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Thread: August Activities 2009

  1. #11
    MerryD
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    I used to nit-pick quite a lot. But, then I re-vamped my entire reviewing style, and the nit-picks sort of got left behind. I guess the difference is that in my old reviews they were my critique, my way of helping the author improve. -hangs head in shame- I'd also point out parts I thought were wrong in terms of characterization, flow, plot, etc., but the majority of my "here's-how-to-improve" was misplaced commas, misspelled words, wrong tenses, etc. I think also, though, when I reviewed then I wasn't sure when characterization and such were off. As a new reviewer, I used nit-picks to add critique to my review because I didn't really know how to critique the other things, I guess.

    And I can see why the RAC and we as SPEWer want to avoid that, the nit-picking-as-only-critique, but I don't think that we can totally write off nit-picks as something to avoid at all costs. I agree with the whole perfectionist thing. I mean, I haven't edited my stories based off reviews in a long time, but that doesn't mean I'm not planning to. >.> I'd like them to be as error free as possible and it's completely reasonable that they aren't perfect because both me and my beta are, after all, only human.

    Plus, we're kind of supposed to be nit-picking:

    Quote Originally Posted by SPEW RULES
    II. Membersí 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.
    I'm just putting that out there. And I think that's why, early on in my beginning reviews, I did nit-pick so much, because I thought that's what SPEW reviews were supposed to contain. Then, as I spent more time here and read other people's reviews, I moved away from that.

    It is kind of annoying to get a review that explains 'there' vs. 'their' though. So, I think that if we nit-pick we should give the authors the benefit of the doubt and assume that it was just a typo, unless the mistake is a frequent recurrence, then, I think that the grammer rule could be explained.

    Mostly, though, I think that nit-picks are just add on, they do not make or break a review, and it's completely an individual choice of the review to include them. They shouldn't be relied on though, as the only source of critique. In fact, they shouldn't be relied on as a source of critique at all. But I don't think we can say that it's wrong to nit-pick or that there are authors who don't appreciate reviews that include nit-picks. Basically, I agree with Jenna when she said that it's not wrong to nit-pick as long as nit-picks aren't used to beef up the review.

    <3Mere

  2. #12
    GringottsVault711
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    Re: the reference to grammar and spelling corrections in the SPEW rules.

    That can refer to consistent errors, to specific errors. As the term "nitpicking" implies, you're really just pointing out one particular error with each correction, rather than correction grammar and spelling on the whole.

    I am actually in the process of revising the SPEW rules as it is, and was actually revising this part in particular to give a better idea of what the expectation of a SPEW review is. But I thought I'd clarify that "spelling and grammar corrections" does not = "nitpicking".

    Which is important to remember, especially in case this whole thing scares you off doing any technical corrections at all. Nitpicking is literally copy/pasting a sentence and saying "you have two commas here."

  3. #13
    MerryD
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    And maybe now we have come to the problem. At least with me. >.>

    I guess I don't really understand how to correct spelling and grammer as a whole. Do you just say "there were a few spelling errors, you might want to check that out"? If it was me, personally, I'd rather the reviewer point out those few spelling errors. I don't see much purpose in just mentioning that there were a few spelling/grammer errors; it's not that helpful, IMO. It would just cause the author to either spend an hour or so combing through their story looking for the spelling/grammer mistakes they'd missed before, and would possibly miss again, or they would just ignore it.

    Obviously, the author who's going to ignore it is going to ignore it no matter what, but why not save the author who would spend time fixing the topigraphical errors some time by pointing them out? If you there are one or two errors that you spot, why not point them out? It takes you like, what, five minutes to copy & paste and say "there's a misplaced comma" or "specific is spelled wrong"?

    And if you don't want to do that then why mention spelling and grammer errors at all?

    I guess what I'm saying is that if the reviewer wants to mention spelling and grammer errors then they should point out specific lines and mistakes. And if the reviewer doesn't want to mention spelling and grammer, then they shouldn't.

    Of course, this only applies to stories with a few errors. Stories riddled with mistakes should be recommended to a beta.

    <3Mere

  4. #14
    Honigkuchenpferd Hufflepuff
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    Quote Originally Posted by MerryD
    I guess I don't really understand how to correct spelling and grammer as a whole. Do you just say "there were a few spelling errors, you might want to check that out"? If it was me, personally, I'd rather the reviewer point out those few spelling errors. I don't see much purpose in just mentioning that there were a few spelling/grammer errors; it's not that helpful, IMO. It would just cause the author to either spend an hour or so combing through their story looking for the spelling/grammer mistakes they'd missed before, and would possibly miss again, or they would just ignore it.
    I think the best way to approach that is if there are consistant mistakes like wrong dialogue punctuation. I would state that I noticed some problems in dialogue punctuation, give one or two examples where the mistake occured, then explain the rule and correct the examples I gave. But I would let it go if the mistake occured only once.

    Quote Originally Posted by MerryD
    Of course, this only applies to stories with a few errors. Stories riddled with mistakes should be recommended to a beta.
    I totally agree with you. The beauty of MNFF (in my opinion) is that stories riddled with mistakes don't come to be validated as the modding separates the good stories from the bad, spelling/grammar-wise included, so there's often no need to criticise spelling/grammar but pay attention to other aspects of a story. On sites where there is no moderation, a recommendation of a beta would be suitable if the story is riddled with mistakes.
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  5. #15
    dory_the_fishie
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mere
    I guess I don't really understand how to correct spelling and grammar as a whole. Do you just say "there were a few spelling errors, you might want to check that out"
    Something along those lines. In her RAC post, Kelly posted this as an example:

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelly
    I noticed that there were a few grammatical and spelling errors throughout the story. If you haven’t already, try getting a beta reader to catch these little things (which are devilishly easy to overlook).
    Again, it's important to consider the frequency of mistakes. Do they consistently misspell the same word? Do they keep misusing a semicolon? In these instances, it's clear that the author hasn't simply made a typo, but has a misunderstanding of the relevant spelling/grammar rules. If you notice something like that, then I think it's appropriate to say something like, "I noticed that you misspelled 'definitely' a few times. That's a tricky one, but it's 'definitely' and not 'definately.'" Rather than citing each misspelling, or even just one of them and saying it occurred multiple times, it's better, I think, to just make a general statement. But if the only offense an author has is that they stuck a comma where a period should have gone, and they only did it once, then it's just not really worth pointing out.

    I guess it does come down to each author individually, and whether they want every error highlighted for them, but honestly, I just find nitpicking annoying. I do my best to catch my own errors, since I rarely use a beta (I know, I know, author foul number one >.>), but I'm not perfect. Hopefully it's clear from simply reading my writing that I do understand grammar rules, and that if I accidentally type 'your' instead of 'you,' then my fingers just slipped and I missed it. I don't really need that told to me, since obviously I know the difference between the words, and to be frank, I'm just not going to go back and edit the fic. Perhaps some people will, but unless they do it right when they read the review, they'll probably just forget about it and never fix it.

    Also, nitpicking simply isn't very constructive. Unless there are numerous errors (and if the fic has been validated, then there really shouldn't be), then pointing out every little mistake isn't helping anyone. If there are enough errors that it affects the readability of the fic, again, a general statement is more effective. A brief explanation of the proper rule or whatever is more helpful than copying and pasting every time something occurred. And a recommendation of getting a beta is something I always try to include if I think the author really does need one (or another one), because then the beta can explain about all the problems, which is their job.

    Edit: Oops, posted at the same time as Bine. Apologies for anything repeated. >.>

  6. #16
    GringottsVault711
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Bine
    I think the best way to approach that is if there are consistant mistakes like wrong dialogue punctuation. I would state that I noticed some problems in dialogue punctuation, give one or two examples where the mistake occured, then explain the rule and correct the examples I gave. But I would let it go if the mistake occured only once.
    Quote Originally Posted by Leanne
    Again, it's important to consider the frequency of mistakes. Do they consistently misspell the same word? Do they keep misusing a semicolon? In these instances, it's clear that the author hasn't simply made a typo, but has a misunderstanding of the relevant spelling/grammar rules.
    These are exactly what I mean. For example, if I notice that someone has transposed letters in a word (quikcly instead of quickly) - yes, I can point it out. That's a nitpick.

    But if I notice that the author is continuously using ellipses incorrectly, and I point that out, show them a few places they've done this, and explain the proper use, then that's still a technical error I'm correcting.

    So, that's the difference. The difference is picking out singular errors and mentioning them to the author, and finding errors actually seem to demonstrate a lack of knowledge or understanding, and mentioning them.

    I personally don't really mind if you nitpick in your reviews. I don't think it takes away from the review, I simply don't think it adds to the quality of the rveiew. Why not? Because, if you point out a singular error, and the author fixes it, happy days. But if you don't, well, that error that's there is still there. Not the end of the world. And, the fact that there finger slipped while and their beta didn't catch it isn't going to affect their future writing that much. I think 99.99 percent of writers are going to have slips no matter how hard they try.

    But if you correct something that is clearly a result of misunderstanding, then you've taught that author something that they will likely remember and will use next time they write.

    You know what it's a little bit like? Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, he'll eat for the rest of his life. We're here to teach people to fish, basically.

    As I said before, I don't feel that nitpicking lowers the quality of the review. But sometimes I suspect it could. In the sense that it might distract the focus from the in depth to the superficial.

    I don't know -- do one review where you don't do a nitpick section. Instead tell yourself, 'rather than nitpicking, I'm going to look at this story and pick something that I wouldn't have normally commented on', whether it's style, tone, structure, plot development, point of view. Not everything worth commenting on is obvious; sometimes it's so well done that it doesn't occur to us.

    And, maybe you'll find your review improves. Or maybe you'll find it makes no difference. Either way, it has the potential to be a learning experience

  7. #17
    MerryD
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    When I stopped nit-picking, my reviews did improve. But I think that had more to with a new idea of what a review was supposed to be than just a lack of nit-picks. Although, the nit-picks did get dropped with old way of reviewing so maybe it was because I stopped nit-picking . . .

    /musing

    The beauty of MNFF (in my opinion) is that stories riddled with mistakes don't come to be validated as the modding separates the good stories from the bad, spelling/grammar-wise included, so there's often no need to criticise spelling/grammar but pay attention to other aspects of a story.
    I'm sorry, I didn't mean that comment to be a comment on the mods and their modding. I just meant that if there were a sizable number of small errors that it didn't make sense to point them all out in a review; it would be much more practical to simply suggest using a beta.

    And now, if I ever come across a fic with grammer/spelling mistakes I know how to point them out in a general way. Thanks! Odds are I won't notice them though . . . >.>

    I understand the impracticality of nit-picking and how it can possibly shift the focus of the review and how it doesn't really do anything for the author. I just don't think that someone should be stopped from nit-picking in their reviews, if they want to. I don't, because I don't want to nit-pick, but that doesn't mean that no one else should be allowed to nit-pick.

    <3Mere

  8. #18
    ElectronicQuillster
    Guest
    My issues with nitpicks come when it seems like someone is pointing out little flaws in a story - whether it's my own or someone else's - kind of just to show that they know a lot about grammar. Or when it feels like they just didn't have anything else to say. When it feels like part of a checklist. "Praise something good, talk about the story as a whole, point out a bad part, something good again, and then round it off with some nitpicks and then say that overall the story was good."

    Oh, but I actually really wanted to bring this to the discussion when I saw it in one of the reviews that Nikki left during July. So I hope she doesn't mind that I'm totally using her as an example:

    One small technical nitpick:

    Once again ripped from her drifting mind by his voice, her eyes snapped to Severus.

    You’ve fallen slightly out of POV here; those ‘her’s should be ‘my’s.
    The mistakes that I think are really constructive to point out are things like this, when it affects the actual reading of a story.

    I know that some people actually do really like to get those kind of detailed line-by-line copy-edit sorts of reviews, but I know that nine times out of ten, I don't go back and edit mistakes that are pointed out in reviews. And when I get a review that is full of stuff like that, it really has me wondering if they enjoyed the story at all, or if that's really all they could see while they read. I don't write fan fiction professionally. I write it for my own enjoyment, with the hope that others can be entertained by my endeavors as well. I send my stories off to one of the most fabulous betas I've found, and so beyond that, I don't look to make any edits.

    I think the other reason that nitpicks aren't my cup of tea is because, honestly, I do not trust everyone who reads and reviews my story to have a perfect knowledge of all things grammar. What if someone wasn't exactly paying attention in class when their English teacher was discussing the placement of a preposition and kind of filled in the blanks? Plus, commas are such a ridiculously subjective thing, and it seems like the rules on those change a lot. And if I spelled something wrong? I get that, but if the reader knew what I meant to say, then why are they really taking the time to point it out? There've been many tests to prove that as long as the first and last letters of a word are in place, our brains almost automatically correct any misplacement of letters in the word. When I was recently on vacation, I saw a sign for the 'Calvary Mission Church of Christ,' but when I first saw the sign, I thought it was the 'Cavalry Mission Church of Christ.'

    And I actually went to look up the definition of nitpicks at Dictionary.com: (shush, lots of you know that I just always do this)

    –verb (used without object)
    1. to be excessively concerned with or critical of inconsequential details.

    –verb (used with object)
    2. to criticize by focusing on inconsequential details.

    –noun
    3. a carping, petty criticism.
    So maybe we just need to ask THAT question when we include 'nitpicks.' Is it inconsequential or petty, or will it actually help the author, the story, and the author's writing in the future?

  9. #19
    Honigkuchenpferd Hufflepuff
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    Here's my review for Veil of Emotions, co-written by Hannah. Really lovely story.


    And some questions:

    How did you find the experience of co-writing a story with Hannah? Would you like to repeat the experience, either with Hannah or another author? Why, why not?
    No longer a mod and no longer in charge of any forums.

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  10. #20
    Sixth Year Hufflepuff
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    Review!... for Felix Felicis. It's a good read, guys.

    And questions...

    What is your favourite genre to write? Is there a genre you'd like to write but you find difficult to capture, as such?

    And, old question, I know: but, what inspires your writing?

    -pickles-

    Ahaha, I usually give a [hug] or [squish]. Lol.

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