1. Boger
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    Boger Contributing Member

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    Do you think it is easier to critique a genre which you identify with better?

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Boger, Feb 14, 2016.

    I have no necessary need to show off my WIPs, but wanted to try to read some excerpts to my mother because she offered to help. I get the idea she has no clue what I am on about and understood none of it.

    I don't know, maybe it was difficult because I'm her son and occupy myself with morbid themes (even though I think of my stories as having a fairly qualitative and sensical plot) and she just can't identify with that.

    But on the other hand I doubt wether she could provide substantial critique if I had written a romance because it would appeal to her better... all she might say is "well done, you're so great"...

    Anyway, it didn't really help me in any way which I hoped from an adult. Haven't also met anyone else who offered or showed interest in my hobby so I am still better off with my own opinions... which is fine.
     
  2. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I generally don't critique the content of a piece if I don't enjoy the genre. There's no point me saying to a fantasy writer "I don't like this scene. Elves and dragons and whatnot bore the pants off me." because I would never have bought their book in the first place. I still feel qualified to comment on the writing itself.

    Likewise, I give more weight to critiques if I know the poster is in my target audience. If it's someone who'd rather cut their wrists than read a fluffy romance, I don't really care if they think my piece is boring and could do with a dragon fight, you know?

    It sounds like your question is really about feedback from writers vs feedback from readers. They do tend to give very different styles of feedback and, for me, I want both.
     
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  3. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are genre conventions that go into writing, and if I don't know the genre well, I won't know the conventions. So, that doesn't make it harder for me to offer an opinion, but it makes it less likely that the opinion will be valuable!
     
  4. Boger
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    Boger Contributing Member

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    I guess some people can't be objective and it is valuable to me when people can.
     
  5. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your mother can probably give you some basic help re your writing and spelling skills (it's "whether" not wether, for example). It may be distressing for her to see you fixated on morbid themes. Personally, I think it's pretty unhealthy for a young person to write ONLY about morbid things. Bear in mind that most people don't like to read about relentlessly depressing subjects. Also family are not really the best people to offer critiques as they often don't like to upset or discourage the writer so they tend to be too upbeat.
     
  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'd say this is a very grey subject. It's probably not a great idea to get a beta reader who hates your genre with a purple passion, unless you think your story is different enough to entice them. However, it's possible to get and give critiques that aren't within your preferred genre, as long as the critique giver looks at the writing itself and doesn't spend time wishing it was something other than what it is. Don't try to kill off the romantic element in a Romance, or destroy the mystery in a Mystery.

    I do think the best critiques come from within the genre, though. If the target audience doesn't like (or get) what you've written then you really do have a problem. If a lover of another genre doesn't like what you've written, it could be for any number of reasons—some more valid than others.

    All the same, if anybody is willing to read and give feedback, it's always worth a go. It's interesting to hear the various points of view.
     
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  7. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, I've critiqued fantasy writing for style, grammar and plot and it hasn't been a problem that I really dislike most fantasy writing! The only stuff I won't read is pointless gore and glorified sexism, like rape scenarios, but that's my personal choice. An objective person shouldn't have a problem about assessing the quality of the work but you probably need the help of an afficiado of the genre to read it as it progresses. That's why agents generally specify what genre they represent.
     
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  8. Boger
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    Boger Contributing Member

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    I've written a story that focused solely on gruesome details. It it the longest one and most compelling I've written so far, and really went for packing the sentences densely with just horrific things, without it becoming repetitieve. There was a main plot to justify all this, which is the part that makes me proud because it actually makes sense, to me.

    Suffice to say I have no audience (and don't worry I selected the parts that didn't betray anything of the likes for beta reading, for her and my own sake, she doesn't even know how bad it gets, I never talk about it to anyone)... yet
     
  9. tumblingdice
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    tumblingdice Member

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    Yes, I think it's definitely easier to critique a genre you like/identify with, but it also has to do with your reading track on said genre. For instance, I've read a few crime stories and enjoyed them, but I wouldn't review one because I haven't read enough of them to know what constitutes great crime writing.

    By the way, I often occasionally write about morbid themes too (I hope we're talking about the same thing! haha) and I have yet to find an audience. I showed one of my short stories once to a close friend of mine and he was horrified.
     
  10. Boger
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    Boger Contributing Member

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    As a colleague horror/gore writer, you can always ask me to beta read anything that shouldn't see the light of day.
     
  11. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, writing distressing stuff certainly is difficult to get Alpha/Betas for. I wouldn't give out one of my scenes to an unsuspecting audience, I always try to make sure the prospective reader knows what they are getting into. Of course, they always think they know what I mean until I get responses like 'Holy Hell!' (thank you @Greenwood this is one of my catch-phrases now :D)

    I can't comment on the more usual genres, but for anything which can be remotely distressing I would hesitate to just casually hand them out to someone who doesn't voluntarily read in recreation such stuff. I don't want to loose friends..
     
  12. Boger
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    Boger Contributing Member

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    Definitely want to postpone the "I never knew you were a psychopath" accusation. Rather find like minded people who could remotely tolerate that stuff somewhere.
     
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  13. tumblingdice
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    tumblingdice Member

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    Awesome! I actually only have one story with gore/horror elements, the others include taboo subjects like suicide and drug addiction. I'll let you know when I finish them, though :)
     
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  14. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    When I started writing I put a thread out here to find other writers of dark-fantasy. I did not intend on finding an Alpha/Beta but wanted just someone to talk to about stuff like pacing, plots and whatsnot. What can I say, it worked ;)
     
  15. Boger
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    Boger Contributing Member

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    Really? I have been inactive for a while so i am not very up to date. I'm not on this site for a specific reason though so I don't expect anything.
     
  16. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, really ;)

    And I have googled in the meantime and there is a real writers group of Horror/Dark-Fantasy where I live. I went and joined up, and that worked really well too! I do not have to explain excited yelps, immediately followed by a breakdown of tears when the horror sinks in (happened today so I DO know what I am talking about here). Certainly having other writers of dark stuff around helps a whole lot. Maybe search where you live too??
     
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  17. Boger
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    Boger Contributing Member

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    Even though I'm not native English and I write in English, that should be no problem in mainland Europe. Proficiency here is quite decent, especially English.
     
  18. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I think you need a mix. You need to have readers who understand your genre and will focus on the right things. I'm not a great reader of sci-fi so certain terms or scientific meanings might be lost on me and if someone got something wrong it would go over my head. But someone who knows sci-fi could point it out and save the writer some embarrassment.

    But there is a danger of getting a lot of this-is-great hoopla with having people who love your genre reading your work. I've seen this on other sites - especially with romance. Which is why you need a few people who aren't invested in your genre to play a bit of hardball and call you on a few things fans might let slide.

    Then when everyone has had their say - you need to see what are the most relevant critiques for your story. Just because a non-fan of your genre pointed it out doesn't mean it's a mistake and just because a fan of your genre pointed it out doesn't mean it's worth changing either. You have sift through and see what works. No advice ( unless it's certain grammar points, or real errors ) is that cut and dried.
     
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  19. Greenwood
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    Greenwood Active Member

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    I do think it may be easier, in the sense that when you critique a certain genre you are familiar with, you may know some general things about it that may add more weight to your critique, or from someone familiar with it critiquing you for that matter. Things like pacing, perhaps some names or way overdone tropes you may be able to warn your partner about. I, for example, mainly write fantasy (with the odd historical offshoot) and would feel lacking whenever I would critique a genre such as romance. That's purely based on content though. Although I believe it's not really my job to critique content per se, I do think it helps a lot when one has read a lot of content in the genre and can mirror it one's own work and that of the writer one is critiquing.




    Haha! Well, we were discussing dark-fantasy back then, so I had been warned. What actually constitutes dark fantasy is quite a broad spectrum of course, but the part that triggered the "holy hell!" Response from me was quite...unsuspected. It's not like I sat in shock for half an hour, it's just that I simply did not expect something like that. I'll leave it at that for this thread, Lifeline ;)

    I do agree though. When handing over a WIP to someone, it is best to make sure the other one can either handle it or is familiar with the genre, even if it's just a little.
     
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  20. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    But this is who's eventually going to be reading your work, isn't it? I mean, noncritical reading isn't helpful regardless, but writing a romance novel that appeals to scifi readers seems pointless, unless you're going to be cross-marketing somehow. You want a romance novel that appeals to romance readers. That's the whole point of classifying books by genre.
     
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  21. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    If people love the genre, aren't they MORE likely to pick up problems with it? I think I'd be much better at telling a horror writer (my favourite to *read*) how scary their book is than telling a fantasy writer how... fantastical... theirs was. I've also got much higher standards for genres I enjoy because I want really good books to be released.
     
  22. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    That's why I said readers need a mix - I'm on another site and a book got a lot of favorable critiques ( earned ) - but it still needed a lot of work. There were issues with the mc. Plot holes. Motivations that just didn't add up. Stuff a publisher not only would notice but could be the reason the book would be turned down. Even self published the reviews would be mixed.

    Some of fans of the genre took notice, some of the fans of the genre however didn't in fact they were so busy gushing that they were really giving the impression the piece was good to go.
     
  23. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    That doesn't sound like an issue with the genres they like, just with some critics being better than others. Every genre has gushers and people determined to rip the story to shreds no matter how good it is.

    I've had amazing feedback from people who aren't die-hard fans of romance, but I had terrible feedback (as in the quality of the feedback was poor, not that it was negative) from the ones who would never pick a romance off the shelf. Go figure.
     
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  24. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Yeah, it could be just the strength of the critiquer screwing up my whole mixed genre idea. But I always thought romance readers were great at focusing on character motivation, horror readers - tension ( whether for thriller or horror ), fantasy readers story building, sci fi - same deal. Which is why - even though I write fantasy - I love, love getting a critique from romance readers - they can really clear up problems with my characters. It's not that I don't love hearing from fantasy readers but - maybe it's me, cause I always feel like I get a good critique, but I like them mixed. Maybe for a beta read I'd want someone more my genre going over it. But just a critique.
     
  25. Boger
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    Boger Contributing Member

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    We seem to encounter a question whether romance is somewhat an essential element in (proper) fiction. At least I wonder this now. I have written without, I think. Or... was it all platonic between my characters...
     

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