Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The Compliment Sandwich

Family Guy is, without a shadow of a doubt, the funniest thing ever to be produced on DVD format. Although I tip my hat- and occaisionally piss my pants- to other shows like South Park, Blackadder and the legendary Monty Python's Flying Circus, Family Guy stands head and shoulders above them all in the hilarity stakes.

There's a scene in the episode “Model Misbehaviour” where Stewie the one-year-old megalomaniac talks Brian, the very eloquent pet dog into a marketing scam. In order to get some much-needed worms treatment, Brian has to work in Stewie's makeshift office (bedroom) and trick companies out of their money. Not long into the job, however, Stewie calls Brian into the office for a dressing-down.

“I'm going to do something I call 'the compliment sandwich,'” Stewie says, “Where I say something good, then talk about where you need improvement, and then end with something good.” Stewie tells Brian that he “looks like Snoopy”, he “has smelly dog farts” and that he “dazzled a rep from the Cincinatti office”.

Snap back to reality, as Eminem would say. I've recently been visiting a number of different writers groups across the Greater Manchester area. I've also tried out a few writer's reviewing websites.

I think Stewie Griffin would make a pretty good amateur-literature reviewer. Not only is he smart, with a good grasp of the English language, but he finds two “positives” for every “negative”. Essentially, this is the best way to critique someone's writing (no matter how bad it is). Look for something you like, explain what needs changing and end with how good the peice could be with a few adjustments. The best reviews I've received have always followed this pattern, and have come across very clear and fluid.

If you dabble in writing, and you're wondering what people think of your work, please feel free to join Writers Connect on Sundays in Manchester. We meet fortnightly in the Arndale branch of Waterstones.

No matter where you are in the world, there is always the World Wide Web. And as you are reading this now, I'm assuming you have access to it. So why not try out, or I stick with for online reviews, which I recommend. It's the first writing site I visited and the one I understand the most. So jump on there and let's help each other out. Gaining feedback means giving feedback, remember, and that's the case on all of these sites. That can take quite a while. So don't forget your sandwiches.

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