Zyn's Crit Tips - Part I - Reviewing Long Drafts
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Hi. I’m ZynZyn, admin for the SCP wiki, captain of the Forum Criticism Team/Butterfly Squad εїз εїз, and I’m here to give some tips on how I write crits without getting bit by fatigue from reading long drafts.1

General note: these tips are for anyone and everyone, newbies and veterans alike!

General note II: these tips are geared towards giving feedback in the drafts critique forum: http://www.scp-wiki.net/forum/c-50864

General note III: these are not rules! These are suggestions on how to productively and efficiently critique longer drafts.

Here we go!

A basic checklist for crit is: Is the writing good? Is the idea good? What can be better?

Execution: Is the writing good?2 (provide examples pls!!!) (also, if they wrote very very good, you can skip this with a "I didn't see any writing errors")

  • Grammar (does the piece word goodly in a sentence believe you do?)
  • Mechanics (does the piece cApitalize Correctly, use proper: punctuation., have correkt speeling?)
  • Formatting (Does it not look like a mess?)

Concept: Is the idea good?

  • Is it interesting? Why or why not?
  • Is it unique/has it been done before?

How to Improve: What can be better?

  • What do you personally want to see in the article that would make you enjoy it more?
  • How would the fixes you suggest be an improvement?
  • If you don’t have suggestions on improvement: imagine that another reviewer doesn’t like this, and the author wants to make edits to fix that. What do you think the author should keep, for sure, if they want to make changes to the piece? BONUS: Who do you think would be a good person for the author to ask for more advice, and why?

Bonus: Any Relevant Personal Disclaimers: Be honest and let the author know if…

  • You’re not 100% sure about some of the stuff they’ve written about, like super specific hard science things or GoI headcanon or niche Foundation protocols!
  • You’re a new reviewer, or you haven’t seen this kind of draft before!
  • You have a very specific kind of favorite/headcanon that others in the audience might not have!

And now we get to the type-specific things to include!

SCP-specific crit tips!

Tale-specific crit tips!

GoI format-specific crit tips!

Okay, let’s bring it all together!

Here’s a quick template for the general things to do! Feel free to mix it up as you like! Ideally, you’d be writing the critique after reading the entire draft, but you can totally write it in pieces as you read. And again, even if you just write about a sentence for each of these questions, that’s enough for a solid crit.

And here are some critiques I wrote about non-existent drafts, as an example of how to use the above format.

Overall tips

1. IMPORTANT: something something fish anecdote. If you give an author all the fixes, they’re good for a day. If you teach an author how to fix things, they’re good for much longer than a day. Reviewers are not responsible for mentioning and fixing every single problem in a draft, especially if there are a lot of simple errors that authors can and should figure out how to address themselves. If you want to do a full line-by-line, go ahead! Alternatively, point out a few of the most obvious mistakes, and link them to some resources they can use for self-study.

2. Reviewers do not need to be veterans. If you’re a site member, you’ve got a vote you can cast on the page when the author mainlists their stuff. Even if you don’t know the audience super well, chances are good that there’s at least a few other people on the site who might vote the same way as you. If you feel comfortable writing a review that covers all the basics, by all means, get your reviewing practice in.

3. Reviews do not need to take a long time to write. Critique needs to be helpful, but there’s no minimum wordcount or minimum time requirement for a good critique. Practice figuring out the main points and commenting on those, rather than every little thing. If you don't know how to fix something, be honest about it.

4. Conceptualization is important. A lot of the time, drafts are majorly held back by a shaky idea3 that should be improved first, before the author gets caught up in things like fixing typos or picking words. If you review a draft that needs some idea/setup revamping before you’d want to read it again, encourage the author to use the Ideas and Brainstorming forum: http://www.scp-wiki.net/forum/c-89000/help:ideas-and-brainstorming or the IRC chat to hash out a concept that the audience will get more excited about.

5. Reviewing should feel fulfilling. Never force yourself to critique if you’re exhausted, grumpy, pressed for time, just not feeling it, etc. A reviewer should never feel like they’re obligated to review just because someone repeatedly asks.4 Hopefully you are having fun when you read a draft that you really like or work with an author who’s super cool!

Remember, helpful reviews keep the community alive and thriving!

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