Satire Non-Fiction posted June 29, 2010

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Reviews: What Works Best For Me

by another jim

When this prompt popped up under the "Contests" banner, I was ecstatic! At last, my chance to talk about my two favorite subjects—myself and my writing—was at hand. Honestly? I was getting sick to death of receiving those hollow, meaningless reviews from all these wannabe critics on FanStory. You know what I'm talking about: Your story was perfectly paced and never lost its momentum. Your theme was very original. Your characters were well-developed. Blah, blah, blah... Even worse were the ones that had the temerity to criticize my written work. To wit: Your piece was riddled with SPAG. I couldn't follow the storyline. Your characters were one-dimensional cardboard cutouts. Yeah, well your mother's ugly and your husband's cheating on you with the nanny. So there.

What do I want in a critique? Accolades. Period. None of this "maybe you could try this word" or "perhaps a little tightening up here would help" or "use active voice to give your story more punch"... Keep it up, and the only punch we're gonna be discussing is the one I'll be delivering to the tip of your nose. I mean it. Try telling me what you liked, instead of constantly looking for stupid things to bitch about.

Too many adverbs? If God had wanted us to use fewer adverbs, he wouldn't have invented them in the first place. I think that guy who wrote Tom Swift had the right idea. Sorry folks, but deadbeat dads do act with abandon, people do shout "Fire!" alarmingly, and BP oil drilling executives do speak boringly. They do, dammit! What can I say? Brushing aside adverbs just makes me bristle.

Sentence fragments? Hey, sometimes that's how people talk. In fragments. And since it's my story. Just lay off the unwarranted criticism, and quit trying to rewrite what I already wrote. To suit your own needs. I can write just fine. I know, because other reviewers tell me so all the time. My mother.

All stories should have a beginning, middle, and end. I get that, I do. But the important word in that opening sentence is should. Sometimes, I like to put them in a slightly different order. You know, just to mix it up a little? It's called literary license. It makes my story original. Get used to it. I know, I know. (That last sentence was really my beginning. See how that works?)

Someone told me that critiques should be structured like an Oreo, i.e., tasty chocolate cookie on both ends, with a smooth creamy middle. Where's the badmouthing and negativity in that cookie, I ask you? Yeah, use the Oreo model when you review me. I promise, I'll respect you for it.

What don't I want in a critique? Details. Too many details equals too much work—for both of us. A simple "Loved it!" or "Sure wish I could write like you!" or "I want to have your children!" will suffice. All those extraneous words, like "Maybe this will help" (it won't), or "You might want to check your dictionary" (I don't), or "I believe there are two p's in that word" (there aren't) are inapropriate and a waste of ink. If you're going for the minimum word count in your review, just cut and paste your favorite part of my story into your review. Totally acceptable, and I won't think you're lazy.

And oh, by the way, if my perfectly paced story has an original theme and well-developed characters, would it kill you to give me a six-star rating? And if you're out of sixers, I don't want to hear, "Sorry. I'm all out of sixers." Would it be too much to ask you to wait until your supply of sixers is replenished, and then review my story? A little planning goes a long way in this critiquing business...

Okay, you've been given the tools you need, for which you can thank me later. Now, get out there and start reviewing!

Reviews, Best & Worst contest entry


Tongue-in-cheek, satirical, and deliberately provocative. In short, a pack of lies. The truth lies somewhere between the lines, but you have to look for it...
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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