1. sam80
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    sam80 Member

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    positive critiquing but dislike the subject

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by sam80, Apr 8, 2012.

    Is it possible to give a constructive critique if you dislike the work? By that I mean, can you appreciate a piece's structure or developement or something that is generally well written when you do like it.... If you dislike the the theme, or its simply 'not your cup of tea' can you see past that, if its well put together and give a fair critique? :confused:
     
  2. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, but it takes a little more discipline. You need to divorce yourself from the 'gut reaction' and look strictly at the writing, not the subject. Is the phrasing awkward, does a character seem to behave strangely based on the earlier story, does the narrative meander, etc.? I've critiqued stories that I had absolutely no interest in, and it was very difficult until I learned how to do that. Now, they're just another piece of writing.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Absolutely. You focus on the writing, rather than the content. How clearly is it expressed? Is word usage appropriate? How is the pacing? The dialogue?

    Critique should be based on the details, not on vague matters such as whether you personally enjoy the story.
     
  4. superpsycho
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    superpsycho Contributing Member

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    Yes but I also let the author know if the subject matter is my cup of tea. Then they can judge for them self whether the critique is biased or not because of it. It only seems fair.
     
  5. RowenaFW
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    RowenaFW Member

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    Yes. But I do have a couple of exceptions -

    1. The genre/context is so out of your comfort zone that the text is plagued with unfamiliar terms or ideas which you simply don't understand. Science, medicine and fantasy are the chief culprits here.

    2. You dislike it because of the composition/structure/plotline. This is why I hate most fantasy. I'm simply not impressed by the logic of the world building; it doesn't carry enough weight, I don't believe it, so I steer clear. There's little point in me critiquing [sic] a fantasy story and pointing out the weaknesses to their world building if a) filling them in would seriously retard the plot and b) very few published fantasy writers ever create a sufficiently hole proof world. JRR Tolkein couldn't manage it.
     
  6. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Sure - it's not about personal taste but the writing. I'm better at critiquing movies than I am at writing though - for some reason I'm much better at detaching myself when it comes to films.

    I usually just say how I feel, what I think, but then definitely inform the writer if something isn't my style or it's a genre I'm unfamiliar with, so they know my judgement could be biased. But generally I just steer clear of pieces that are not to my personal taste. I'm not really much of a critic at heart - I can't be bothered half the time. As such, I'm not well-trained at giving good critique yet I think!
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    as a full time editor/writing services provider and writing mentor i face that all the time... probably 90% at least, of the work i edit/rewrite or help new writers with is stuff i really can't like and would never read if i wasn't helping someone or working for a client, but that doesn't affect my ability to do a good job, or even my willingness to deal with it...

    it's always only about the writing for me... not the writer, or the subject matter... however, i do have a caveat to my help offer that says i don't work on material that has violent content...
     
  8. sam80
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    sam80 Member

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    I guess critiquing/reviewing, like writing itself is a skill that can improve with time. thanks for all the input
     
  9. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I can do it. When you take a writing course, you pretty much have to. In the Gotham classes I took, we were required to critique stories by our fellow students, regardless of the subject matter or genre of those stories. I quickly found that I have absolutely zero interest in what is often called "chick lit," but I still did my level best to give the writer my honest opinions of her work. And as everyone else has said in this thread, I just focused on the quality of the writing, not the subject matter.

    But as superpsycho said, I would preface my critique by saying that I'm not in the target audience for that kind of story, just as a matter of fairness and full disclosure.
     
  10. Aramis
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    Aramis Member

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    I think for experience sake we should all try leaving our comfort zones and take on the challenge of reviewing something aimed at a target audience of which we don't fit. Easier said than done of course!
     
  11. madeleinefarraday
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    madeleinefarraday Member

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    Yes. I critique genres occasionally that are not my cup of tea. One writer on one of my forums recently said that if someone can see past their preferred genre and like a piece anyway, that is really evidence of a talented writer who got them to like their stuff. So it's a good test!

    Anyway, critiques are useful and sometimes people will analyze MY work that is probably not their own preferred style, so I try to return the favor. And I try to look past whether I like the theme or not. Like action-adventure - I really don't like to read about sword fights etc - but someone on one of my forums recently wrote one so well, that I forgot about my likes/dislikes. He was an excellent writer.
     

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