My Writers Circle

Writing => All the Write Questions => Topic started by: Abstemious on June 10, 2014, 06:50:57 AM

Title: Critiques
Post by: Abstemious on June 10, 2014, 06:50:57 AM
As a novice or newbie on this forum I have been reading many reviews of work and following one particular review which has now been locked due to it going off-topic:
 "I need members to do me a solid, and review my opening pg (2)! W/C 89"

I should like to comment on the critiques in general and I find many of them to be overly criticizing a newbie poster's work. I find this particularly off-putting and, to be honest, I am not surprised if newbie posters do not come back. One cannot expect to win a race at the first attempt.

On some forums, on which I read and participate, there is a special board for newbies who are given simple advice based on there actual knowledge of a subject and are helped along without a full scale dissection of their work.

Newbies, especially to writing, need help initially. The story content: would the story so far make a good overall book or short story? How was the start of the story, did it grab sufficient attention that a reader would want to continue? A newbie, after writing possible a first attempt at a first story, cannot take in all the intricacies of grammar, formatting, language, POVs, character descriptions etc. all at one time. There is a learning curve.

As for me, I have a story which I am attempting to write, part fiction, mostly fact. I do not have a university degree (nor did I get English at a first attempt in my GCEs). Furthermore, I do not even like reading. This is possibly because I may be slightly dyslexic. I also find in my old age that my memory is going and I find it hard to remember words that I know are there but I don't seem to be able to think of them.

As for MyWritersCircle, I doubt if I will post anything of my work as I already know that it will be slated, with comments saying that such and such is irrelevant to the story, my grammar and formatting are up the wall while there is too much padding and so on.

Furthermore, I feel that any contribution from me would be irrelevant and itself criticized by the experts on this forum. Thus I was thinking was it really beneficial for me to remain here and after some 6 hours on the forum would I also abandon it as a 'fly-by' newbie.

I did, however, have a PM from one member who gave me some pointers which I found very encouraging.

That is my view as a newbie on the forum; we are not all experts, we are not even at an intermediate stage, we are like babes and need helping.

Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Pale Writer on June 10, 2014, 07:04:47 AM
It is often hard to critique a new writer. I find them harder than critiquing an experienced one. I don't want to overwhelm or go on about something they might not have heard about in writing. Over the years of critiquing I've had to adjust my style of critiques as I learnt new things about writing myself. What I might have pushed before is not what I would suggest now.

But yes, it is and can be daunting to post a piece. Either take a deep breath and pan the critiques for the gold you need, or flinch and don't. Remember that we are all learning here.

I hope you stay and post. But understand your hesitations.

Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: lan on June 10, 2014, 08:03:57 AM
Abstemious,

I fully understand your point, I was a newbie (and still am, under many aspects, believe me), and I too received some pretty harsh responses to my own Unwritten Masterpiece.

It's discouraging, it makes you wanna answer back: "well what do YOU know anyway!"
In other words, it hurts.

But, my friend, if you wish to put your story down in words, the story you've been cherishing all these years, and actually publish it, you need this passage, this ordeal, which faces you with the hideous monster known as Other People's Opinions.

It is much better if you expose your work by a small bit and digest the criticism, in order to give birth to a better result, rather than bask in the biased praise of family and slam your entire opus against the wall of refusal, to drop the whole project entirely.

Yes, criticism can be very annoying, but it is a rite of passage for your precious work. Those who can't stand the heat and leave are quitters, and they either don't believe in their work enough or it simply is no good.  Selection brings out the best.

For a dyslexic you write wonderfully well. I hope you stay with us and grow into the art.


Ian.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Dribbler Scribbler on June 10, 2014, 08:06:51 AM
I've made a recent post on the standards of critiquing on this forum and reiterate how helpful I find them. In most cases, you can expect the same dozen or so people to offer a critique on almost every single entry to this forum and that requires a great deal of commitment. I believe that commitment comes from wanting to help others; I don't see any reason at all why intelligent people would waste their time offering lengthy, detailed critiques for any other reason.

I agree that some members are harder to get praise from than others but that's what I like about it here. It raises the bar and makes you a better writer for the next time you need a critique. I genuinely sympathise if you've found things a little intimidating, Abstemious, and I really do mean that. I'm fairly thick-skinned, open to criticism and I'm aware that you can't please everybody with a single piece of writing. The world's best-selling writers still have their critics and doubters. Even so, I understand that others may be more sensitive and I respect that.

I've seen other writer resources where critiques are much gentler and, admittedly, I don't care for them. Purely a personal viewpoint but I can't see any advantages in asking for critiques on a resource where everybody advocates mutual backslapping and treads softly for fear of hurting somebody's feelings. If I worked as a mechanic and repaired a vehicle only for it to break down as the owner drove it home, I wouldn't expect my boss to heap praise on me. Sure, people need to be nurtured. Unfortunately, experienced members here are busy people who don't always have the time to spoon-feed newcomers. Sometimes, you have to get your point down and move on. That way, more people receive a critique of their work and, if they choose to take advice on board, more people improve.

Personally, I'd love to see some of your work. If you lead in with a short introduction asking for a more gentle critique, I'm sure everybody here would oblige. I'd certainly be delighted to offer you fair, neutral and well-meant feedback as long as that's what you're asking for. A lot of new members ask for the 'brutal truth' when, in fact, they're only looking for praise. In those cases, isn't it fair to say the problem really lies with the newcomer and not the existing forum membership? I wouldn't ask somebody to thwack me over the head with a broom handle and complain when I realised how much it hurts!  ;D

Hope you choose to stay with us, Abstemious. If not, good luck with your future writing ventures.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Annmarie on June 10, 2014, 08:10:08 AM
Thanks for your post, Abstemious. Critiques can be daunting on MWC, and some of us may forget what it was like to be new to the forum or to writing. When I first posted a story for critique, I felt like I'd swallowed a baseball. That step is harder for some than others. If you never post a story, you can still learn by reading and critiquing others.

At some point, though, writing needs to be shown in order for the writer to grow. If you decide to post something, be as specific as you can about what help you need. If you don't want a line-edit, say so. Personally, I don't do line-edits and don't look for them in stuff I post. I like to find my own solutions when there's a problem in the prose.

Remember, every critique is a conversation. No one on these boards is a writing god even if a few sound like one.  ;). Half the time, one critiquer disagrees with another. It's up to you to step back from work you post, listen to and participate in the conversation. It's your right to choose not to. But your writing will improve if you take the plunge.  :)
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: JewelAS53 on June 10, 2014, 08:17:27 AM
Hi Abstemious,

I too was frightened to post, and, if you conduct a thorough search, you will not find much of my work out here on the open platform.

What I do find helpful is I digest everyone else's writing and the ensuing comments - this is the #1 reason for you to hang around.

I do comment on occasion on work posted. I think that's only fair, and the longer I'm around the braver I'm getting at doing that.

What I do quite a lot of, and encourage you to try, is, enter a lot of the challenges, in all the disciplines. Some I win, some I do ok, and others I fail abysmally. I use what I've learned from the posters to create the challenge entry and I use the results to measure the success of my learning.

For the rest, I like to hang around in here - they're a great bunch of  people, well worth getting to know.

I hope to see more of you, even if it's just in the bar, the gallery or last post wins.

J
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: 510bhan on June 10, 2014, 09:04:27 AM
Newbies, especially to writing, need help initially. The story content: would the story so far make a good overall book or short story? How was the start of the story, did it grab sufficient attention that a reader would want to continue? A newbie, after writing possible a first attempt at a first story, cannot take in all the intricacies of grammar, formatting, language, POVs, character descriptions etc. all at one time. There is a learning curve.


I feel that answering the questions posed regarding story content/attention grabbing are dependent on the quality of the writing, which relies on the other issues you have mentioned. If someone fails to point out in critique that there are problem areas there, the writing could continue without improvement and make for a difficult read no matter how 'good' the potential story might be.

It is interesting to read entries in the story challenges run on MWC where writers each have to produce a story on the same prompt and face the same  limitations -- they are all so different, yet one or two will have greater appeal than others because the character descriptions are effective, the POV is consistent, the grammar is correct, the language suits the tone and the formatting makes it easy on the eye. With those things in place the story relies then on the voice and style of the author. These elements separate better from good and without attention to each of those elements, a story can lose its readers and its appeal. JMO. :)
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Gyppo on June 10, 2014, 09:37:39 AM
Newbies, especially to writing, need help initially. The story content: would the story so far make a good overall book or short story? How was the start of the story, did it grab sufficient attention that a reader would want to continue? A newbie, after writing possible a first attempt at a first story, cannot take in all the intricacies of grammar, formatting, language, POVs, character descriptions etc. all at one time. There is a learning curve.

Abstemious.  Stick around and keep this in mind.

Nobody really expects anyone to learn it all in one huge gulp, which is why I have often described it as a lifelong apprenticeship.  But when you have several people commenting, instead of one person leading you gently through the steps, that's how the advice is going to be delivered.  It's the nature of an open  forum, and all these things are important.  But it doesn't have to be absorbed all at once, instantly.  Does it?

If someone offers you a multi-course meal, each dish looking very interesting, you don't just shove it in a bucket, stir it up, and cram it in indiscriminately until you feel sick. You take it one course at a time.  Some you will like, some you won't.  Some you may dislike at the first taste and push aside, but perhaps appreciate when you meet a second helping of it on another occasion.

So, if you - or anyone else - feel overwhelmed by the incoming avalanche of generally well-intentioned advice, stand to one side and pick it over at your own pace.

That is my view as a newbie on the forum; we are not all experts, we are not even at an intermediate stage, we are like babes and need helping.

I take your point, but sometimes even babies need to be told a blunt 'No!' in order to learn that certain things just won't work.

And sometimes, because we all love words, we can appear too harsh over minor transgressions, or too flippant when we become - possibly - inappropriately - playful.  It's what makes us what we are.  Writers.

Please hang around.  You make valid points without coming across as an ungrateful whiner.  Which is all to easy too do over the net.  Even the 'monsters' aren't out to get you  ;-)  The really spiteful and destructive monsters who join us occasionally get slung out pretty damned quick.

Gyppo  



Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: hillwalker3000 on June 10, 2014, 09:39:22 AM
Hi Abstemious,

Interesting post - intriguing topic, and one that crops up frequently on here, so thanks for bringing it up.

As one of the less gentle critics on here (so I'm told) I'll try to explain why I give newbies almost as hard a time as more established posters when they merit it.

If I write with publication in mind it's tempting to keep my precious words under wraps until the moment I feel ready to submit it to an agent or publisher. That usually happens after several redrafts when I feel my story/novel is as good as it can ever possibly be - confident any prospective publisher will find it the best thing they've ever read in their entire lives.
That's where self-delusion comes in - the author's greatest fault. The other is feeling inadequate. Maybe my writing's never going to be good enough to be published after all so there's no point even sending it out.

The problem is, living in an ivory tower surrounded by well-meaning friends and family who 'love' everything I write I'm never going to know how good or how bad my work is compared to the thousands of other wannabe writers out there chasing the same publishing deal. That's where peer evaluation comes in so useful. Other writers - who have gone through the same process of adulation and rejection - offering guidance on where my piece works well, and where it falls short.

I've tried other sites - some where members post a poem or a story almost every single day and get the same pats on the back from a select clique of fellow-writers. Words like 'awesome' or 'amazing' or 'loved it' abound - but no one can actually explain why they like a piece. And it soon becomes clear that these frequent-posters are not looking for publication in the real world any time soon. They have their captive audience hanging on their every word. So why would they want to risk their reputation by sharing their work with strangers who might pop their over-inflated egos?

Fortunately most of us on here give honest feedback - constructive when possible (but when there's nothing good to say about a piece that's not always easy). Posters who stick with us through the tantrums and tears generally become better writers the longer they participate. There's a simple reason for that - we ALL make the same basic mistakes when we start writing. And the only people who will point these out to you are fellow-writers. It's also a hard fact of life that to become a successful writer you have to become resilient and open to criticism. If you can't take a knock or two to your pride you'll never survive the setbacks that are sure to happen when you seek publication.

Those of us who spend a fair time on here tearing pieces apart don't do it for the sadistic pleasure of hearing a newbie scream.
(OK - confession time - on occasion certain new members have been shot down in flames due to their obnoxious attitudes)
But the truth is we take the time to read and offer critiques because we want our fellow-writers to succeed in their journey towards a publication deal. Our feedback will hopefully provide the poster with some insight to how their work will be seen by an impartial audience or a prospective publisher. It also gives other browsers on this site an idea of where perhaps they can learn a lesson or two while still avoiding having their own pieces mauled to death.

If you have some writing you'd like to share with us - and are looking to measure how you stand up against the rest of us (we're none of us 'experts' btw - just more experienced maybe) - I'd invite you to dip your toe in the water. There are sharks  8) - but none of us bite.

H3K
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Slow_Walker on June 10, 2014, 09:50:15 AM
Hi Abstemious,

If you don't want to risk having a piece mauled, try entering one of the writing challenges. It's anonymous, and you'll be able to get some idea of whether your piece was as good as you thought based on the votes that you receive. And (as somebody who did just that) you can then post it for review, to find out why your piece finished last!
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: ma100 on June 10, 2014, 10:12:05 AM
I would urge everyone on this thread to read Nick's gentle reminder thread. ;)
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: lan on June 10, 2014, 12:00:27 PM
Heck, my comment was tactful as can be!  I didn't even correct his spelling!
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: bri h on June 10, 2014, 04:11:34 PM
Hello again, Ab. (sorry, it hurts my fingers trying to type your full name).

I was a tw*t, when I first came here. I'd re-discovered writing after 20 years, and knew without a shadow of a doubt how good I was. WRONG! ha ha. I came here all gung-ho, ready, I mean really ready, to post. I did. It was met with supportive comments that while not exactly swimming with praise, were at least pointing me in the right direction. Where my strengths were and my weaknesses.
How did I react? Like a stupid kid. I tried arguing a point I was totally wrong about. If it hadn't been the intervention in pm of the people I now regard as good friends, I'd've been kicked out on me arse. And I would've deserved it. (Hillwalker, 510bhan, Gyppo, even wolfy(but not in pm), and a few others) You see, as was said by Hillwalker, "If we didn't care, we wouldn't be on this thread commenting." Which I thought gave a true picture of where these 'strangers' were coming from.
As has already been said above, when people ask for strong brutal critiques cos 'they can take it.' Their reactions prove they bloody well can't. So the answer is to ask for what you want specifically.
You may have noticed a recent post by, Clarius, (I think?) He asked for crits on the story content and not on the writing. Was it interesting enough? To which he got his answer. No 'gilding of the lily.'
I prefer honesty when I ask for my own crits. What's the point of someone 'blowing smoke up your ass', now. Only for you to find out later (the hard way) how badly at writing you are? I know which I prefer.
If someone ses, "Oh Bri, what a great piece you posted," and it wasn't, you'll carry on writing like that. Continue making the same mistakes.
Whereas if someone ses, "Well actually, I liked some of it, and the rest is drivel." You'll know you have to write better.
This increases the pool of 'good writers' there currently is.

I see I'm rambling a bit, so I'll get going. The point I'm trying to get across is 'the crits need to be harder than soft words.' I benefit by good crits. I became a better writer, more confident in my approach to it, because of the harsher crits.
So please. Stay. Learn what you need. Post.
BUT, ask for what kind of crit you want.
Respectfully, Bri.  
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Skylan on June 10, 2014, 05:26:03 PM
I think if newbies took the time to read and follow the guidelines of this forum, we'd have a lot less "incidents" on our hands. Not only would they be doing us a courtesy by reading and critiquing other members' work before they post their own, it would also give them a chance to read the critiques other members have made. This way, they'd know what to expect, and how harsh - but honest - we can be. THEN they could make an informed decision on whether or not they want to put their work up for our review.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: thatollie on June 10, 2014, 05:43:19 PM
Newbies, especially to writing, need help initially. The story content: would the story so far make a good overall book or short story? How was the start of the story, did it grab sufficient attention that a reader would want to continue? A newbie, after writing possible a first attempt at a first story, cannot take in all the intricacies of grammar, formatting, language, POVs, character descriptions etc. all at one time. There is a learning curve.

I totally agree with you. There is a learning curve and new members need time to adjust to how things are done around here. But when I review something, especially something that could be a lot better with a minor tweak, I can't stop myself from trying to get the writer to tell a better story.

- - -

I think if newbies took the time to read and follow the guidelines of this forum, we'd have a lot less "incidents" on our hands. Not only would they be doing us a courtesy by reading and critiquing other members' work before they post their own, it would also give them a chance to read the critiques other members have made. This way, they'd know what to expect, and how harsh - but honest - we can be. THEN they could make an informed decision on whether or not they want to put their work up for our review.

I disagree and here's why.

As for MyWritersCircle, I doubt if I will post anything of my work as I already know that it will be slated, with comments saying that such and such is irrelevant to the story, my grammar and formatting are up the wall while there is too much padding and so on.

Furthermore, I feel that any contribution from me would be irrelevant and itself criticized by the experts on this forum. Thus I was thinking was it really beneficial for me to remain here and after some 6 hours on the forum would I also abandon it as a 'fly-by' newbie.

There is someone, following all your suggestions, expressing concerns about the harshness of critiques here.
Apologies to Abstemious for using him as an example.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Abstemious on June 10, 2014, 06:06:59 PM
Apologies accepted, thatollie. No harm done.

I must say that I am reading and taking in all the replies to my original post. As you will note, I am still here, hanging in.

I have actually spent practically the whole day on MyWritersCircle. I was so engrossed in going through posts and reviews that I forgot to take my medication at 4 p.m. Missed it again at 6 p.m. (taken over 1 hour late). I looked at the clock at 9 p.m. then head down on the site and the next thing I knew it is just gone 11 p.m. So missed some of my favourite programs on TV: the six o'clock news, the ten o'clock news - I hope I haven't missed anything important!

Kind regards to all.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: bri h on June 10, 2014, 06:17:57 PM
I'm glad you're still here, Ab. I'm also thankful for the crit you gave my Coal Waggons. You made me think of an aspect to it that I'd never gave much credence to. See? you're one of us, after all. ha ha. Bri.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Abstemious on June 10, 2014, 06:23:25 PM
I enjoyed it very much and it brought back memories of my own childhood, at the age of about 5, sliding up the bank to the tracks and putting a halfpenny on the track so that the train would flatten it and make it look like a penny!

Are you going to put all your reminiscences into one book of short stories?
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: bri h on June 10, 2014, 06:25:23 PM
I'm still concentrating on 'the writing.' I want to be able to give to a publisher a near perfect book. I can only do that by learning how, here. B
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Skylan on June 10, 2014, 06:31:42 PM
I disagree and here's why.

Your example half-proves my point. Abstemious has taken a look at other members' critiques and decided that he doesn't want to post his work up for review because he doesn't think he can take the critiques. Would his reaction have been any different if he had found that out by posting his work instead? I think it would have been the same.

The only part that's a problem is that, because of the above, he doesn't feel like he's good enough to offer critiques of his own. Here's an excerpt from the thread, Critiquing for the shy.

Remember Ė just as long as you know how to read, you have an opinion Ė and writers need the opinions of readers! No need to go through all of the above Ė or even half. You might like to concentrate or comment on just one particular point. Every comment is useful and youíll be thanked for it Ė even if the author doesnít agree.

Good luck everybody. Donít be shy!


I myself feel inadequate giving reviews sometimes. Mostly because I do things through intuition, rather than knowledge or skill. I've never taken a creative writing course. I always did awful in English class. I couldn't tell you the difference between a pronoun and a noun or what an adjective is. But what I CAN do, is tell whether or not I like a piece of writing. Even if I can't offer in-depth, educated critiques like, say, hillwalker, I can still offer my opinion as a reader. And readers are the ones we aim to please, right?

My original point wasn't that we shouldn't be softer on new writers, but rather, that if new writers took the time to read our guidelines and learn what to expect, not only from the Circle, but from the writing world itself, we'd all have a lot less incidents with new writers quitting because they felt  we were attacking them.

When I offer reviews, I try to point out things the writer did right, not just the things they could improve on. Even in cases where I feel the entire piece was not good at all. There have been times when new writers have received nothing but negative reviews here, and I take the time afterward to send them an encouraging PM to let them know its not meant as a personal attack, and that they shouldn't quit or be discouraged from writing. It doesn't always work, but I make the attempt.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Skylan on June 10, 2014, 06:34:39 PM
By the way, Abstemious, I hope you stick around the Circle. There's no need to feel inadequate in critique-giving. Even if all you give is your opinion on whether you liked something or not, that's already helpful. I for one look forward to seeing your work.

Also, I apologize if I am wrong in referring to you as "he".  :P
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Abstemious on June 10, 2014, 06:44:34 PM
You are correct, skylan, I am a 'he', a very old one, nearing 70.

Perhaps newbies should be limited to 300 words. Just a few paragraphs rather than half a story or more.

This way, critiques would spend less time on reviews and the newbie would have less on his plate as regards his 'errors'. With a story of around the limit of 1200 words, there can be a lot to go wrong. A shorter post would be less 'damaging' and the newbie might not be so disheartened by the critiques.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: ma100 on June 10, 2014, 06:48:51 PM
What you have to understand guys is, you will see a notable lack of replies on here from newbies, apart from the OP. Some of you are of the misguided impression that there are no complaints about harsh crits. Let me dispel that myth.

Some, the mods can talk round when they report posts. They try to make them understand the comments or deal with the matter where necessary. These reports are not up for public consumption and a lot ease into the place well after a wobbly start.

Why do you think the newbies aren't here? Because they don't want to make waves and get in rows. They are scared. But, just for your information, long standing members also report posts for harsh comments, more so in fact. And why aren't they here? Because they have seen the free for alls that can ensue.

Think about why Nick had to post that reminder. It ain't rocket science. ;)

For those of you who haven't read it and the replies.

http://mywriterscircle.com/index.php?topic=53799.0

If your a hard skinned poster, hit the prose workshop with your work, so we can attack give honest in depth critique. >:D

Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Wolfe on June 11, 2014, 01:40:28 PM
I should like to comment on the critiques in general and I find many of them to be overly criticizing a newbie poster's work. I find this particularly off-putting and, to be honest, I am not surprised if newbie posters do not come back. One cannot expect to win a race at the first attempt.

A stranger goes into a restaurant and asks, "Can you do me a favor? I'm starving. Will you give me a free meal?"

The owner, a generous man, offers his time and food. But, first, he asks in return, "What do you want?"

The stranger answers, "Anything is good."

The owner offers a dish, again free, and hopes it's what the man wants.

The stranger feels insulted. He doesn't like the meal nor the service. He complains to anyone who will listen. And then, he leaves in a huff never to return.

Who is at fault? The owner for giving the free meal? The stranger for asking for anything? Or was it something else?
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: heidi52 on June 11, 2014, 01:52:22 PM


Who is at fault? The owner for giving the free meal? The man for asking for anything? Or was it something else?


Is this a trick question? Of course its the owner's fault, he should have read the man's mind.

How about a guy who comes in and asks for a dish, and says he wants it hot, assuring them that he can take it, and to make it really hot. So he's served the dish and it's so hot he can't eat it. He obviously should sue the restaurant.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Wolfe on June 11, 2014, 01:58:08 PM
So the owner shouldn't have given the stranger a free meal? Or should the owner have demanded the stranger state exactly what he wanted instead?

Edit: Yes, I know what was sarcasm, Heidi.  ;)
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: heidi52 on June 11, 2014, 02:06:48 PM
The owner should give everyone who is hungry a meal, because in the grand scheme it's better for him, and the world in general.

The idiots who can't accept and say thanks, are of no consequence, just minor annoyances.  ;)
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Wolfe on June 11, 2014, 02:14:32 PM
I really like you, Heidi.  :D
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Matt Walker on June 11, 2014, 05:06:52 PM
In my opinion, many things, including criticism, can be said in a nice way. I think being able to make a point with tact takes more skill than making it by being blunt. It is very easy to be critical. It is very easy to say when someone gets upset, "Well they asked for the truth, they need to stop being so defensive, it's not MY fault," even though everyone knows how often this happens and that it WILL always happen.

Everyone new to writing is emotionally defensive over their work. That's why there's so much theory about constructive criticism in every creative discipline. So to those who argue 'it is up to the poster to be grateful for whatever they get and stop complaining', it is equally acceptible to say to the reviewer 'how about you learn how to give constructive criticism?'
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: protekme on June 11, 2014, 06:54:08 PM
I love you Matt.

Critiques should not insult. Harsh critiques should not insult.

If the restaurant owner offers a FREE meal, he should offer it with class. . . . and not throw the plate at full speed on the table. There is a way to do things even if it's free.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Wolfe on June 11, 2014, 07:04:58 PM
So to those who argue 'it is up to the poster to be grateful for whatever they get and stop complaining', it is equally acceptible to say to the reviewer 'how about you learn how to give constructive criticism?'

Pay.

If a writer wants 'constructive criticism', then they should seek an editor. Posters, more often than not, fly through here expecting rainbows and roses. It's unfair to ask our peers to give what wasn't given in return. And what I say I mean no insult. But most on the site are laymen who have gone way above and beyond to help more than a few ungrateful writers with delusions of grandeur.

Harsh, I know. But, it's not equally acceptable. You're saying the owner who gave the free meal is at fault because he didn't wipe the stranger's chin too.

I have nothing but the deepest respect for those posters who offer feedback to every single poster who comes through here. But, I do often wonder what would happen if those posters said, "Screw this," and stopped altogether.

Free does not mean you get it with a big, beautiful bow too. Free means you don't look it in the mouth. Tact is good, but don't come demanding with your hand stuck out either.

That sword cuts both ways.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Gyppo on June 11, 2014, 08:12:45 PM
If you're helpful by nature, as many of us clearly are, whether our approach be blunt or tactful, one of the hardest things in the world is to just walk away when things are obviously going wrong.  We don't like to admit defeat, we don't like to let the other person have the last word if we think one more effort from us might make things right.

But sometimes, for our own sanity, we should.  And if the other person starts to crow about having 'won the argument', we need to remind ourselves it wasn't meant to be an argument.  It started out as a helping hand.

Which is why I always reserve my right to mentally say "Sod you then!" and just drop out of the thread.  It's my ultimate safety valve.

But it's not always easy when you care passionately about something.

Gyppo
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Wolfe on June 11, 2014, 08:45:49 PM
Very well said, Gyppo, as always. On that note, it's time for me to return to the rat race. No comments from the peanut gallery! Y'all play nice now.  ;)
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Matt Walker on June 12, 2014, 03:11:12 AM
I agree, Protekme and Gyppo. Wolfe, I think you've kind of added to my point. If the best editors out there (ie. the ones who can charge) employ constructive criticism then surely it follows that if we want to become better editors we need to learn constructive criticism too.

I'm not crazy about the free meal analogy, but I'd argue it is more like the chef returning with a raw parsnip, a stick of rhuharb, a crust of bread and a lump of cheese. All 'good' food but hard to swallow and not exactly what the guy needed or had in mind.

We all know that newbies by nature are defensive, and we know this is a problem as it happens all the time. But when a newbie gets upset we blame it on THEM instead of accepting we should probably have handled it better. People's natures aren't going to change, so if we want this problem to stop we need to accept responsibility, stop making excuses and learn how to criticise properly. We know we're supposed to keep audience in mind when we write - should that not include our crits?
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: heidi52 on June 12, 2014, 06:03:18 AM
I love how the folks with the least number of critiques insist it is soooo easy to give a good in-depth critique and be super sensitive at the same time.

I've seen the light. For myself, I am going to stop critiquing anything posted by a newbie and/or anyone who hasn't shown that they how to be an adult. I'm sure all of you who think current reviews are too harsh will step right in, and show us how it should have been done. That's what you have been waiting for right? The sound of crickets?

Wow, I'll probably get a lot more writing done, too. Win/win.  Adios.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Wolfe on June 12, 2014, 10:19:40 AM
Wolfe, I think you've kind of added to my point. If the best editors out there (ie. the ones who can charge) employ constructive criticism then surely it follows that if we want to become better editors we need to learn constructive criticism too.

No, I fear you missed the point. The best editors out there are paid for their time, insight, and experience. Editing is a service in a professional field. It's a big reason most agents and editors don't respond with personalized rejection.

Their time is money.

When members come here and ask for feedback, we give of our time freely. That's not to say our critiques shouldn't be tempered. But that doesn't mean you also get to stomp all over our good graces because you got feedback you didn't appreciate either. That's like arguing with your beta readers because you got a response as simple as, "I didn't like it."

Are you going to get into it with your beta reader? If so, you have bigger issues than your writing. Much bigger.

Honestly, I blame the website itself. Members here are generous to a fault. So much so, now I'm seeing people, who never offer feedback, criticize their peers over the tone of that feedback. More to the point, certain posters are more critical of their peers' responses than the real work. I'll be honest. It's a huge reason I've started to thin my time on the site and my feedback. Much like Heidi just did, I came to the same conclusion earlier. In most cases, the reviews are ridiculously in-depth. More in-depth than some paid professionals. And this standard has spoiled hopefuls with certain expectations.

And now our peers are getting criticized for it?

I've seen editors get paid for critiques, fifty dollars a page or more, who offered less material, insight, and professionalism than some of our esteemed members give daily.

Let's be honest. This all stems from hurt feelings. If a negative review from a stranger sends a writer into a meltdown, that writer should keep their work to themselves. The idea that we're asking the reviewers to be more professional, and give more of their time, free, than the people who fly through here and offer nothing in return, is beyond me.

Again, please think about what you're asking.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: lan on June 12, 2014, 10:38:31 AM
Wolfe, 100% respect.
As a writer posting my work on this site, I value every single feedback post as if it were from an experienced editor. Whether I choose to keep the advice or not is entirely my responsibility and does not alter my gratitude towards those who took time to read and, as if it wasn't enough, write back.

I prefer to write my own comments in the poetry section where I feel I have better grounds for contributing with a critique. But I'm keeping the score and when I feel I've reached a decent level I will return the favor tenfold.

H3K knows I owe him.
And Wolfe too but can't contribute much (unless he starts writing sonnets)
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Jo Bannister on June 12, 2014, 11:15:11 AM
I think Wolfe's right.  And Heidi, and Ian and the others.  If this site was about massaging one another's egos, I wouldn't be here and I don't think they would either.  If, as I hope, it's about people trying to improve their own writing and/or helping others to improve theirs, then anything less than honesty is pointless.  And that doesn't depend on whether the writer is a newbie or an old hand.

I absolutely agree that there are ways of criticizing work without insulting the author.  But I don't see much here that looks like insults.  And surely the deal is, if you ask someone what they think, you listen to what they say?  If you don't want to risk critical opinions, keep the thing in your bottom drawer and read it to yourself by moonlight!

Of course it's hurtful when someone says they don't like what you've created.  You think I haven't been there?  I had five books rejected before I sold the first one.  I've had books turned down since then, as well.  Sometimes I could see why, sometimes I really couldn't.  But I tried to do the professional thing, which was to read the criticism, see how it applied to my work, and if I thought it was valid I tried not to make the same mistakes again.

I hope Abstemious is going to hang around.  From his posts, he seems exactly the sort of writer to both gain from other people's opinions and give useful feedback himself.  And he's not the only one - there's a lot of talent out there.  Which is probably why there's a bit of ego out there, too, from time to time.  And writing is not about ego.  It's about product.  All that matters - I'll write that again, in italics: all that matters - is the work.  It'll still be hanging around, in one form or another, after me and Wolfe and Heidi and everyone else are dust, and our opinions long forgotten.  When you're a writer, it's not what you think or feel or fear that counts: it's what you write.  That's why it's worth a bit of grief to get it right.

Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: DistantSun on June 12, 2014, 11:31:55 AM
In my opinion, many things, including criticism, can be said in a nice way. I think being able to make a point with tact takes more skill than making it by being blunt. It is very easy to be critical. It is very easy to say when someone gets upset, "Well they asked for the truth, they need to stop being so defensive, it's not MY fault," even though everyone knows how often this happens and that it WILL always happen.

Everyone new to writing is emotionally defensive over their work. That's why there's so much theory about constructive criticism in every creative discipline. So to those who argue 'it is up to the poster to be grateful for whatever they get and stop complaining', it is equally acceptible to say to the reviewer 'how about you learn how to give constructive criticism?'

Well said, Matt. I absolutely agree.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: 510bhan on June 12, 2014, 12:36:59 PM
I'm in the Wolfe/Heidi/Jo/Ian camp.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: ma100 on June 12, 2014, 12:44:53 PM
Quote
I absolutely agree that there are ways of criticizing work without insulting the author.  !

You know I've sat back and watched all on here. I've held back my own personal views because showing your knickers in public isn't a good look. ::)

Nobody, but nobody thinks that ego's should be stroked. Honesty only helps, it's the deliverance of that honesty that comes into question.

Scenario.

Newbie joins and after reading some crits feels intimidated by reviews.

Let's give him a good ol' MWC welcome shall we.

Mod asks him to read guidelines. Check.

I've ben good and gone through all of them.

He feels intimidated by the, crit a few first to find your feet advice, but gives it a go. Check.

Reaction: Blimey, that was scary, but I did tell them my advice might be a bit iffy.
.
He expresses his concern in a post and he hasn't asked anyone to crit him. Check.

Reaction: Flippin' heck, I didn't mean to start a war.

For doing the above he receives an intimidating pm from a seasoned member because it looks like they are hacked off at another thread post. Check.

Reaction: Oh gawd, I best delete. I obviously have done something wrong and I don't want anymore of these.

He's pulled on someone else's review piece because of his reading habits. Check.

Reaction: Do I have to defend my actions on here?

Let's show him how to derail a thread. Check.

Reaction: Gawd, I think I'm going to be in trouble. I read the guidelines and know I shouldn't do this, but I don't want to appear rude.

We really know how to make a newbie welcome don't we. :(

New guys do need to go through a right of passage to gain a little respect. They do need to learn to take the negative reviews on the chin and not personally. It's the writing not the person in question. But like all new guys, they are prone to error and need time to find their feet.

If you don't like what you see, well no one is forcing you to crit it. IGNORE IT instead of barbed comments at the OP or reviewer. They help no one and you lose a bit of respect in others eyes. The new guy soon gets the message he is doing something wrong and someone will give him a gentle nudge in the right direction.

I gave a compromise on NICK"S thread, which some still haven't acknowledged, that would help. If your confident, hit the prose workshop.

And for those of you who wonder why the review board is so quiet now, just think about it.

Oh and the remarks like, good riddance to the newbie when they get scared or huffy, well, I was a newbie once and it took me a long time to get back in here. My punctuation still sucks. I mix up your and you're. I still have so much to learn and I ain't scared of asking stupid questions anymore. In fact, with regards to my writing, you can flog me to death with your crits. My biggest enemy is myself. :'(  I didn't do this by myself. I was given great advice and encouragement along the way by Paul W, Gyppo, Don and Wolfe.


Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: JackmanWH on June 12, 2014, 01:42:41 PM
I read this forum a lot, so I don't feel like a newbie, and I've had several Beta readers help me, so here's my view on critiques:

Constructive: Your writing doesn't hold my interest because...
Destructive: Seriously? Why did you write this? No one will get past the first line, I'm afraid.

Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: protekme on June 12, 2014, 01:47:21 PM
You got it, Ma.

I understand both sides: the defensive reactions from newbies and the eagerness to help from the critiques. Nobody is saying that a critique has to put white gloves on to present his piece. But it is unacceptable to say: You don't have a chance as a writer. Your story is boring. Who cares about those people?

Is that good, harsh criticism--NO.

It's not the majority, of course, but two or three of the kind is enough to scare anyone away--not only Newbies.

Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: 510bhan on June 12, 2014, 01:54:04 PM
And despite being writers not all of us know why something doesn't work -- just that it doesn't. Not everyone knows the technical stuff or how to explain to improve it -- they're not qualified. We muddle through as best we can offering reader/writer opinions with the benefit of what we have seen through several oft-repeated mistakes.

People also complain that a piece has been 'seen/read' many times without any feedback and even though that's explained as guests making views, some folk think their work is not attracting comments or reviews because it is the dreaded silence. So, even if I haven't enjoyed apiece or been impressed by it, I'll leave a comment to say I read, I saw, I felt and possibly point out SPaGs [and offer corrections] because that's all I'm qualified to do. Obviously the writer needs help in that area or needs to pay more attention to presentation -- yet this is apparently frowned upon as being negative. The 'I'll get an editor to that' response is bogus, as we know. ::)

So what to do -- apply the dreaded silence and wait for that gentle nudge . . . from who . . . so they catch on and rectify things themselves?
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Alice, a Country Gal on June 12, 2014, 01:58:03 PM
If you haven't done so yet, why not take a look at what Nick had to say on the subject.

http://mywriterscircle.com/index.php?topic=53799.msg991869#msg991869
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Dawn on June 12, 2014, 01:58:12 PM
What concerns me is when people try and be funny with their critiques to make themselves look good. This is not what a critique should be about.

When I first came here I listened to everybody, made every change I was advised and basically left myself with a piece of work that wasn't me or my voice. I began to realise that (with the exception to a certain individuals who I have built trust and a relationship with) just because you have an authoritative tone doesn't actually mean I should listen to you. I do wonder though as a newbie how many of us have fallen into this trap.

My next point is something I have been guilty of. We shouldn't be rewriting peoples words but showing why their piece isn't working. How is this helping someone learn? Or are we doing it to make ourselves look like great writers. Perhaps something we can all ask ourselves when faced with critiquing.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Chizzy on June 12, 2014, 02:04:24 PM
Quote from: Ma
We really know how to make a newbie welcome don't we.

I think we do. If they post in the Welcome thread, they're welcomed. If they post their work for review, they get reviewed, even if they haven't been bothered to introduce themselves. And if, as they're advised to do, they specify what they're looking for in terms of review, those requests generally are met. If they ask for thoughts or opinions, that's what they get.

If a newbie wants to read something deconstructive in a criticism they've been given, they'll be able to find it. They'll be able to read it in an aggressive, sarcastic tone. They'll be able to find a reason to crawl away, tail between the legs, never to return.

But not all newbies are so fragile. Not all newbies are new to writing and it's a bit presumptious to think of someone with 2 posts to their name as amateur.

Let's say two newbies get two different styles of response. The actual new-to-writing newbie (let's call them Newbie A) gets a few reviews that may be harsher than they expect, although they didn't even know what to expect before posting. The newbie who's been writing for five years and has sold fifty short stories (Newbie B) gets a collection of generic wishy-washy comments on their work. Newbie A doesn't come back because they feel like they've been dragged through a hedge. Newbie B doesn't come back because they feel they can't learn anything here. Arguably, Newbie B is the bigger loss as they have more knowledge and experience they can offer others immediately.

It's got to be up to the newbie to explain what they expect from comments on their initial work and it's up to the community to respect that and work within those requirements.

One thing's for sure and that's it's impossible to please the whole spectrum of writers all of the time and it's a waste of energy to try to do so.

I'm not one of the people who think the review boards are quiet. This site still feels like the busiest, most vibrant I've come across with no shortage of people willing to donate time and opinions to their fellow writers. Kinda suggests to me that we're doing something right.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: 510bhan on June 12, 2014, 02:17:08 PM
I'm just going to play games now.

I used to 'model' an example I believed would show the 'correct' thing to do as I don't know how to explain it or why it is more effective when done differently -- thought I was making a helpful contribution. I don't think many new writers would understand what is wrong if you just said it needs more emotion, give it more pace, ensure sentence variety, avoid repetitions, try to avoid modifiers, punctuation need addressing.

I have never thought my writing was 'better' just a different way to see a sentence construction and thereby allowing the writer to  make comparisons and understand what has been done to tighten their work -- or whatever. I reply so quickly it's off the cuff. I'm not here as a paid line editor so I'm not going to invest heaps of time -- just point out stuff that hit me straight away which I think the writer could fix and apply themselves afterwards.

Count me out of crits from now on. :-\
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Dawn on June 12, 2014, 02:23:09 PM
I'm just going to play games now.

I used to 'model' an example I believed would show the 'correct' thing to do as I don't know how to explain it or why it is more effective when done differently -- thought I was making a helpful contribution. I don't think many new writers would understand what is wrong if you just said it needs more emotion, give it more pace, ensure sentence variety, avoid repetitions, try to avoid modifiers, punctuation need addressing.

I have never thought my writing was 'better' just a different way to see a sentence construction and thereby allowing the writer to  make comparisons and understand what has been done to tighten their work -- or whatever. I reply so quickly it's off the cuff. I'm not here as a paid line editor so I'm not going to invest heaps of time -- just point out stuff that hit me straight away which I think the writer could fix and apply themselves afterwards.

Count me out of crits from now on. :-\

No and that is an exception. To show how something works is different then rewriting.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: hillwalker3000 on June 12, 2014, 02:56:07 PM
At the risk of alienating more people than I possibly already have, we have a range of 'newbies' posting their work on here. From school students who think they might fancy the idea of becoming a writer (because it's easy - right?) to more experienced individuals who decide it's about time they shared their writing after doing it in solitude for years.

Some post the opening to a 100,000-word novel they've already completed - others a scrap of a story they threw together between their mid-morning coffee break and lunch. It's not possible (or even fair) to treat both posters the same way. Those who show they have put some effort into their work will be treated with more respect. But by the same token, if they're blissfully unaware how bad their writing is surely we should drop a hint or two.

They're all looking for the same answers. 'Review my Work':

'Did you like it or not?'
'Can you check on my mistakes?'
'Can you give an honest assessment on the quality of my work on the basis of this extract?'

Sometimes that's not enough.
There have been times when I have rewritten a paragraph for someone to show what their options are given the plot and characters they present us with. If this is meant to be me showing how well I can write - well, that's easily solved. The same goes for correcting punctuation, typos, muddled or downright ungrammatical writing. The phrase 'show don't tell' springs to mind.

Those who respond in a flippant or hostile manner are generally the ones who need to work hardest at their writing but don't like to be told. Or those who have already written their masterpiece and come on here for the plaudits.

One thing worth considering is that the feedback, although directed at the OP, is read by several other members. Especially those looking to hone their craft or those still unsure whether their work is up to standard before posting it here for a critique. So even when a fly-by poster leaves without a word of farewell, their time on here has not gone to waste - nor do I feel that those of us who took the time to give feedback would have been better not bothering.

I've read Nick's posting and I agree with what he has to say. Sometimes I get carried away maybe - but the Mods are here to keep us all in check. Compared to other writing sites I've followed MWC is unique. Let's not try to fix it if it ain't broke.

H3K
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Dawn on June 12, 2014, 03:18:50 PM
There is a clear difference though in rewriting or showing. If you are confident that you are showing then happy days.  ;D

Now can we lighten the mood a little.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: ma100 on June 12, 2014, 03:22:48 PM
Well that is your choice, Sio. It's a shame because you are one of the nicest, tactful, helpful and encouraging reviewers on here. Everyone has a choice.

Guys,the OP gave a view as he saw it. He was new. He didn't know that Nick had already posted a reminder. The OP certainly didn't mean it as a personal affront to anyone.

No one is saying there should be no negative criticism. I don't know how many times I have to say this. Be honest, but don't crush with remarks that don't need to be uttered. And I don't mean Sio as the 'you' either, just in case that my words get misconstrued.

Chizzy. My scenario. That happened and is not fiction, though the reactions are made up. As you say it's water off some newbies backs. Others will be terrified.
 

Is it such a terrible thing to ask people to deliver critique with a bit of tact? Like in real life, we need to get to know people to gauge reactions. Aren't we all supposed to be adult and able to discuss things without someone throwing their toys out of the pram.

If that's the case and MWC turns into a free for all where anyone can be rude to anyone they feel like. Well I'm not sure I'd like to be part of that.

We all see this place as a pretty close community and sometimes we can easily forget that the plug could be pulled, because it feels like home. We've all made friends. However there is always room for more and the guidelines aren't that strict that they can't be adhered too. Someone else is paying for us to have this community. ;)

Hilly's remark actually made me smile. He does put in the whole nine yards and I respect his opinion though, at one point, I was definitely thinking of chucking my book in the bin. ::)  But by his own admission, he does go OTT at times. For that he gets swiped and normally by me.  :o

We do have to get on here. Just give newbies a chance because they ain't all the same. ;)





Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Matt Walker on June 12, 2014, 03:44:40 PM
When we have newbies saying they're put off the site because of harsh critiques I see that as a problem. It happens quite a lot. And I don't really see how asking for the employment of tact is that big a deal? No one is saying 'don't be negative'.

I honestly thought we all knew each other well enough to have this discussion sensibly. Come on - you're all great reviewers; you're not going to stop posting just because not everyone agrees with you, surely?!  ;D
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Skylan on June 12, 2014, 06:29:11 PM
I'm sitting on the fence about this whole debate. On the one hand, I think tact is very important when dealing with newbies. A lot of people just don't realize how serious and difficult writing can be. They have this notion that it's "easy" because anybody can sit down and write words, right? So they come onto the site, post their work, and BAM, reality sets in. Which, given their false notion of writing being "easy", makes our honest critiques sound harsh and personal. Even though to us, they're perfectly normal.

And on the other hand... I've noticed that very, very, VERY few new members actually take the time to read the Circle's guidelines. Probably because they're not conveniently posted on every board, along with helpful signs like, "START HERE", or "Please read first".  ::)

I remember one newbie a while ago posted in the poetry section, "I just wrote this literally in five minutes", and I just thought, "Really?" And there's the onslaught of new members whose first post is inexplicably in the Review section. And even more recently, the now-infamous "I need members to do me a solid".

With newbies like those, it's just very hard to sympathize for new members whose feelings are hurt. Is it OUR fault they didn't read our guidelines? I did. Way back when I joined, I followed all the guidelines to the letter. They're there for a reason, after all. I introduced myself first. Then I headed for the review board and read the helpful sticky, very helpfully titled "Please read first", and saw it was stated to be common courtesy that I offer feedback on other members' work before posting my own. So I did. And because I took the time to read that thread, I took notice of this little paragraph:

Bad Reaction: Negative reviews are NOT A PERSONAL ATTACK. If a fellow member took the time to critique, they probably saw potential. Cool off if you feel your temper rising. You might be surprised when you re-read the comment(s) and realize how they can help improve your craft.

I can almost guarantee that most newbies whose feelings/egos have ever been hurt by our feedback, did not take the time to read, or even notice, the above paragraph. I just don't know how much more lenient and welcoming we can be with new members, when so many of them blatantly disregard the very guidelines we have in place to help them.

I'll admit, I myself had a wee bit of a rocky start here.... First thing I posted, I ended up in an argument about formatting, and though I did get defensive at first, I was careful to remember I was the new guy here. I didn't lose my head because I remembered the guidelines I'd taken the time to read. If ALL new members did things as intended, we'd have a LOT less problems, because the guidelines DO cover all these issues. We're not throwing newbies into the fire here... But they do seem to like throwing themselves in.

All of that said, here's a quote from JackmanWH:

Constructive: Your writing doesn't hold my interest because...
Destructive: Seriously? Why did you write this? No one will get past the first line, I'm afraid.


^ This - is also important. We demand professionalism from new members, but I've noticed on occasion some... hostility, from established members. I'm not pointing fingers at anyone, just saying. If the new member gets hostile FIRST, that's something else entirely. 99% of the time, they're the ones in the wrong anyway.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: hillwalker3000 on June 12, 2014, 06:37:43 PM
A perfect example - and the ink has barely dried on this thread.

http://mywriterscircle.com/index.php?topic=53803.0

Maybe there should be a Probationers' Review Board for anyone with less than 50 posts regardless of whether they reciprocate or not. They only get to join us grown-ups  ;) if they show they can play nice.

H3K
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Skylan on June 12, 2014, 06:41:55 PM
^ A Probationers' Review Board sounds like a great idea.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: ma100 on June 12, 2014, 06:57:58 PM
Quote
I see the review board as the introduction to critique and newbies are able to post there. But, I think some of the older members, who are not tied to the 50 post limit, once there confidence is built up. They should move on to the prose workshop. That's why we have it.

Just two guidelines I'd like to remind everyone of.


Writers will be able to discuss problems with their work such as plot lines, characters, queries and synopsis knowing everyone else on the board is rooting for them. They will also gain insight into problems that might crop up in their own work on other authors' threads. Writers may not agree with some advice, but they will be able to discuss it without the board turning into a free for all.


A. The Prose Workshop is a reciprocal board and we donít need to tell you how to play the game. But, if you havenít helped, or attempted to help someone else, donít expect any in return. We strongly urge you critique two to your one. The aim is for all of us to help and encourage each other as we would like to be helped. Any person not playing fair with reviews will have their posts moved to the Review Board.


H. Please remember you are inviting harsh critique when you post in the workshop. You are an adult, behave like one and donít shoot the messenger. We donít need to remind you how much time goes into a critique and the reviewer is doing it unpaid. Please donít insult them by not acknowledging their efforts even if you don't agree.


Here you expect to have your work pulled apart and some harsh home truths. Though they still should be polite and not personal.

I've just bought this quote of mine over from Nick's thread.

Now we have a prose workshop where, in my mind, once the training wheels are off and you get the confidence to have your work pulled apart, members should step up to there to post their review pieces.

Newbies under 50 posts are not allowed to post there. So surely that is the solution. Treat anyone on the review board as either on training wheels or still attempting to gain confidence and hold back a little on what is thrown into the ring.

Just really wondering if some our older members should revisit the guidelines. ::) :P ;D
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: 510bhan on June 12, 2014, 07:01:17 PM
I think part of the problem regarding the Prose Workshop is the week between posts and keeping it all in the one thread.

Certainly if RMW was regarded as the Kindergarten that should help things. Maybe even rename it Beginners' Work Review to reiterate the gentle handling. :-\
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: ma100 on June 13, 2014, 03:48:50 AM
Let me put it to the guys upstairs and see what can be done. ;)
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: ma100 on June 13, 2014, 05:50:43 PM
I think part of the problem regarding the Prose Workshop is the week between posts and keeping it all in the one thread.

Certainly if RMW was regarded as the Kindergarten that should help things. Maybe even rename it Beginners' Work Review to reiterate the gentle handling. :-\

We haven't fine tuned all the details yet, but this is the outcome.

The review board will be a stage one board. For anyone to post on, but if you have gained your confidence, you move up to the prose workshop. Members are asked to be tactful, but honest and encouraging. If you can't be nice, sidestep the post. ;)

The prose workshop, posting a new thread frequency will be reduced from 7 days to every 3 days. If more than two posts from the same author are on the front page they will be merged. We think that is fair and gives reviewers time to give in depth critique. It also stops the more prolific writers getting caught in a traffic jam or got at for being board hungry.  ;D

But please be aware the crits, although honest and tactful, might not be what you want to hear. The reviewers will be looking for issues to help the original poster and can come across as harsh. Though if you're the cyber worlds most wonderful writer, who never makes a mistake, like me, you won't have one negative comment. ::) :P ;D

You no longer have to post novel parts on the same thread unless you choose too. But the title must include a part number for search engine purpose.

It will take a few days to implement these changes. We hope this will stop some of the problems that have arisen lately. ;)
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: 510bhan on June 13, 2014, 05:54:03 PM
That's all sounding very reasonable and fair. Good work mods -- thanks, Ma. :)
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: hillwalker3000 on June 13, 2014, 06:25:51 PM
Great stuff - maybe one more suggestion?
That the 'Review My Work' thread be retitled (to somehow include the word 'Prose') to avoid those newbies who plonk their poetry on there by mistake.

H
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: ma100 on June 13, 2014, 06:38:28 PM
I think titles are down to they who should be obeyed, but I will raise the question. :-\
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: JewelAS53 on June 14, 2014, 01:02:46 AM
Will there be similar distinction on the poetry boards or is prose the section that attracts the most trouble?
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: ma100 on June 14, 2014, 02:37:06 AM
 ;D Actually, overall the poets win hands down for trouble on threads.  ::)

But at the moment it's the prose, so we'll see how well that works.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Matt Walker on June 14, 2014, 03:19:22 AM
Sounds like a great outcome. Certainly worth having the discussion again.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: ma100 on June 14, 2014, 03:53:06 AM
Sounds like a great outcome. Certainly worth having the discussion again.

Please no, my stress levels are on overload at the moment. ::)  ;D
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: bri h on June 14, 2014, 05:04:00 AM
 :D You do good work, ma. xbx
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: La Mouquette on June 15, 2014, 02:21:08 PM
Hi Abstemious,

 The problem is, living in an ivory tower surrounded by well-meaning friends and family who 'love' everything I write I'm never going to know how good or how bad my work is compared to the thousands of other wannabe writers out there chasing the same publishing deal.   

That's it in a nut shell. Succinct, honest critiques are like gold dust. Grow a thick skin, and learn from your peers.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Abstemious on June 16, 2014, 10:02:34 AM
That's it in a nut shell. Succinct, honest critiques are like gold dust. Grow a thick skin, and learn from your peers.

As a novice writer I am more interested if my story has some potential. Would the extract submitted for reviews/comments encourage you to want to know more of the story. Is my basic formatting correct, am I overdoing it in some particular area. How about my characters or the POV.

At the newbie stage, I am not looking or a comment on every jot and tittle.

I am glad that this thread has possibly bought a different thinking of how a newbie can submit and have his/her piece reviewed in the first instance. Obviously, some newbies to MWC will be old hands at writing so will not be affected by any changes made as they can submit their writings directly to the prose setion.

Many thanks to all who sent me encouragement via PMs. All bar one were encouraging and some also gave me pointers in the right direction.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: Dribbler Scribbler on June 16, 2014, 11:52:53 AM
As a novice writer I am more interested if my story has some potential. Would the extract submitted for reviews/comments encourage you to want to know more of the story. Is my basic formatting correct, am I overdoing it in some particular area. How about my characters or the POV.

At the newbie stage, I am not looking or a comment on every jot and tittle.

I am glad that this thread has possibly bought a different thinking of how a newbie can submit and have his/her piece reviewed in the first instance. Obviously, some newbies to MWC will be old hands at writing so will not be affected by any changes made as they can submit their writings directly to the prose setion.

Many thanks to all who sent me encouragement via PMs. All bar one were encouraging and some also gave me pointers in the right direction.

There's nothing stopping an individual member from asking for a specific critique. I think that's something everybody has encouraged from the start of this thread and we've had some significant movement from the moderators to accommodate all of the things you originally mentioned. If you don't want every jot and tittle analysed, just mention it when (and if) you post to the newcomer's review section.

Let's see how things work out before we try to change the changes.
Title: Re: Critiques
Post by: La Mouquette on June 17, 2014, 07:55:30 PM
As a novice writer I am more interested if my story has some potential. Would the extract submitted for reviews/comments encourage you to want to know more of the story. Is my basic formatting correct, am I overdoing it in some particular area. How about my characters or the POV.

At the newbie stage, I am not looking or a comment on every jot and tittle.

I am glad that this thread has possibly bought a different thinking of how a newbie can submit and have his/her piece reviewed in the first instance. Obviously, some newbies to MWC will be old hands at writing so will not be affected by any changes made as they can submit their writings directly to the prose setion.

Many thanks to all who sent me encouragement via PMs. All bar one were encouraging and some also gave me pointers in the right direction.

I think critiques directed at novices should always be positive , encouraging, and polite. But if there are flaws, surely YOU, as a writer would want to know about them, in order to learn. I'd hate to think anyone felt intimidated about posting work, because of more harsh reviewers. So my advice would be, be brave. Feedback can be so helpful to a writer.

Honestly, it's my experience, that if you truly want to be a writer you have to learn to take criticism rather quickly, and sometimes you have to ignore it also.

For example, I once had a lady tell me that my novels opening chapters made her feel so dreadful, it near made her physically sick , "it was that grim I could not read it" she said, and so I took it down from a well known site and nearly scrapped it. Then I began to think, well if it brought out such a strong reaction in her maybe it had potential ???. Just because she didn't like it, didn't necessarily mean others wouldn't. I basically learned that I had to tone things down...a little.

Anyway, good luck, I hope you post something else soon. La M ;)