1. charlesvee
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    charlesvee New Member

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    Editing

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by charlesvee, Jul 31, 2012.

    I've been reading the stories and then comments/edits about the stories. Some entries appear to be "how I would write it." I don't understand how that would be helping me to improve my writing. I'm not talking about errors, needed clarity, and such. I'm talking about my style or approach to writing my "story." I don't care how another would write my story or even write one of my sentences. I do care for helping me to clarify/improve my story or correct my sentences. I can not write as others write. Nor can others write as I write. We are unique. Enough said.
     
  2. ThievingSix
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    ThievingSix Member

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    Unfortunately the internet is a cruel medium in terms of reviewing. Sometimes the best way for a reviewer to explain how a sentence(for example) could be made clearer is to take a phrase they believe could be better and "show" how they might do it. Of course this is a subjective view and everyone will have differing perspectives but it's often difficult to explain a concept without a direct example. You could spend all day describing your new pair of shoes to your friend or you could simply show them. Albeit an abstract example, you'll find internet reviewers don't have the time or energy to spend writing out a concept on 6 different reviews, its easy to take an abstract and modify it, hence illustrating the concept.

    Ultimately the piece is yours, and its your choice whether to take a reviewers advice or leave it. Nobody is saying this is how you should write your piece, rather this is what i would write and i think sounds good.
     
  3. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Six gave you a good explanation. This phenomenon you describe, however, is not limited to the internet. This happens all the time even in "live" writers' critique groups. Sometimes a reviewer does lapse into more of a 'here's how I would write it' mode than a true critique mode. But 'here's how I would do it' can be very helpful if the reviewer is trying to say that a piece is not working for him. If a section of the writing is confusing, or the dialogue is wooden and unbelievable, or something is coming off as rant-y and preachy, sometimes it's helpful to give an example of how to write in a way that the reviewer would find clearer or more believable.

    Your job as the writer is to sift through all the advice and see what's useful to you and what is not. Sometimes a valid criticism might not be useful, due to some other consideration that overrides the criticism. You can't accept all of the suggestions you get, because you will get contradictory advice.

    Often, if a reviewer cared enough about what you wrote to give you a suggestion of how they would write it differently, that means that they felt pretty strongly about it and really wanted to help. Try to keep an open mind and seriously consider the suggestion. Ultimately, you may find that you disagree with it. But if you've given it serious thought, you'll improve your writing, even if you don't ultimately incorporate the advice. Remember that *something* struck the reader as off. If one reader thought it, others will, too. Really try to determine what it was that didn't work for the reader. Again, ultimately, you might decide to disregard the suggestions. It's an easy out to chalk up a criticism to "stylistic differences." That's always possible, but it's also possible that the "style" of the piece is simply "confusing" or "unduly verbose," or "clunky," which are not "styles" you probably want.

    This is why it's also good to have as many reviewers as you can get. If one person hates a passage but no one else does, maybe the one person just didn't get something. But if you hear similar comments from multiple people, it's worth reconsidering what you've written.
     
  4. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Agree with TS. I often use examples to show alternatives when I review pieces. Why use a hundred words to explain something when ten in an example will do the trick? As with any comment, however worded, the decision to use or not is up to the author.
     
  5. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    I intend to always say what it is about the sentence or paragraph I am suggesting needs improvement. That said, I probably tend to overdo the "here's how I would do it" examples. Like others say, it is often easier to rewrite than explain.

    But I don't mind other people rewriting things for me. When receiving critique, I always hate it if somebody says "clumsy", "wordy", "vague" etc., and I don't see the point. Giving me the alternative really helps evaluate their comment, even if I dislike their style.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Editing without giving a reason for the change is an unhelpful ego trip.

    With a reason it becomes illustration of a point.
     
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  7. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I used to be that sort of critic - the sort who just rewrites everything. Now I'm not saying that's a good thing, but I know from experience that, heck it takes a lot of effort to rewrite something based on a concept that's not even your own, you know? So don't gloss over someone's rewrites - it might hurt your ego but ultimately, that person's put in quite a bit of effort in an attempt to help. And the truth is, it shows you examples of how else you can write it - this should add to your writing skills - so why not study just why the person didn't like what you wrote, and why he/she thought his/her example was better.

    I also think there's nothing wrong with a rewrite sometimes - how can you explain anything without an example? Should I simply talk in general terms like "add a better verb there"? Or should I rewrite the sentence (like I just did in another post) and supply the verb "fling" (someone was throwing a fireball at a monster - that was the example)? I'd say suggesting the actual verb is better - and you can't know how good a word sounds until it's in the sentence, right?

    Sometimes it's not in the word but in the punctuation and rhythm - how do you want your critics to show that without an example?

    However I would agree that a critic should not completely rewrite your work - he/she should keep all original sentences that do not need desperate work when critiquing. If someone's work needed a complete makeover, then the piece is not ready for suggestions but rather you should analyse it in more general terms I think.

    But cut the critics some slack. Some of us just need to make a few mistakes before we learn - we're all beginners in some way :) I made the same mistake and I learnt in time, but just remember they're all just trying to help.
     
  8. charlesvee
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    charlesvee New Member

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    I liked all of the responses. Not that I necessarily agreed with all of it, but I sensed an honesty in what has been written. That goes a long way with me. Maybe I should have explained in greater detail. However, I tend to write in what I believe to be brief but to the point. Oh well. I'll try to do better this time. Some of the editing appeared to me the editor was trying to impress the author and anyone else reading his reply how well the editor writes and in fact, dealing less the writer's needs. In other words, it appeared to me the editor had taken this opportunity to advance his position within this group as a great writer and an authority of some sort or another. I personally believe liking or disliking is not editing but expressing a personal taste. I want to know if my writing lacks clarity, needs a better description of the scene, the action or words used by a character is totally wrong because of his background and things like that. I have used a professional editor for my two books and not once did they inject their likes, dislikes, or personal perferences. I have edited subordinate's status reports for years and never injected my way of writing or word usage. Am I a great writer? Heck no. I make all the same mistakes as everyone else. In time, I'll enter some my writing for editing, but first I wanted to see the level of editing done within the group. This is my first experience in a writing forum and I am enjoying it.
     

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