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

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    Disguise and prototype.

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Wreybies, Nov 17, 2015.

    You want to participate. You want to post your stuff to get feedback, but the idea of letting even a little bit of your MS out into the big bad internet feels like letting a stranger with really long nails grab hold of your dangly bits. :ohno:


    A suggestion...

    ferrari-dino-002.jpg

    See this ugly thing?* Believe it or not, it's a Ferrari Dino in prototype disguise. This is something car manufacturers do in order to real-world test certain aspects of a new vehicle without letting the paparazzi see how the car will look when it's finally wrapped in its smexy Italian curves. This ugly-ass prototype will be used to test the motor, the drivetrain, the suspension, the handling, the weight, the distribution of that weight, the transmission, and a host of other things that don't have to do with the final slickness.

    See the parallels to writing?

    Convinced there's no point in posting a written equivalent of the above vehicle? Know that the ungainly, unpretty, graceless thing you see above will most certainly give rise to a gorgeous swoop of line and curve of wheel and rumble of motor, all destined to evoke feelings felt best in one's crotch. Manufacturers have been doing this since they first realized cars are possessed of sexiness.

    Discuss. :)

    ________________________________________
    *Photo curtesy of CarAdvice Australia.

    ETA: There seemed to be a little confusion as to just what I meant with this visual analogy, so from a post further along...
     
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  2. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've actually been battling with myself over this very topic. To use an alpha reader or not to?

    Researching it online, I've learned that alpha readers are used to critique the first draft. That horrible, ugly, disgusting thing that you basically vomited into existence. And the alpha reader's sole responsibility is to focus on the story -- the plot, the characters, the flow and pacing. They don't focus on the pretty shit. They don't correct typos or grammatical errors. They simply read your story to see where the holes are.

    When researching on WF, I learned that most people frown on alpha readers. They see it as a need to be coddled -- to be praised every step of the way so that we, the writer, can have our ego stroked. Plus, they said, who in their right mind would show someone their first draft? It's hideous! It's not supposed to be seen by anyone but you! YOU are the alpha reader -- not someone else.

    But alas, I went against the advice of WF and have secured four alpha readers who will likely start next week. Because I don't give a damn how pretty my story is. In fact, my style is shit. And I know it's shit. It's the structure I care about. I want to make sure my plot is solid with no holes. I want to make sure my characters are strong and consistent. I want to make sure the pacing is just right, not too fast or too slow. I know my setting descriptions (and some scenes) aren't as detailed as I'd like it to be, but that's alright.

    So I'm sending my shitty car manuscript out into the world! In a week, that is.
     
  3. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    I personally would love posting a bit of my MS sometimes just to get loads of feedback and I can see whether there are issues that trend or whether I'm getting the reactions I want.
    But... I hate the idea of having it on the internet. It feels a bit like cheating and amateurish.

    As @Lea`Brooks said, I don't like the idea of anyone reading my work BUT I know from past experience (and currently enjoying one) that beta readers are the best.
    I wouldn't have gotten so far into my MS and would not have noticed so many glaring issues (and gotten so many useful feedback/ideas) to make it better.

    I think, WF, is an excellent platform to network with other writers and eventually maybe have a few close contacts/acquaintances you can rely on to help out and ask for help.
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    That's certainly an interesting take that I had never considered before. At first, I was totally on board with what you're saying. But then I thought about things like 1) brand name and 2) the beta readers' willingness to read something that hasn't been polished to the best of the writer's ability. Using your example, Ferrari is a famous enough brand that a lot of people would be willing to test drive a prototype. But in the writing world, only writers like Stephen King, Rowling, etc. have enough fame for people to want to read their drafts. I don't think many people want to read thirdwind's Amazing Prototype Novel unless I put forth my best effort.

    As for the second point, I want the Ferrari team to make the product to the best of their ability before letting testers/reviewers drive it around. I don't like the idea of putting something out there when you know it can be improved. I think it's a waste of everyone's time. So I prefer to read drafts that are the best the writer can do. The goal of the beta reader is to then help take it to that next level by offering a few suggestions. This is just my opinion, however.

    So I guess what I'm saying is that I'm on the fence here. At the very least, it's a interesting discussion. :)
     
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  5. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    @thirdwind said what I wanted to say. I don't see the point in putting work up for critique unless it's as good as I can get it. Why should I waste other people's time in telling me what I could find myself if I put the effort in? What's valuable to me is hearing the things I can't see for myself. For example, I can catch any SPAG error if I concentrate hard enough. What I can never get is an unbiased first impression of a character. It's the latter I want people to focus on, not the former, so I try and grab every SPAG mistake I can before I ask for feedback.

    On the other hand I can see @Lea`Brooks's point. Editing takes a long time, especially for people whose SPAG isn't naturally great (no idea if this is the case for Lea, but I'm talking generally now). If you have serious doubts that your story is even worth finishing, and you can find people willing to read and critique a badly-SPAG-ged piece, then go for it. I wouldn't agree to be an alpha reader because I'd be crap at it. Every SPAG error would jump out at me like a stop sign and I wouldn't be able to focus on the plot and characters.

    When giving critique, if I feel like the author is just being lazy and wanting others to give a free editing service... that annoys me and I'm unlikely to comment. If they've done their best but it's still riddled with errors I'm more than happy to spend an hour going through a chapter and correcting them, trying to explain why it needs correcting. If they then put up another chapter riddled with the exact same problems... then I'm not going to do it again.

    This goes against Wreybies' mantra that the critique is for the critiquer more than the critiqued. I want it to be beneficial for both of us.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2015
  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Ok, it seems my visual analogy has been completely misunderstood, and it's important to remember that I'm speaking to those members who do want to participate in the Workshop, but are afraid to post any of their MS. That part is key.

    I'm not talking about posting something that isn't polished or readable. I'm talking participating and getting the help the member wants by posting something that isn't really part of the MS. That Dino pictured above isn't meant to represent a car midway in the design stage. It looks the way it looks on purpose. It's not a crap Ferrari; it's disguised. The good folks at Ferrari already know what the end car will look like. They just want to test out the other parts of the vehicle, the mechanicals, without giving away the show-stopping end product. That car up there isn't on display. That's a photo from car paparazzi.
     
  7. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    To get an idea of where your writing's at, a worrywort could post just about any excerpt that's basically the smexy, sleek Ferrari s/he's tinkering on at the desktop, just in disguise, so no one will know what an awesome thing there's really in the making -- and still learn about his/her strengths and weaknesses. Just transfer the feedback you get to everything you write, like you'd apply one skill to something that's not quite that but related (like how I think about punching when I swim freestyle, using what I've learned about the mechanics of punching to emulate the movement of swimming with my arms).

    To get an idea of how a specific scene works, say the ever-crucial beginning, you kind of have to post that exact scene, see if it works as it should. I guess that'd be like not actually testing an uglo prototype, but letting the paparazzi glimpse at its swanky paintjob and mean curves?
     
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  8. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    That wasn't clear to me at all so thank you for explaining. I can see much more value in that argument.
     
  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    *sigh of relief*

    EXACTLY!!! :-D Nice analogy, btw, with the punching. Kinda' like wax on, wax off. Daniel-san thinks he's not practicing his karate. He thinks he's wasting his time. He doesn't realize that Mr. Miyagi is showing him to practice the movement until it becomes so natural that when Miyagi-san deploys an unexpected attack, Daniel-san reacts instinctively with the movement that waxing the (beautiful!) cars has taught him. The skill he has learned is more basic and fundamental than just block this particular hit. It's a skill he can make use of for many different hits, many different attacks.

    I love you right now, Kat. :love:
     
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