1. CDRW
    Offline

    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2008
    Messages:
    1,532
    Likes Received:
    27

    Reviewing is Intimidating!

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by CDRW, Apr 23, 2008.

    I'm really not that experienced with poetry and doing a full review is, frankly, a little intimidating. It feels pretentious, like I'm pretending to know more about poetry in general, and what the author meant specifically. I say this because I'm wondering if other people feel like that. Mabey that's why there is sometimes a lack of reviews here and only small comments when they do come.
     
  2. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I'm moving this post to its own thread in the Reviewing forum.

    I understand what you are saying, and it's certainly a factor for some members. However, there is also a large number of posters who have no interest in taking part in the process, and only are interested in posting their own work in hopes of gathering praise.

    Reviewing does require an effort, but it us an effort that pays for itself almost immediately. As hard as it may be to take that first step, it is easier to critique someone else's work than to critique your own. But what you learn by finding areas for improvement in someone else's work, you can then look for similar problems in tyour own writing. Furthermore, by appreciating the work that goes into a critique, you can more easily let go of your defensiveness to accept comments about your work from others.
     
  3. PrincessGarnet
    Offline

    PrincessGarnet Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2007
    Messages:
    335
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    St Andrews, Scotland
    I do find that i am more nervous checking the thread of a someone else's thread that i have commented on, than i am checking what people have written for me.
     
  4. Charisma
    Offline

    Charisma Transposon Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2007
    Messages:
    2,704
    Likes Received:
    142
    Location:
    Lahore, Pakistan
    I agree that sometimes I feel like 'I don't understand this thing, how can I comment?'. This is prevalent in poetry, since I suck at it - and it also happens in prose sometimes, where the writer has used difficult words or referred to places/people/objects I don't know of. Googling it is how one can understand it, yes - but then, I don't know if I should critique it, since I didn't understand it. Nevertheless, I believe you should still comment and critique as much as you can - what's the harm in at least giving your input?
     
  5. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    "I don't understand this" is actually a very useful piece of feedback, if the poet listens to it.

    It's one thing to offer levels of meaning that are open to the reader's interpretation. It's quite another to write mysteriously, with missing information that the reader would need in order to divine the poem's meaning.

    The problem is that the poet knows what he or she had in mind when writing the poem (or so we should hope!). But writing is communication, and the reader doesn't have access to the poet's thought processes unless the poet leaves enough bread crumbs.

    If there isn't enough of a trail to follow, the poet needs to know that.
     
  6. Charisma
    Offline

    Charisma Transposon Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2007
    Messages:
    2,704
    Likes Received:
    142
    Location:
    Lahore, Pakistan
    That's actually quite valid a point, Cogito. Why didn't I think of it. :p
     
  7. CDRW
    Offline

    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2008
    Messages:
    1,532
    Likes Received:
    27
    Yeah, that's good. I'll keep that in mind.
     
  8. David Reinold
    Offline

    David Reinold New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2008
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yeah, I've had some bad experiences with critiquing as well. But if you take the criticizm for what it is, and don't let it run to your head that "I'm not good enough" like most would, you should be fine, or at least, you'll do better than I did.
     
  9. Mr Sci Fi
    Offline

    Mr Sci Fi Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2008
    Messages:
    165
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Earth
    You don't have to know a thing about writing to leave a review or comment - You only need to know how to read. The best opinions are those of your readers. And let's face it, are we writing for other writers, or readers?

    Writers help you smooth out the technical aspects of storytelling - Grammar, Pacing, Structure, etc...

    Readers tell it like it is - I love this story/Hate this story, I love this character/Hate this character, I can relate with the material/I can't relate to the material.

    The readers are the ones you want to enjoy your work. In the end, their opinion is the only one that matters, not that of your colleagues, friends, editor, agent, or publisher.

    The magic of storytelling is a symbiotic experience between the writer and the reader. If the writer did it right, the reader will know it, and he doesn't need a Masters in Literature to know it, either.
     
  10. Gloom Kitty
    Offline

    Gloom Kitty Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2008
    Messages:
    2,769
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    in a little cage in the bowls of Cephalid
    I have to say before I joined this forum I was with another that had private crit groups. They were advanced Sci-fi and fantasy writers and I was a noob. I have to say that was the best learning period of my life. I think we could put this into practise here. When some one crits your work don't just rewrite it, find out about it. What is the reviewer trying to say? Learning this can be put into use for reviewing other peoples work who are having simular writing issues
     
  11. Amor
    Offline

    Amor Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2008
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    1
    When I review people's writing, no matter what it is, I always feel intimidated mainly because I'm new to the forum. Oh, and also because usually the writer whose work I'm reviewing is older than me, so that's taken into account as well. I try my best, though, and the writer could choose whether or not to take my critique seriously.
     
  12. Tweeti6095
    Offline

    Tweeti6095 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2008
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    New York
    I am also new to this site. I find reveiwing a bit hard. I can only reveiw the writings by how well I can understand their writing, and follow the story or poem. I also find some stories heart-wrenching and can feel the inpact of the story. I am not as experienced as others on here to give a complete all round reveiw. I do read the reviews so i can learn from others who are more experienced.
     
  13. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,893
    Likes Received:
    10,081
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    If you feel comfortable giving the information you have already mentioned, then that is information very worth hearing to the author! Remember that stories and novels, when published, are meant to be read be all, so your opinion counts. Don't be afraid to offer what you have. If you don't feel comfortable giving feedback concerning technicals or grammar, don't worry. There are pleanty of people (like me) more than happy to take apart the nuts and bolts of a story.;)
     
  14. Cobra517
    Offline

    Cobra517 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2008
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    6
    I try not to feel intimidated, but it's still hard sometimes. I often feel as if my words--no matter how carefully put together they might be--will inadvertantly hurt the author's feelings.

    But I'm getting better at losing the guilt. After all, the purpose of reviewing a story is to help the author improve the piece. The author wants and needs honest criticism.
     
  15. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Furthermore, you need to learn to be absolutely ruthless in reviewing your own work. Working hard to discern the flaws in other people's work arms you for that kind of keen-edged analysis. There's no cruelty in presenting your impressions, as long as you leave disdain and scorn out of the mix.
     
  16. Cobra517
    Offline

    Cobra517 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2008
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    6

    I concur, Cogito!

    You really do have to be ruthless in reviewing your own work. How else are you going to make it shine?
     
  17. NaCl
    Offline

    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Messages:
    1,855
    Likes Received:
    58
    Reviewing another's writing in a public forum demands a certain amount of arrogance. Who am I to critique or question the literary choices made by another writer, and to do so publicly? There is a management cliche I have always admired; "Praise in public. Correct in private".

    I don't have a problem with making minor observations public but I feel in-depth reviews belong in private exchanges. For that reason, my public comments will always be limited. If I am particularly enthusiastic about a storyline, and I find several areas of concern, I will contact the writer privately and offer the review in a non-public/non-threatening manner.

    .....NaCl
     
  18. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I understand what you are saying, but the reason for making all recommendations in public is so we can all consider the suggestions, not only in light of the piece being reviewed, but also our own works and other works we will review in the future.

    There's no arrogance if you recognize that your suggestions are exactly that, and no more weighty than anyone else's.

    Also, when the suggestions are posted openly, someone else can come along and say, "I respectfully disagree with this point. I feel instead that..."
     
  19. Leaka
    Offline

    Leaka Creative Mettle

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2007
    Messages:
    5,825
    Likes Received:
    36
    I understand how everyon feels about reviewing.
    But my first langauge isn't English so it makes it all more worse.

    So what I do is usually write my opinions on what I think is wrong. It might be good advice or it might be bad advice, but still the author gets to no the view of other people.

    Instead of trying to fix grammar and all that I pretend I am the audience. I usually tell people I don't like it and why I don't like it.
    I like it and why I like it.

    Instead of trying to be SPAG king I tried to be the audience. So the author knows the thought of an audience.
     
  20. Vertz
    Offline

    Vertz Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Albuquerque, NM/ Greensboro, NC
    I took an English class last fall where we wrote and group critiqued essays. We didn't worry too much about grammar -- we assumed that the writers would do that themselves. Instead, we focused on clearness, voice, use of language, etc. For me, the most helpful comments were things like "I don't understand this," "You could expand this section a bit more," or "You don't really need this sentence." We had a rule in class: everyone had to say at least one thing about each essay critiqued, and it couldn't be "I liked it." We had to suggest a possible improvement. We had several big discussions where people agreed and disagreed about one suggestion -- and everyone brought something different to the table.

    The great part about the critiquing was that you didn't have to use every piece of advice. We were expected to think about every comment, but we didn't have to make every change suggested. More than anything, it was designed to make us think about our writing. Even pointing out one thing made writers consider the entire paper. But we never had to make every change. We had the choice to listen or not to listen.

    So, really, we shouldn't be afraid of commenting on the writing of others. If the author wants help, they will consider what we write. If they don't, tough luck. Everyone will make a choice, and we can't control that. The best we can do is let them know our opinion and let the author decide. Even if they don't use our comments, they might look deeper because we pointed something out.

    (hurray for long posts....)
     
  21. Nati
    Offline

    Nati Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2008
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    I'm in a creative writing class right now and we have been workshopping each other's writing over the past few months. However, most of the time, there's continuous chaos that goes on and everyone speaks over each other. I like the idea of what your class did and took turns saying their thoughts; especially not being allowed to say, "I like it."

    Myself, I find it difficult to review someone else's work. It doesn't help either, as I mentioned before, that everyone else talks over each other. I sometimes stay silent because when I attempt to speak, someone else steals the spotlight. So it feels like my opinion doesn't matter and my mood is brought down. It's too late when someone asks me what I thought about the discussing piece.
     
  22. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    One advantage to reviews in a forum such as this is that no one can talk over you. You can take your time to formulate your response, without any worry that someone will break in in mid sentence.

    And yet, it retains the synergy of the group critique, where one person brings up a point, and the next person considers it and expands upon it, sharpening the focus.
     
  23. Nati
    Offline

    Nati Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2008
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    Yes that's true, I should really take some time to review, but I get sidetracked. Maybe I can do so today, since I have nothing to do but write a story and other homework. Reading does help inspire and gain new ideas.
     

Share This Page