1. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Commenting on critiques.

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Wreybies, Jul 27, 2013.

    Firstly, this question comes from an experience had at another forum.

    Secondly, I ask you to put aside the local rules and regulations for a moment if you chose to answer.

    What is your personal feeling on having other critics make comments clearly directed at or concerning portions of the critique you yourself have just left the OP?
     
  2. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    I think critiquing critiques is perfectly cromulent.

    Seriously, though, I think it should be up to the submitter to wade through mess of critiques and take away from them what they deem useful. Giving your opinion on somebody else's opinion seems pointless. Unless, somebody states something as a factual literary rule and is incorrect; they need to be corrected.
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    If the critique of the critique is valid, I don't see why it should be taboo. There's a high chance it would sound like calling a member out, though, so one should proceed with a heavy dose of caution.
     
  4. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Personally, I don't mind at all. It's discussion, really. If you were sitting in a group critiquing somebody's work face-to-face, this would happen. The trick is to be courteous at all times (no matter what) and be careful not to derail the critique process by dragging a difference of opinion on and on. Once you've made your point and they've made theirs, that should more or less be it.

    In fact, it happens all the time on this forum, and I don't think anybody's too negatively jazzed about it.

    I really am loathe to make a blanket statement about this issue, though. It depends on the issue, the tone, the frequency...
     
  5. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well, in a way it's probably best that the critique centers around the piece that's being critted, but on the other hand, it probably won't hurt to e.g. mention that "this critter probably didn't notice that..." or "I agree with this critter said, but I'd also like to add..."

    One of my critiques spurred a thread here, no harm in that, I think. It's good to discuss the reviewing process from different angles, challenge the critters too.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Outside the way this forum operates, I think discussion of a point is great. Sometimes, of course, it will go back and forth without resolution, so the writer can see both sides, and choose. At best, one comment inspires a deeper analysis of a point, and enlightenment happens.

    The site has the rules it does, though, because the focus is on learning to give and receive critique. It's a workshop, and debates have a life of their on which is disruptive to the learning process that the workshop exists for.

    So, back to the original question. I have had this happen, including before these rules were put in place. It can work well, to have different perspectives n the same point to choose from, and I have learned from such discussion. But iI've also been annoyed, not only as the writer of a piece,but also as a critiquer, when such a discussion takes over a thread.

    I've also been annoyed by being stalked on critiques, having someone follow me around and argue with every point I made. Yes, it does happen, and not only after I became a top poster here. I was a "new guy" here for quite a while, too.

    The rules are a trade-off. There are times when a back and forth discussion is beneficial. We have a Writing Issues forum for that, though. Keeping discussion out of the workshop keeps the critique process on center.

    When I was a moderator, I'd step in when the discussion started taking over a thread, or if the discussion had nothing to do with the writing. I left discussions about a critique point persist for a few posts if they weren't on a personal level, and after that would suggest taking it to a Writing Issues thread.
     
  7. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I generally think it's a good thing to have comments about other critiques. If someone says they didn't understand why character X did something, I think it's important to note that another reader did understand why X did the something, or at least they way that he or she interpreted it. If someone says that they thought the dialogue was unrealistic and wooden, but another reader didn't feel that way at all and thought that the dialogue flowed really well and they completely believed the characters said whatever they said, I think it's important to have both perspectives.

    Critiques making a point about another critique re-emphasize the point that no one reader has a corner on the market of critique. There will always be people who love something and who hate it. It's important for writers to be able to sort out what critique seems most valid or most helpful for their piece and when there's a dialogue about a particular point, that only serves to bring more thought to the issue.

    Granted, if there's one particular point of disagreement, and a discussion ensues about that particular point, getting way off the topic of critiquing the particular piece of writing that has been submitted for critique, that is a problem and really should kick off a discussion thread of the particular topic that is being discussed, beyond the specific relevance to the workshop piece.
     
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  8. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I totally agree with every word here.

    I think it's important to remember that—on this forum anyway—we are all supposed to be 'learning' by critiquing. If we just plop our critique down, walk away and nobody gives us feedback, we're not likely to learn much.

    I know when I started here I did a lot of re-writing in critiques, just to 'show' rather than tell what I meant. An excellent beta reader did this to me, when I had completed the first draft of my novel, and his re-writes were immensely helpful to me. So I thought I'd do the same thing for others on the forum.

    However, this critique technique came across as an ego trip on my part—to some people anyway—and wasn't as helpful as I'd thought. So, thanks to the responses of other critique-givers, I learned that re-writing is not the way to do a critique! I don't do it any more, unless it's just a sentence or two, but I MIGHT still be doing a lot of it, if people hadn't objected.

    So, yes, I think we should be allowed to respond to a critique, either to agree or disagree with the points that were made OR the way they were made. But as Cogito and Chicagoliz said, our discussions should never be allowed to hijack a Workshop thread.
     
  9. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    On the other hand, it does feel a little iffy when/if other critters criticize how someone critiques, e.g. points out that re-writing is not the way to go or they should focus less on the grammar and more on the content or whathaveyou. Just like you found rewritings useful in your own project, some other writer might feel the same way. I guess it's good to get all kinds of feedback and then leave it to the author to decide what they find useful.
     
  10. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Re: the re-writes -- it's a tough call. Sometimes an entire piece is in need of so much work that it's impossible to really show what is meant as far as what needs to be done except by showing what you think the author is trying to convey by re-writing a portion of the piece. But other times, it feels as if the critiquer is going in with the mentality that the piece IS in need of a lot of work and they need to show how they would re-write it in their style. That is, instead of simply indicating that the piece has a particular problem, which carries throughout the entire work, and giving an example of how the author might want to change it, and then giving a small snippet of, for example, changing a big piece of narrative into dialogue or something, the critiquer is just saying, "This is how *I* would have written the piece."

    Sometimes when this happens, the critiquer has written something just as bad as the original, or at least also contains some significant flaw. In this case, it is valid for another commenter to point that out, too. On the flip side, though, if the re-written snippet is good and does solve the problem plaguing the original work, it is helpful for another critiquer to indicate his or her agreement with that critique.

    It is important, however, to keep in mind, that when a critiquer re-writes something, it should not be taken as meaning that that rewritten piece should simply be cut and pasted into the original. It should be taken as an example of how to change something, with the original author re-writing it to suit his own style and story.
     
  11. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Agreed in full. I actually often make use of the rewrite of a sentence here or there as example when example is just so much clearer than explanation. My example re-writes are usually over the top, lavish, almost burlesque as a literary conceit and to leave the writer the opportunity to actually rewrite it without feeling like they've simply copied me and had the opportunity for originality stolen from them. I usually state all of this as well so that the burlesque is not taken as the actual goal.
     
  12. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, I'm still leery of doing re-writes of anything more than a sentence or so. I still think a re-write with short explanation can be the quickest distance between two points, to illustrate how the piece might read if certain things were done, but because the reaction to my early re-writes was often negative, I stopped. (The negativity mostly came from other critique givers, BTW ...several of the people whom I re-wrote for actually 'friended' me afterwards, so they couldn't have been too cheesed off!) No point in getting people upset though, because then the point of the exercise is lost.

    I've refined my critique style now, combining overview and specific suggestions, and it seems to be working okay. My point was, if nobody had given me negative feedback, I would have waltzed along thinking my critiques were all tickety-boo. Obviously they weren't. I do think feedback on the critiques themselves can also be a learning experience. It certainly taught me.
     
  13. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    One more thing came to mind when thinking about this thread. That is the tendency for people to agree with things that have been stated. I've seen it happen where a story will be critiqued, and all of the reviews have been either all positive (i.e. I loved it! Thought this character was great! I loved the development of the setting, etc.) or all negative (I didn't get this at all. I was confused about where this was taking place. I couldn't sympathize with the narrator at all, etc). Then someone comes along and specifically disagrees with the gist of all the previous posts. Suddenly, people who were feeling the same way, but saw (perceived) that no one else felt that way, and that therefore they must just not be reading the piece correctly, were emboldened to post their feelings agreeing with this post that held the opposite opinion.

    Once that happens, there is often a better discussion of what's going on in the piece, and often there remains a dichotomy of opinion, as far as folks who liked it and folks who didn't. (Hey, for most pieces, even ones that are spectacular, they aren't going to be everyone's cup of tea.) But at least the author isn't left with the opinion that the story needs to be trashed because everyone hated it, or that it is all hunky dory and should be sent out for publication, when what appeared to be universal is not.
     

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