The saying, give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach him to fish and he will eat forever, is true of critiques.
It s seems I always see people striking snippets and walls of text and replacing it with their own red-ink improvements, that I felt the need to blog my thoughts.
For the most part, writers posting here do not need edits, they need help. So often I see writers lacking the basic understanding of grammar and punctuation - which is absolutely fine, because we've all been there - and people reply with detailed edits without explaining anything. The writer has indeed been helped in fixing the piece in question, but they have learned nothing. Barring genuine typos, you've just gave the writer a fish, which would be fine were the writing of such a high calibre it needed only a swift edit to be worthy of a 7c a word magazine - but this is rarely the case.
The people writing these edits cannot be faulted too severely, because their motives are pure (for the most part) and they do indeed spend the time to try and help. The problem is, edits make poor substitutes for real critiques, focussing less on the writer's overall improvement and more upon the writing as an isolated text.
My point is, writers are here improve!
If the same errors are repeated throughout, the writer is clearly in need of explanation regarding some rules- give them that instead, with perhaps one example. Alternatively suggest (nicely!) that they brush up on their punctuation & grammar, particularly _______, just as everyone has had to do.
Since anyone replying to a writer's work is hopefully motivated by the want to help, perhaps this gives some alternative methods of doing so for those red-pen-bandits!
I'm interested in everyone's opinions regarding this. Please comment & rate honestly!
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