1. writerdude11
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    writerdude11 Member

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    Question about first critcism on short story

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by writerdude11, Apr 17, 2013.

    Hey guys, I just recieved my FIRST criticism from an editorial dept here in my town and I have a question for those experienced writers who have worked with editors on what to do when receiving criticism on your writing. Is ok to not agree and dismiss things that you think are insignificant or wrong and just take the most important parts that you think are right or valid and use that as valuable feedback. This is my first time so I don't know quite what Im doing. If anyone could give me feedback on what they think I'd greatly appreciate it, Thanks!
     
  2. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    It's constructive feedback, ultimately, the decision is up to you if you want to listen to what someone says, or dismiss it.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Does this editor work for a magazine or journal that you submitted your story to? Or is the editor someone you hired to correct mistakes and give general feedback?
     
  4. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Just send them a nice "thank you for you consideration" letter and move on.
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Why? A story by a new writer isn't going to be published as it is (I suppose in rare cases it might). There's going to be some editing involved, so if writerdude11 submitted this story to a magazine, he should expect a few revisions.
     
  6. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Ultimately it's your work. You're the author, and you have executive control over it. In short you choose what advice to accept, what to reject.

    Now my thought would be is this an unsolicited critique, as in you pubbed it and they simple made a judgement call - if so read it, listen to what was said and consider whether to make the changes, but don't respond to them. If on the other hand you asked them to do a critique of your work it would be good manners at least to thank them for their work, whether you agree with what they said or not.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  7. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    !

    This is kind of an open-ended question and there are a lot more questions it brings up.
    What kind of editorial department? How are you connected to this editorial department? Is this an editor-for-hire? Someone connected to a publisher to whom you have submitted? A friend who happens to be on staff at the local newspaper or publishing house? What exactly is the caliber of this editor and his/her editorial critique? What is his/her depth of experience?

    The next question is about you and your response to the editorial critique.
    This is a really loaded question. As the author, you are free to ignore any and all comments and feedback you receive from any and all sources. The problem here comes from whether or not you are open to valid comments or do you merely discard this or that comment because you like a particular passage or phrase the way it is – regardless whether it works or not – and just don't want to change it. And how can you tell the difference?

    What kinds of criticisms are you getting with which you do not agree? Is it possible that following the recommendations of these comments could well be the difference between making your story tight and strong or just another of thousands of mediocre pieces?

    As the God creator of our worlds, it tends to be difficult for us to stand far enough back from our work to see it truly objectively. It takes a lot of time, patience, open-mindedness, and some outside help for us to learn how to view our own work through that glaring electron-microscope of editing. The litmus test is to let others read the work. If you consistently get comments about a specific "thing" that your first editor noted then you probably need to take it to heart and look at the passage and how to improve it. If only one or two or three people note something in that same passage, it's probably just a personal preference on their part and, while you may review that passage, any major alterations may well make it less appealing to the larger number of readers.

    Remember, just because you consider something "insignificant" or "wrong", you might not be right. You have a different perspective on your work than others who read it. You have to decide what is the most important factor in writing this piece. Do you just want the satisfaction of having written it? Or do you want to sell it and have the satisfaction of a check in the bank? If the latter, how much are you willing to compromise in order to achieve that sale? Is that sentence/paragraph really all that important?

    My suggestion would be to run this by a few more people. You might post a couple of the contested passages here along with the editor's comments and get some feedback from other writers here to get a feel for the overall validity of the editor's critique. See if there is a consensus on those areas where you disagree with your editor. If so, and the weight leans toward the editor's view, you might want to take a closer look at those areas of disagreement.

    Bottom line: It's ultimately your decision but you want to be armed with enough tools to make the best decision.

    Good luck.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    my questions, as well... without answers, we can't really give you relevant advice...
     
  9. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wordsmith is exactly right. I don't understand what you mean by "an editorial department in my town." Did you have some sort of agreement to write something for them? What type of writing piece was this?

    Also, if the criticism was for something you consider "insignificant," why are you so against changing it? If you really don't want to change it, is it really insignificant?

    I really need some more background and information in order to give you any sort of meaningful thoughts.
     
  10. slamdunk
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    slamdunk Member

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    Details isn't a bad thing when describing a problem. You have to see it from others perspective we only know what you tell us.

    This is like creating a thread: "Hello I hurt my toe, should I go see a doctor?"
    What do we know? Maybe you should if the damage is bad, but you give us close to nothing to go on here.
     
  11. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Considering your question, my feeling is actually that maybe you're not ready for an editor - rather, what you need is a writing tutor. You need someone who would train you, make you explore, explain techniques and flaws etc.

    Why do I say this? Because if you need to ask the question of "Should I take my editor's advice or not?" (and the way you phrased it made me think you were asking if you should take ALL the editor's advice or not), then clearly you don't really know what you want to achieve, nor the level and quality of your own writing, and you have yet to learn how to distinguish good from bad advice. It also shows you don't yet know what your voice is, meaning you haven't developed your craft enough as of yet. Given this, it can be a disaster to hire an editor, because one of 2 things can happen:

    1. You change things you're not meant to change and you start to hate your own work for it, or in fact your work becomes completely ruined and tangled and you won't know where to start just to get it back to its original shape.

    2. You'll ignore genuinely good advice, and thus leaving your work more or less in its original, presumably unpublishable shape, and you will have wasted a TONNE of cash.

    How can you tell if you should take a piece of advice or not? There's no straight answer. It depends on what you want to achieve, what your personal style and voice are, who your characters are. You need to be able to tell when something is badly written, or when it's a matter of preferences, voice or style, and when it might be appropriate to drop your most beloved sentence for the sake of clarity, or if that particular occasion in the story requires something more expression and less clear-cut. A lot of this has to do with intuition, and this intuition comes with practice, reading, more practice, and a measure of self-confidence.

    If you're not confident enough to say yes or no to an editor's advice, and not experienced enough to be able to tell when saying yes or no would be the wiser response for the sake of your story, then you shouldn't be looking for an editor, it would just mess with your head.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The first objective of the Writing Workshop on this site is to learn how to give critique.
    The next objective is to use the thought processes learned in the first objective to evaluate and make effective use of critique you receive.

    Your question illustrates the importance of mastering critique.
     

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