1. Kontrast
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    Kontrast Member

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    Biased Critiques?

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Kontrast, Jun 11, 2011.

    Is it okay to let your significant other critique your work? My fiance and I first met at a writer's conference two years ago and before we started dating we would meet up and review each others books. We haven't done this for awhile, but we have both been thinking about starting up again. I don't know if either of us can review without being biased and I was curious if anyone has had a similar experience. thanks!
     
  2. wolfi
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    wolfi Contributing Member

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    Honestly do some "tests"
    i know many copoules that make the best Critiques for one another


    Have them ask "dose this make me look fat" or something eles
    and answer truthfully
    if you both can do that then it should be ok
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'd avoid it. Do you really want to risk the heat of critique getting tangled with your relationship?
     
  4. wolfi
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    wolfi Contributing Member

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    Well I think if you cant take critique form them then you may have some problems

    And if your mature and what not it should be no problem
    of course if its nothing but fighting then stop
    But they did it before and their friendship seemed to work

    While deferent then friendship it should not really make it THAT bad
     
  5. heyitsmary
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    heyitsmary Member

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    Since your fiance is a writer as well I don't see a problem. I find it easier to get a good critique out of my friends who are writers than those who aren't. I've also had my parents critique my work before but it got frustrating because they never knew how to tell me exactly what needed to be fixed. But I've never had a problem with bias or having a relationship suffer because of critique.
     
  6. Kontrast
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    Kontrast Member

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    We just did it...results:

    I wasn't too hard on him and he wanted MORE critiques
    He told me I needed to eventually rewrite my entire chapter because it didn't have enough dialogue.

    Neither of us got heated or upset, and though I told him point blank that I wasn't going to make my entire first chapter dialogue AND assigned him a book to read (Dusk by Tim Lebbon) to prove my point, I also agreed that a few narrated paragraphs COULD be made more interesting with some back and forth dialogue. We made plenty of jokes about both of our novels and finished with a more understanding perspective. I think after living together for almost two years (yah we moved a little fast :D), we can be blunt with each other without bruising any egos. Though I don't think I would recommend it for everyone, I've been in several relationships where the guy would ask to read my chapters and then we would fight over it.
     
  7. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    I would not let anyone look at my work. I refuse to do so in any way. They can beg all they want, and even give me a dollar for every page I allow them to read--That is not happening. I would not even tell them that you are even writing a novel. They will probably crucify you to death until you do not want to write anymore. Posting reviews on the forums can be slim too. So why post your work for review if they will tell you how boring it may be, especially if it leads you to quit writing? If asking for your family member for critique, and it seems satisfying, then go for it.
     
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  8. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    I think it's a great way to learn how to be constructive. You have a personal stake in not just degenerating to being a jerk, and also will be aware of possible positive biases. So, yeah, it's a great way to learn how to be constructive in a way that is honest, helpful, and free from both positive and negative bias.
     
  9. Ashrynn
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    Ashrynn Active Member

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    "You shouldn't eat where you sleep."

    Hrmm....
     
  10. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    I think it's the end product from the process of eating and digesting that one shouldn't do where they sleep. No problems eating where you sleep, just don't leave crumbs in the bed!
     
  11. Forest Girl
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    Forest Girl Member

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    If you can take honesty and the other person can be honest, then it shouldn't be a problem.

    My sister in law, my sister, and my mother critique my work.

    My sister, especially, is very good. She wants my work to be 'perfect' in her eyes and has not problem writing "NO!!!" in big red letters if she doesn't like something.

    They love my writing, but know my abilities. So, between the three of them and their honesty, I have seen my writing improve.
     
  12. Ashrynn
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    Ashrynn Active Member

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    Ah, I was unsure of the saying.

    Well, either way, that'd be a nightmare.

    See here is your real problem. After telling her you think it's a good idea, now you have to say that it's a bad idea because you two might fight over the critique or you'll just say "it's good" not to upset her and she'll automatically assume you are saying her work is bad.
     
  13. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not a problem, if there's honesty and you can 'take it'.

    I used to write poetry/lyrics in Italian a lot, and my boyfriend critiqued them as it was his mother tongue. Made my writing much better. :)

    He also shared many of his lyrics with me.

    There was never anything negative about the process. Quite the opposite.
     
  14. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do use family members for critique purposes, though not as a primary source. I ask them if they know someone - friend, neighbor, lover, co-worker - who reads a particular type of novel and who they would trust to be honest, intelligent, and forthright. Then I ask if they would trust that person to offer a viable critique on my work and would they (family member) mind asking that aforementioned friend, neighbor, etc. if they would object to reading and critiquing a manuscript. I've gotten some wonderful results from people who make notes in margins and such, as well as abysmal and uninformative results from some who make no comments other than to tell fm "it's good".

    My best beta reader is my son who seems to be a very analytical critic and will, bless his soul, read whatever I put in front of him, regardless of genre. He makes margin notes and line notes and has been known to tell me outright, "This character is just not believable," or "Doesn't work for me," or "How married to this are you anyway?" I've had mss returned to me with whole passages marked through. He's never actually told me outright, "This passage really sux." He always finds more diplomatic ways of expressing that sentiment.

    As far as a spouse or lover as a reader though ...? Unless you really, REALLY have a strong relationship and you know you both can trust and deal with an honest response, that's pretty touchy territory. As Cogito alluded to previously, that's a pretty dicey ingredient to throw into the mix in a relationship if both parties are not psychologically strong and mentally well adjusted. If you know your significant other to be level-headed, honest, and having a great deal of integrity and, if you are confident that you can trust his or her comments to be on a purely technical and literary level without regard for your personal relationship and, if you are truly strong enough to accept negative comment from someone so close to you emotionally, then it can probably work. Otherwise, I'd suggest keeping your love life and your writing life completely and irrevocably separate.
     
  15. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^^

    Good points. Perhaps it doesn't work for everyone, and it's best to tread carefully.

    For me, it gave me a lot of confidence at a time when I wasn't sharing my writing with anyone at all. So I'm thankful that he encouraged me to step outside the box.

    It also brought us even closer. Reading or listening to something creative he'd worked on was like opening another door or dimension.

    That doesn't mean we always agreed or there weren't discussions... We both have Italian blood after all. ;)

    But that made it real and interesting.
     
  16. James Scarborough
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    James Scarborough Member

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    By their very nature, all critiques are biased. I think writers need pretty thick skin in order to accept criticism without allowing it to unduly influence their work.

    I don't show my work to anyone until it's complete. At that point, I invite comment and reaction from trusted readers. Some are family, some are friends and some are other writers. I don't take anyone's comments too seriously, whether positive or negative. It's my work and the only person I have to satisfy is myself. However, I find it helpful to receive comments, criticism and reactions from trusted readers before producing my final draft.
     
  17. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    I might agree with some of the arguments for accepting critiques from people who know you as good. What I don't find is the reason to do so.

    Are your couples, parents or siblings much better critiques than people you can find here (for example)? In that case, I'd say "go for it". Otherwise, why would you take away from them the pleasure of reading your work for the first time once it's finished?
     
  18. The Degenerate
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    The Degenerate Active Member

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    There's nothing wrong with it, depending on the person. For instance, I won't show anything to my mother for an honest critique, because she'll just praise it up and down while ignoring the faults. It's nice for my self-esteem, but it won't help me grow as a writer.

    However, you can train anyone in your life to offer an honest critique. Just ask them certain questions about the manuscript that you want them to respond to. For instance, "What do you think about Character A's motivations in this scene?" "Do you think the dialogue is too wrought with exposition here?"
     
  19. Batgoat
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    Batgoat Senior Member

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    If you can both be objective enough to accept its the work being critiqued and not the relationship and/or one another, then it works. My partner has read a few of my stories and provides feedback on what she feels needs to be improved and I take it on board and revisit the areas she has made suggestions about.

    What I do, though, is I tell her from which perspective I would like her to read it. Example, I'll ask her to, "read it to edit it," and she will literally attack the damn thing with a red pen. Or I will say, "read it for the story... for entertainment's sake," and she will just read it for the sake of it being a story. With a purpose like that in mind, you will get two very different perspectives of the same piece of writing.
     
  20. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I've critiqued with my best friends, and it's never been a problem. But then again, I met most of my close friends through NaNoWriMo events in my city...lol.
     
  21. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    I used to critique my brother, and he had no problem having me giving him critiques. We had fun exchanging writings though.
     
  22. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I don't mind critiquing my friend's work. I feel like I can set apart my liking of the person from my professionalism and give them an honest critique. I'm not sure I'm 100% successful, but I've been told my friends who write like my critiques because they are harsh but honest.
     
  23. suddenly BANSHEES
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    suddenly BANSHEES Contributing Member

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    Dunno how different it is with a spouse/partner/what have you, but I have no problems with getting harsh critique from friends. Hell, my best friend and I tear each others' stories apart in critiques, and we love each other for it. We don't sugercoat anything, because we want to help each other get better. At the same time, we don't flat-out insult each other, and are very polite about it. You can give a harsh critique without being rude.
     
  24. Batgoat
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    Batgoat Senior Member

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    So long as the person doing the critique remembers it is the story they are critiquing and not the person who wrote it.
     
  25. teacherayala
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    teacherayala Contributing Member

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    I have a hard time with taking things personally. I cry over bad critiques even if I know I deserve them. Heck, ESPECIALLY when I deserve them! And then I go through the whole process of trying to scrape myself up from the floor and keep at it. If the person critiquing me were too close to me, I would be humiliated for them to see me go through this routine. And I would be so embarrassed over myself to meet their eyes again after having given them something (which is usually exaggerated in my mind) so horrible as to warranted their poor critique.

    But then again, it also matters on the style of the critique. If every other line has something negative, I shut down.
     

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