1. Youssef Salameh
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    Youssef Salameh Active Member

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    About criticism

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Youssef Salameh, Apr 2, 2014.

    Regards, I would like to ask an important topic, its about criticism on the writings of other writers; for example, criticizing essays, poetry, etc... So, Although its very essential for improving others writing skills, yet criticism, may turn as an essential tool to do moral harm, on the writer. Especially when the criticizer makes criticisms on personal accounts; on the basis of self-interest; for showing himself off, and maybe to hurt the other's feelings.
    The point is: anyone can criticize, but is everyone allowed to practice it?
    Since the matter is sensitive, is in it better to make a private criticism, and to make an agreement with the writer, to see weather he wants his work be criticized publicly; I think that that's very important.
    Another thing, as a reader, its not important to show the skills of criticism. If you like it, say so, encourage him/her. In such case, you will all work to improve yourselves.
    Anyway, I am pleased to know your opinions, brothers and sisters, regarding this essential matter.
     
  2. Michael Collins
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    Michael Collins Contributing Member

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    Criticism must be constructive, it's not intended as a tool to do anyone harm.
    Everyone can be allowed to criticise, but not everyone can.
    Telling someone that his work is no good, and bashing him without explaining is not criticism, one has to learn to spot the critics who haven't got a clue what they're on about.

    You must be ready to face arrogance, jealousy, stupidity and ignorance when putting up anything for critique, and if you can't take it, and weed out the good critic from the bad, you are going to have big problems.

    Especially in the world of the Internet, where everyone with half a brain can be a deity.

    About the private/public criticism matter, I believe that a private critique from a mentor can be a valuable tool, but you have to be ready to face the public sooner or later, and treasure the negative arguments just as the good ones.
    If you just write for yourself there's no need for a private critique either.

    I you just want to hear how good you are, that's not being criticised.
     
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  3. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or perhaps, whoever wants to be a writer needs to develop a thick skin? I understand what you are trying to say, and you are right, nasty criticising instead of constructive criticism does hurt, but. Life isn't a rose garden, some people are just not nice and sometimes they get in our face. An artist can only be paralysed by fear of negative criticism. Say, an unknown writer X 'negotiates' with his critics privately, and only publishes critiques he himself approves of. So far so good. The writer X is happy, confident, not ashamed due to public bad reviews of his work etc. One day writer X becomes famous. He can no longer privately negotiate anything with tens of millions of people who read and buy his work. Suddenly, he starts coming across bad reviews of his work in the papers, on the internet etc. Every writer, no matter how good, has bad reviews, it's in the nature of humans to be jealous of other's success, and also, there's no way to please everybody all the time.

    So what has writer X gained? A massive anxiety over public bad reviews just as he became successful. Instead of enjoying the fruits of his labour and capitalising on the opportunity by coming out confident, giving interviews, communicating with fans and publishing the next book, he is fearful and depressed, too embarrassed to even pick up his phone. What will people say?!

    And even if all this is ridiculous hyperbole, still, what's the point of his initial private arrangements and control over which critique becomes public? Dealing with blows to our ego is character building. There are many worse things in life than someone publicly slagging off our writing. So, I say, the writer needs to man up and not let negative criticism affect him negatively. :)
     
  4. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Right now no one on writing forums knows my real life identity. My real name isn't Plothog. Therefore there's no real embarrassment to myself if someone wants to shred my work. Critiques on here are relatively constructive compared to unsolicited internet comments that anyone with a degree of fame will receive.
     
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  5. Youssef Salameh
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    Youssef Salameh Active Member

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    Dear Mr. Michael Collins,
    Thanks so much for your great, informative and helping reply, i really appreciate it.
     
  6. Youssef Salameh
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    Youssef Salameh Active Member

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    Dear Mrs. Jazzabel,
    My appreciations to your very important reply which is full of care to the topic. All my appreciations to you all. I just wanted to cast light upon what's happening, in general, in the world of criticism, everywhere. And especially, to reach a point where constructive, and courteous criticism may be reached. Where, all material bounds may vanish in front of good writings.
    Again you all understood me.
     
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  7. Youssef Salameh
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    Youssef Salameh Active Member

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    Dear Mr. Plothog,
    Regards, Thanks for your reply, I really appreciate it. And, OF COURSE, our great respect and love to this great forum.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2014
  8. Youssef Salameh
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    Youssef Salameh Active Member

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    Of course, I will be very pleased to share opinions regarding the matter.
    All our respects.
    Waiting for the reply, if possible.
     
  9. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Are you raising this as a general point of discussion, or do you have some particular criticism in mind? I ask because the question does not appear to be one of casual inquiry.

    Several months ago, a member of this forum sent me a short sample of his writing and asked me what I thought. I pointed out specific problems that I saw, gave him some suggestions of what he could do differently and encouraged him to keep working at it. I never heard back from him, and he has not been on the forum since.

    I agree with @jazzabel - if you're going to be a writer, and by that I mean a published writer, you need thick skin. You also need to be able to distinguish legitimate criticism which helps you learn and improve from that which has some other purpose. After I'd completed my first attempt at a novel, I queried several agents to try to get it published. One asked for several chapters, and later got back to me, saying my writing was "immature". Being in my forties at the time, I naturally took umbrage but I also asked her what she meant. She explained that I'd made several errors that novice writers tend to make - over-explaining (or "spoonfeeding") the reader, unnecessary dialogue tags, filtering and excessive incidental dialogue (writing dialogue as an actual conversation would sound). No other single piece of advice I've ever received helped my writing as much as hers did.
     
  10. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it's important to remember the difference between a critique (meant to help the writer) and a review (meant to help the reader). If you put something up for critique, you shouldn't have to put up with personal insults, ego-trippers, or anything not having to do with the writing itself. (Of course, you have to be careful where you put things up for critique, so as not to get on some free-for-all site disguised as a crit site.) But reviews are a different matter. Reviewers aren't trying to help the writer improve - they're giving their own opinion of the writing for the benefit of other readers. I would suggest ignoring them for the most part.
     
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  11. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    If the critic is him/herself a writer, more is gained in the knowledge and improvement of writing by giving the critique than by receiving it. The critic is actually the one who comes out winning.

    There is no way to give a critique that doesn't contain personal elements, portions of the critic, within the critique. Though complete objectivity is the goal, I don't think it's one that's actually attainable. Like the speed of light. You can ever approach, but never quite attain. That being said, critique given with emotional abuse as an intent is reprehensible.

    The answer is yes, at least under the laws of my local slice of life.

    No, not in the least. If you open your writing to the public, you open yourself to public criticism of your writing. If this dynamic is too dangerous to the writer's sensibilities, sensitivities, comfort bubble, whatever you want to call it, then the writer needs to put away paper and pen and go find something else to do.

    No. No one improves, either the critic or the writer, by receiving facile, meaningless placation.

    You have just had them. ;)
     
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  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I've learned how to write through good critiques. Bad ones I nod and ignore.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    of course... it's a basic human right... though in some countries the right to do so publicly is restricted...

    but everyone also has the right to ignore another's criticism...
     
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  14. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    As soon as you offer up any type of art for public display - you're going to get criticism and not all will be helpful. But that really shouldn't be a big shocker as even human beings walking around in our own skin we get criticized ( as a child being a skinny little redhead who looked like Raggedy Anne with braces - I had nearly every physical feature criticized. )

    My dad is an artist and he still gets people that say - so, you call this art? Now, my dad has enough years as an artist to dismiss these comments. But maybe if he was starting out they might've been harmful.

    However, you have to believe in yourself ( do you want this? really want to be a writer? ) and learn to sort criticism. I've been on here coming on, I think two years and I've only seen a few smart ass' give purposely lousy critics - one I think was banned another was called on it and just never came back. Plus, deep down, if you take a step back from making your work so personal, when you get a good critique you'll know it. If you read, love to read, love to write, the comments will start to make sense. And you'll want them - even if they sting - because it only makes your writing better.
     
  15. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I hadn't thought of it that way. See, I just learned something new. :)
     
  16. Youssef Salameh
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    Youssef Salameh Active Member

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    Dear Mr. E.D,
    thanks so much for your very constructive comment. As for your question, yes am rasing it as a general point of discussion, but, o reach a point where we work together, to encourage our talents in the correct direction.
    Indeed, I am with the constructive criticism, especially the one which you have mentioned. But sometimes, a writer on the forums, in general, is being pursued , by some critics who just try to show off their "critic" ability. In this case the writer will reach frustration, especially if he is new to writing. Furthermore, sometimes that writer doesn't get any support or help from the administrator, knowing that he becomes under oppression.
    My respects and love to all the members of this great forum.
     
  17. Youssef Salameh
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    Youssef Salameh Active Member

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    Dear Mr. shadow walker,
    I totally agree with you. Thanks so much for your special comment.
     
  18. Youssef Salameh
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    Youssef Salameh Active Member

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    Dear Mr. Wreybies,
    Thanks for your comments, but please, By the way I meant and mentioned that my goal is to reach true constructive criticisms; TO HELP EACH OTHER REACH THE GOAL OF sharing our experiences. Of course if a person posts a writing online, he should receive criticisms. But not to make our personal beliefs, have affects on our job of criticism; I mean that if I don't like a certain type of writing, for example, science fiction, comedy, etc... that doesn't mean that I make offensive criticism to the writer.
    ×Of course the critic has his own imprint in his words, and should be respected.
    What am against, is the negative skills of criticism; the bad UNFRIENDLY way of criticizing. But of course a criticizer should be qualified for doing his job, otherwise, he will be truely hurting the writer.
    I 've just clarified my opinions, in case they were misunderstood.
    God bless you all.
     
  19. Youssef Salameh
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    Youssef Salameh Active Member

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    Yes sir, What you said is true, and I agree with you. But my phrase was misunderstood Maybe I did not use the accurate word. What I meant by "practicing" is to work as a critic. Of course, if he is not qualified, he can't do it.
    Sorry for not clarifying it
     
  20. Youssef Salameh
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    Youssef Salameh Active Member

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    Yes, I agree with you. As to me, may God forgive the offenders.
     
  21. Youssef Salameh
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    Youssef Salameh Active Member

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    Thanks a lot for your comment. God bless you.
     
  22. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I may regret belaboring this point, but I just cannot help myself...

    It is a commonly held, but fallacious expectation that a writer improves most by receiving critique. It's the other way around. When one receives critique, one receives the points of view of others, which may or may not be valid or even applicable. They may be thought provoking and they may introduce concepts the writer had not considered, but it remains for the writer to consider and apply.

    Those are the most important words to the entire conversation: consider and apply.

    When the writer gives a critique that is precisely where he/she starts: consideration of the work and application of methodology.

    When any writer comes to a forum like this, he/she should be looking to give critique to everything in sight. The prospective writer should be reading published works with a pencil in their hand, marking the flaws, highlighting the strengths, circling the parts that leave them questioning and then looking for information to explain. This is how a writer improves most.

    I realize that's a fantasy because the truth is that most come dying to post their own work as quickly as possible. I was no different. The silent truth that no one owns up to is that what most (but not all) come looking for initially is a stroked ego. The ego is as fragile as genitalia and equally as able to give pleasure as to give stunning pain. If that's what one presents first, not knowing the hands into which one is delivering, the outcome is frighteningly dubious.
     
  23. Youssef Salameh
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    Youssef Salameh Active Member

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    Yes, but not everybody is apt to receive criticism as the other. Encouragement has a special role, in forums, especially literature forums, to help a writer write better. His/her skills may turn from downwards to upwards. Am not detaining critics, but there is a certain control over oneself when criticizing. At lease they should show an example. But everyone is free, freedom is God's gift to all creation. That's what I believe. As brothers and sisters, in literature, there is a certain way of dealing with each other. There is something which is called wrong criticism, and right criticism. Furthermore, the criticizer shouldn't use his authority, and force his opinion upon a writer. For even he has an authority as a teacher, or any high digree position, he should consider us as human beings, and not robots
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2014
  24. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    I do get easily offended, but not by the "it sucks" criticisms. Those have zero value because they don't point to anything other than the reader/reviewer's preference and inability to express much more than grunts.

    It would be the ones the pick, ridicule and scorn at something specific: characterization, dialog, narration. Things like that.
     
  25. Smoke Z
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    Smoke Z Active Member

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    I should stay away from reviewing too much because that sounds like what I am after when I put my work out. I know that there is something wrong with what I do. And I get pissed when someone doesn't even try to sink a lancet into it.

    Trying to remember to be nice doesn't work... that's gotten me screamed at.
     

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