I don't know what happened to the writer who left. But this quote seems to suggest some might be trying to learn the craft in a very ineffective way.
quote:...the waters are constantly muddied by people without the sales to back their authority/claims.
In this method of learning what you do is rank authorities, collect authoritative statements, and then prove points with citations. Discussions turn into dueling quotes. This often influences the learner to compile long lists of rules (some which contradict) that are NOT required to actually demonstrate any validity. The authority is the authority and so you don't question. Or test. They're presumed to have knowledge you don't based on their bona fides. The goal here is not to become a master practiconer but an authority on authorities.
So Fred who has 5 books out must know much know more than Jean who has 2, who certainly knows more than Pedro who hasn't even gotten a personal rejection slip. Mary was a NY Times best seller so she trumps them all. But Rick was actually a USA Today best seller so we must listen to him more carefully because that reflects actual success better, unless he's actually lower ranked that week than Mary, although he lost his book contract, so. . .
Is that really the best way to learn this craft?
Let me suggest that debating and learning craft using authorities, backing yourself up with quotes, misses the whole point precisely because it ignores dealing with the MOST important question: Does it work, does it produce the intended effect, and does it do so for this particular situation I'm dealing with?
Can you imagine what would happen if we were to use the authority approach to medicine? Well, we did. That's when they made poultices with crow crap in it. That's when (in New Guinea) the authorities required a woman to let them slice off a knuckle to appease the spirits. Snake oil anyone?
I'm not saying that nobody knows more than anyone else. That's stupid. If I'm trying to build a car I'm going to get more out of Henry Ford than the guy who can't even nail together a scooter. But I don't want to become an authority on Henry Ford. Nor do I want to limit myself to his blindspots. I'm a practiconer. I want to find things to make my car better. I want to come up with my own designs. So I'll listen and then go back to my workshop to see if his ideas make MY car better.
We're trying to become expert practiconers of the craft, not reporters of what others say. We're trying to DO something, find principles and techniques that actually make a difference, not those that are reported to do so.
I'm not advocating double-blind tests and huge scientific studies, although many in the communications area have done just that with interesting results (see Dolf Zilmann's and Peter Voeder's works). We usually don't have the time and money to set such things up. But we can seek to always understand what any rule or technique is supposed to do AND verify the claims with our personal experience and that of those around us. Not rigorous, but better than nothing.
I've found it's helpful to listen to pros. Listen to Card and King and whoever. Consider their ideas carefully. Then test their principles, guidelines, and rules. Take them back to my workshop and see if they actually work. The test being in the reader response.
If someone says you shouldn't start with dialogue (Card said this in his boot camp I attended), then I would want to ask why. Understand the principle behind it. But then I don't want to stop there. I want to go verify. And after seeing a lot of dialogue openings that might not work so well at pulling me in [reader effect], I might run across something like _The witches of wenschar_ by Hambly that starts:
"You may be a wizard, my lady," Sun Wolf said, tucking his big hands behind the buckle of his battered sword belt. "But you're also the biggest damn fool I've ever met in my life."
And realize that this dialogue opening drew me right in just as effectively as some of the best non-dialogue ones do. Now, it might not pull anyone else in, but it pulled me. That's a data point. And I can then say, well, a blanket ban on dialogue openings doesn't seem warranted. Not in my experience. What's the difference between those that worked for me and those that didn't? What's the thing at work? Why did it pull me?
And because I'm focused on the objective, on reader response, on actually TESTING it, replicating results, I can start to get some insight. Start to see cause and effect.
I got some of my best insights in Orson Card's boot camp when he asked each of us to read the 19 other stories and gauge how clear, believable, and interesting they were on our personal scale. No rules. No authorities. No red pencils in hand. No critique hats. Nothing but cause and effect. The work, the reader, and the experience produced by the text.
And that's what I want. I don't know about you, but I want to master the principles of story cause and effect. I don't care about lists of what other people say. I want to know what works. And what works has nothing to do with authority. It has only to do with the writing and the reader's response. Cause and effect.
The only conversations that muddy the waters are those that muddy or completely ignore the relationship between cause and effect. The ones where people say you should and you shouldn't and fail to tie it to actual reader response. Or when they assume their response is the majority or only valid one.
Even a newbie can tell if a certain passage of text did or didn't pull them in, did or didn't make sense. They don't need publications to know that this thing bumped them out of the text and that thing did not. And so if they talk about reader response, cause and effect, their input is just as valuable as anyone else's. It's another data point. Now, there are certainly reasons for excluding people as data points (and I do exclude the responses reported by some depending on my objectives, the person's fit, and their approach), but it has nothing to do with authority.
It's worked for me. It continues to work for me. It's what I ask of my test readers and what I provide to those I read for. Let me suggest it to you. Give it a try. Forget this business of authorities and rules. Look instead for cause and effect. Focus on individual reader response. See if it doesn't produce more insight and have a greater impact on your current project than any number of unverified rules and pontifications tossed out by "those who know."
[This message has been edited by johnbrown (edited February 28, 2010).]
I'm not sure discrimination is all that rampant here at hatrack but...okay. Good point.
Let established writers have the option of having their creds as part of their signature or description under their name, and those who choose to remain anonymous can do so.
The idea, of course, is to just help get published writer's like tchern (I assuming tchern is published...) to stay - I don't want their reason for leaving to be because they feel unappreciated. Let it be for other reasons.
But it's pressure on the published writer as well. If you want people to appreciate your advice, you've got to show what you've accomplished. Otherwise be content to provide your critique anonymously, and leave it at that.
Also a word about trying to avoid rehashing old topics - it's absolutely unavoidable. We all assume the role of both teachers and students. Teachers have to teach the same thing over and over and over. They will always argue their points over and over with new students. It's unavoidable - until you quit teaching. There will always be new writers that will need to discuss and find their way. If that's what got tchern tired of Hatrack (after postings that go back to 2005, mind you, so it's understandable) - then perhaps he just needs a break. Hopefully he doesn't quit Hatrack completely.
And I'll be blunt about how I look at critiques: As a newbie-writer I appreciate advice from all, but let's get serious: I ultimately want writing as my career - not as a hobby or some sort of life as a 'Bohemian struggling artist.' That means getting published, which means paying extra attention to those who already are published. And if they have talent, even better. These are rare people we have on Hatrack - those who have actually been through the gauntlet of editors out there and got to the other side - and I want to learn from their experience. And I definitely want them to stay on Hatrack. If that requires discriminating a little against my fellow newbies, or making them feel a little less appreciated - well, that's a very small price to pay. Get over it.
quote:If you want people to appreciate your advice, you've got to show what you've accomplished.
I'll agree to disagree here. I don't believe good advice needs qualifications, only that it is communicated and reasoned clearly. If some very sensible advice is offered in a way that is clear and (maybe even) irrefutable, I don't care who said it.
And the corollary is true, for me - I can read Dean Wesley Smith's website, in which he offers some great insights, but having published ninety some books doesn't - for me - authorise all his opinions. I'm not sure his is the writing future I see for myself.
Furthermore, something a longtime author advises may not be communicated to me in a way I can best understand as an unpublished author; it may be that someone who is or was recently unpublished will explain the same point in a way I can better comprehend.
Thus I see no problem at all with the approach of a site like Hatrack - it's a melding of minds, and if it takes that longtime-published author to make a point to the just-published author who then reinterprets for a recalcitrant unpublished author like me, then the system's working.
Good Lord, how did this thread get so bloody long?
Number of sales does not indicate the quality of feedback received. It is incumbent on the author to weed out those critiques that are useful and those that aren't. Only experience on these boards as both a critiqued and as an author can truly guide you to that place. An unaudited number beneath an anonymous internet handle can not confer ability to critique accuratly.
This vaguely reminds me of that recent article where they asked a bunch of famous authors for their advice on how to write. Reading it, you might think that the authors tried to contradict each other. And they were all published and famous, so the swirling contradictory opinions are pretty much guaranteed, as long as you are talking to multiple people.
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quote:These are rare people we have on Hatrack - those who have actually been through the gauntlet of editors out there and got to the other side - and I want to learn from their experience. And I definitely want them to stay on Hatrack. If that requires discriminating a little against my fellow newbies, or making them feel a little less appreciated - well, that's a very small price to pay. Get over it.
Well, John Brown just published a novel with Tor, so if someone has to have publishing credits to win your confidence, I think John Brown counts. Maybe you should reread his posts.
Somewhat of a continuance of my prior post.
Although I have had several stories published (Even thought token and semi-pro) I still consider the value of my comments more pertinate to my experience as a reader as opposed to my experience as a writer. I have read hundreds of novels and approaching a thousand short stories. I read everyday diligently. I feel comfortable with the fact that I do have a fundamental grasp of our craft, but I do not claim or have any notion to be an authority.
What I can say is that Every day, I complete at least one short story. Even if I do not become immersed in the story or find it very enjoyable, I always complete it, if for no other reason than to study it and why it didn't work for me. Surprisingly, it happens less than ten percent of the time that I have to force myself to finish a story. (Take into consideration that we are talking about semi-pro to pro publications which I read from)More often than not this stems from a dislike in the theme of the story as opposed to prose, but a close second is plot problems, then horrible characterization, style issues, or other maladies. That being said, If I am doing a critique and I am pulling out my hair, wanting to smash my monitor, then I feel it is really safe to say the story is in trouble.
The scientific method is much a part of me. I consider it a tool with which I can assist me in my observations and opinions of the world and events around me. I have done some experiments of my own. I have run some statistics on posters and comments, I have looked at the 'big picture' analytically, and yes, I have seen some major discrepancies in comments posted in F&F. Take the first comment of a thread. Boil it down to the thesis of its message. Then do the stats on the following comments. It is interesting to see how many simply 'agree'. Another important aspect to consider is studying the comments of a particular poster. How often do they repeat the same comment? How many pieces of advice do they actually have in their repetoire? If it is less than three, worse yet if it is but one or two, find a way to rate the relevance of their comment/s.
I honestly make a point not to read any comments before I post my own. Someetimes I will go back and review after the fact to expand upon or offer my disagreement, but for the integrity of your opinion, you should never read the others comments before you post.
I have made another half-dozen or so valid observations that I cannot elaborate on for fear of being accusitory, but I guess the point is as with everything in life. You have to make your own choices, especially in regard to what advice you follow, but at the same time you have to be receptive enough to take a hard look at yourself and you should self analyze as much as you investigate outwardly. For the most part those that offer you comments are sincere. They are truly trying to help and they are offeing thier candid opinion. Definately do not dismiss the advice of others because it is a critique directed at you. I am my own worse critique. I am harder on myself than the harshes critique I have ever recieved compounded by tenfold.
I have to admit that I am finding this forum less and less helpful. As much from the rabble-rousers and chronic critters that couldn't possibly read everyday because of the amount of pointless argueing they participate in here. Mostly though, it is the ratio of my giving versus recieving. I have done over one hundred critiques for members here in the past eighteen months and in the last six months, I haven't had many offers to crit my stuff. Those I have recieved were hot and cold. There are a few tha consistently give good sound feedback, but others, as I mentioned really seem to not have a clue what this genre even encompasses, let alone current market trends and styles. Not that I do not applaud their effort. Many of them do commit whole-heartedly and do offer alot of good advice. Even if it is simple as basic grammar suggestions, just that it takes at least three crits to get a halfway accurate portrayal of any serious problems, and It has been at least a year since I have had enough readers of a story to get a broad picture. Keep in mind that I do not disquantify those that have helped me. I have let you all know how much I appreciated your time and effort. I even try to respond to their critique and point out exactly how they have helped me. They often recipricate also offering an even more detailed response. So for that and those I am thankful.
So recently, I have been cooling stories for several months so I could go back to them with acritical eye, then I am paying a friend who is a copy editor to make line edits( for important submissions any way, WOTF top3 submissions, and contests) This is quite costly though an I hope in the end it pays off.
I guess I better end this rant, but I guess it just felt like the right spot to 'get it off your chest' thread.
So ultimately, I can understand those whom have been moving on as of late. I feel the same at times, but I still drop in and offer my opinions from time to time, because I still feel like I should contribute to this place. It really really helped me in the beginning.
quote:Mostly though, it is the ratio of my giving versus recieving.
In my opinion, this is the more damning problem. I'll give newcomers one critique, offer the advice that they should perhaps spend some time critiquing others, and then wait to see what happens.
A recent example (XD3V0NX) is pretty par for the course. Posts 6 stories for critique in very short order. Give absolutely zero back to the community. Is probably either happy with himself (I got the crits and it didn't cost me a thing!) or upset at us because he received pretty much across the board poor critiques.
Again, there's little to be done about this (other than setting up Hatrack as a for-pay site, which would be a pretty bad idea IMO) but it is frustrating.
quote:A recent example (XD3V0NX) is pretty par for the course. Posts 6 stories for critique in very short order. Give absolutely zero back to the community. Is probably either happy with himself (I got the crits and it didn't cost me a thing!) or upset at us because he received pretty much across the board poor critiques.
My concern is that I end up coming across as (or outright turning into) someone who has no intention of giving back an acceptable equivalent to what I receive from this community. I'm hoping that my offering of the Challenge with Character(s) contest will make up some of the deficit I perceive I've built up.
quote:Good Lord, how did this thread get so bloody long?
I think the poinst has been confused. With respect to John Brown and his approach to getting feedback, I don't think that's the issue adressed. I think most everybody is missing the core:
How would you like your every response broken down--by paragraph or sentence--and refuted everytime you commented? The claim of talent and authority, I believe (and I could be wrong) are expression of the frustration caused by such actions. Some critiquers take the time to do a line-by-line for grammar, point out everything that stopped them and note what he/she has learned about the marketplace, editors and the commonly accepted techniques during his/her post. That is a lot of effort for someone to donate. In itself, that deserves a bit of thanks. When the next critiquer then spends more time derailing the preceding poster than adding (subjectively or otherwise) or assisting the critiquee(?) in acomplishing his/her goal, it will eventually drive those "time-donators" away. (In effect it's like saying, they took all that time to just meaninglessly babble. ) I think alluding to the skill/authority of the critiquer is just to show who is getting "bullied" out--and inform those who have not been around long enough to have decided for themmselves, that this is happening, and make them stop and look at what the "advisors" are saying.
[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited March 01, 2010).]
quote:It seems such a shame that yet another talented writer (tchern...)leaves Hatrack because of a constant re-hashing of basic advice---the waters are constantly muddied by people without the sales to back their authority/claims.
There also seems to be a very disapointing aspect to this mentality which, I myself, have even been guilty of even within the discussion of this thread. Those of us whom consider ourselves 'seniors' of this group are obligated to some degree to make this amore beneficial environment.
Scanning back through 'Open Discussions' topics, I didn't see any post created by Tchern that would spark some interest or conversation within this group. As those of us whom have benefitted by this forum and have aqcuired a few publications is it not our responsibility to reach down and grab those on the bottom wrung of the very ladder we just climbed?
I have heard it said openly, an admission that a particular member doesn't take on too many crits for fear of being adversely influenced by bad prose, style, etc... It isn't fair for me to point any fingers, for I myself have been guilty of such indulgences, but rather than throwing yourself into conflict(After all it takes two to argue) why not create a topic that has merit? use your experience to offer something new and not rehashed to the group. Take time wasted by arguing and do twenty minutes to research a topic that others will benefit from?
This "Conflict" seems to be directed at one particular person, veiled in a holier than thou cape, in my opinion. This is just a continuance of the original conflict, but in a passive agressive tone. If you have to be right and have the last word in every situation then maybe those people should leave. Perhaps that is how your debt to Hatrack could be repaid. The absence of those who rabble-rouse will ultimately leave room for wider and more open discussions.
If I may offer some of my own experience with published (even well-published and well-known) writers giving feedback:
1--some of them are no better at it than a wise reader, if that, because many do not know all that much about how to write--they just do it--so they can't really help anyone else other than to say how they would write someone else's story.
2--some of them don't "suffer fools gladly" nor do they remember how "fool"-ish they were when they were starting out as writers, so they can offer pretty devastating and crushing feedback without caring about its effect on the author of the work.
3--some of them don't have time or are concerned that if they write anything even close to being similar to something someone has asked for feedback on they will be sued for idea stealing.
4--those who are willing to be helpful, and can actually give useful advice, usually do it in workshops where they are paid for their expertise, or at science fiction conventions (as John Brown did a couple of weeks ago at the BYU SF Symposium).
5--writing is one of the things that people can learn by teaching, and as a developing writer gains insights and shares them, that writer's skills increase. You don't grow nearly as much by getting good feedback from a published writer as you do by giving feedback to someone else.
When it comes right down to it, as has already been said, credentials only mean that someone knows how to write their own kinds of stories and sell them. It may not be true in other fields, but in writing, "those who can" are not always able to teach, and in fact, writing skills and editing skills and teaching writing skills can be very different from each other.
That said, I want to assure you all that people move on for various reasons. As long as I have been here, I have seen some great teachers and some great writers come for a while and then leave. I miss them, but others have come in their stead, and I am confident that as those move on, there will be others to take their places.
I know of no way the software for this forum can be arranged to allow people to distinguish themselves except in their profiles or in their posts. And I think if people's words as they participate in the forum discussions aren't enough to tell (or show) others their worth, no amount of information elsewhere is going to make a bit of difference.
I made this post to deplore the loss of Tchern due to arguments over what I consider the basics of writing. He is a multi-professionally published author. If there were a thousand professionally published writers at one forum and a thousand novice writers at another forum, I would personally feel I had more to gain and learn from the first forum (pros).
The professionally published writers forum wouldn't be full of perfect people who gave perfect advice all the time, but the range of their knowledge I would expect to be greater.
It appears that I am in the minority here of valuing the advice of people who have consistently achieved a success that I aspire to.
@Benttree--on your post which starts by quoting me and ends by quoting my 'indulgence'. Yes, I don't volunteer to do crits for people online, but then I have probably only accepted three or four full crits from people on Hatrack--I always reciprocate. I have one person who I swap stories with because I like the way they write and also the way they crit--works for me.
I do crits on 13 lines when I can.
After running loads of competitions on Hatrack I feel my 'debt' is paid, but then I don't think I have ever had anyone suggest I leave Hatrack before--I'll take your suggested course...
[This message has been edited by skadder (edited March 02, 2010).]
I didn't mean to call you out on your indulgence. I actually didn't even remember who had said it. I suppose I was just trying to point out that we all have them. I am more guilty than most, and I wasn't by any means trying to bellittle the efforts of Tchern or anyone else. I was trying to make a point that as long as the focus is more on being helpful than argumentative, all would benefit.
I certainly never meant to imply that you don't contribute. I consider you one of the most helpful on this forum. Not only your contests, but your propelling stimulating conversation in 'Discussions' Sorry if I came across that way.
I suppose, I was chastising my self indirectly. I started feeling bad about my ranting and recalled not too long ago when I was very new to this and people such as yourself endured my ignorance. So, I guess I was trying to balance the equation more than anything.
This feels like, for the most part trying to rally suport to lynch one or a few particular people. I really just think that to much effort has been made in that already. It is pretty widely known that there is often conflicting advice and those that often go against the grain of conformation. But, their opinions can often have value if you are only so patient as to filter them.
OH, and I just noticed your last line Skadder. I definately was not suggesting that you leave. I never implied that at all. I was simply saying that if one gets to the point that all they recieve is frustration from this group, and my advice about turning that mentality around, to take the same challenge I made to myself about trying to become more positive, more productive, then maybe one should leave at that point, because if ones considers this a hostile and negative environment then that is the point when they should leave, or at least step back and cool down for a while.
I guess by using your quote, you percieved it as an affront, but my intent was to use it as an example of an idea that many in this thread have expanded upon, myself included. I have been very frustrated as of late(As I rambled on in one of my prior posts)Please don't take it as my suggestion that you leave.
It, this situation, reminded me of a stance I take in my kitchen(Work Kitchen) those with bad attitudes, be gone. As a chef I and myy crew work hard. Fourteen hour days are more common than eight hor shifts. We are close nit and I keep the mood and moral high by eliminating people that don't want to be there. The minute their attitude becomes an issue with moral, they are sent packing. This group is far less tyranical than my kitchen and my rational might not have the same weight here, but I think it is fair. If one has more negative to offer then positive, they should want to leave. If for no other reason than for their sanity.
Late involvement in this thread (see my comments about dense posts elsewhere), but I have a few things to add, I think:
(1) I'm not sure being a published writer, even a successful published writer (by whatever definition) is a matter of significance in what we discuss here.
(2) On people coming and going...I got into this on a lark, and on an off-hand reference by Kathleen (who I've known and corresponded with for a long time before). I've enjoyed it, and learned a lot. If I find it boring, or get too irritated, I figure I'd just stop posting, not make a flamobyant goodbye statement.
(3) As per the above, other people are going to come and go as it suits them. There are a lot of online communities, and how and why you get involved with them, or get uninvolved with them, is your buisness. We can lament their loss, but it hardly makes anybody a lesser person for leaving.
(4) I am less involved in some aspects of these boards than in others.
(5) But if I can come with some half-way good advice to somebody along the way, I think I've accomplished something.
I'm going to try and slowly slide down into the deep end, rather than jump in.
Aside from the obvious benefits of critiquing and getting critiqued that Hatrack offers, I, in my short time here, have discovered this is only part of what happens here.
When I saw all of the different groups (other than the F&Fs), like: Open Discussions, Markets for our Writing, Character Interviews, Grist, I realized there is a wealth of information available to me beyond being just a better writer.
I mean, obviously we write, or we couldn't be here. Admittedly, I'm not the best listener, but I don't make apologies for who I am. Also, I take the different groups, and the contributions to them, seriously, but in different ways.
In F&F (novels for me, mostly, 'cause I'm just not a short story person) I don't wait for feedback from my works (though immensely appreciated), I gather a whole lot just by seeing what others are critiquing and how they're doing it. I've found instances of "Now why didn't I think of that?" and "I think I'll give that a try, myself" as well as "Won't touch that one with a ten foot pole."
However, since we are mostly about writing here, I have to say that some of the best advice I receive (and use) is observed. Not commented on. Not propagated. Just observed. Our stories are full of diverse character types, the users of this forum diverse far beyond any you can experience at work, or church, or on the street. Use this to your benefit. Next time you struggle to develop two characters in your story who can't stand each other fall back here and see how arguments played out in some of the groups. Likewise, if you're struggling to develop the relationships between characters who do get along. We may perfect our character building in more ways than just one.
The beauty of the net, and the forum's like this one that have popped up as a result, is the unique opportunity to communicate with people from everywhere, and at anytime (day or night).
It's a beautiful thing!
Yet, I cannot help but be bothered, when a member's departure (albeit unfortunate) is suggested to be someone else's fault. The only person to blame for the departure is the person who chose to leave. No one joined this forum for me, or on my behalf. I did that. Same would apply if I depart. But, aside from getting banned, does anyone every really leave?
I usually avoid these types of discussions. I prefer that we would all agree to disagree but we can't even seem to agree on that.
quote:I don't know what happened to the writer who left. But this quote seems to suggest some might be trying to learn the craft in a very ineffective way.
quote: -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ...the waters are constantly muddied by people without the sales to back their authority/claims. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
In this method of learning what you do is rank authorities, collect authoritative statements, and then prove points with citations. Discussions turn into dueling quotes. This often influences the learner to compile long lists of rules (some which contradict) that are NOT required to actually demonstrate any validity. The authority is the authority and so you don't question. Or test. They're presumed to have knowledge you don't based on their bona fides. The goal here is not to become a master practiconer but an authority on authorities.
I believe you are misinterperting Mr Skadders post. He isn't chastising a group of writers (newbies as many people are assuming) but one member.
Merlion-Emrys has become Lord Valdemort to many here, consider a lot of people won't even say his name anymore. Now I do admire his princibles, he is after all sticking to one important rule...
'Rule # 1 is there are no rules'
...but to constantly hammer away with the argument that other people do it (cliche openings, switching POV's, etc...,etc...) and then complaining that well intentioned and experienced writers do not have the right to point out that such things are frowned upon today. Merlion's crusade has drove away three talented people that I am aware of (well two, the third was rather verbose which didn't necessarily make him talented), and has occasionally managed to recruit a couple to his cause. He has so rubbed people the wrong way that even the cool, calm, and collective KDW even suggested he should peddle his kettle of fish elsewhere once.
I probably shouldn't speak for adam, but his quote was aimed at Merlion's lack of success failing to back his impetitious argument, while the people that he drove away had their success to back theirs up. Not a nice fact to bring up but nice left the building a very long time ago in this disagreement.
The bigger argument is less about who has more experience but rather what should and what shouldn't allowed to be pointed out. If you put your work out to critisized you should be willing to except any and all comments. It is this rule that Merlion has had issues with, an issue he hasn't been willing to give up. Kinda runs contrary to your lesson, wouldn't you say?
quote:If someone says you shouldn't start with dialogue (Card said this in his boot camp I attended), then I would want to ask why.
Ironic considering that Ender's Game opens with dialog.
quote:I've found it's helpful to listen to pros. Listen to Card and King and whoever. Consider their ideas carefully. Then test their principles, guidelines, and rules. Take them back to my workshop and see if they actually work. The test being in the reader response.
And that is what most of us do here. I listen to the people who have done better than I as well as the rest who I consider my equals. I chose to ignore much of the advice but only after considering it.
Let me ask you this, John. What if in one of your workshops one writer kept showing up and brought the same argument, constantly disrupting your class, interrupting what you were trying to teach, to the point where some of your students left? I know you would ask them to leave but doing so here isn't so easy in this forum.
[This message has been edited by snapper (edited March 03, 2010).]
DW, I swear it is simply an odd coincidence that all of these Eagles references have come up lately. I like them well enough but I don't even own a single album. It is funny though.
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I think that Hatrack writers who find success should at least hang around for a couple of years, making this one of the few places one can actually access writers who are being professionally published. It's a familiar place where one can selectively participate. It can come across as condescending when a previously very chatty member finds success and suddenly is impatient with Hatrack's imperfections. Obviously most members will never be successful writers but it doesn't hurt to nurture those who enjoy writing even if it never gets to be more than a hobby for them. And then there are others who with a little advice from the wise will be successful. We've had a few who have done well and left and that kind of stings. And again there are some who have been very successful and have kept their presence and remain accessible and THAT (to me) is Hatrack's true value. It is sad that some leave because of frustrations. Extrinsic's advice was dense but seriously, you can't buy posts like that. I wish he didn't let himself get baited into conflict. (I'm assuming he is a he, not sure why). I wish Sara would pop in now and then, but that may be because she is very busy as a doctor so I'm not judging. Brad is actually MORE present now than he was before and I think that is great. Adam - please don't leave, at least not completely because that would totally bum us out. If anyone is justified in leaving it's Kathleen, seriously, ask her about her pay check. She works so hard here I'm guessing because she really does love her fellow writers, good and bad. People are people and always will be. One thing I have noticed from the first 13 is that while I am usually very skeptical of the advice, I take into account that this was a possible reaction and I go back with that in mind. So every response is useful to some degree. As for open discussions about writing, well, thats exactly what it is and some will express informed opinions and others uninformed opinions and some (rarely) get rude, but that is not the popular opinion by far, its just one persons lack of social skill. I personally greatly appreciate that OSC set this forum up and am fully aware that it would implode without Kathleen's giving spirit and I say thank you to both of them. And thank you to those who have achieved a higher level but are humble enough to answer questions for those still trying to get out of their own way. So here's hoping nobody will delete their own membership.
[This message has been edited by tnwilz (edited March 03, 2010).]
quote:Let me ask you this, John. What if in one of your workshops one writer kept showing up and brought the same argument, constantly disrupting your class, interrupting what you were trying to teach, to the point where some of your students left?
I'd shove him out with a stick.
Actually, I wouldn't do that. I'd tell him that I'd be happy to discuss (and I would be), but that his issue needed to be dealt with outside of class. The thing is, forums, as you note, aren't classes.
Again, I don't know what precipitated the whole issue. But the comments made seemed to suggest that some people are not discussing and focusing on cause and reader response effect. And it may be that it was just a single individual who liked to argue.
But the responses to the stated issue suggested somehow that the way to respond to all this haggling had to do with authority. But how can anyone's authority trump the response of an individual reader to a text or a technique? All that can be said in response is, well, okay, that's your response. Mine is different. You might be able to make an argument that yours is more representative of the target audience, but then you'd have to have numbers--only two out of ten readers reacted like you, but the rest seemed okay with it, like me. How do you argue a reader's response? It is what it is.
Of course, some may like to argue. I wasn't addressing troublemaking of any sort.
So the only questions at that point are if the reader is in the appropriate audience, is approaching the text as a reader (versus a critiquer, rule compliance checker, for payback, etc.), and is accurate in the report of their response.
I think we get into the most arguments about feedback and craft when we (1) start pontificating without tying our ideas back to verified response, (2) insist our response is the only or best one, or (3) begin to make prescriptions for fixing the issues we see.
And I third what johnbrown said, in more than the most recent post. By staying focused on goals (which would usually be intimately tied to reader response, I'd guess) and how the various tools/techniques a writer has at his disposal support those goals, I think much of the discord would go away. One writer disagreeing with another writer's goals is pointless. So perhaps it would be helpful if in discussions on topics that historically turn contentious, the participants would make their goals clear, we'd realize we often wind up arguing with no common basis for a discussion.
One of my primary goals in my current writing is to establish an emotional connection to the reader and have that be the primary source of the reader's interest in the story. So for me it is important to provide a strong character link right away. I will want the reader to get to know the character at a deep level from the start, so I will transcribe a lot of thoughts, and put the character in a position that forces them to explore themselves deeply in order to wade through a conflict. I will try to show the reader this so the reader engages their own mind and heart as they put themselves in the character's position while things unfold. The rest of the story will be tuned to supporting that dramatic situation.
If my primary goal were to build a fascinating world and engage a reader's interest through intellect and ideas, with the character being an important secondary consideration, I might be inclined to let description, history, and summary weigh more heavily on my pages, maybe go so far as to make the character's role primarily to reveal the story world.
Thanks, johnbrown! Clearly the means should be selected to support the ends.
For some reason I'm getting images of tazer-powered electric boogaloo.
[Edited to add a comma and googly eyes - I had no idea how important it was to use proper punctuation when preceding googly eyes and to edit quotes to match a subsequently edited quoted topic. Er, or something...]
[This message has been edited by BenM (edited March 03, 2010).]
As readers, we often internalize the responses of others, especially in a forum such as this.
"Are you talkin' to me?"
We approach what is written from an egocentric viewpoint - we personalize every criticism and attack and often take sides. Generalizations occur. "Skadder, billawaboy, philocinemas, and snapper are all saying we should censor newbies! Everyone grab your pitchforks!"
First of all, to provide argument for one person's point of view in specifically defined areas does not necessarily mean the person agrees with everything that person has said or the numerous comments that come after it.
My original suggestion was reconcillatory in nature, and I do not recall ever espousing that we should create labels or tiers. I honestly thought that posting sales was something that could benefit this site. I think in any other conversation it could have been looked upon favorably. However, everyone was so enraged by this blight upon the nature of writing, it was as though someone yelled, "Grab the torches and pitchforks."
There are no monsters here - just some people that are very frustrated. So, maybe everyone could just calm down and listen to one another. And yes, I'm talking to you.
If there are writers who would like to create their own topics in that area (and call them something like "My Sales") in which they can list all their past sales and any more as they come along, that is perfectly fine with me.
Who is stopping anyone from doing that?
[This message has been edited by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury (edited March 03, 2010).]
I taught my youngest to say, "Don't taze me, bro!" back when that happened. Good times.
By the way, philo, I wasn't for your idea, but I wasn't enraged about it, either so if someone/anyone wants to call out their sales in someplace other than the section KDW has mentioned, more power to 'em.
But your point is understood. I think writers tend to be a bit self-righteous so we get our backs up when we see a "wrong" committed. Unfortunately, we can't agree on what a "wrong" is sometimes.
I like to argue, but I don't like beating my head up against the wall. I'll drive my point home a couple times, and then let it go. (Unless we want to discuss Avatar some more.)
This conversation is making for fascinating reading...
Ultimately, it is up to everyone here to make the environment as welcoming and as useful for as many people as possible...
...unless the community here feels it needs to be more exclusive and keep only the nuggets of gold in the slosh of member debris that comes through (can you tell I'm working on my metaphors lately?)
My tag went from "new member" to "member" in less than a few weeks. But I've been here less than a year and yet I still feel pretty much like a new member. Hatrack has been immensely useful for me. I can tell I've grown as a writer even since my recent registration - and I don't even feel I've dived in as much as I want! I have tons of stuff to get to in my virtual to-do box, and am eagerly awaiting the end of this semester so I can waste even more time here. The benefits to me have been immense, but one of the most important for me has been to keep me encouraged that I could actually publish if I keep working on my craft. Hatrack is wonderful at perspective, but more than that I get feedbacks and see growth that lead me to believe I'm really getting there! So when I see someone leave who has really influenced me, and whose posts were always enlightening, I am more than a little disappointed. Sure, I'm sad they felt they could no longer benefit, but even on a selfish level: now they aren't around to help me! Curses!
At the risk of hijacking this thread, I wonder if it would be useful to establish some community standards? (Yes, I know we already have some, but bear with me here...) We could bounce some ideas around, and hopefully create a list of ideas that would help create an evironment where old folks still get usefulness out of Hatrack, and new members still find it inviting.
For instance, we could implement "rules" that say that for every submission of 13 lines or whatever which you post for reviews, you need to critique at least 2 others. Or whatever. I put the word rules in quotes, because it wouldn't be a hard and fast rule, just an unofficial community agreement that we could remind people of if we see someone... er... posting their own work alot without giving back, as it were. For those of us who want feedback, it may even help more good feedback to be given. Plus, when we bounce ideas back and forth off of other writers in a good way, we get an affinity for their work. A sort of quasi-friendship develops - as if it were an unofficial writing group.
For some of standards we already have, maybe some of the older timers could remind of infarctions of the rules? (wait. I meant infractions... but its funnier the first way...) For instance, I critted a bunch of first 13 lines when I first joined, and then one day whilst wandering around the links I came across KDW's "ways to critique" thread in the main area (which needs to have its posts bumped into being again...) I realized I had broken many of those "rules." If some of the older timers had been more active in alerting me to my faux pas, I would have been grateful. I would have seen it as them taking me under their wing.
I remember in one of OSC's writing books he says that the wise reader is someone the author trains: the author has to ask them the right questions, lead them by the hand, so to speak. Maybe we could do something like that here? Instead of every-poster-for-themselves, we could try to make it more of a coaching environment. A place where everyone is both the student and the master. Its already intended to be like that now, I know... but maybe we need to be reminded of it a bit more often?
Anyone have thoughts on this? Any other ideas on how to improve the community here?
And has anyone emailed the recently departed and invited them to read this thread? I'm sure someone has their email addresses in an old story they may have sent out for a critique...
I'd be interested in what they think may be useful for improving the site. Heck, I'd even like to see what they have to say about this thread! But at the end of the day, I'd like to believe that those who left are at least reading this thread without posting, so they can see that there are those who regret when any writer departs...
quote:I believe you are misinterperting Mr Skadders post. He isn't chastising a group of writers (newbies as many people are assuming) but one member.
...but to constantly hammer away with the argument that other people do it (cliche openings, switching POV's, etc...,etc...) and then complaining that well intentioned and experienced writers do not have the right to point out that such things are frowned upon today. Merlion's crusade has drove away three talented people that I am aware of (well two, the third was rather verbose which didn't necessarily make him talented), and has occasionally managed to recruit a couple to his cause.
Snapper, I think that you have gone a bit too far to lay the blame for three writers leaving solely on Merlion, or even on Merlion's "recruits". Take extrinsic for example, I remember one topic that he started that generated more heat than this one, resulting in one poster making personal attacks against him. Merlion defended extrinsic in this topic.
As for tchern, it may pay to read the topic that led to his departure. The topic was discussing an article by Robert Silverberg about showing and telling. In the subsequent discussion, it was all very cordial and tchern and Merlion were actually in agreement.
And then I asked a question. Tchern's reply took me by surprise. Firstly it viewed my motive for asking the question with suspicion (probably of, as you put it, being "recruited" by Merlion). It then both indirectly and directly suggested that Merlion's belief about what other writers thought was so extreme that "I've never seen that suggested in any critique thread or discussion" (excepting, of course, by Merlion).
There were two replies to this, one by Merlion, and one by me. Merlion, fairly, essentially said "Please don't put words in my mouth, and please don't pick a fight." (I could feel a "just when we were starting to agree about something" in his plea.) My reply was more pointed, showing evidence from the original Robert Silverberg article that some people did believe the view that Merlion said they believed, and also clarifying what my question was really about (which I still think is an interesting topic). Tchern then spat the dummy, quitting hatrack. (Note - a dummy is the Australian word for what I believe is termed a "pacifier" in the US). I felt like a pitcher in backyard baseball who has the batter on strike one after a good pitch, and then the batter says "I'm not going to play anymore" because of some niggle with the catcher that occurred in a previous game. Worse, older sister comes out and includes me in a scolding as "people without the sales" or "recruits", particularly as I seem to have been left holding the ball.
So, even though there may have been significant niggle between the two, tchern is responsible for his own actions. And I don't think you can really put the the entire blame for his departure on Merlion given the posts that were made.
[This message has been edited by Brendan (edited March 04, 2010).]
Uh, Brendan, skadder is... I believe the Australian word is... a bloke. I assume the reference to "older sister" was unintentional.
Regarding tchernabyelo, whether warranted or not, I believe he perceived it as another "the sky is purple" argument. Though you have no control over the weather (or the whether), it has been a long cold winter in this part of the world and many of us are a bit more on edge than usual. This doesn't excuse anyone's actions or words, but perhaps it provides some perspective.
I actually am one who does not mind Merlion's arguments, though his methods are not always the most civil (specifically the line-by-line rebuttals). Many here become very frustrated with them, and even more so when they believe he is winning over "converts". You just happened to step off the bus into a big pile of... (well, you get the picture). And to clarify, Merlion, I do not see your arguments as pointless or as excrement even though I do not always agree with them.
I feel this frustration is what initiated skadder's post. Skadder has just recently won second place in WOTF (cheers!) and I would expect he feels vindicated in that the methods he has suggested, along with many who have exited due to arguments like this, are the more successful means of becoming published "professionally".
"The sky is purple" has been a repeated argument in almost every post regarding style, POV, cliches, etc. since I have been here. It doesn't really bother me; I can make my own decisions as to whose advice I want to follow - as can everyone else. In truth, sometimes I look up at dusk and say to myself "the sky is purple", but not every day and usually only for a few minutes.
My point is that the frustration is genuine. The people responding on both "sides" of this argument are feeling attacked. There have been rushes to judgement by many. I do not see this thread as being helpful to any of us as writers, but as of no fault of skadder's (I share his regret for tchernabyelo's departure). I suggest we all move on.
I spend 99% of my time lurking on these forums so you can take my opinion however you want.
I see these conflicts between posters as something like this:
I am 10 years old riding in the back seat of the car. My sister pokes me. I ignore her. My sister pokes me again and I tell her to stop it. She pokes me again and I off and slap her one.
Now she is crying and mom is yelling. I try to explain that she started it, but mom isn't having any of that.
Here is the kicker: I am the oldest. I should know better.
I was very disappointed by a couple of threads in F&F by "newbie" posters in the past couple of months in which the original discussion of the first 13 got derailed on tangents. I found it sad that a couple of people that have the credentials to be considered professional did not act that way and continued on in such a manner. I have not seen those new people post again.
On the flip side, these experienced writers have contributed greatly to this forum and it isn't my place to judge them.
My 10 year-old self may be older and wiser than my sister, but I am not always right in the way I handle things.
The ongoing arguments in this and another thread had been bugging me a little lately, but no longer.
I came to a sudden realisation today. As I was on the train this morning reading Terry Pratchett's Small Gods I encountered the scene where a philosopher in Pratchett's satirical version of Greece is thrown out of a bar by his colleagues.
quote:'I'm telling you, listen, a finite intellect, right, cannot by means of comparison reach the absolute truth of things, because being by nature indivisible, truth excludes the concepts of "more" or "less" so that nothing by truth itself can be the exact measure of truth. You b*st*rds,' he said. Someone from inside the building said, 'Oh yeah? Sez you.'
Our timid and foreign never-having-seen-a-philosopher MC then enters the bar and interrupts the brawl:
quote:'Have you been fighting?' said Brutha. The assembled philosophers assumed various expressions of shock and horror. 'Fighting? Us? We're philosophers,' said Ibid, shocked.
Which is to say that they're just in their natural state.
And I got to thinking about this thread, and some other heated debates on this forum, and I thought: You know, at some level it's actually perfectly fine. Because writing, and being a writer, is arguing. It's taking a theme and learning to use rhetoric to argue that point so that our reader is completely, incontrovertibly convinced of its truth. And in learning to argue well, it seems only natural that some of us will occasionally argue poorly.
And maybe my present contribution to this argument is going to leave some people scratching their heads due to my own ineptitude at communication. And if that's the case then here's the TLDR version: I've just decided not to be bothered by this, have put my feet up, and am enjoying the show - how about you?
quote:snapper, I'm disappointed that you've moved into the realm of personal attack.
Of all the posts that I have read on hatrack this one has affected me the most.
Let me explain my actions, my colleagues.
Over the last couple of years here I have witnessed more than a few upstanding, helpful, and qualified writers come and go. Most just fade away, a small portions were kind enough to let me know that they were no longer going to participate hatrack. The reason is always the same -- fed up with the contentious attitude of a few. I always try to talk them out of it, I even managed to change a mind or two.
So when one of my oldest and dearest writing friends sent me an email that ended...
quote:I feel like I am getting into conflict with people to much now. I am going to leave Hatrack and find another home...
...the contentious nature of hatrack finally reached my tipping point.
This thread started with Skadders frustration of losing tchernabyelo, a 32 timed published writer (according to his journal). The advice that tchern gave in F & F was invaluable. His opinions were genuine and he was inclusive with his advice. He gave it freely to everyone, regardless of their experience. A person like that could charge for that service.
Now skadders comments were reactionary, as were mine, but his points had merit. JohnBrown used this thread to forward his own opinions on critiquing (which is fine) but used a statement that skadder made to further his point...
quote:Is that really the best way to learn this craft?
Now John stated that he wasn't aware of what happened, he called it as he saw it. Where getting called onto the carpet like that didn't make Mr skadder feel great, what really hurt was the resounding of applause Mr Browns post received.
In my opinion, skadder overreacted but was thoughtful enough to not point fingers. What that got him was an assumption that his comments were aimed at anyone that didn't fit a level of success, as if a lack of publications exempted some writers the right to an opinion. I happened to know that was not what he was saying and wanted to set the record straight. Unfortunetly, for me to do so effectively I pointed fingers. Distasteful and probably uncalled for.
I write because it is fun for me to do so. I believe most, if not all, of you are motivated to write for the same reasons. Why hatrack is so successful at recruiting new members is because it looks like a fun place to join. It is interactive, there is tons of fun stuff to do, useful advice, and immediate feedback. I rarely visit my first critique site because I spend most of my time in this one. Ms Woodbury has done a wonderful job doing her best to keep it this way.
The reason why so many of outstanding members leave hatrack is because it quits being fun for them. Why participate if your advice is unappreciated and your well meaning comments are challenged and chastized? Why keep at it when it isn't enough for a colleague to simply disagree with your opinion and instead bring up the same point over and over, taking up the cause over several threads and constant posts, in a campaign that is more to wear you out than change anyones mind. It has worked.
I miss so many hatrack members. Talespinner, annepin, JeanneT, Kathyton, AnthonySullivan...to name a few...are no longer seen here anymore. TobyWestern, InarticulateBabbler, steffenwolf...are some of teh writers that used to share their insights in F & F and can no longer be found there. There absence makes hatrack less fun.
I apoligise to you JohnBrown. You are only trying to be a team player and offer your own free advice. It is appreciated.
I apologise to the rest of you. I do find these divisive threads counterproductive, but I felt skadder was unjustly getting piled on and reacted because of it.
And Merlion deserves an apology as well. You don't deserve to be used as a whipping boy. Your perserveance is second to none. I have seen you absorb many insults, and witnessed the most egregious misjustice leveled at you when you were posting personal good news once. I just wish you would consider your point made and move on.
Hopefully my explaination will suffice. Now onto the rest of my life.
[This message has been edited by snapper (edited March 05, 2010).]