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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Please Read Here First » Making use of the Fragments and Feedback area

   
Author Topic: Making use of the Fragments and Feedback area
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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This topic will contain either advice from me (also known as SHE WHO MUST BE OBEYED) or quotes from other Hatrack people that I think would be helpful for new members to read before they begin using the Fragments and Feedback area.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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First of all, the Fragments and Feedback area is a way for writers to obtain help with their writing.

You can do this in several ways:

1--reading what someone else has posted and telling the writer whether or not you, as a reader, would want to turn the page

2--reading what someone else has posted and offering polite and helpful comments on the actual 13 lines they have posted

3--reading what someone else has posted and, if they ask for critiquers, volunteer to have them email the rest of their manuscript to them and then give them feedback on it in email (or, as long as you don't actually quote from the manuscript, you can post your feedback in their topic)

"Wait!" someone says. "What about getting help with my own stuff?"

Well, I promise you that you will learn more by giving someone help than you will learn by getting feedback on your own stuff.

But, yes, you can do that, too.

1--describe your story: what genre it is, how long it is, how much of it you have written, whether it's complete or not, what draft it is, how long you've been working on it, and so on

2--post the first 13 lines of your manuscript (which means 13 lines of 12-point courier font)

3--ask people to do one or more of the following with regard to your 13 lines:

a--just tell you if it made them want to read more

b--give you feedback on just the 13 lines you posted

c--offer to read more (which you will then email to them) and comment on it for you

Usually they will email their comments to you, but people have been known to post them in the topic where you put your 13 lines. This is all right as long as they don't quote from your manuscript.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Some other things that will help you make good use of the Fragments and Feedback area:

1) your opinion as a reader is valuable, so don't be afraid to give it when someone else posts their 13 lines.

2) we encourage people to offer critiques before submitting their own 13 lines for critiquing because they will learn more from critiquing than they will from being critiqued.

3) you should keep a healthy balance between what you contribute versus what you expect others to give to you--if you give helpful feedback, others are more likely to want to give you feedback.

4) critiquing is the fastest way to strengthen your own writing skills because it helps you learn to look more carefully at what you are doing with your own writing.

5) critiquing is the fastest way to begin developing a network of support with other writers.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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So how do you give a critique?

This topic shows you how to use the Tracking Feature in Microsoft Word to comment directly on a Word document (as if you were writing on something that was printed out):

commenting in word documents

This is a list of things to watch out for that was created by a group of SF/F writers:

Turkey City Lexicon -- critiquing terms for writing workshops

These topics are checklists that may help you know what to look for when reading something and giving feedback on it:

checklist 1

checklist 2

checklist 3

checklist 4

and this topic has suggestions for critiquing novel-length works:

novel critique suggestions


The important thing to remember is that you are trying to help the writer improve some less-than-perfect words which don't quite convey the beautiful story in the writer's head to the reader. You look at the words and point out where they do a good job as well as where you think something might be done more effectively.

You should point out where you were confused, where your eyes glazed over and your mind started wandering, where you laughed out loud, where you got excited and interested, and where you cried.

And most important of all, you should be polite. Remember, you are helping with another writer's story, and that writer has the final say in what should happen to those less-than-perfect words. All you can do is offer your opinion.

[ January 23, 2012, 01:26 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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This discussion is about posting part of a story in Fragments and Feedback:

[ January 23, 2012, 01:17 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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It also helps to let people know what kind of feedback you are looking for.
Do you just want to know if they would want to keep reading?

Do you want volunteers to read the rest (if, of course, they would want to keep reading)?

Do you want brainstorming help on how to finish a fragment (you have to ask specific questions after giving a short outline of the story to get this kind of help)?

Do you want them to just tell you, or to show you with examples, what changes they think you might want to make in your first 13 lines?

Do you want them to share with you their thoughts (including the questions they had) as they read the 13 lines? Remember, questions in a critique are not asking for you to answer or explain to the critiquer, they are telling you what you need to clarify in the story.

Do you want help with grammar, spelling, punctuation (nit-picky stuff) or do you want help with characterization, description, point-of-view, structure (more over-all kinds of things)?

It helps to let people know what kind of help you are looking for. Then you won't be frustrated by the kind of help they try to give you, and they won't be frustrated by finding out that they spent a lot of time giving you the kind of help you didn't really want.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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If you have a novel that you want feedback on, please use the Fragments and Feedback for Novels area.

And please only ask people to give you feedback on a novel partial. If they want to read the whole novel, they can ask you for it.

But if they volunteer to critique for you, only email them the first 20 pages and an outline/synopsis of the rest.

edited to add:

The Fragments and Feedback for Novels area is also a good place to post your planned queries/synopses/summaries for feedback. Just make certain that we know it's a query/synopsis/summary (which has no 13-line limit) and not actual text from your novel.

[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited April 13, 2007).]


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Just thought I'd add a couple of things that may help with figuring out where or how to start a story so that it is more likely to "hook" the readers.

If you look at your introduction to the story as a way to tell the reader who the character is and what the character is here for, it may help hook the reader.

If you try starting by telling about what got your main character hooked into the situation of your story, then you have a better chance of getting the reader hooked as well.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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If you want to quote something from someone's 13 lines, you can use [quote] as an opening tag with the closing tag as [/quote] All typing between the opening tag and the closing tag will be set off as quoted matter, and it will look like this:
quote:
as an opening tag with the closing tag as


[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited August 18, 2008).]


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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One little warning:

If you are planning on entering a short story in the Writers of the Future contest, and want to post 13 lines from it in the Fragments and Feedback for Short Stories area, please be sure to avoid saying anything about Writers of the Future (or using the abbreviation WotF) in your post.

Writers of the Future requires entrants to be completely anonymous, and even though usernames on the forum contribute to that, a story that is posted as being planned as an entry in the Writers of the Future contest can be disqualified by virtue of being posted as such.

There are groups in the Hatrack Groups area for people who want feedback for stories they plan to enter in the contest to participate in and exchange stories for feedback without the 13 line approach. These groups help keep authors and their stories anonymous for the contest.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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One thing you can do to help people who are giving you feedback on your 13 lines:

If you create a new version of your 13 lines, based on feedback, or on things you've learned as you've been writing the story or participating on the Hatrack River Writers Workshop forum, the best way to share the new version is to add it to your first post (where you posted the earlier version of your 13 lines) by editing that first post.

(You edit a post by clicking on the little pencil and paper icon at the top of that post. That will take you to a page that looks like a reply page, but you will see what is already in your post, and you can edit it.)

Add some kind of label to the old version, such as "Version 1," and then put the new version below it with its own label, such as "Version 2" (and so on as you add new versions).

Then post a new reply to the topic, letting people know that you've added a new version "at the top" or "in my first post" so they can see what you've done differently.

That way, as other readers and critiquers come along, they can focus on your newest version for feedback, or compare all of the versions to let you know which they prefer.

It will really help people if the versions are all together.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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posting so this topic will be visible
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