1. daturaonfire
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    daturaonfire Senior Member

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    Over-Editing?

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by daturaonfire, May 27, 2009.

    Does anyone here have a problem with trying to edit another person's story too much? Sometimes I find myself suggesting additional scenes, or rearranging ones already in the text. How much critique is too much? I so do not want to be one of those people who says, "Oh well I would write it this way, so obviously my way is right!"
     
  2. Agreen
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    Agreen Faceless Man Contributor

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    Sometimes, I have the same concern. When I review a piece I'll point out anything that stands out, and share any thoughts or questions that come to mind as I'm reading. This often results in a lot of comments, and I do sometimes worry I'm imposing a little too much. What helps me get over that though is the thought that's how I want others to look at my work- and how I look at it when I'm editing.

    The solution I think is to make clear why you're making the suggestion, and how it can be implemented. For example if I think a sentence feels awkward, I'll do my best to say why I feel that way, and then give a possible suggestion or alternate way to present the idea of the original sentence. That way I engage with the piece on a level beyond 'I don't like this,' am able to offer the writer a suggestion and still leave it in their hands.

    Ultimately, you can mark up every sentence, but it's up to the writer which if any of those suggestions they are going to use, and all the while I think you improve your own editing and writing process.
     
  3. daturaonfire
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    daturaonfire Senior Member

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    This is a good idea. I'll try to keep this in mind when I'm reviewing. :-D
     
  4. katica
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    katica Senior Member

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    I worry about this, too, because I write very long critiques whenever I critique someone's work. I think though, actually, author's usually enjoy the longer critiques better than the shorter ones, especially if you explain the reasons behind everything you say and give nice suggestions of how they can improve.

    I found that I've been more frustrated by the fact that people give short critiques, like "That was okay" then the idea that people give too long of ones. I'd like it if someone cared about my story enough that they were willing to write out a long explanation of what they thought about it and give their opinions about every little point in the narrative and explain to me in detail how I can improve.

    No one has ever done that for me once, actually.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The idea isn't to rewrite the author's story. The idea is to help find a few things that can most help the author improve his or her writing.

    To me, sometimes this means picking out a paragraph that illustrates most of the recurring issues (in my perception, of course), and eviscerating it. Other times, it means picking a couple of examples of three to five issues from throughout the writing sample.

    In either case, the suggestions mean nothing if I don't say WHY I think the change should be made. I try to state it in broad enough terms that the writer can find additional examples, both in the posted sample and in any oter writing the author is working on.
     
  6. TragicJuliet
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    TragicJuliet Senior Member

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    I can see why you would wonder where the line is, how to know when to edit and when you're imposing your thoughts on the writer. What I like to do- besides just trying to correct grammatical errors or things that don't flow- I try and ask questions "Why is he doing that" "Where is the grand parents " "why is he a cat?" things that i think need to be worked on- or things I don't necessarily understand without actually telling them what to do instead of saying "you should put the grandparents here." and ultimately like Cogito said- it's up to the writer on whether to take the advice or not.
     
  7. Scribe Rewan
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    Scribe Rewan Contributing Member

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    Personally I have made it a rule to try and never offer up alternative versions of sentences/ paragraphs. As Cogito said, our goal is not to rewrite their story. I just point out what parts could be improved - and why they need to be improved and leave it at that. Occasionally I will suggest a sentence, but only if i feel that it will get my point across clearer than if I tried to explain it.
     
  8. Akraa
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    Akraa Member

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    I prefer to use an example of a problem that repeats throughout the piece and append a brief description of the principals being overlooked, and if I feel particularly ambitious, a generic example of improved presentation that is entirely unrelated to the piece using the principals discussed.
     
  9. fantasy girl
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    fantasy girl Contributing Member

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    It's better to over critique than not to critique at all, thats what I say anyway.
     
  10. STAMPALBUM
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    STAMPALBUM New Member

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    Personally i would love all the help i can get. but i do understand that the best help is helping you help yourself.
     
  11. InkDream
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    InkDream Senior Member

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    I have a hard time finding the happy medium between re-writing it for them and not saying enough because I don't want them to know I hate it/think it's boring/hate that they can't spell or hurt their squishy little feelings. For this reason, I don't edit others work at all if I can avoid it (not a problem now that I'm out of school).
     
  12. MelissaK
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    MelissaK New Member

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    I also face this problem from time to time, but I love editing and don't want to stop.

    I usually find out what the person wants me to do with their work, and let them know what to expect from me. I'll go through it and mark up what needs fixing, but I don't physically make the changes myself.

    If they're coming to you for corrections and you explain what you do upfront, they shouldn't get upset about it.
     
  13. Evil Flamingo
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    Evil Flamingo Contributing Member Contributor

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    I found that probably the most irksome thing that can happen is when they do get upset about your edits. There really isn't anything more annoying to me than someone trying to define to you why every last little edit, including the d*** spelling errors, has a point to the story. It's inane and tiresome, and has led me to not reviewing some certain people's work. Editing is pretty enjoyable though if the people can take honesty and outside idea. :D

    - Steve
     
  14. writewizard
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    writewizard Contributing Member

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    I just simply write until I cannot concentrate any more - then I stop. Of course, I have ADHD, so this shapes things quite easily as my maxmum concentration level seems to be about ten minutes.

    I don't think any review is too long. If someone reviewed my work and topped out at 30,000 words, I'd be like, "Oh, WOW!" and be so greatful to them. I think as long as you keep giving them ways to improve without going out to hurt their feelings you are fine.

    I don't critique works where I can't even get past the grammar. I'm a litlte OCD about grammar, even though I try not to be. I read one essay in my English class that had horrible grammar and I said "I can't even concentrate on this!", and my teacher said, "Just leave the grammar for me." If only she knew how hard that was... :rolleyes:

    Anyway, I think as long as you aren't totally bashing them, anything is fair game.
     
  15. hoodwinked
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    hoodwinked Member

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    So, do you think anything more than about five examples is too much?
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Three to five points is what most people will retain from a single lesson or meeting. It is why formal essays prefer three to five major points, and it is also the recommended number of key points for an oral presentation.

    Limiting your critique to three to five points is also beneficial because it forces you to prioritize. You have to decide which problems have the greatest impact on the writing quality, so it the writer concentrates on fixing those, he or she gets te f=greatest benefit from the critique. Moreover, these are the short list of problems for the writer to pay partticular attention to in subsequent writing sessions.
     
  17. DragonGrim
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    DragonGrim Contributing Member

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    My suggestion: "Does anyone feel they over edit a story? I suggest additional scenes, and rearrange existing ones. How much is too much? I do not want to tell people how to write their stories."

    The example above is what I think is over editing. If you find yourself wanting to rearrange every sentence to make it more succinct, you might be a grammarholic.

    Here’s another example. If you read this: “He threw the ball and struck the batter out,” and your first thought is, “Hmm, to strike a better out you must throw the ball. This is a redundant sentence,” and so you suggest the sentence should be, “He struck the batter out,” then you might be a grammarholic.

    Seek professional help.:D:D I'm in a funny mood
     
  18. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Two things:

    First, remember that a review is just that, a review. It's not an order or a command or an assignment. The writer is at liberty to take from the review what he/she will.

    Second, when you yourself are the reviewer you have to decide what kind of review you want to give.

    The Copy Edit?

    The Grammar Gripe?

    The Characterization Review?

    The All Out, No Holds Barred, Rewrite?


    It all depends on you. I used to give a combination of the first and second on the truncated list I have given. I don't anymore. I try and give focus to one thing within the writing these days. I try to make that one thing a basic item because often the revision of a basic item forces the writer to look again at subsequent items.

    Kinda' like going to the dermatologist because you have this one reoccurring pimple that really bugs and the dermatologist says, "How about we look at the underlying issues that are causing the acne instead of just focusing on the one pimple?"
     
  19. jlauren
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    jlauren Senior Member

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    My opinion - the writer is under no obligation to take any of your advice anyway! So I just go ahead and say what I think needs to be said, suggest rewording here and there and chop stuff out. When I review work, I'm acting as the reader, so I will give my opinions based on that.

    The writer has the final say, after all.
     
  20. Katt
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    Katt New Member

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    I agree completely and I know that personally I would rather have someone tell me all their ideas...even If I don't always end up using them.
     
  21. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    We've been having lots of training in my department recently on 'how to help students self-correct'. At first we all went ????????? I mean, we're the experts, there to help them, right? But it's catching on.

    For example, instead of writing or saying the correction, we just underline or indicate with a sign or symbol, and the student tries to find out what the problem could be, searching back through his/her notes on tenses, checking the dictionary etc. It takes time but certainly gets the students thinking and studying more. We've been asked to show them what in particular they have scored points for, as well. We have to help them with examples when they've really messed up, though.

    Perhaps that's what we can sometimes have in a crit. Indicating that--to you--something is unclear, and just giving a small suggestion, will be enough to make the writer carefully go over that particular place again. Giving one example to improve the flow of a sentence may be enough to make the writer go over the others. Saying why you really felt something worked, as well, can show the writer where they've been successful.
     

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