1. Reis
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    Reis Member

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    How would you feel if...

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Reis, May 14, 2010.

    Well I did a review for a fic not in this site but I went to practice what I learned from other reviewers. Granted I wasn't asked to review the piece but the style, format and layout was just so horrible (multi-colored and even different fonts as a way to address different characters speaking, more telling, no showing, resemblance of a blog, cheesy and cliche romance story) it was just begging for rectification.

    Granted it was a first fic for the writer and I voluntarily skimmed through with just the basic constructive criticisms, not covering grammar and punctuation since I want her to tackle one difficulty at a time being her first fic.

    Normally I would be okay if she didn't reply or comment regarding my criticism but instead she thanked me and said 'I think your criticisms will help me. Thank you!'

    Now I've seen her recent post and...nothing has changed! In fact, it's gotten even worse than before! There's less narrative depth and no imagery. Although, the readers don't seem to mind...or care about it even if it kills their eyesight (some admittedly so.)

    It's retarded I know. I hate my own countrymen.

    Currently, I'm debating whether I should post a piece of my mind in her story or just quietly slip away and accept the fact that I just made a fool out of myself.
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Here's what you need to remember:

    There is nothing wrong with espousing the idea that the review process is as much about your own learning curve as it is giving your opinion to the writer in question. There is a selfish element. And that's Ok.

    When we review someone else's "baby" we are able to see it with detachment, with objectivity. We can see what we feel are flaws and comment on them.

    Here's the good part.

    We take this objectivity and hopefully apply it to our own work. The things we saw in the other work that we did not care for, that pulled us out of the story, that fell flat, that seemed overlong, over-violent, too sappy, inexplicable, non sequitur, and just plain bad, we take these things we noticed and look at our own work with new eyes.

    Because, let's face it, until we start to become critical of other work, our own work seems perfect and shiny in every sparkly way! :)

    The review process helps us become more objective to our own work. Never expect that your review or critique will have some net end effect on the other person's work. They are going to take or leave what you have to say as they see fit.

    Believe it or not, this is one of the reason we have the 2 review requirement here at the forum. We do not want this forum to become just a giant refrigerator door where everyone puts up their work with a magnet for all to see and then wait for the praise to rain upon them during their ticker tape parade. That's what mom's are for!

    The purpose of this forum is for reviewing, not getting reviews. I know that sounds a little backward, but I promise you that it has made a world of difference for me as a writer.

    ;)
     
  3. lavendershy
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    lavendershy Contributing Member

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    It would seem to me that you've done everything you can. So far you've been nothing but helpful and constructive. It's the author's choice to take or reject critique. Laugh a little and let it slip, admitting that she's just going to have to take her own sweet time in her quest for awesome writing abilities. Posting again would seem stubborn and didactic; you haven't made a fool of yourself in any way so far, but insisting that she listen to you right now wouldn't be the best thing to do, I think.

    Cheers,
    lavendershy
     
  4. hyperspace!
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    hyperspace! Member

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    You never know, maybe she did try, but just couldn't get it. It is her first fic, after all. Give her the benefit of the doubt - she's probably not "blowing you off" on purpose.
     
  5. MJ Preston
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    MJ Preston Banned

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  6. MissBelle
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    MissBelle Member

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    I love it when people give me advice, because it is just that advice. I can choose whether I want to follow that advice or not. (And even when I don’t follow advice, I usually get something out of having received that advice.)

    She may of just not wanted to follow your advice, or been unable to. She probably still got something out of what you said, even if she did not follow your advice exactly.

    Different people write for different audiences, you did say that the readers don’t seem to mind how she is writing. I would just consider it a difference of opinion and not let it bother you.
     
  7. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    ...you could say something to the effect of "I think you misunderstood me, because..." and clarify what you meant, perhaps citing specific examples in her work to illustrate what you meant in the 1st place, and to subtly show that she (according to your own standards, of course) gotten worse not better.
    I mean, unless it's a forum with a culture of flowery, coddling reviews where honesty would be inappropriate, I've always thought that sincere, objective critiques are invaluable to all writers, especially 'beginners'.
    Like Wreybies said, that's exactly why we're on this forum and not basing our works on the opinions of our families and love ones, cuz' we all know how productive that'd be.
    Nice try though. Someone's gotta call it as they see it :p
     
  8. Elvis
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    I also doubt she was blowing you off. I see two possible explanations.

    A) Creative differences. She did review your thoughts/ideas but decided not to use them. For better or worse, she thinks what she has already written is the way she wants to go.

    B) She reviewed your thoughts/ideas and tried to incorporate them into her revisions--and probably thinks she did. If she's as much of a novice as you say, she probably isn't any better at taking criticism than she is at writing. She may very well think that she incorporated a lot of your ideas. But by looking at it with objective eyes, you know this not to be the case.

    Don't give up. She probably didn't mean any disrespect. And even if she did, who cares? There are plenty of other struggling writers out there who are worthy of your critiquing and will know how to use it.

    Either way, I say you get major points just for trying.
     
  9. Reis
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    Reis Member

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    Thank you everyone. I'm still doing reviews to that site as we speak though I don't have as much time since I'm working now for another exercise. The other writers, including a recent collaborative I might add, are taking my criticisms well as I've observed their progress.

    Looks like I'll still able to do some good back there.
     
  10. Evil Flamingo
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    Evil Flamingo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Take that re-edit with a grain of salt.

    A lot of people can't separate themselves from their work to look at it that critically yet in their writing. Advice usually goes in one ear and out the other with a lot of first timers, I being one of them originally. But as they write more, they'll get used to it like most everyone else. So don't worry, your review was worth your time. It just may have helped you more than it helped the writer. =/
     
  11. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I know it sounds crazy, because I can just see everyone is looking at these words and other words like them and shaking their heads and knitting their brows and thinking things like, "Poor things. Just humor them."

    The fact is, truer words were never spoken!

    I know we come into this game with the idea that the reviews we get are what is really going to help us as writers. It does, but only nominally. The real help comes in the form of the reviews we give.

    When we give reviews we improve ourselves.

    That's how it works.

    For real.
     
  12. Falconjudge
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    Falconjudge Member

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    This has happened to me, with a guy named Shingikku. Just made me want to punch him in the face.
     
  13. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm having this sort of trouble with someone now. Not only is she choosing to ignore what I said because I was (admittedly) blunt and harsh with my langauge, she has chosen to make immature spiteful comments about me, and assumed I didn't know what I was talking about because of an example I gave of a story I wrote to illustrate why what she was doing can be very boring. Ignore my opinion if you want to. Point out that I was being too harsh with my words, but it's hypocritical to say "You hurt my feelings by saying that," then take insulting jabs at the person who took their time to help you.
     
  14. profexorgeek
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    Worst case you can always think of it as less competition for you in the writing field :p

    I agree with those that said reviewing does more for the reviewer than the reviewee. Sometimes I read people's work and I'm like: "Sheesh that's hard to read..." and then I realize I do the same thing that's making their work hard to like!
     
  15. Sappho
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    This is interesting to read. I take my reviews seriously and I infact like constructive criticism.

    It's like a bad relationship, if you with a boyfriend/girlfriend that treats you badly but your to blind to see it. The outside world will tell you how bad the other person is.

    At least the terrible fanfic writer Tara Gillsbe (spelling) of the infamous "My Immortal" ignored most reviews and wrote her terrible story.
     
  16. theSkaBoss
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    I've found with things like this, I have to look at it another way to get over it. If I was in your exact situation, my response would be to come up with a proper analogy. "I found this big ugly rock. I put a chisel against it and smacked it as hard as I could. Now the big ugly rock is vaguely less big and notably more ugly. Ought I to get frustrated?" It's likely that what you're seeing in this case is that the changes you suggested that the writer agreed with were incorporated, but with an unfigurable level of effectiveness and it's clearly clashing with his or her style. You can either abandon the project or you can stubbornly and persistently continue to provide your feedback. No doubt that after a while, the attention you give to the writer will begin to take effect. Just like a rock, after persistent chiseling will begin to look less like a big ugly rock, and more like David.
     
  17. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    I do a constructive review not even expecting a response from the writer, check the next day if the writer wants any explanation, if he/she takes my review as a jab in his/her ego, I ignore and move on. There is no point counter attacking because I have already got what I want: learn from the mistakes he has made, including how not to respond to a reviewer of my stories :)
     
  18. Oscar Rat
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    I’ve only given up on three writers I’ve tried to help. If they ignore my advice, it doesn’t bother me a bit, I simply cut them off.

    Only a couple of weeks ago, I critiqued a really horrible but long piece on another site. I spent two hours on only the first page of seven. That’s where I stopped and explained why. The explanation took up two pages.

    First of all, I recalled that I had the same problem when I started. This was an old lady. I was an old man who’d recently retired from work.

    I explained how I, too, hadn’t had an English class in fifty years, and skipped half of them back then. So, I told her, I was in the same boat by having to learn grammar over again. That I knew it had to be done and did it. She is living alone, as am I. That gave me plenty of time to study the subject.

    I informed her that the first story I posted was just as bad (I didn’t sugar-coat her problem.) Mine was two pages long and the first critiques I received three or four. Also, that I didn’t have time to finish my critique of her current project.

    Then I encouraged her, telling her that she had many prerequisites to be a good fiction writer. That between the errors, she was a good story teller and the plot itself had merits. I also complimented her on her spelling.

    Next came a reminder that at her age she must have many experiences to write about. I reminded her of things she knew that younger readers would be glad to read about, such as how it was to grow up in the forties. How it felt to go to an outside toilet in the middle of winter, and to do the same in the summer, when you asked familiar spiders to pass you that page from the Sears catalog.

    I tried to impress on her that I’d gone through the same problems she was facing. That learning grammar rules WAS complex and confusing. I emailed her a copy of my crib-sheets that it had taken me many horrible painful hours to copy down from a half-dozen grammar books.

    I agreed that learning to write was hard work That it takes a month of Sundays to become half-way proficient.

    Perhaps her worst problem was in not closing dialog sentences and forming paragraphs the length of a page. Those are relatively easy to correct and to learn to do correctly.

    Lastly, I offered to critique her stories before she posted them on that site.

    That was weeks ago. Today she sent me a new story to critique, and it was one hell of a lot better.

    We all, or at least many of us, started the same way and could have used a little help, if accepted. If not, the hell with them.

    I’d rather have harsh critiques, myself, and give them the same way -- though I like to put a little humor and encouragement in while I’m at it. Giving “I like it” comments does no good to a learning writer, and often does harm.

    I recall my first site, a vanity one, where most of the comments were compliments. I had my speech tags all wrong yet, for months, nobody told me. In the end I cussed those bast*rds out and quit the site. I also had a good many stories to go over and correct.

    Oscar Rat
     

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