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Reviews vs critiques
Posted: Sunday, May 22, 2011 5:27 PM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 157

Okay, I've come across something on the site that is confusing me.  I keep seeing people use the word "review" to describe the feedback left on their work instead of "critique."  Or they'll use the two interchangeably.  But to me, this are two completely different things and I handle them differently. Which means, people are going to be very disappointed if they expect reviews and I'm giving critiques.

To me a review is something my books get AFTER they are published. It's reader oriented, meaning it presents the reader with reasons to read the book (hopefully) or give it a pass.  It is often written by a reviewer based on whether or not she thinks her readers would enjoy the book.  As I writer, I can't really act directly on a review since the book is published.  (though I can take writing style comments into account in WIPs.)

A critique is directed toward the writer and is given while the work is in progress.  It is likely to focus on the problems in the story more than the good parts because the problems are what the writer can work on.  Oh, of course we like someone to mention the good parts and it does help us see what is working, but the point of a critique is to identify and fix problems.

I have no idea what to do about this. But it is making me very leery of critique/reviewing at the moment.

Posted: Sunday, May 22, 2011 10:58 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 103

The button says Read and Review so that's what most people on this site call it. I'm not sure the term one's using is what's important though. I think what's important is that one is giving (and getting) helpful feedback whether it's called feedback, review, or critique.
Posted: Sunday, May 22, 2011 11:18 PM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 157

Yes, that's what the button says. Perhaps that's why the site feels a bit out of sync for me. Oh, well, I've got edits due in a couple of days so back to work for me.
Posted: Monday, May 23, 2011 10:40 PM
Joined: 5/8/2011
Posts: 52

I sometimes "review" unpublished works. This may be because I have nothing to offer critically, or it can be because I gave a critique already, and they've made changes, and now I'm posting my review. Sometimes I give a combination of both. For me, review is reader thoughts and critique is more structured for change. That's not to say a review is always positive.

For example, review comments:
I loved the character, I connected to her right away.
I couldn't connect with the character and didn't like her personally even though she's well drawn and 3-D.

Critique comment:
Your characters inconsistencies (such as x, y, z) prevented me from connecting to your character (or prevented your character from seeming real to me). You might be able to fix this by __________.

I guess for me, it's the matter of impressions versus suggestions. My "critiques" usually involve both, but my "reviews" only involve the former.

That's my take on things, anyway. Not too far off from what you're saying, I don't think, but I'm guessing most people don't really think about that sort of thing and just toss any old word around. (I know, we shouldn't, because we're writers and should appreciate using exactly the right words, but perhaps sometimes we are human before we're writers.)
Colleen Lindsay
Posted: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 10:04 PM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 356

Marie -

We use the term "Peer Review" for the feedback that you give on the site. We generally dislike the word "review" because we think that it lends itself to the kind of drive-by unhelpful reviewing that happens on Amazon, but the word "critique" sounds very academic and when we talked to writers about this, a lot of them felt the same way. "Feedback" is probably the most accurate word.

But the spirit of what we're trying to accomplish here is more "critique" than "review" so feel free to critique in the way that you feel is going to be most helpful to the writer. It's just semantics. =)


Posted: Thursday, June 9, 2011 2:16 PM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 157

I think the problem is that for the published authors on the site, it goes beyond semantics. We're seeing the word "review" being used and coupled with star ratings. And this information is generally available to the public. When an author has actual published work out and being reviewed by places like Romantic Times, Coffee Time Romance and the like, the reviews of the published work are called reviews and have star ratings.

So what may seem like semantics to an unpublished writer becomes a cause for real concern with published writers that people will confuse works that have been edited and published and are available for sale with unpublished, unedited WIPs. I think most of us have gone back to private, access restricted forums for critiques and discussions. I'll still discuss on Book Country, but that will probably remain the limit of my involvement.

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