Reviewing the Reviewer – Never Be Broken By Opinion
Before writing this essay I thought carefully about how the reader will interpret it. It is not written from a need to avenge a poor review of my work. Normally I’ll bash out the essay or story and leave it more or less as it is. I write this one for anyone who has been subject to critical reviews, personal sleight or effected by the opinion of an individual or group. The podcast interview with Mr Darren Stanton published this week is an accompaniment to this blog. Click on the Podcast Link at the top of the page to hear it.
It is my desire that the reader is clear about the purpose to the next thousand or so words. It is my belief that any who writes critical opinion has to be qualified to do so and they have to have excelled in the subject of the genre on which they are commenting. Should a critic be identifiable? I feel the critic MUST have a real identity. To my mind hiding behind a pseudonym negates the content of the opinion to nothing. It is of no use the critic claiming there is a danger of personal attack, if there is a desire to be a viper best the snake accepts there will be a few snake catchers out there.
A degree is a qualification which proves an individual has studied to a certain standard. It is NOT evidence that the attained degree of achievement indicates the student is qualified to practice in the subject. As an example I’ll put forward the evidence that the qualified individual who diagnosed my father with shingles and treated him with over the counter pain killers for six months ignoring his suffering and pain as ‘imagined’. Doctor qualified to practice but not infallible. My father had bone cancer.
I do not want this essay to be incorrectly interpreted as written by a man who is angered by the critical review central to the story. Do not draw any conclusion until your eyes pass the last word. To enable me to persuade the reader this is not the case I will take you back in time a situation where my feelings became as lead. No alchemic formula can make my emotions shine again. For an objective document to be written it should have no emotional influence. I am not a malicious individual. For me there is no pleasure in hurting another human being.
There is a question which is important in any trial where justice is to prevail. It is ‘Does the accused know or understand the difference between right or wrong?’ If the accused does not then he will need to be judged from a different perspective. I do know the difference between right and wrong I have a conscience which guides me to fairness and integrity. I possess a clear and defined parameters of morals.
Let me take you back nearly four decades.
My lawyer sits in his chair and watches me with what I now realise as an astute eye for assessing the character of his clients. We have reviewed the documents and he waits to listen to my instructions. “I require the opinion of a Queens Council my choice if he is available is Mr H.M – QC.” – The Council I asked for ended his career as a Red Judge and at the time I’d discovered he was the best in the field, he was the man I needed to defend me – A month later I visited the QC and listened to his opinion “Plead guilty and I can negotiate a non custodial sentence. Not guilty and we have a difficult two days” “I’m pleading not guilty” “OK let me arrange an early trial date and we will meet a week before. Ian if your found guilty you’re looking at four years, you do understand this don’t you?” “Yes I do.” “From this moment onward do not talk about the case and learn to harden your heart. There will be some tough questions asked and I can guide you how to answer them” Outside his offices I looked around, it was a beautiful summers afternoon, I watched some children as they freely played in the small square opposite and realised in six weeks time I’d be back in the City this time in the Crown Court, with the possibility of losing my freedom.
What I learned over the seven months from arrest to standing in the dock was that people are lightening fast to judge and negative opinion causes incredible damage. The two officers investigating the case were vindictive and determined to see me in prison. I was surprised how many had already decided the outcome of the trial and embarked upon a campaign of hate and threat. There is a question to be answered. The crime involved excessive violence and because of the other people involved this is as much as I am prepared to reveal.
During a trial witness’s for the prosecution will be called and the defence questions the statements made during the investigation. H.M.QCs cross examinations became the highlight of the trail. He drew witness’s into a place of security and then intellectually overwhelmed their sense of reasoning – Both police officers were tarnished as vindictive, their evidence weakened through agile word weaving. He set the seed that they had a personal bias against my education and seemingly comfortable life style. H.M.QC used a powerful phrase “I’m not interested in your truth – The jury require fact and certainty, not distortion or opinion” He was a master of the mind, word and law.
The evidence of the expert forensic witness’s are examined. And here my life lesson is learned. H.M.QC had no interest in the evidence! He had researched the qualifications of the two witness’s and then he asked each one about evidence they had given in other trials which had been proven to be flawed. He did not really question the evidence he questioned the ability of the ‘experts’ in the dock. Basically the premise is if one or more ‘expert’ assessments have been proven incorrect then how many more are subject to review?
The jury took fifty minutes to find me not guilty. I had been attacked by a stranger and I defended myself. The police officers decided I was instigator not victim inferring I was insane criminal. The nightmare which began in a car park seven months before was over. I was free, up to a point. There were still many who continued to believe me guilty. And this is when my heart hardened, my emotions became lead.
As I watched H.M.QC I realised he was qualified as a Lawyer by ‘Degree’ and was qualified to QC by appointment of the hierarchy of his profession. He taught me that a witness or expert HAS to practice their profession to become expert. There was no concern for the evidence presented in the courtroom. He questioned the ability of those who presented the evidence. I have used this methodology on numerous occasions in my life and H.M.QC has never let me down.
Just so the reader is clear of the extent of my objective emotion. I will offer further evidence of an ability for my head to rule my heart. I watched an intelligent young woman’s part in a difficult situation. I believed her to be correct in her opinion, respected the forthright way she acted, her honesty and personal integrity. Although she had revealed a character trait within her I did not like. If I were to be true to my convictions I would have to make a difficult decision. The choice I made was to not see or talk to her again and I never will. She is my daughter. If a human being believes the opinions of others will effect my emotions they are incorrect.
Now, if an individual claims to be able to judge the work of another they need to be expert in the genre. And it is a dangerous game to play for fun, peoples feelings are at risk. To say from the standpoint of expert “Your work is poor, it did nothing for me but if you adjust this and continue in your creativity you may well succeed” is fine. If someone is critical or disparaging for some other reason there is a need to ask why? As I will soon be asking “Why would someone wish to review thousands of books? Is it to help the writers? Or is it to be seen as an expert in the subject of the reviews?”
Surely a serial reviewer or critic should be qualified to write the critique? On a person level I ask “How is this individual qualified to judge me or my work? In what area do they specialise in? Do they practice in the claimed area of expertise? You can be certain if someone is critical of me I will research the ability and qualification of the critic. H.M-QCs method comes into play.
Be clear in your mind. I have no concern for the content of the critical appraisal of my book. After all the hammer of opinion may well bang the nail in coffin! The review could be one hundred and one per cent correct and save many from wasting money!
This essay is written to help anyone who is effected by criticism – The words and examples are used as thought provocation, as is the majority of my work. Those who correctly interpret my stories will realise there is more depth than the story itself.
If you are or have been criticised in any way I guide you to REVIEW THE REVIEWER – And if but one review is found to be flawed is it possible all of their work becomes suspect? What would happen if other people read the reviews and decide the five star ones are not justified and the one star ones are decided to be brilliant? This does happen on Amazon reviews and casual reviewers do not have the perceived influence that serial reviewers attain.
If the qualifications are in doubt their evidence and opinion could also be in doubt. I would guide a writer or artist never be concerned about negative feedback or reviews. An unqualified or serial reviewer may decide to offer the defence they are attempting to help the writer or creator. The moment this is offered as justification, place the plea in the same context as the vegetarian who wears leather shoes.
Lets not play Queen’s Council lets play Queer Thinker!
The case before you is one of an appeal to a previous court sentence. In which the accused – Ian Timothy author of the book “Flash Stories and Short Fiction” Has been found guilty of poor writing and lack in imagination. The judge has sentenced the accused to three stars and a sarcastic comment!
The book prosecution service reviewed the book and found it unfit for purpose. The council for the prosecution MissScarlet used her years of expertise to formulate the case. Indeed she is prosecution, jury and sentencing judge. Here is the prosecutions case, evidence and sentence.
The accused ‘Ian Timothy’ presented no defence and accepts the GUILTY verdict and sentence.
Whist the sentence of three stars and the comment must stand Mr Timothy is not effected by it and claims no damages or psychological injury resulting from the court appearance. Mr Timothy wishes to bring to the attention of the appeal court certain aspects of the case which were not presented to the court at the time of the trial. Since his imprisonment he has had time to reflect upon the case and he pleas for forgiveness from a potential fifty-million readers who has now been saved from wasting a dollar or two hours of a life time, because of the evidence presented by ‘expertise’ of the prosecution’s expert witness. And he is concerned that if there is one unsafe verdict, just one! Then all must be questioned. It is unreasonable to reopen every case, it is reasonable to look at the qualifications of prosecuting council. If the qualifications are seen to be spurious the opinion could possibly be flawed. And as noted earlier the five stars may be lacking in quality.
Mr Timothy will present the evidence to the court of appeal. Accept the name MissScarlet is a pseudonym. It is MissScarlett‘s qualification to subjectively make reviews which is in question in this appeal court. Mr Timothy has discovered the identity behind the facade he does however respect the reason an individual who has reviewed over 1000 books in a period of 3 years wishes animosity. There are indications that if the pseudonym MissScarlett (Quebec) is the same as one used on a literary forum then her occupation and certain other information could be used as evidence. It may be up to each member of the appeal court to research this a little further.
Here is the known statistics gleaned from Amazon – MissScarlett is an incredible reviewer. From January 2013 to January 2016 she reviewed 1176 books and short stories or very near one per day! The review rate is a testament to her dedication, try these statistics. I wonder what conclusion the appeal court will draw from the figures. MissScarlett is a prolific reader who consumes words and pages at an incredible rate.
Here are examples of the statistics.
January 1st to 4th of February 2016 – 34 books have been reviewed.
On the 23rd of July 2015 22 book reviews were posted and 40 books were reviewed in this month.
In November 2013 58 books were reviewed on the 22nd 10 book reviews were posted.
In October 2013 41 book reviews were posted.
What is interesting is that 89% (random count of 200 reviews) are 5 star reviews!
Does this indicate the standard of writing is mostly excellent? Indeed it indicates the 3 star and lower must be of an incredibly poor standard. Or does it indicate the threshold of the reviews are NOT high enough to be of real help to potential readers? Or does the genre of the book influence the reviewers bias? Many are ‘horror or ghost’ related. There is certainly a dislike of typing or grammatical error and this would indicate this reviewer possess’s a formal qualification in English or Literature.
I asked another Kindle user to download four of MissScarlett’s 5 star reviewed books. This reader could not give greater than four stars for any of the books and one was rated at two! So reviewing is subjective incidentally my book would have been rated as 3 due to the typing and grammatical errors. The reviews were not posted.
In my final plea to the court of appeal I surmise there is only one way to assess the book and that is to read it. Although if the appeal court is able to assess MissScarlet’s qualification as being sufficient in stature to allow her able to critique this or any author’s work then the appeal has failed. And Mr Timothy will not write another story until next Thursday at the latest. Although he may be lying and already writing more boring diatribes, incoherent rubbish complete with typing errors (not typo’s) poor grammar and complete with a lack in imagination.
It is important for the reader to understand why this essay is written. It is not to make a personal sleight upon the amazon.com reviewer MissScarlett. It is to guide any who become subject to negative review or criticism that they should look carefully at the reviewer and if the appraisal of the critic is found wanting then you must dismiss the reviews and the ability of the critic. This does not only apply to books or any other form of creative art. It applies to ANY situation where one is subject to criticism.
This writer is of the belief many creatives cease in their quest to find success and pleasure from their work due to accepting the words of a stranger. Yesterday I played two Daniel Johnson tracks to a good friend. He listened and commented “What a load of f^&king rubbish”. I asked him to ignore Daniels voice and music and listen to the words. “The man is a genius” was the second appraisal…