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  1. trailer trash
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    trailer trash Senior Member

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    For new members who feel a little uncomfortable about critiquing others work

    Discussion in 'Support & Feedback' started by trailer trash, Dec 15, 2007.

    This post is for those who are a little reluctant to critique other members work. And for new members who get their first bad review.

    Writing forums are not for the thin skinned. Why? Because most writers published and unpublished are looking for true, accurate criticism of their work. Critiques can be ego stroking, or painfully embarrassing. I know that from personal experience.

    But, I also know that as you participate and grow in your writing abilities you will begin to notice a change. Don’t ever feel that you are being singled out when you get a not so pleasing critique. It’s simply not true.

    Also, keep in mind that there will always be someone who offers a critique that is not based in accepted literary terms of analysis. Some will have no idea what they are saying or why, and worst of all will fail either intentionally or unintentionally to tell you of this. Anytime, you feel that your work has been unjustly critiqued it is your right to challenge the reviewers words. If they offer no bases for their opinion then it only shows their own ignorance of the craft and art of writing.

    If a new member, or any member writes a critique; and says, oh well this is my opinion but I really have no real bases for my criticism then simply ask that they be more specific by offering some reasonable explanation for why they feel your story was this or that.

    If a new member, or any member makes a similar statement, and adds that it is just their gut feeling, or just how the story came off to them there are two explanations:

    1.They are being honest and perhaps don’t have the time or maybe they are simply to lazy to be more specific.

    2. They simply don’t want to take the time to learn proper reviewing techniques.

    In any event don’t be torn up about it. And remember there is always an ignore button that you can click on and like magic you no longer have to view their comments.

    I had a disagreement with a member, who still remains on my ignore list, and in fact is the only member currently on my list. As an example you may wish to read this critique regarding a story that I wrote last year.


    Reviewers name was intentionally withheld:

    "uneeded violence. Had no clear meaning and I was easily lost. Fix it up a little and it would be great."

    This was the only statement made by this reviewer regarding the story, and no supporting evidence was supplied to valid the conclusion of the reviewer's statement. I therefore, challenged the reviewer and the rest is history.


    Thanks for the opportunity to post,

    Trailer Trash
     
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  2. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    Another point to remember: the ego-stroking posts do not help you grow. You learn and improve from the crits that sting just a little.
     
  3. trailer trash
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    trailer trash Senior Member

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    That is a very good point

    RomanticRose,

    That is a very good point. If it stings, even just a little, it hopefully will make you think more about your writing.

    Thanks for the opportuntity to post,

    Trailer Trash
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    tt... sorry to say, that example you gave is, to my mind, more a perfect example of how the poster should not react to comments, rather than how a commenter should word his/her remarks about the posted work...

    it displays only your own thinness of skin, when a person leaves what was meant to be a helpful comment, even finished off with a pretty good compliment, and you take him/her to task for it and deliver an arrogant, derisively sarcastic rules 'n regs-filled lecture followed by totally uncalled for real insults, when none at all [other than what you imagined] came from the person you're excoriating... and your follow up in which you further diss this person is even worse, if that's possible... perhaps your excuse is youth... if so, time may teach you better manners...

    i'm shocked to see that you thought that person's attempt to be kind and helpful warranted your putting him/her on your ignore list, but it's probably a relief to the poor guy/gal that you did... i wouldn't be a bit surprised if was reciprocal...

    what could you have done instead?... you could have just politely asked for an explanation of the parts of the comments you didn't get or agree with, thanking them for the time they gave to reading your piece and being kind enough to comment on it and offer suggestions for improving it, whether or not you agreed with same... that's what mature, well-brought-up people do...

    i can only hope you'll learn something from my post, which is also being made only in a caring, helpful spirit, though i fear i'll just end up joining 'felony' on your ignore list... btw, on the basis of your response to his/her post, that handle fits you more aptly, imo...

    love and hugs, maia

    ps: checking your profile, i see that sadly, youth is not an excuse... however, we're never to old to learn... btw, i've got more than a baker's dozen years on you, so feel well-qualified to add my 20 cents worth, on age alone... ;-) m
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    We really only see one side of this dispute, as the story Felony commented upon is not there any more. But I have to agree with mammamaia. The critique does not appear to be disrespectful, and your reaction extreme. Clearly it bothered you, since you are again bringing it up more than a year later.

    What I see is an honest opinion from a reviewer, I certaibly have seen Crime and Thriller pieces that go overboard with gratuitous violence and gore, so I can easily envision myself posting a comment like that (although I do tend to be wordier about it).

    I do agree in substance with your main point, that someone posting work for review should expect that not every comment will be favorable. Annd some comments may make you feel that the reader failed to "get it".

    But before you condemn the critiquer as insufferably ignorant, it may be valuable to ask yourself why the reader didn't get it. Before you assume that he or she is of single digit IQ, could it be that the author failed to communicate crucial points clearly?

    I like praise as much as the next person - believe me! But if a post something for review, I consider every criticism an opportunity to learn and improve. Even if I disagree at the end, I usually benefit by looking at the passage through someone else's eyes.

    So to reshape the advice you offer in this thread:

    Don't be upset by negative reviews. At worst, they failed to help. At best, they may pinpoint an organic flaw in the piece you are writing.

    Can you say as much for praise? Don't let your ego trip you up. :)
     
  6. kmlovering
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    kmlovering Senior Member

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    Straight from the mouth of a newbie, if anyone would care to hear.

    I only joined this site maybe a week and a half ago. I have met many new people, and have had my writing read, and then given the "sting." I agree, the sting is very helpful. Often when I write, something may read really well to me. To others, who have more experience, published or not, it may read lousy. I can take the sting, and more importantly need the sting in order to improve. But what I can't take is if the person posting doesn't take the time to read what their posting. I have come across some very blunt responses, to which I say; "Who cares." I have had a good experience thus far, with the exception of one rude member. I don't think anyone should be rude in their critique. It's unnecessary, and takes the focus off the advice being given. So, in closing we all have to have a thick skin. This website is cotton candy compared to others I won't mention.
     
  7. evizaer
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    evizaer Contributing Member

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    And some people just value different things in art than you do. Sometimes such a disjunction can lead to a falling out if it is not recognized, but often such collisions can prove insightful. Just remember that an opinion is only as good as the reasoning behind it, and only as valuable as it is relevant to you or your thinking. Be careful, but don't be afraid to take a risk--the most is gained when the most is risked. :)
     
  8. trailer trash
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    trailer trash Senior Member

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    Perhaps you are right to some degree ....

    Mammamaia,

    Perhaps you are right to some degree that it was a poor example. But, I don’t agree. On the other hand, I think it exemplifies many of the points I was trying to make. In fact I believe it could serve as a shinning example of what a critique is not. Please keep in mind that one of the points I was trying to make clear is that one does have the right to challenge a review if one feels that the review is unfair, or baseless and unsupported. My post was also intended to draw attention to the existence of and the ability to use the ignore function.

    My comments regarding this member were well founded IMO. And I stand behind what I said without any uncertainty. This member had no interest in the genre in which he offered his obviously biased and uninformed critique. His admission of his personal dislike for such stories made it blatantly obvious to me that it would have been impossible for someone as immature (as he showed himself to be) to offer an objective review.

    What I found to be the most insulting part of his review was the fact that it was simply an off-the-cuff comment that reflected his own distaste for the genre. It was not supported in anyway and lacked the ability to meet even the most minimum of critiquing guidelines.

    In addition, it was made clear to me that this member had no ability, interest, and understanding of the exciting world of the craft of writing. He lacked even the most passing understanding of the fundamentals of literary composition. I am dumbfounded at the fact that many of you, who have commented on this thread seem unable to see the relevance of the issue to this thread. It is clear to me that the issues raised in my response to this members critique are at the cornerstone of the writer’s craft.

    Also, Keep in mind that helpful criticism is based in reality. Someone, who aspires to be a writer, poet, photographer etc…, should realize that it is incumbent upon them to become learned in the craft of their choosing.

    For me this member brings to my mind that of an individual who has quit elementary school, has done nothing since then to further their education, and now at twenty-five feel that ABC Company a fortune 500 multi-national conglomerate should hire them at $500,000 a year as a Junior VP of Marketing. Just as that would surely be an insult to ABC Company, I felt the same way, based on the facts surrounding this member's critique.

    In conclusion, I am not without having a firm belief that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. And on that single point I am in full agreement to anyone’s right to disagree, or challenge what I have said in this thread.

    Thanks for the opportunity to post,

    Trailer Trash


    PS: I was prompted to start this thread; because, I read somewhere else on the forum where a new member posted that they did not feel welcome.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if anything, tt, i should think your posts here and in that example thread would make newcomers to the site even more trepidatious, fearing they'll be trounced as badly and unjustifiably for daring to post an opinion, as poor felony was and still is being, by you...

    why you feel you must continue to savage that fellow member at such great length and with such scathing personal attacks is beyond my understanding... you do yourself no good by continuing to lambaste someone who doesn't deserve such 'cruel and unusual' punishment...
     
  10. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    Frankly, TT, after this I would not crit one of your pieces at gunpoint, lest it be something you don't want to hear or not phrased suitably for you.
     
  11. Crimson Threnody
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    Crimson Threnody Senior Member

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    I think TT brought up some good points, as there ways to critique properly and incorrectly.

    Attacking each other based on personal opinions (like what is going on here) is not necessary and doesn't help build any respect for the credibility of this site.
     
  12. phurst
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    phurst Senior Member

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    Why would I challenge anyone's critique? I would rather have a blunt obnoxious critique than none at all. I've had both. Blunt obnoxious helped more than none. I have read the same submissions as others and have disagreeded with their analysis of the story as 'good' or 'bad' Each of us has things they like and don't like. If I get a critique that said 'I didn't really like it and couldn't get into the story' it tells me two things. They weren't into the genre and that I didn't set a good enough hook. Why would I insist they give me more or 'prove' they didn't like it? I don't really get into the fantasy stuff but I feel an obligation to try to crit it to the best of my ability especially if they have had no critiques and sometimes I just say ' Ain't my cup of tea". If they wrote back and tried to force more from me they would get nothing. I take or leave what people critique. Sensitive? Post a poem! Wow! That'll take the sensitivity right off of you.
     
  13. JustinaB
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    JustinaB Active Member

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    Daniel (site owner) has posted a great guideline for reviewing: Writing Forums

    I think it is a valid point to bring up... that in reviewing it is very helpful to offer more assistance than a small comment. I have done that many times before... said things like: Good job! I like this.

    That was it. Nothing about why I liked it or what I would change and why.

    Then, I read the suggested guidelines for reviewing and I thought: You know, I really should take a little more time and put a little more effort into the things I say when reviewing, if I am going to review at all.

    I think it is much more useful to say something like: I don't really like this piece and here is why:

    Then list reasons according to the guidelines on reviewing.

    Of course, they are just guidelines, but I thought they were great and I can see how if I use them to review I can provide a critique that is much more beneficial to the author.
     
  14. trailer trash
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    trailer trash Senior Member

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    If you are a first reader of this thread please be advised ....

    I think this thread has spawned into several other issues of great importance that can no longer be based on the original statement, so this will be the last post I make on this particular issue as currently presented.

    If you are a first reader of this thread please be advised that it has been edited from the original. It was done so for the purpose of not bringing, perhaps unfair attention to the member of which I spoke of in the original post. After consideration of my post, I additionally found that although, I am still firmly behind what I said; I must admit that it may not have been the most ideal example of the point I was trying to make.

    Also, as I said before, I was not mad at the individual, I felt more a sense of deep disappoint, regret, and disrespect that this individual had chosen to critique a story that if I remember correctly, was around 3,500 words. He had no obvious understanding of the fundamentals of literary composition and had a clearly prejudicial viewpoint toward violence.

    Since the story was posted in the Crime/Drama section and had been clearly marked as containing violent content, I was completely dumbfounded why someone would choose to review something which they obviously abhorred.

    So let it suffice to say, that you must take all things that I have said in this thread in their proper context while remaining objective, and perhaps you will come to a similar if not as harsh a take on the whole affair as I.

    In fact, if I have said anything at all to offend anyone in anyway then please accept my most humble apologies, as that was not my intention.

    Thanks for the opportunity to post,

    Trailer Trash
     

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