Saturday, January 31, 2015

Quick Thoughts - My Review Policy

So I thought, because I've been thinking about this recently, that I should try to put down kind of what my policy is for approaching the stories I review. Obviously I have a bit of freedom in what I read and what I review. One of the reasons I love writing The Monthly Round is that it allows me to gush about the stories that I really liked and ignore everything else. I get to be entirely positive and point people in the direction of stories that, by and large, I loved. And part of that is that I take only nine stories from the entire month to review there.

...and, well, there's a lot more stories out every month. This month I've reviewed for this blog 61 stories (including 1 reprint and 3 excerpts from non-English novels) plus 12 poems and some nonfiction. And I did not like everything. But here, because I have seen that people want entire issues reviewed, I decided that I would write something up for each story and poem, regardless of whether or not I liked it. It is so difficult for me to write negative reviews, though. At least for short fiction and poetry. Because when it's on Goodreads and a novel and there are like 100 other reviews, I don't mind putting my (perhaps negative) review up, because it's balanced with other (more positive) reviews. I don't feel that I'm picking on anyone.

As a writer, I dread negative reviews. I crave people saying good things about my stories, but I really don't like when people say they didn't care for my work. So when I review I try to follow the idea kind of like I'm in a workshop. Be courteous, explain my issues, and make sure to say what I did like about the story. Even when the story hits all the things that make me angry. Even when I don't want to say anything nice. Because...I don't know, because I don't want to be mean to anyone. Especially someone I don't know. If I don't like a story, I will try to find a way to diplomatically say that. And then I will probably move on to talk about stories I did like. Because that's more fun.

Does this make sense? I don't really know. I normally think that most stories have something good in them. Some are definitely not worth reading, what with the bounty of better stories. And I guess I will try to be as honest as I can, keeping in mind that these reviews are only my opinion, that I am no one special, that I am not trying to discourage anyone from anything. I'm just looking to give my opinions on stories. That said, if I have a rather negative review, I probably won't try to tag the author on Twitter about it. I'll probably hope that they never look at the review. But I do believe in my reviews.

Of course, if anyone disagrees with me or wants to tell me I'm an idiot, please feel free to shout at me in the comments. I hope people are finding these reviews helpful. Maybe? Anyway, the first month is done and here's to a great many more!

All the best,

Charles Payseur

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