O wad some Power the giftie gie us, To see oursels as ithers see us!

I often do. Sort of. Peer review when writing can seem quite harsh. You think you’ve crafted some bit of perfect rules then somebody breaks it apart doing ridiculous things that no one in their right mind would ever do. It breaks your heart.

Of course the reviewers are right, still hurts though.

The reviews of the finished product often, in me, at least, bring our regrets. As in, I wish I had added more there explaining my thinking. I still agree with what I have done for the same reasons, but at least the reviewer could take that into consideration. Still makes it more my problem, of course. If I didn’t do it then I didn’t do it.

I’ve written review myself of course, but something happened last week that was different. I was given a scenario to look at with the possibility of it being published as a C&S Essence adventure.

I found fault in it. Some because it was obviously a D&D adventure so some of the housekeeping stuff was flat wrong. Easily fixed but it makes me worry about how much the author read the original rules. The other part is to do with flavour and suitability, with a fair section on writing style. All fixable though the “inner circle” could argue about who does the fixing.

However the thing that is telling is the other side of the peer review process. This one is different. I don’t know the author (I think) and I haven’t been involved in an early stage. Ostensibly this was a finished piece of writing, bar editing and some graphics, but my conclusion was that it needed a rewrite, to recast the writing style, and I say this as a writer who veers from ‘Civil Service pedantic’ to ‘too far conversational’. I would also change a few details of some of the participants to suit what I think of as “proper C&S”.

Here I often argue with Steve, because I have a pretty high-faluting idea of what proper C&S is and, of course, I’m right and he’s wrong. Stands to reason.

The thing that occurs to me is that this is because, in a peer review rather than a magazine type review, we concentrate on the negative so as to get it fixed,rather than the positive,so the whole lot can sound a bit like an attack. So, I think peer review feedback should include both! So the person knows what we think works and can do more of it!

In this case, if actually concentrate on the scenario, It’s not half bad. It suits my own type of plots just fine. It’s the presentation and a few details I found issue with, and I’m only glad that the author wasn’t there when I came to them, because I know, from personal experience, even if you think you are relaxed about criticism, you’re not, not really. My initial comments and the way I expressed them, being short notes so remind me what I had thought so I could discuss them with to others would have come across as bitterly harsh.

So, in the end, when I get to put my comments back. I’ll remember how galling it is to have some know nothing idiot declaim on your magnum opus, without revealing any glimmer of understanding, and try to assert the areas that I think need changing, without coming down with my size 10 steel toecaps in full flame war mode.

It’s not big, and it’s not clever

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