Author Topic: Critiques  (Read 10312 times)

Offline Abstemious

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 25
Critiques
« 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.


Pale Writer

  • Guest
Re: Critiques
« Reply #1 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.


Offline lan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 804
  • Ook.
    • Author page
Re: Critiques
« Reply #2 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.
http://45thnail.com
http://ianlahey.wixsite.com/author
"Words is just words without the place."
Sgt. James Savorski

Offline Dribbler Scribbler

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 133
  • Oh well! It's only a hobby!
Re: Critiques
« Reply #3 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.

Offline Annmarie

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3526
  • Got my kinky boots on. Watch out!
Re: Critiques
« Reply #4 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.  :)
Work hard. Believe. Take a chance.

JewelAS53

  • Guest
Re: Critiques
« Reply #5 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
« Last Edit: June 10, 2014, 08:20:38 AM by JewelAS53 »

Offline 510bhan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 63305
  • So many jobs to do . . .
Re: Critiques
« Reply #6 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. :)

Offline Gyppo

  • Esteemed Contributor
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 72244
  • I've been writing ever since I realised I could.
Re: Critiques
« Reply #7 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  



« Last Edit: June 10, 2014, 10:34:43 AM by Gyppo »
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

hillwalker3000

  • Guest
Re: Critiques
« Reply #8 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

Offline Slow_Walker

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 171
Re: Critiques
« Reply #9 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!

Offline ma100

  • Esteemed Contributor
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 30526
  • I don't need kinky boots, nothing will beat me.
Re: Critiques
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2014, 10:12:05 AM »
I would urge everyone on this thread to read Nick's gentle reminder thread. ;)

Offline lan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 804
  • Ook.
    • Author page
Re: Critiques
« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2014, 12:00:27 PM »
Heck, my comment was tactful as can be!  I didn't even correct his spelling!
http://45thnail.com
http://ianlahey.wixsite.com/author
"Words is just words without the place."
Sgt. James Savorski

Offline bri h

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 18523
Re: Critiques
« Reply #12 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.  
« Last Edit: June 10, 2014, 04:13:58 PM by bri h »
Fare thee well Skip. We're all 'Keening' now. xbx

Offline Skylan

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4458
  • -
Re: Critiques
« Reply #13 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.

Offline thatollie

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1443
Re: Critiques
« Reply #14 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.
Never make a decision standing up.