't know whether it happens with you guys or not, but it definitely happens with me. Sometimes. It has taken me two days to write a proper review, and it has taken me five minutes to write one. It does not have anything to do with the plot or the writing... it's just some weird quirk of mine. >.<

    So now I comment about the plot, the characterization, I'm a canon freak so that matters too. Then there are a few typos and such to be pointed out. The best part of the story. Something which can be improved and so on. My reviews are basically a mixture of good stuff and bad stuff. It's not as if I type anything on purpose. I don't have to force myself to think of the good or bad things in the fic. I always have something to appreciate about since there are lots of wonderful fics up in the archives. There are even fics in which you can't think of giving any constructive criticism since they're so perfectly written, but what each person has is a different opinion. One person can like something, the other can't. So one can definitely comment about what one thinks, in a positive manner of course.

    I used to paste in lots of quotes before. I only stopped last month, and then the RAC suggestions made me stop altogether. I will be leaving in quotes here and there, but not as much as I used to. And definitely not to comment like this:
    Quote Originally Posted by Someone To Watch Over Me by MagEd
    “You know, waking up to half naked girls is quite the life.”
    LOL. Sirius-ly. I loved this part. It was so bloody hilarious. Oh, I love James. =D
    This was not exactly worth mentioning, right? I mean, fine, so I lol-ed at it, but it wasn't necessary to point it out.

    But over here:
    Quote Originally Posted by Things Aren't Always Black and White by padfootsgirl1981
    After a while, Kirsty, who knew full well that Sirius didn’t generally like to eat much, if anything, at breakfast, had taken it upon herself to bug him by forcing the plate of sausages in front of his face repeatedly.
    Another refreshing change. Your Sirius doesn't like to have breakfast. In other fics, he's practically piling up his plate with everything within his arm's reach. And he eats disgustingly, and that annoys me a lot!
    This, I think, deserved a mention though I could have gone in a bit more detail, but this was before my SPEW days.

    I like to think that I have improved though there's no doubt that I still need to work on some stuff. I'm working on the quotations part and leaving a decent, balanced review, and not one which just praises and praises without any constructive criticism.

    I sirius-ly am done.

    - Afifa
    - Write - Beta - Drabble - Duel - Help -

    Awesome avvie by Minna/minnabird.

  9. #9
    Fifth Year Hufflepuff
    I See Dead People... In Mirrors
    fg_weasley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Fargo Rock City.
    Title: The Beauty of Blood
    Word Count: 549
    Warnings: Character Death, reference to Violence. Probably slightly disturbing ... ha.

    To some, the sight might be grotesque. Disgusting, sickening – a few would probably even vomit at the sight. You chuckle softly as you lower yourself, your knees bending slowly. They would not be able to stand the sight, would have to look away. Weaklings.

    But you cannot stop staring. You have never seen such beauty – the beauty of a dead, bleeding body.

    Watching as the blood dribbles steadily from the back of his skull – head wounds always bleed the most; that is why you find them so fascinating – you lean closer still. The bight red that decorates his knotted mass of hair – though darker in some places where the blood has dried – seems brighter against the dark canvas, and you feel your lips curl into a smile. Yours eyes flit momentarily to the broken ankle that gave you your chance, but they cannot be drawn from the sight of the open wound for long. Tentatively, you reach out a singer finger and feel the sweet stickiness of human blood. You only allow yourself a passing touch before you move your finger slowly to the table corner that had betrayed him. Finally, your hand moves to the place on his chest that your spell hit, and you let your fingers stay there, gently placed above his still heart.

    You do not even know this man, but you speak to him as though you’ve known him a lifetime. “You are even more beautiful in death than you were in life, Raphael.” It is a compliment, coming from you, but he will never know.


    You do not look up right away at the sound of your husband’s voice, but when he calls a second time, you turn your head. He is standing in the doorway of the broken room, surveying the damage. There are holes in the walls, furniture overturned and lamps busted, the dust of destruction only just settling in. Finally, his eyes land on the body beneath you, and he smirks in that manner of his that tells you he is pleased.

    “Well done, Bella,” he commends you as he steps further into the room. “Very well done. The Dark Lord will be pleased.”

    You smile again, wider this time. Not because of your husband’s compliments, but in anticipation of your Lord’s reaction. Rodolphus extends his hand for you to take, and as he pulls you to your feet you allow for one more sweep of your finger over the open wound, taking with you more of that liquid like gold. Your husband brings your body to his in a deep kiss – not of love, you know, not even entirely of lust, but as a reward for the killing you have done. He thinks it is what you want, but it is not. His hand is still in yours when he pulls away, and he begins to lead you from the room. As you walk, you turn to catch one last look at the body lying crumpled and bloody on the floor. And as you leave the room, you give yourself the only reward you ever wanted, placing your forefinger gently into your mouth and smiling slightly.

    That sweet, coppery, fascinating aspect of human destruction – it is the beauty of blood. The most beautiful thing you will ever know.
    "Through literacy you can begin to see the universe.
    Through music you can reach anybody.
    Between the two there is you, unstoppable."

    --grace slick
    avvie: julia/the_opaleye

  10. #10
    jenny b
    Ooh, interesting topic. So, I've been reviewing since I joined the site (two years ago, I think?), but they were actually quite awful up until about a year ago, which was when I joined SPEW.

    When I look back at my reviews now, I can see a huge difference even from my first SPEW reviews to the ones I do now. At first, I was terrified of being critical (I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings!), and they were a bit short and pointless, with nothing that would really help the author.

    Since then, though, I've improved so much. Well, I'd like to think so. I've noticed that I very rarely use quotes/find nitpicks anymore. I don't know why - I used to, and they weren't done in an unhelpful way, but now I just seem to find more substantial things to talk about. I'm big on characterisation, I always seem to ramble on about that. And the style of writing.

    I think my reviews usually follow the SPEW rules. Most of them have everything in the "should" list, and I'm always very polite in my reviews (I hope so, anyway). The only thing I probably do too much is excessive squeeing and flailing if I really liked the story, and I know the author. But I am trying to work on that.

    For example, here's the beginning of a review I did a month or so ago:
    O.o Cassie, why on earth didn’t you tell me that you had an absolutely FABULOUS Rose/Scorpius fic up? (Well, Rose/Scorpius/Lily, but still.) I’m sorry, but you can’t not tell me these things. It’s unfair. *pouts* You should know how much I love to read them.

    Anyway, this was omgsqueedieamazing!
    After that, it does get a lot better - it's actually one of my best reviews, in my opinion - but I probably could have left out this part at the beginning. >.> After all, it's not really being at all helpful to the author, and although I'm sure she appreciated it, it doesn't really have any place in a SPEW review.

    I'm always trying to write better reviews, and I'm really enjoying the RAC's hints. They've been really helpful! And another thing I do to better my reviews is to look at other SPEWers reviews and read through them, seeing what they've commented on and how they go about it. I can't take the exact same thing they've said for my reviews, obviously, but it gives me things to think about when I'm doing my next reviews.


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