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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » The 3 rules of effective critiquing

   
Author Topic: The 3 rules of effective critiquing
Nathaniel Merrin
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(Note: I'm posting this in the "Open Discussions About Writing" section and hope it is the right forum.)

Instructors are often self-possessed enough to be flexible about some things while being adamantly uncompromising about others: sorta a yin-and-yang thing, if you think about it; and since we "workshoppers" instruct EACH OTHER, we've got to balance the opposing poles of flexibility and rock-solid values within how we give our critiques. Mettie Ivie Harrison has said that once, when trying to follow every bit of advice others offered her, she had become defensive and shy about stepping out there with unique stuff. (LINK--> http://www.intergalacticmedicineshow.com/cgi-bin/mag.cgi?do=columns&vol =mette_ivie_harrison&article=001 ) That is a danger, so, in an effort to help us be as delicate as possible in our critiques, I've prepared the following manuscript.

###

___ THE 3 RULES OF EFFECTIVE CRITIQUING ___

IF I'd just said "three rules" without the "the" it wouldn't come across as authoritative, ironically.

__ Preface __

||||
.|
.|
|||| PICKED UP a random book once intended to give women dating advice called THE RULES -- which "rules," take em or leave em!, were pretty strict and unbending. In any case, THIS micro-book is about THE absolute rules for workshop critiques.

__ Prologue __

Workshops have been around since cavemen critiqued each others' hunting stories. The next step in the advancement of the Art came when Stephen King said this.--> http://www.greatwriting.co.uk/content/view/312/74/ In it King says that if most or all folks are telling us the same thing try to figure out what we are doing wrong, but if they all tell us different things, if we want we can ignore them. And finally the most advanced step to-date has come with Orson Scott Card's initiation of This Workshop. (See here--> http://www.hatrack.com/forums/writers/forum/Forum6/HTML/000002.html ...to see that this website uncompromisingly insists on utmost courtesy & not getting sidetracked in our critiques by other stuff than THE WRITING.)

Esteemed colleagues, we are now ready to examine the three rules of effective critiquing. (Note that the following three chapters are distilled from advice by Michele Bardsley.--> http://absolutewrite.com/novels/workshop_critiques.htm )

__ Ch. I. __

Be encouragingly tactful by starting with something entirely POS - I - TIVE BEFORE then going on to give our initial reaction by way of critique.

__ Ch. II. __

End with the (trademarked?) catchphrase "It's your story" to remind ourselves that the main focus should be toward helping the author not OUR helping hi/r work.

__ Ch. III. __

Follow up with advice of more granularity ONLY WHEN ASKED.

__ Epilogue __

What are possible future trends in workshop critiquing, the reader might ask?..........

###

Critique my post, or else EXPAND ITS EPILOGUE, in the thread below.

[This message has been edited by Nathaniel Merrin (edited February 16, 2010).]


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snapper
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I haven't had a problem with one critique that I have received on here. The reason why I subject my work for critism is...

a) I want to improve

b) I want to know what people think of my writing

c) I want people to want to read what I write

d) I seek opinions that are unbiased

The final one is the most important. The best critiques that I receive are from people that do not pull their punches. If I want to get opinions that fawn over my brilliant writing I'll bug my family endlessly to read it.

Selling fiction, especially the genres that most of us write, is not easy. It is highly competitive. It is said WotF gets a 1000 submissions a quarter now for 3 spots. The other major magazines receive 500 + an issue. Even lesser known semi-pro publications like On The Premises turn away 95% of the submissions they get. Kathy Patterson of Alienskin told me she receives 300 submissions an issue. That is for a publication that pays 1 cent a word for flash fiction.

Most editors won't tell you why they reject submissions. Can't blame them, not enough time. Getting anyone to give you an honest opinion of what you wrote is not easy. I am gratefull for all that take the time to read and comment on anything that I write, even if it is only 13 lines.

While courtesy should be a standard that we all strive for, I have little sympathy for those that want to dictate how a critique should be written or are worried about feelings that are hurt. Editors aren't going to be nice either.

So if its a decorum that you are attempting to set, then I suggest if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.


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BenM
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quote:
So if its a decorum that you are attempting to set, then I suggest if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

The only thing that irritates me is what appears to be ad-hominem argument: A critique that addresses me rather than the writing. Saying "You don't know how to write" or "You need to go learn X" I find intensely offensive, especially if I already have learned X and have simply slipped up. A critique shouldn't be someone's opportunity to lord it over me and teach me to suck eggs.

I'm far more receptive to criticism of the *same* issues when it addresses the text: "I couldn't understand this story" or "I couldn't identify X in this story". If I don't understand X I can always go and learn it on my own or ask for a clarification.

Thankfully I've mostly been on the receiving end of the second type of critique, and it's always led to improvement.


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Emily Palmer
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I learned about critiquing from OSC. He had us focus on three points:
Huh?
So what?
Yeah right.

Readers put down the book because they're confused, bored, or don't believe in what's happening. A Wise Reader can point out these spots to the author.

Critiques should also focus only on the text of the story, not on the author.

I also like to hear about the emotional response, to see if my words are creating the feelings and interest that I want. For example, I want to know if this joke is funny. I want to know if my character is liked or disliked.


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BenM
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Are you familiar with critters Nathaniel? If not, you may find their reference section helpful, particularly the critiquing references.
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Nathaniel Merrin
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Nice resources, Ben.

(So far I'm reading this essay by Edward Bryant.--> http://critters.org/wstips.ht ...Here is a Snippet):

###

"Though criticism can be either positive or negative, it should always be constructive. That is, positive criticism may involve picking out elements of a story that WORK. This is a form of positive reinforcement--pointing out to a writer what works well and trying to suggest WHY it works. Negative criticism predicates pointing out what DOESN'T WORK in a story-- and attempting to explain why it fails. This is a form of negative ('Don't do that again.') reinforcement.

"Feel free to say anything, negative or positive, that you believe has a bearing on the work. But always try to have some underpinning for your assertion. It's easy to say 'I loved the story' or 'I hated the story.' It's harder, but infinitely more valuable to the writer whose story's being critiqued, to say 'I loved the story and think it works because...' or 'I disliked the story because...'"

###

Thanks! [ADDED LATER]: This reference by Howard V. Hendrix, linked by Critters, is to my liking too, Ben. (SNIPT GRAF):

###

"Find your voice. The best way to do this is to read a lot and write a lot -- particularly in the type of writing you want to engage in yourself. Creative writing programs and summer writing workshops can be helpful in this regard (including those like the Clarion Workshops, specifically aimed at would-be science fiction writers) but they are no substitute for vision, persistence, and familiarity with the type of writing you want to do. When I was younger I generally avoided involvement with such programs and workshops, for both literary and science fiction, largely out of a fear that such 'professionalizing' courses would conform the way I write to their models, not my own (a fear that may or may not be unfounded). It is undeniable that such programs and workshops are good places to get sometimes very valuable feedback -- and even make connections, if you're not so idealistic, foolish, and naive (as I have been) as to think that the importance of your work should be self-evident."

[This message has been edited by Nathaniel Merrin (edited February 16, 2010).]


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Nathaniel Merrin
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Emily:

Was Card saying readers' (very specific) reactions are of more value than "critiques" having an objective to help the writer improve this or that? If so, then maybe my original premise in my post is correct: critiquing is intrinsically flawed! Except when it isn't (e/g when a critique might catalyze perception of new vistas the author prefers to what s/he envisioned before).

The thing is, we tend to take a sample of something, then decide whether to proceed on with it. And critiques are the same way; we should offer a sample and if it opens up some vista for the author then s/he'll say, "Tell me more!" And to me that is what Card is saying with his "Huh? (CLARITY) ----- So what? (RELATABILITY) ----- Oh yeah? (BELIEVABILITY)." (LINK--> http://www.ericjamesstone.com/writing/osc_boot_camp.html ) As Kathleen Dalton Woodbury has said (here on the site), we're to offer such reactions as these that Card suggests along with tactful inklings of our opinions or suggestions but should not offer much more of the latter stuff before we're specifically asked. (That is, if I understand Orson and Kathleen -- and you, Emily -- correctly!)

####

[EDITED]: Oops, I just re-read this comment of mine and see it is difficult to parse for its meanings.

[This message has been edited by Nathaniel Merrin (edited February 17, 2010).]


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Nathaniel Merrin
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snapper:

You suggest that "if its a decorum that [I am] attempting to set, [...if I] can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen" but I don't really WANT to leave Uncle Orson's and sous chef Kath/Kat/Kate/Katie's kitchen; that's why I would want the DECORUM, would prefer it really if folks could remain reluctant to offer more than mere HINTS about how they might "help to fix" but be more quick to offer some specific readings of my prose, where and how I have/have not held their attention and interest, where my artifice does/does not approach believability.

[This message has been edited by Nathaniel Merrin (edited February 17, 2010).]


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aspirit
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It's impolite to create a nickname for someone you don't know well. Our moderator is Kathleen (or Ms. Woodbury, or even kdw).

I don't want one Hatracker telling all my critiquers what they must write. When I would like people to use a specific format or phrase in critiques of one of my stories, I say so, and I expect others to do the same. I really don't understand how you thought the "rules" above could lead to more effective critiquing instead of passive-aggressive or otherwise useless comments.

I'm not surprised no one here offered to read and comment on your prose, as you've posted none of your prose in F&F. Feel free to tell us what kind of critiques you want when you request them.


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Nathaniel Merrin
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aspirit:

You said that you are "not surprised no one here offered to read and comment on [my] prose" etc....but I haven't posted any. As of yet. In other words, the way I read what you say in that is that you percieve my being shunned some on the forum however that isn't my sense at all. I feel that folks interact with me when they feel so inclined and that the same is happening plenty enough, for my tastes. (For example, I really like it that you yourself have chosen to interact with me right here. Thanks!)

But, the tone seeming to cast me as an outcast aside, your critique of my post at the top of this thread is very valuable. My tongue-in-cheekiness is a very acquired taste, I imagine, and I'd be best to lose it, I imagine, since people often, such as yourself, take it seriously. (In other words [addressing myself now] "Geez, Nathaniel! Don't always be "ironic" at best and silly at worst, just write straight and say what ya have got ta say!") Why do I always seem to subtly mock myself, if I truly believe I have something worthwhile to say? Thanks for that feedback (as I perceive it, anyway), aspirit!

Lastly, with regard to my making up a nickname on the spot for Woodbury, even though I don't know her, that was and is obviously an obvious breech of proper social protocol and etiquette so thanks for calling me out on it.

[This message has been edited by Nathaniel Merrin (edited February 17, 2010).]


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Dark Warrior
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"guidelines" for critiquing in Hatrack are already set out in the Hatrack Forum Topic Ways to Critique I think anything beyond the guidelines that have served Hatrack well for years--and helped launch many successful careers--delves into the arena of personal taste and there is no way to satisfy everyone's specific wishes.

Edit:
http://www.hatrack.com/forums/writers/cgi/forumdisplay.cgi?action=topics&forum=Ways+to+Critique&number=21&DaysPrune=365&LastLogin=

[This message has been edited by Dark Warrior (edited February 17, 2010).]


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Merlion-Emrys
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Well, since this is "Open Discussions About Writing", isn't critting also part of writing, and something to be openly discussed?

The guidlines...especially the ones about people stating their wishes and tastes as far as crits...are rarely followed and i think thats a shame. Its even more a shame that often when people post something and do say what they are looking for in crits and to accomplish with the story, they are told not too..

The article is pretty interesting from a writing, as well as critiqueing perspective.


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Nathaniel Merrin
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Dark Warrior:

You are right of course. I'm a little rambunctious right now but I'll settle down quick, I promise!

I don't know, maybe I'm on edge a bit.

My eyes hurt!

.....You see, yesterday morning and afternoon I sat in this contraption at Columbia ------ (something) in New York City. A spagetti of electrodes attached to a cap on my head, I was doing a memory test to assist in their research. The room had been darkened so the images I was supposed to memorize (every seven-second interval) coming up the laptop had the effect of a strobe, a flashbulb in my eye OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER. After awhile it was literally, and with no exaggeration whatsoever, Chinese water torture! The research scientist in charge, a not-unpersonable woman, seemed brusk by nature and didn't take well to the fact that I, some subject who had just walked into their prestigious research institution, was presumptuous enough to explain what was the matter with their protocol in this particular set up: the room shouldn't be darkened or else the laptop's monitor should be dimmed.

Organizations work best when hierarchies are flexible enough that feedback and suggestions from whatever source, from mere vistors up through all the steps to the top, are given consideration. If they listened to me, they came to understand why various subjects had been blinking and becoming tired while performing a task for only an hour that should be able to be done indefinitely without eyestrain.

I guess analogizing from this experience of mine from yesterday, if posters at Hatrack find responses of mine (a newbie to the forum who himself needs lots of improvement to my writing) relating my experience with or thoughts about the critiqing here to be of use, then great. Yes, of course, we newbies often offer trite (um, banal, cliche, dumb, stupid, need I go on?!) observations but every once in a while, you never know, we might offer a fresh perspective or insight, not DESPITE the fact that we are new but BECAUSE of it, that people more up to speed about things might still be able to gain from. Still, as a general rule, people who by definition are fairly ignorant should mind their pees en kews and try not to talk that much.

[This message has been edited by Nathaniel Merrin (edited February 17, 2010).]


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Edward Douglas
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quote:
...You see, yesterday morning and afternoon I sat in this contraption in the Columbia in New York City. A spagetti of electrodes attached to a cap on my head, I was doing a memory test to assist in their research. The room had been darkened so the images I was supposed to memorize (for a seven seconds each) coming up the laptop had the effect of a strobe, a flashbulb in my eye OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER. After awhile it was literally, and with no exaggeration whatsoever, Chinese water torture! The research scientist in charge, a not-unpersonable woman, seemed brusk by nature and didn't take well to the fact that I, some subject who had just walked into their prestigious research institution, was presumptuous enough to explain what was the matter with their protocol in this particular set up: the room shouldn't be darkened or else the laptop's monitor should be dimmed.

Hmmm...has the makings of an interesting first 13 to me. :-)

My point -- even when we writers aren't "writing" we're writing.

Nathaniel, we all critique in our own ways. None, IMO, are more right or more wrong than others. Maybe using your technique will rub off, maybe not, but either won't make the critique less significant. The worst critique is perhaps never getting one at all. Rejection letters anyone!


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Merlion-Emrys
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quote:
The worst critique is perhaps never getting one at all.


While I get and agree with your sentiment, it is possible for a critique to be fundementally unhelpful. And theres always going to be some of those. But thats why i think communication between critter and crittee...at SOME point in the process is very much a good thing (from the perspective of a crit being useful to the author anyway.)

I also feel comments that criticise something for being what it is ...a setting story for focusing on setting or a dragon story for being about dragons, or someone saying they dislike a certain style when its the very style your intentionally using are, in practice, not very helpful whether well meant or not.


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Devnal
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"The best critiques that I receive are from people that do not pull their punches. If I want to get opinions that fawn over my brilliant writing I'll bug my family endlessly to read it."

My thoughts mirror snapper's.

"I also feel comments that criticise something for being what it is ...a setting story for focusing on setting or a dragon story for being about dragons, or someone saying they dislike a certain style when its the very style your intentionally using are, in practice, not very helpful whether well meant or not. "

I disagree; If someone isn't feeling attached or drawn in by the story I would like to know. If I feel the comment has merit I'll take it to heart and adjust as I need, or if I feel it doesnt I'll ignore it.


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Merlion-Emrys
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quote:
I disagree; If someone isn't feeling attached or drawn in by the story I would like to know.


Sure. But if its because they just don't like that particular type of story, they just arent the "target audience" is it really especially helpful?

I've aquired a bit of experience critting stuff that I don't really like or is outside my genre/story type of prefence from using a forum called Scrawl that is more or less entirely literary-type writers. When I crit there stuff I try to put aside the fact that I dont care for it, figure out what they are trying to accomplish with it and try to help with that.


quote:
If I feel the comment has merit I'll take it to heart and adjust as I need, or if I feel it doesnt I'll ignore it.


Of course. But isn't useful criticism more...useful? If you have a choice wouldn't you rather the ratio be geared more in that direction? And is a criticism in which the person basically just tells you they don't like that kind of story, heres the kind they do like and how to make yours into that ever particularly useful?

Also Devnal I just wanted to mention...maybe I am not expressing myself well but from this and the other thread it seems like I'm coming across to you as wanting people to "sugar coat" or cushion there criticisms. That isn't what I'm talking about here at all. I do feel people should be pleasant and I do believe (and have read more than once) that a really good crit should contain at least one positive, but the thing I am speaking about here is unrelated to "harshness." One is my belief that critter and crittee should communciate openly. Two is the fact that as I said, when I crit I try to leave my personal tastes...and my personal goals as a writer...more or less at the door, and I appreciate it when others do the same for me. It usually results in much more useful feedback. Although again this is all based on the idea that people are critting in order to help the author make their story into the best version of itself it can be. I realize some crit more for their own benefit.


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MAP
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Nathaniel,

There is nothing wrong with a newby initiating a discussion on effective critiquing, but the way you have presented your ideas is a little off-putting.

quote:
THE 3 RULES OF EFFECTIVE CRITIQUING ___

IF I'd just said "three rules" without the "the" it wouldn't come across as authoritative, ironically.


Are you trying to be authoritative? Do you think that you have the authority here or that this is an effective way to argue?

I think that critiquing styles vary as much as writing styles, and whether or not a critiquing style works is just as subjective.

[This message has been edited by MAP (edited February 17, 2010).]


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Nathaniel Merrin
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MAP, I agree. (My "THE RULES" approach was designed to be self-mocking BTW), lol.

I guess in the end, what I think my philosophy as a Hatrack critter should be, per how I understand Emily above and Woodbury's guidelines, that I should strive to follow Card's idea of answering "Huh?," "So what?," and "Oh yeah." Then, when I am giving the SECOND of my 3 Answers [which I think might go something like "THIS is what I read and was able to follow or not," "THIS is how I was able to relate to the piece or not," and "THIS is how it is believable or true to me or not"?] -- I would avoid suggesting that the author actually change the piece to make it more relatable or accessible to me.

[This message has been edited by Nathaniel Merrin (edited February 17, 2010).]


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Nathaniel Merrin
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Edward: Thanks for your comments!

You said, "The worst critique is perhaps never getting one at all." Yes, I guess you're right there. The corollary of which is that if I don't adopt the thick skin that snapper spoke of and so become too touchy when receiving the critique from some party s/he might not want to provide more, my losing hi/r perspective.

[This message has been edited by Nathaniel Merrin (edited February 17, 2010).]


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Merlion-Emrys
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And a corollary of sorts to that is theres a difference between being touchy and wanting feedback that is both courteaous AND constructive/useful/in context.
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genevive42
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I've only had one 'bad' critique while I've been on Hatrack. And I don't mean bad because they said my story sucked, I mean bad because it was more about the critter's ego and really not about my story at all. In fact, from the critter's comments I could tell they were skimming from word one and it made me wonder why they had offered to crit at all. In the end, the critter told me how they would scrap everything and write a different story and they would be happy to help me if I wanted to do that. Yeah, that was real helpful.

However, I have gotten crits of all different styles from all different types of people and I find that I can get something useful out of all of them. I even gleaned one useful tidbit from the 'bad' crit. So I appreciate almost any type of critique.

Sometimes I find that even if several people are commenting on the same thing, which obviously means it needs fixing, it can be one person's phrasing that puts the right perspective on how to fix it.

But I do like an open dialog whether I'm critting or being critted. By pursuing some thoughts and ideas from others more deeply I have been able to greatly improve my work. And I believe I have been able to return the favor now and then.

So please, if I do a crit for you don't hesitate to contact me if you want discussion or clarification. I hope that most people are open to this.


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Wolfe_boy
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One of the keys to utilizing Hatrack successfully is (in my opinion, and I think I've mentioned this before on here) to know who to listen to, and who not to listen to. Understand the people that are here, their critiquing style, and their depth and breadth of experience. This will help you separate out the varying types of critiques you will receive, and help you figure out who is giving you a valuable critique, and who can reasonably be ignored.
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tchernabyelo
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Like genevieve, I think I've only had one "bad" crit, which was when it opened "this is hard SF and I don't like hard SF stories" (quite why the person in question had asked for the fulll story when it was stated to BE hard SF, I'm really not sure).

Critique approaches and methods - like writing - will always vary from one person to another. While it is good and proper that someone may ask for a critique on particular aspects of a story (e.g. does the ending work? is the twist foreshadowed? is this believeable?), frankly it is always going to be up to the critiquer to decide what to say and how to say it. And it has to be that way, because the person giving of their time and experience is that critiquer. They may (and indeed should) learn themselves from the process, but ultimately it is the critiquer who is contributing, NOT the author. This is something I think people all too frequently forget.

I very rarely offer full crits - it has to be a combination of an excepional opening for the story and an exceptional opening of available time in my schedule. Full crits can take a LONG time - several hours, in some cases - and, selfish though it might be, I want to be pretty confident that I both have that time available and that it wil be WORTH spending that time on something.

As a result, I normally just crit on first 13s, and I usually do so with an "editorial" hat on - identifying why I would or wouldn't read on, where the problems are within the opening. I'll admit I rarely offer much in the way of praise, because the point is I'm concentrating on what ISN'T right, not what IS.

I also don't generally want to engage in debate over a story. An author has the right to ask for clarification (though a critiquer is not obliged to give it) but getting into any kind of discussion is rarely profitable - I know of one person who left this site after giving a critique only to be told by the author, in detail, why the critique was "wrong". Which brings us to the final point I want to make.

NO CRITIQUE IS EVER WRONG.

It is the opinion of the reader/critiquer. It may not be helpful, but it is not wrong. If that person thought your prose was clumsy, that something was too far-fetched, that the dialogue didn't ring true, that such-and-such wouldn't work... they are not wrong. If the author disagrees, then the question becomes simply one of "do I need to adjust my story or not?". Often, the result of this is a numbers game: if one person thinks something is a problem and no-one else mentions it, like as not it isn;t a problem, but if six people all mention it, then it most certainly is.

And remember; the author is never obligated to change one word of a story because of critiques. They are there to give the author opinions, and perhaps options, but the author remains the author.


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InarticulateBabbler
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quote:
The answer needn't always be yes. But if it's always no, it's time for a new project or a new career.

I think this may even be the true purpose of King's article:

quote:
If you're not talented, you won't succeed. And if you're not succeeding, you should know when to quit.

When is that? I don't know. It's different for each writer. Not after six rejection slips, certainly, nor after sixty. But after six hundred? Maybe. After six thousand? My friend, after six thousand pinks, it's time you tried painting or computer programming.


Kevin J. Anderson (The highest paid Sci-Fi author) once won a "most rejection slips by weight" competition. So, the advice he gives--other than what I've learned--is questionable. Like, for instance, on Agents:

quote:
11. An agent? Forget it. For now

Agents get 10% of monies earned by their clients. 10% of nothing is nothing. Agents also have to pay the rent. Beginning writers do not contribute to that or any other necessity of life. Flog your stories around yourself. If you've done a novel, send around query letters to publishers, one by one, and follow up with sample chapters and/or the manuscript complete. And remember Stephen King's First Rule of Writers and Agents, learned by bitter personal experience: You don't need one until you're making enough for someone to steal ... and if you're making that much, you'll be able to take your pick of good agents.

Everything else I've read says that, today, there is no more slush pile for novels--and most publishing houses won't accept unsolicited material. Then again, times are very different from 1986.


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BenM
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quote:
using a forum called Scrawl that is more or less entirely literary-type writers

Merlion, I googled but turned up blank. I'm interested in having a browse - got a link?


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aspirit
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quote:
the way I read what you say in that is that you percieve my being shunned some on the forum however that isn't my sense at all.

Nathaniel, I wasn't clear, and I also may have been harsh in an assumption. My comment was in response to what you wrote in the post before mine.

quote:
that's why I would want the DECORUM, would prefer it really if folks could remain reluctant to offer more than mere HINTS about how they might "help to fix" but be more quick to offer some specific readings of my prose, where and how I have/have not held their attention and interest, where my artifice does/does not approach believability.

How this translated in my mind: "Wah. No has told me they want to read my prose, but it's okay. The folks here don't want to give useful critiques, anyway. Maybe if I tell them how to do things, they'll be impressed and want to help." Yeah, harsh. Sorry. (I'm probably not at my best at one in the morning.)

I'm realize now that you were probably applying your observations of how Hatrackers critique to a conjectural situation.

My advice still stands. When you're ready to ask for critiques, please tell us what kind you want.


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
I know of one person who left this site after giving a critique only to be told by the author, in detail, why the critique was "wrong".

I'm very sorry to hear that. I wish I'd known about it and been able to do something to try to help both parties have a better workshop experience.


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Nathaniel Merrin
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Ben: Don't know if Merlion e-mailed you this information yet but HERE ( http://questingbeastscrawl.blogspot.com/ ) is a literary-type forum called SCRAWL.

###

aspirit: Your feedback is appreciated. (And, now that I understand the context of your comment I had questioned, everything you've upbraided me for has been valid!)

Composing communication intended for a broad audience is DIFFICULT! Maybe with time I will learn to write whatever random observations in ways less likely to be interpreted as b*tching.

###

Kathleen: Keep up the good work!

[This message has been edited by Nathaniel Merrin (edited February 18, 2010).]


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Merlion-Emrys
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Ben, if you start thinking about joining Scrawl let me know. The information on the site is, in my opinion, misleading about how you actually become a member. Theres some things that would be helpful for you to know beforehand should you decide to do that. You've got my email I believe.

Edit: Oh that isn't the Scrawl I was refering to, Nathaniel

[This message has been edited by Merlion-Emrys (edited February 18, 2010).]


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BenM
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quote:
Ben: Don't know if Merlion e-mailed you this information yet but HERE ( http://questingbeastscrawl.blogspot.com/ ) is a literary-type forum called SCRAWL.

Thanks, though, I don't see a forum there, just a blog listing authors and describing itself as "for the promotion, appreciation and publication of alternative literature and fringe culture," which wasn't what I was expecting. Maybe I'm missing something.

Aha! Some more creative googling and I found http://www.stwa.net/. Time to rummage around there a little.


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Nathaniel Merrin
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genevive42, are you interested at all in (WRITTEN) romance?*

____
*Something I may try my hand at.


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TaoArtGuy
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This is veering around to the other side of the issue, but if someone does take the time to read and critique your piece you could, I don't know, thank them. I'm running 50/50 right now for that and while it won't stop me from offering critiques to others, I won't read anything for those specific people again.
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tchernabyelo
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TaoArtGuy - it has often been said that the only correct response to a critique is "Thank you".

To be fair, some people thank the critter in advance when sending out full work. I don't see the lack of a follow-up email to be a problem - indeed, I suspect many people don't do this precisely because of the whole "never respond to a critique" issue.


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genevive42
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Nathaniel Merrin whatever do you mean? You're not trying to get me in trouble with my boyfriend, are you?

TaoArtGuy I agree. It's nice to receive a little thank you after you've sent a crit off. I try hard to always send a thank you when I receive one. Regardless of respond or don't respond to crits, good manners are never a bad thing. (Of course I sounded a little like my grandma as soon as I typed that, but it doesn't make it any less true.)



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Nathaniel Merrin
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No, no, genevive42, nothing like that. <blushes> Thinks to self: "I have but a scant outline yet already am scouting readers." <tsks, shakes head side to side, and covers top of face with opened fingers of one hand>

###

Folks, I'm taking a hiatus. (I hope it is a short one! I work best round-the-clock, not in pieces, and Card's writing tome has arrived from Amazon's warehouse, plus an entire library of other interesting books.) When the dust settles I will return.

[This message has been edited by Nathaniel Merrin (edited February 19, 2010).]


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genevive42
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Nathaniel, I'll be happy to read for you whenever you're ready. Send whatever you like.

I'm glad to see that your intentions are honorable.


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dee_boncci
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I like the old LCS model: Likes->Concerns->Suggestions, which I learned in a business/industry about as far removed from writing as one could imagine.

Critiquing creative fiction is an interpersonal endeavor and for it to be effective some sort of relationship between critiquer and writer should be formed. To load both barrels with negativity and fire away is going to put most people on the defensive and create a high probability that the opportunity to help someone is lost.

In addition, being able to search for and articulate the positive will serve not only the writer being critiqued, but us better in our own writing too. It's a fine thing to know what not to do, but a much better thing to understand what we should be striving for.

Blowing sunshine does no one any good either, but how we approach the negative is important. Some diplomacy goes a long way.


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