Author Topic: Critiques  (Read 10601 times)

Offline Dawn

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #45 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.
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Offline Chizzy

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #46 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.
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Offline 510bhan

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #47 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. :-\

Offline Dawn

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #48 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.
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hillwalker3000

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #49 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.

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Offline Dawn

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #50 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.
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Offline ma100

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #51 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. ;)






Offline Matt Walker

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #52 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
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Offline Skylan

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #53 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.

hillwalker3000

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #54 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.

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Offline Skylan

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #55 on: June 12, 2014, 06:41:55 PM »
^ A Probationers' Review Board sounds like a great idea.

Offline ma100

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #56 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

Offline 510bhan

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #57 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. :-\

Offline ma100

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #58 on: June 13, 2014, 03:48:50 AM »
Let me put it to the guys upstairs and see what can be done. ;)

Offline ma100

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Re: Critiques
« Reply #59 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. ;)
« Last Edit: June 13, 2014, 05:52:50 PM by ma100 »