1. namin010
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    namin010 Member

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    I don't know how to critique

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by namin010, Jul 2, 2016.

    I know if I want my work reviewed here I need to make critiques to other people's work before, but I just can't do it. I don't have any confidence that I can offer any valuable comments. Most of the time I don't even know why I like or don't like something. Only by reading other people's reviews I can think that I agree or disagree, but I can't come up with any analysis by myself...

    I'm desperate to have my WIP reviewed. How can I learn to give a constructive critique?
     
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  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Start with the basics - did you enjoy the story or not? Would you read on?

    Then try to break the writing down. If you loved it, you probably have a pretty good idea of what you loved - the characters, the setting, the writing, the plot - some element, or all elements, grabbed you.

    If you didn't like it, it can be harder to say why, but the same elements as above were probably involved, but they didn't grab you, or didn't work.

    But also, it can be fine to just agree/disagree with what others have posted - you don't always have to break new ground, and it can be really useful for the author to get an idea of the general consensus rather than a bunch of individual opinions. Like, if someone says the main character felt unrealistic but you can absolutely identify with the character, that's really valuable for the author to know.

    Overall, I'd suggest approaching critiques as a reader more than as a writer. You don't need to suggest ways to fix problems - that's the author's job, AND it's the author's decision whether to agree that a certain element even IS a problem. Just react as a reader - if you picked up the book in a bookstore and read those pages, would you buy the book?
     
  3. Brindy
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    Brindy Contributing Member Supporter

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    I feel exactly the same. One day I will jump in with my views, but at the moment others seem so much better at it than me. Then I read someone else's comment and realise it's exactly what I was thinking, just didn't have the confidence to write it.

    Someday soon, I will take the plunge. Hopefully, you will too.
     
  4. JLT
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    JLT Active Member

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    I'd use Roger Ebert's approach: when he reviewed a movie, he usually wouldn't describe the plot, since the review may contain spoilers. Instead, he'd describe how the movie felt to him ... the mood it put him into, the ideas it raised, the shortcomings it had, and where the movie seemed inauthentic to him. That's pretty much what the person who posts a work here wants to hear, too.
     
  5. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't forget the Dunning-Kreuger idea - confidence is often inversely proportionate to competence. I don't think it's universally true, but I do think there are a lot of people who critique with great confidence while saying things that make no sense, at least to me.

    ETA: In other words - don't let lack of confidence get in your way! You don't have to dive into the deep end, but you could at least go wading, and leave a few "I agree with this" comments. Then you can build on those with "I agree with this, and like the examples used. A couple more examples are..." or whatever.

    Go for it!
     
  6. Brindy
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    Brindy Contributing Member Supporter

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    Don't forget the Dunning-Kreuger idea - confidence is often inversely proportionate to competence -
    I must be super competent then :)
     
  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    @namin010 - Maybe if you think of it as 'feedback' rather than 'critique,' it might seem easier and something you wouldn't feel uncomfortable doing. It also might help to choose a newly-posted piece that nobody else has responded to yet. That way you won't be influenced by what somebody else said.

    Don't worry. We all had to start somewhere. As long as you're courteous and make an effort to be as specific as you can, you should be fine.

    You say you're anxious to get your WIP up for us to have a look at? Well, think about what it is that you'd want to hear from us. What would be helpful to you? Do we like your characters? (and why?) Are we confused about what's going on? (where does this happen?) Do we think your sentence structure needs work? (quote the sentences) Would we want to keep reading to find out what happens next? (why or why not?) Those are the kinds of observations that will be helpful to somebody else.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2016
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  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Random thoughts:

    - you don't have to tell the writer how to fix problems.
    - you can just use your own experience of the piece. So you don't have to figure out why you enjoyed the character of Carlos but you were irritated every tom Evelyn spoke--just saying that is useful feedback. Similarly, "I didn't understand why I was supposed to care about the problem with the transmogrifier" or, "The three paragraphs about blanched almonds bored me."
     
  9. Brindy
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    Brindy Contributing Member Supporter

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    Well, it's all down to you guys today, I have just left my first critique and I am now going to go and hide in a cupboard. As suggested, I used a piece that hadn't any replies so far and kept it quite short and to the point, (I hope).
     
  10. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I just read your crit. I don't know why you were so worried. You addressed presentation of setting (which left you a little confused as to the where of things), you addressed POV of the character (where you pointed out a missed opportunity in giving us a more personal and involved description), and you addressed some orthographic things that stuck out.

    Excellent.

    Now, important to note.... OTHERS WILL DISAGREE WITH YOU. This doesn't make you wrong; it just means they had a different engagement of the story than you did. DO NOT let that discourage you.
     
  11. Brindy
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    Brindy Contributing Member Supporter

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    I did ALL that? Wow, go me!

    Thank you, and yes, I am comfortable with others not agreeing.
     
  12. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I keep things in mind that I want to know as a reader
    - is the setting clear - can I get a good image of things? can I grasp where the story takes place
    - is the POV easy to understand - Do I have a clear understanding of who the main character is?
    - is the mc interesting? believable? confusing or boring?
    - is there any tension or conflict to keep my interest?
    Other things to point out - SPaG issues - are there sentences I trip over or tense issues that can be pointed out
    Then when the scene is finished - do I understand it, did it serve a purpose, am I interested in reading on, did it drag?
     
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  13. namin010
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    namin010 Member

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    Thanks everyone for your helpful answers!

    I'll try to build my confidence and keep reading what other people write hoping that one day I'll be brave enough to do it xD
     
  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Why not try doing it in a separate place? In a wordprocessing document, or something like that? Write it until you're satisfied with it. Then copy/paste it into the forum.

    Waiting until you get confident isn't going to happen unless you have a go at it. It's doing stuff that makes you confident, not worrying about whether or not you will fail.

    Having said that, do wait till a piece comes up for critique that makes you want to say something about it. Don't try to critique something that doesn't interest you.
     
  15. namin010
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    namin010 Member

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    That's great advice. I will start doing that and practice writing reviews even if I don't post them at first. Thank you!
     
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  16. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    This is what I always did when I first started here! :) And totally forgot about
    Good advice, Jannert
     
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