Author Topic: Critiques  (Read 11791 times)


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Re: Critiques
« Reply #30 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?'


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.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2014, 07:30:04 PM by Wolfe »

Offline Gyppo

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #31 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.

« Last Edit: June 11, 2014, 08:20:32 PM by Gyppo »
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Re: Critiques
« Reply #32 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.  ;)
« Last Edit: June 11, 2014, 08:47:47 PM by Wolfe »

Offline Matt Walker

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #33 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?
« Last Edit: June 12, 2014, 03:12:45 AM by Matt Walker »
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Offline heidi52

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #34 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.


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Re: Critiques
« Reply #35 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.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2014, 05:53:53 PM by Wolfe »

Offline lan

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #36 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.

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And Wolfe too but can't contribute much (unless he starts writing sonnets)
« Last Edit: June 12, 2014, 10:40:44 AM by lan »
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Jo Bannister

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #37 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.

Offline DistantSun

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #38 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.
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Offline 510bhan

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #39 on: June 12, 2014, 12:36:59 PM »
I'm in the Wolfe/Heidi/Jo/Ian camp.

Offline ma100

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #40 on: June 12, 2014, 12:44:53 PM »
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.


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.


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Re: Critiques
« Reply #41 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.

Offline protekme

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #42 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.

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Offline 510bhan

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #43 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?

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #44 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.
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