Hello all! I’ve been thinking for a while now that it might be useful to have a kind of review-writing workshop, for a couple of reasons:
To help give confidence to those who might want to write more reviews, or start writing them in general
To help those already regularly writing reviews improve their writing skills
To consolidate review-writing techniques, best practices, advice, etc.
This has mostly just been a back-of-the-mind kind of idea for me; I know we’ve had a couple of threads talking about review tips and whatnot, but I thought it might be nice to have a place where you can ask for/receive feedback (even after the workshop ends as well). The general idea I had percolating was this:
The workshop would take place over, say, a month.
At the start of the workshop, guides/templates/useful advice would be consolidated into a post or two for easy reference; these would be added to as the workshop progresses.
Participants could either write new reviews or post old ones, and other participants could give suggestions/advice/feedback.
Maybe we could have a leaderboard of some sort so people could show all the helpful, shiny new reviews they’ve written.
This wouldn’t happen until the new year at earliest, so there’s plenty of time to plan and consider!
Would you be interested in participating in such a workshop?
Maybe (please post why; I’d like for this to be helpful to all!)
I’d like to hear your thoughts! If there’s interest we can begin expanding on the idea; if not, then maybe this can be used sometime in the future when there’s better need for it.
This sounds interesting, written reviews are very valuable to me on this website. Whenever I look for something new to read on this site, I always sort by what has written reviews, and almost everyone I follow, I started following b/c they were people who kept showing up in the review section lol. I’ve written a few, but always have a hard time with how to grade them. “Should it be evenly split between an entertainment review and a language learning review?” “This is just another high school slice-of-life setting, not really learning anything new here, 2/5 for language learning. Wait, if it’s someone else’s first manga then it would be full of new stuff, let’s make that a 5/5.” Usually I just end up winging it and loosely emulating reviews from others, but finding a good balance is very tricky, lol. Settling on a rubric of sorts could be super handy, at least as a framework to build upon.
The only reason it’s a maybe for me is time, otherwise I’m all for it.
The language learning rating is really a generalization about “would this be useful to someone else”, imo. Like if I’m looking at a prospective book, and I see “Language Learning 3/5”, my takeaway will be “there is some reason this would be detrimental or not productive to read, maybe I shouldn’t read it”. (I’m not sure I ever gave anything a 3/5, but I did strongly consider it for カノジョも彼女)
I always hesitate on what to do with fantasy personally. I default to 4/5, because there’s a decent amount of stuff that won’t carry over to other series (even other fantasy)… But I wonder whether that’s unfair. Otoh I’d give anything really domain-specific (like a computer networking/programming book) a 3, bc the vocab and concepts just won’t be linguistically useful for most ppl.
It’s really tricky, because short of having literally 0 dialogue, pretty much anything could be useful to somebody out there. Maybe rating it in the context of level is also worth consideration, in the same way some reviews mention JLPT levels. A level 22 like ホリミヤ (series) | L22 might not be rated too highly even for someone who has never read level 22 before, since there would be a lot of vocabulary in common with lower level stuff like イジらないで、長瀞さん (series) | L20 or 瞳ちゃんは人見知り 1 | L18. It feels like the kind of thing that can get more and more complicated the longer you think about it, so it’s probably not worth thinking too deeply about it at all, lol. It’s probably good enough to just rate it whatever you feel like and then expand on it a bit in the review itself.
For me usually the overall rating = entertainment rating.
Only for lower level books do I factor in the language learning rating. That’s mainly because that rating isn’t consistent. As a beginner I would rate a book with only standard vocab high because it’s very accessible. But if I’m at a higher level the language learning rating would be pretty low because I didn’t learn any new vocabulary.
Yes, I don’t find the language learning star rating particularly useful, but reviews are great when they mention stuff like ‘this has a buttload of Kansai-ben’ or ‘a lot of the vocab is about [this subject area]’ so I can go in with moderated expectations.
I think it would be helpful to have a kind of guide for what to write in the review but I’m not sure if it is something I would do regularly even once I know what is best to include. I’ve mostly shied away from writing them unless it’s been learner material. I don’t think I’ve written anything useful on anything that isn’t a graded reader or textbook
I think this a great idea for improving writing skills in general.
Also tips about what to include in the review or how to handle the fact that the review will be read by people of different backgrounds and ages and preferences are useful.
But personally I prefer to read reviews that don’t fit into any particular “template” or stick to special guidelines. Because that would feel more “genuine”, and I like to see that freedom and variety in different kinds of reviews.
In short: I think this is very helpful(specially for those who want to start writing reviews) as long as it doesn’t make every review feel like an edited template.
I agree with this so much. I think it would be helpful for everyone, and people who hesitate to write reviews especially, but I’m a little worried that it might make people already writing reviews feel like they need to conform to specific guidelines, or otherwise their reviews might be considered sub-par. Every review is helpful in my opinion (also in that it shows the reviewer’s personality), and variety of reviews is extra helpful.
That said, knowing what people generally find useful in reviews can only be a good thing, and helping people express their opinion of what they read is an excellent idea.
I’ll be keeping an eye on this thread, but I’m not sure I’d want to participate in the workshop.
Not to worry guys! It’s definitely not my intention to provide some sort of “one size fits all” kind of thing (and I doubt I could even if I tried). These potential templates would be pretty general; insofar as they would mention the broad topics you might want to cover in your review: story, characters, specific language notes, etc.
Again, this is all very much pre-planning; I’ve really been enjoying the discussion!
I think could be as simple as putting a “if you need help getting started with a review, you can check these templates here” link, or a “these templates are simply suggestions, feel free to follow your own style” type of sentence at the top of the template.
I’ll add too that one of my favorite things about this site is the different ways people write reviews. I really admire some of them. It’s half of what inspires me to write as many as I can
I only just saw this now! I’ve barely written a handful of reviews, but I would like to contribute more. Having some sort of guidelines to refer to (and practice of course ;)) would make it easier for me to do so on the fly.
I think it’ll be cool if we did a section where we learn how to write book reviews in our target language. I started writing book reviews in Korean and it’s pretty helpful for me to summarize what I read plus use some of the vocab I learned in the book while writing the review.