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Author Topic: Hatrack River Lexicon
extrinsic
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This is a proposed collaborative work collecting types of worskhop comments. Not manuscript motifs that might be artless, overused, trite, or perhaps cliché. The Turkey City Lexicon owns that paradigm. Nor about workshopper persons making the comments. Putting the pointy finger on anyone is not a best courtesy practice. But about types of comments often made in workshops about manuscript motifs, artful or artless comments or both. Try to be lightheared and humorous, Ironies are fabulous and encouraged and persuasively appealing.

Reziac proposed the "Power Sander," which I reinterpreted from a critiquer type to a type of comment. This example demonstrates what I mean about not making this about persons.

"The Power Sander": a critique that relentlessly, tediously grinds down sharp corners until the prose is as flat and bland as a rice cake.

MattLeo proposed the "Portentious Majuscule": artless intitial capital case used for injudicious emphasis, which is a manuscript motif I feel can be reinterpreted as a comment type.

These are three I posted priorly at the trailing end of the "In Medias Res?" discussion thread:

The Grammarian Phone-In: ["Story name here"] exhibits a "Strong mechanical style," "good grammar," "well-developed punctuation and spelling skills," etc. This type of workshopper comment, is often given early, before discussing what doesn't work. This comment type gets the favorable comments about what works out of the way quickly to shift discussion into the main course of finding shortcomings. Though a welcome effort made to find and comment upon what works, it signals less than inspired efforts. It is phoned in, so to speak, not much effort made, and likely a feature everyone recognizes already anyway.

Yes Butt: Agreeable commentary veiling passive-agressive disapproval. "Yeah, that there is okay, but this here is lame." Or "The story craft seems okay, yeah, but the genre is unfamiliar."

Missed-the-page-itis: An actually inspired and astute comment when it respectfully interprets the intent and meaning of a piece and suggests treatments for underdeveloped or missing content. "The first and second major turns rise in timely sequence and proportionately escalating tension. The third dramatic turn feels like it missed the page and might benefit from more dramatic development."

A new comment motif;

Speed Bump Voice: describes either jarring voice transitions between character and narrator or diction that offends sensibilities. The former: Hilton said the word haint like he meant ain't. "Haint you-all got onto the spooky porch yet?" Leon heard haint and thought Hilton meant haunt you-all. Leon was spooked, all right.

Edit: This type of comment often identifies a shortcoming that doesn't work, but usually doesn't and can't describe why.

The latter: "Dung," Hammy said. "The sock-cocking rope done come motherloving loose and the danged skiff got away out into the demon-blessed current." (Cleaned up for PG-13 and younger audiences.)

Edit: This type of comment often expresses a personal sensibility and a personal preference for clean and wholesome diction.

[ May 10, 2013, 10:48 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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MattLeo
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How about this one, "The Running Faceplant": an action-packed opening that is tacked onto the start of a story in the vain hope it will propel the reader through the dense wall of exposition that awaits him.
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extrinsic
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quote:
Originally posted by MattLeo:
How about this one, "The Running Faceplant": an action-packed opening that is tacked onto the start of a story in the vain hope it will propel the reader through the dense wall of exposition that awaits him.

Can you relate that to an expressed workshop comment about Running Faceplants? As it is, it's more a critique about a manuscript motif. The comment as I know it often given in workshops is fast opening, slow following, Or similarly, slow opening. These types of comments are, of course, about tension and plot movement therefrom.

I've heard workshop comments that are Running Faceplants, too. The comment starts off headlong into inspired, heady, significant, and instructive commentary, then launches into digressive bait and switch commentary describing unrelated similarities. Like how the action is somewhat similar to but different from a series of published stories no one else has read nor does the comment relate them to the work on the hot seat.

Though I'm looking for a different perspective, one of how workshop comments may be informative or detractive, the ideas you've proposed are top quality. I encourage you to host a discussion about manuscript motifs as well.

[ May 10, 2013, 06:35 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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MattLeo
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Oh, I understand the game you want to play now.

How about this --

Fermat's Last Commentary: when a critic claims he has something significant to say about a manuscript but that he can't be bothered to write it down.

I don't know how widespread this is, but I actually encountered it frequently in an online workshop which I will not name. In that workshop you in essence earned brownie points by submitting critiques, and later cashed those points in by submitting your own MS to be critiqued. This was a classic case of [url= http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campbell's_law]Campbell's Law[/url], in which concrete measures used to control a social process end up corrupting that process. It's like teachers responding to standardized testing by teaching to maximize test scores rather than student achievement (or worse, cheating). A workshop where you're judged by quantity rather than quality of critique has predictable results (although I wish the gentleman who runs the workshop in question well).

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extrinsic
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quote:
Originally posted by MattLeo:
Fermat's Last Commentary: when a critic claims he has something significant to say about a manuscript but that he can't be bothered to write it down.

Artful allegorical allusion to Fermat's Last Theorem. Much closer and only a tiny bit personal. If solely about the comment type and not about a critic, it would be perfect. Say, a criticism claiming something profound about a manuscript but not bothered to be written down or substantivle expressed so it may be known.

Passive voice is okay, by the way, since we're not assigning responsibility to a person or type of critic.

I've encountered quite a few Fermat's Last Commentaries in spoken as well as written workshop comments. Like the critiquer who scratches at the edges of an inspired yet elusive comment. I gave a few of them in my early workshop days.

One I remember that the writer questioned and I couldn't elaborate on at the time was about the strong personal involvement of the piece. I felt the work had too much "I" mediation of the action. I now know how to express it persuasively from a narrative point of view and voice approach, that the external world's development was obscured by the narrator's "I looked," "I watched," "I stood," and "I sat" sorts of static voice.

The writer is now enjoying a full-time writing career and wide and growing critical acclaim.

I know of what you speak about the quantity-reward based workshop. I cut my wisdom teeth there and grappled with more than one rude form. There's another one or two that are even more trying than that one.

[ May 13, 2013, 02:29 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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extrinsic
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The Ditto: A comment that agrees with what usually all other commenters have said and sometimes adds a reinforcing and repetive comment about what most stood out as working or not working. This response is similar to a phone-in comment and may signal that the manuscript on the hot seat wasn't read in preparation for the discussion. While generally agreeable and polite, mainly expressing bonds with the workshop complement, this comment type signals a reluctance to break from the group-think pack.

The Nada, meaning "nothing" in Spanish: A comment or lack thereof stating or signaling that there's nothing to add to the discussion. This comment type usually signals either a reluctance to participate in discussion because of timidity or a polite expression akin to the platitude "If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing." While the latter may be nice, it is not kind at least because a no-comment response could be construed as disapproval, having no clue from which to go on.

[ May 16, 2013, 05:48 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Reziac
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I have to disagree about 'The Ditto' being similar to a phone-in or groupthink comment; sometimes, yes, but in my observation it's more often a reinforcer: "Hey look, these people say THIS [good or bad] about your work, and I agree; given this, maybe you should look more closely at that part!"

If the Nada says nothing, how do we know he had nothing to say? [Confused]

The Enforcer: who understands all the rules and knows how to apply them, but has no idea when or how they should be broken.

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extrinsic
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Reziac, The Ditto may indeed enhance prior comments' weight of interest. More often when I hear that comment type, and I've heard it many times, the commenter has been distracted and not participating beyond making the ditto comment. It's easy to make and the comment form generally has no supporting commentary citing original examples from the text.

Nada saying nothing isn't about the commenter, it's a type of uninterpretible comment expressed by silence. We don't know that the critiquer had nothing to say, only that the critiquer said nada.

Could you recast The Enforcer so it's not about a person but about the comment type? Particularly about a comment that cites a widely-known law-like rule, that's really a writing principle, a guide or guidance, that a consensus believes is either a cliché or construction shortcoming, like, respectively, the waking up opening or weather report opening, or the Show, don't tell lex legis lex or the viewpoint glitch, also known as a point of view violation.

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Reziac
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Oh, do you really mean the AOL? as it's typically represented:

<AOL>Me too!</AOL>

Nada: what's that line about sound and thunder, signifying nothing? [Smile]

Hmm... making 'em into comment types is a lot harder than inflicting 'em on a person! Maybe we need a Generic Critter who embraces all these 'virtues'.

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extrinsic
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I don't grok "AOL."

"Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Shakespeare, Macbeth Act V, Scene V.

I suppose our itinerant critique critter is an easier and more personal entity to assign responsibility to for these lexitropes. Tough writing them as impersonal without using passive voice. But it's dynamic writing exercise.

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tesknota
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Perhaps this one?

The Guillotine: A comment that skips past attempts to edit line-by-line and instead suggests that a sizable chunk of the piece be amputated. This suggestion may either strengthen the piece or be a mere reflection of the commentator's personal preferences; the resulting Dittos will reveal the majority's opinion of the Guillotine.

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extrinsic
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I like The Guillotine. It hits on all corners. A comment of this type often suggests cutting a beginning or ending. Pump-priming openings may benefit from this observation. Endings that thinly veil attempts to perpetuate a saga by starting into a new dramatic complication and leaving the cliff hanging may also.

On the other hand, Guillotine comments that attempt to impose another creative vision onto a work ought as a best practice be graciously acknowledged and otherwise left alone.

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Reziac
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quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
I don't grok "AOL."

Back in the days before forums but after BBSs, there was Usenet. And one sad September there was a flood of new users from AOL (America OnLine, who even remembers that?) whose major contributions to discussions were readily summarized as "Me too!"

So, using faux HTML markup, the Ditto becomes:

<AOL>Me too!</AOL>

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