1. Crybaby
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    Crybaby Contributing Member

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    How Do You Choose What Genre to Critique?

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Crybaby, Sep 15, 2016.

    This may have been asked before on another post although I have searched high and low I have not come across this topic. When I critique someone's work, I find it easier to choose a genre I neither read or write about. Does anyone else feel this or should I be critiquing what is familiar to me?
     
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  2. A man called Valance
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    A man called Valance Active Member

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    Critique where you will, there's common ground everywhere. Familiar territory might be preferable to me and many others but I know crap when I see it I can appreciate good writing, when I see it, in any genre.
     
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  3. Crybaby
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    Crybaby Contributing Member

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    You make me smile :D
    I continue doing what I'm doing. I did try to delete this post but it obviously never worked. :confused:
     
  4. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    There are certain genres I won't critique because I know I'm not going to like it, and that DOESN'T mean the author is doing it wrong. They could write a better Tolekinesque fantasy than Tolkein and I'm still going to find every chapter insufferable.

    Critiquing the genres I read the most in is easy. I don't think it helps me develop as an author.

    Critiquing genres I don't hate but aren't my favourite is the most helpful to me as an author. I'm not familiar with the tropes and conventions so it forces me to think carefully about why something doesn't feel right, and my criticisms are more likely to apply universally to writing (from my perspective at least--nothing is universal for all).

    I get very different feedback from people who love my genre than people who don't. The former like my work a lot more and find much less fault with it. But I still seek out beta reads from the latter, because having someone very critical helps me make it the best it can be (and prepares me for what my 1* Amazon reviews might say ;) ). I don't act on much of what a hyper-critical person says but it does help me keep improving.
     
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  5. Crybaby
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    Crybaby Contributing Member

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    Ok, this is good. This is why I prefer to critique a genre I'm not too friendly with. I want to give honest feedback on someone's work and feel if I critique a genre I read and write in I would spend more time comparing their work to mine therefore I'd be of no use to the writer. Does that make sense or am I just selfish and weird?
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2016
  6. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I critique anything that looks interesting, anything that I could possibly offer help to, and even if there's not much to say sometimes I just stop by to give encouragement. I don't really go by genre. At least not here. On another site I like to critique Romance and General fiction - two genre's I like reading. Oddly enough I like reading horror more than critiquing it.
     
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  7. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't typically worry about genre too much--there are general writing issues that exist beyond the scope of genre that can be pointed out in most critiques (unless there aren't--in which case, good for you, writer!). Plus, I trust the author to know their own genre well enough to discard any uninformed opinions I have about their genre's standards--meaning, if I tell a romance writer they should ease up on the romance, I'd hope they know to ignore my advice :)

    There's benefit to both--in a familiar genre, you're likely to have the knowledge and experience to help. In a foreign genre, you're likely to learn and can provide an outsider opinion, which is definitely just as valuable as an insider's.
     
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  8. Raven484
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    Raven484 Contributing Member

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    I read on the internet and even here that we all need to expand our horizons as far as genre's go. Lately I have critiqued several different genres I would normally shy away from. Are your ears burning @Tenderiser
    Truth for me is that I probably pay more attention to the genres I do not write in. Liking sci-fi and horror I tend to let little things slip by if I like the story. The other genres I think I am more critical of.
    In the end, I am glad I do this because I enjoy reading more different things now that I want to be diverse. @Tenderiser did ruin me though, now I enjoy romance stories. I feel dirty and had to eventually turn in my man card! Just kidding, it was a fantastic story for a first romance read.
    Working on critique a mystery now, having a blast.
     
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  9. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    I'll have a stab at critiquing anything, but generally i stick to the genres i read thriller/adventure/crime
     
  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I don't really pick genres to critique, although some of them are out of my range a bit.

    I don't usually critique military stuff, mainly because I don't know anything about how the military works, and am not hugely interested in finding out. I'm not a fan of horror either, and never read it, but I've tackled a few horror pieces here on the forum because the portions that were in the workshop were interesting.

    I find myself running a mile from certain kinds of fantasy. The word 'villain' puts me right off, as does 'evil.' Pure good versus pure evil is bit too simplistic for me. But then again, I'm an old fart. I do love other kinds of fantasy, though.

    I'm not a fan of teenaged superpowers, zombies or vampires, but I've critiqued in each category and found some of the offerings promising. I love sci-fi, in general and will usually give that a go, provided it's not all military stuff. I'm less enamoured of thriller/crime/spy stuff ...again, because I really don't read it, and am not sure what folks who do are actually looking for.

    Once in a blue moon somebody puts something up in my favourite genre (historical fiction) and I usually glom onto that right away. I can read romance as well, although, considering how popular it is as a fiction category, there are very few romance offerings in the workshop. (Which is a bit odd?)

    I usually take a look at what's on offer, though. I guess something has to grab me. Either the writing style, the notion of the plot, the setting, the characters ...something. I don't care what genre it's in, if I find it approachable and reasonably free of SPAG errors.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2016
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  11. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    For me it's easiest and most fascinating to critique the genre I am writing in. I know what I am doing and I can offer helpful suggestions. It's not that I couldn't critique other genres, but it would not play to my strengths - and it wouldn't be as riveting ;)
     
  12. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    I sometimes write historical fiction. Let me know if you ever want to swap stories or chapters. Sometimes I use the backdrop of a war, but I don't think that makes it a military story, though, I have done those too. Feel free to PM me if you're interested. I would love to hear more about what you're working on.
     
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  13. Crybaby
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    Crybaby Contributing Member

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    Confession. :bigfrown:

    I went against the grain and critiqued a romance piece. It's the genre I love to read and write about. Said I never would. Didn't think I'd do someone justice by doing that, but tonight I found a story I really liked. Next thing I know, I'm posting a thumbs up to the author.

    I take back what I said at the beginining of this thread.

    I'm a confused puppy... :crazy:
     
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  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Will do. And I'll keep a lookout for your stuff in the Workshop.
     
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  15. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Maybe it's just me, but if you read AND write a particular genre, you're probably the 'target audience' the person needs to hear from. You'll know more than most about how this genre is supposed to work, and your feedback will be very valuable to the writer.
     
  16. Crybaby
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    Crybaby Contributing Member

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    I know (see first post) but I had what I thought valid reasons for not doing it at the time. My decision felt right but now, I have changed my mind. :oops:
     
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  17. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I crit whatever. The point is to be honest with your feedback. I have crit and beta'd Fantasy and I am not much into it, but it is a
    popular genres so I suck up my bias toward it and stay objective. Not hard really (at least not for me, can't speak for anyone else though).
    There is a clear distinction between honest feedback, and obvious nit picks.
     
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  18. Crybaby
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    Crybaby Contributing Member

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    The story is all I will give feedback on. The pace, the flow and things like that not grammar.

    Why...because I am, too, crap at it. :D
     
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  19. Rosacrvx
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    Rosacrvx Member

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    I agree. Unless I'm being paid to edit/review, there's no way I'm going to spend my time reading a genre that doesn't interest me at all.
    But this can be tricky sometimes. I almost gave up on "Lord of the Rings" because I found the first chapter incredibly boring and childish. A friend encouraged me to carry on reading, and I admit I did it for him, but it would have been much more easy if he had just told me: "There's a magical ring that bends people to the will of whoever person is carrying it". Ha! That would have got me interested!
    I've been trying to choose excerpts to read on this forum and I'm finding it very hard. It would be so much easy if posters would begin with a mini synopsis of what the story is about, like those you find in book covers. Most times, that's how I choose to buy a book.
    This is my impression, or at least it's what works with me personally, that readers will cut some slack on the writer during the first 10/20 pages or so if the story promises to be interesting, regardless of the gender. I don't think the writer needs to grab the reader right on the first page or even on the first line to make it a good book. The synopsis should inform the reader what the book is about. I was not informed about "Lord of the Rings" and Tolkien almost lost me in the first paragraph. Does this mean that Tolkien is a bad writer? No. It means that the edition I was offered lacked a good synopsis on the back cover. I really wasn't interested in Biblbo's birthday party and I almost quit. It's one of my favourite trilogies, as well as everything Tolkien wrote about Middle Earth.
     
  20. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, I think you're spot-on with this. It's pacing and flow issues that writers might not pick up in their own work. That kind of feedback is very valuable. Grammar is hugely important, but it's something a writer should be able to learn for themselves, or—heaven forbid—already have competence in it before they start writing at all.

    I do have a heartsink feeling when I look at a piece that's nearly incoherent with SPAG errors. Those mistakes have got nothing to do with creative writing, and can't really be tackled with a critique. Spelling, grammar and punctuation are part of simply learning English, which should have happened way back in grade school and high school. How far is somebody going to get in the field of physics or chemistry or rocket science if they've never mastered basic arithmetic and still struggle to add two and two? It's the same principle. They might have the capacity to become rocket scientists, but they don't have the tools.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2016
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  21. NoGoodNobu
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    NoGoodNobu Senior Member

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    A little off topic, but not all writers are native English speakers.

    It might be a second or third language, but that shouldn't dissuade them from writing in English should they choose. So not everyone might have mastered English "back in grade school and high school" the way native speakers ought've.

    Yes, if they want to be authors of English written works, they'll need to learn & follow our complex SPAG rules. Sometimes it takes time to learn, and people have late starts.

    And on another note, I had the pleasure of helping teach a Korean girl American English, but there was the unfortunate problem she had started with learning Queen's English while she had lived there for a spell--and trying to explain why we spell things different & that flat & braces & piss (etc) all mean very different things was difficult. The result is that she used & spelt some words the one way & then other words the other way. This is also true of my maternal grandmother who didn't speak a lick of English when she married my grandfather--and as a military man, they moved every 6 months to a year to a new base in a new country. So while she's been speaking English for 60+ years now, it's irrevocably "broken" from learning it from various countries & people's whose first language was not English either.

    And one of my all time favourite authors is Joseph Conrad, who was not fluent in English in "grade school" or "high school" but sometime later in his twenties or thirties. And his prose style is so poetic & powerful.

    But I'm sure his writing was riddled with SPAG errors at the onset, and I'm sure he could've been dissuaded from writing in English & sticking to his mother tongue for his writings too. But I am so enormously grateful he didn't.

    I'm sure you had only been thinking about the native English speakers, but sometimes it's difficult to remember that a piece may in fact've been written by a non-native speaker, and the rampant SPAG issues spring from there.

    Just thought I'd share.
     
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  22. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I hope I didn't come across as a snob. In fact, we have many non-native English speakers here on the forum who write extremely good English. (Probably because they had to study it, and didn't just pick it up.)

    However, I do stick to my point. Whatever language you choose to write in, you do have to master basic SPAG if you want to be a successful writer. Joseph Conrad studied his socks off to learn the language he wanted to write in, and his writing is beautiful. I wouldn't move to France with 2 years of conversational high school French behind me, and attempt to write a novel in French that I would expect French people to read. My French (sadly) just isn't good enough. If I wanted to write in French, I'd have to knuckle down and really learn the language.

    Obviously lots of people will not have learned their English in grade school or high school, because that's not the school system they came from. However, it pains me a bit that so many native English speakers HAVE been through the system and still don't seem to know much about basic grammar, punctuation, etc. If they somehow missed it at school, they'll need to go back and master it if they want to be taken seriously as writers. That doesn't mean they can't make the occasional mistake—we all do—or that a critique can't catch these mistakes and help the writer not to make them again. But if a writer makes so many mistakes that it's difficult for others to follow the story, then critiquing things like story flow and pacing isn't really the help that person needs.

    I'm not judging people if their schooling left them less than competent in this field. There are many many reasons this could have happened that aren't their fault, including dyslexia. However, if they want to be writers, they will need to overcome the difficulty and produce work that is pretty much SPAG-error free. That's the sad reality.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2016
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  23. Crybaby
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    Crybaby Contributing Member

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    That's good.
    I'm trying to learn everything I missed at school or in my defence wasn't taught? Not sure which one to blame although I'd probably go with the first one. I messed around a lot at school, suffering for it now. Oh well, on and upwards as they say.
     
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  24. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    As long as you're willing to make up what you missed, that's what will get you there. From what I've seen of your contributions to the forum, you're not far off it now. It's folk who either don't want to, or are afraid to learn the basics later on in life that will have problems with their writing.
     
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  25. NoGoodNobu
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    NoGoodNobu Senior Member

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    @jannert

    Undoubtably. It's just sometimes hard to know what you don't know.

    My mother--who basically skipped high school & went straight to university at 15/16 and minored in linguistics with near perfect grades--thought till roughly around 14 that a "toenail" was called a "tunnel." Only some acute ridicule from peers set her straight in realizing her error and others like it.

    I do not find fault with your argument in anyway, and you are completely justified in your stance.

    I just thought I'd share that sometimes it isn't as cut & dry as it appears or we'd like it to be.

    Sometimes we think our grammar & punctuation & spelling are fine---until someone points out it's actually quite abysmal.
     
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