FiringSquad Editors Challenge Round...
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| Review Squared (11 comments )|
by: Ag4Life (11) | Posted in cluster FiringSquad Editors Challenge Round 1 Prelim 2
Posted 75 months ago ( edited 75 months ago ) in category DEFAULT
Where's My Motivation!?
I'll be honest with all of the Firing Squad's readers out there; I seriously doubted my ability to form complete and coherent sentences amongst my fellow participants. However, I have been given new life after reading a few preliminary entries. You might be wondering why, but I pray that my second wind is more obvious to the majority of readers. I am tired of reading poorly written articles and reviews, in addition to the poor use of the english language. Subsequently, I will go through a few basics of not just writing reviews, but writing in general: common mistakes and good techniques.
Look Ma, I Can Write Good
I am by no means a great writer, nor am I a master of the English language. Despite my own editorial flaws, I feel that it is my obligation to cover a few lessons some people doodled through in middle school. I am tempted to use snippets from others' submissions, but I will limit myself to examples and generalities.
A spelling mistake is not the end of the world. It is rare that an article would ever lose its purpose because of misspelled words. However, an article or review littered with mistakes gives the reader an impression that the author is not a polished and professional source of information. More credence is given to those who make fewer spelling mistakes in their writings. It is a writer's job to write, regardless of the subject. Would you feel confident listening to a mechanic's advice if you knew their car was breaking every other day? I would hope not. Do not detract from your review or article with spelling mistakes. If needed, use a spell checker.
Run On, Run On
Grammatical problems open a much bigger can of worms than do spelling mistakes. Rather than cover such a broad topic through positive examples, let us cover them through negative examples. Please, for the love of all that is important to you, avoid run-on sentences, since they suck the life out of a reader's patience, and comprehension, and you tend to forget how the sentence began, and wonder if the reader talks fast, or if they have a slight case of A.D.D, or maybe even a more serious case. Long sentences do not impress an audience. I can assure you that no one will think less of an author if they attempt to say the same thing in two sentences, rather than one. You should never read a sentence feeling mentally exhausted or out of breath.
Ellipses, semicolons, and even commas are often misused. For those who don't know, ellipses are indicated with three dots or four if at the end of a sentence. Ellipses indicate an omission of words, or a pause. My criticism of ellipses is not that they are necessarily misused. The problem for many people is that they are used far too often. Ellipses should be used on a... limited basis; used too often and they can... give an impression of incomplete thoughts. Semicolons are probably more underused than misused. According to Wikipedia, a semicolon "binds two sentences more closely than they would be if separated by a full stop/period." As previously mentioned, two shorter sentences are usually preferred to a single long one. Though, some verbal "overhead" can be avoided if semicolons are used properly; usually they are not. Commas should be used to add a brief interruption to a sentence. A general rule of thumb is to speak the sentence out-loud, and take note of where a natural pause occurs. There are many proper uses of commas, but they are often misused to join two complete sentences, long sentences that should be separated more appropriately. Some of the submissions have very few grammar or spelling mistakes. Though, many suffer for the above reasons.
Making a PBJ Sandwich
Every peanut butter and jelly sandwich consists of bread, peanut butter, and jelly. I've tried a PBJ with bananas and have to say that it is a nice and surprising twist. Like your basic PBJ sandwich, every review should consist of a few basic elements. There should be an introduction, possibly a preview, the primary review critera, and a summary. The preview can be optional, as are the bananas to a PBJ.
Give Me the Motivation
Introductions provide an opportunity to swiftly capture an audience and reveal your purpose or intentions. A poor introduction can cripple an otherwise decent review. The attention span of a reader can vary, but it is safe to assume that an interesting beginning will convince a reader to continue to the "meat" of a review rather than skip to the summary. Well written introductions should entice a reader through humor, intrigue, a quote, etc. . A poorly written introduction usually starts with, "In this review", "This article is about", or something along those lines. Realistically, the reader will probably already know what you are reviewing, since the title should be apparent. There is no reason to restate the obvious. Again, the majority of submissions start the introduction correctly.
Previews are optional elements. Many reviews follow standard criteria: gameplay, sound, and graphics. However, this is not always the case. A preview allows the author to inform the reader where they are heading with their writing. You should consider including a preview if your are deviating from a standard review. More importantly, a preview acts as an organized template for the writer. There are many detailed methods for organizing a lengthy piece of writing. Though, the easiest method is to use a preview to inform the reader and give the author an informal guide. The end of the introduction of this critique includes a basic preview. Many user submissions desperately need one. Some have more than a dozen paragraphs without any organization or flow. This can be sometimes be forgiven if headings are included.
Headings, like previews, add structure to reviews. They immediately let the reader know what to expect when reading a portion of text. Some readers care about graphics more than gameplay. If this is the case, they can skip whatever they consider tripe. These trivial tips may seem obvious in retrospect, but I am vindicated by my fellow authors. I tried to read most of the reviews, but had trouble finishing half of them. Headings help the mind dissect a long article while reading. It is safe to make headings or sub-headings obvious. Though, it can be refreshing to see clever headings, similar to good introductions. It should go without saying that the outlined criteria goes hand-in-hand with either the preview or the headings in a review. Thus far, the lack of previews and/or headings appears to be the Achilles Heel for most reviews.
What Did I Just Read?
I was once told by an English teacher that a well written introduction and conclusion can overcome the rest of a forgettable paper. Far too often reviews end with the generic, "In conclusion" or "In summary". I believe it is safe to assume that readers will know when they are at the end of a review. As I said about introductions, there is no reason to state the obvious. Also, the reader will remember the last thing they read far better than anything in the middle of a review. This is the same reason contestants in subjective competitions would choose to be close to the last person judged or even the first. This in itself would be stating the obvious. Though, I believe many participants have proven they lack this knowledge. Many submissions conclude with three sentences or less. A conclusion needs to tie everything together, and it is rare that this can be done with two sentences. Review the material covered, and finish with an encompassing statement about your opinion of the subject.
I have no false-hope in regards to this competition. I sat around trying to decide if I wanted to write a "real" review, and came to a decision after reading a handful of preliminary entries. Far more people would benefit if they consider some of my advice, especially if they advance to later rounds. Please do not interpret this as an attack at any specific submission. Many are well written. However, just as many suffer what I consider critical flaws: spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, structural failures, and a lack of polish. Readers might be agitated by the content of my writing. However, they certainly can not say that I have failed to form complete and coherent sentences.
|11 User Comment(s) • 4 root comment(s)|
| Ag4Life (11) Feb 28, 2007 - 05:13 pm | Edited on Feb 28, 2007 - 05:13 pm|
|Wow, I just realized their poor script is misfiring on the string t*i*t.|
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