1. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    Stifling Opinion?

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Atari, Aug 29, 2009.

    There are published books that I would have changed things about, and there are probably published books that you would also have changed things about.

    When reviewing writing here, do you consider what is your own preference, and either avoid saying it, or make sure that when you say it, you explicitly indicate that it is just a personal preference?

    I can't IMAGINE putting something up here that wouldn't get at least one or two, "You should change this," regardless of how much I edited and fixed it, since there is always subjective ideas.

    When I write, I try to be as objective as possible, and I don't mention things that are entirely subjective, unless I can think of a way to write it that would make it much more interesting.
    There are probably quotes that many of you could pull out about how if a writer keeps editing until his writing is perfect, then he will keep editing forever and never publish anything.

    So what are your thoughts? (If any?)
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I know that my writing style is my own.

    I know that the posting author's style is their own.

    What I try to focus on is simply telling the author what the piece brought to me, meant to, made me see, made me think, made me feel.

    If there was something missing, for example action, I will mention that. I may well pull one part out and give an example of another way to present the portion that might have been more evoking or captivating. I will often do so in an exaggerated manner. A literary conceit, so to speak, because I am not looking to rewrite the author's work. I am looking to show the author why a portion lost me.

    /ramblink
     
  3. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    Well yes and no. I know I have read enough books where I'm like, "this would be sooo much better if the writer had done this and that." Usually it has to do with info dumps, dialog, and things like that. Rarely do I look at a published piece of work and think the plot needs work or character development is lacking. Ones that do fall into that category end up being books I either don't finish or never read again. I don't think I have read a book yet that hasn't had at least one typo or the occasional sentence that sounds awkward, or some SpaG issues. Usually, in good books, I can overlook this, because it doesn't take away from the overall greatness of the work.

    When it comes to critiquing on here, well... Yes there are a lot of pieces I see that I look at and think, "man, what were you thinking, the whole thing sucks." Other times I can see where they went wrong and I point out it. Sometimes the plot and characters are good, but it needs some SpaG editing.

    I think a lot of people who post work on here who are 10 post wonders (the people who post a few times on here then never come back) are simply looking for someone to tell them they are the next big thing and that they should be published. But, when they are confronted with their lack of skill they never come back. People who are on here all the time, who might not be published yet, are looking to learn, to evolve their craft. Those are the people I am most likely to help out, and will give my personal opinions to.

    In the end a great book is only a matter of perception of the reader. For a book or author to reach the status of great it has to be the consensus of a group of readers who perceive the work to be great, by their own personal group opinion. So opinion really does play a major part in a piece's perceived status.

    We can never truly be objective over something as subjective as liking or disliking something. That just isn't an objective kind of thing. Fiction isn't like a scientific research paper where objectivity is key, fiction is subjective, much like beauty or art. So subjectivity comes into play in every critique, otherwise it isn't going to be much more than an edit for SpaG.
     
  4. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    If something is my personal preference, I see no reason why I shouldn't say it. People benefit from everything. They may realize that they agree with that opinion, personal preference or not. Besides, readers will respond that way. But if it is my personal preference and not something I see as a genuine problem, I do make a point of saying that is what it is.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Everything in a critique is an opinion. SPaG corrections are the only critique items that can truly be right or wrong. Other opinions may be good or poor. In the end, the author decides whether or not to take the recommendations, and learning to distinguish good advice from not-so-good is also a learning experience.
     
  6. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    I'm more likely to make a point of saying that something is incorrect, (SPaG) though I do often find myself beginning a sentence with "I feel. . ." or "I think. . ."

    Dropping IMOs is redundant, (IMO) but it can help to reduce the sting, or to stress the point that your way isn't necessarily the way--something everyone should know, hence the redundancy. But for whatever reason, some people still take comments the wrong way from time to time.

    I think it has more to do with a writer's defensiveness than anything else. I'm much more likely to stress the opinionated nature of my comments when I think the writer is apt to be defensive.

    I post my work primarily for opinions. I work diligently to improve my knowledge of SPaG, and I always read/edit my work before posting, so it is very rare for anyone to point out something I've done absolutely wrong. That said, I do get a lot of comments, most of which are very helpful.

    I post for opinions, and so I give them. . .

    The review room would be severely limited if nobody felt confident enough to express their thoughts and reactions fully. In that case, your time would be better spent reading how-tos.

    The worst reviews are the ones where people hold back. For one who doesn't make many technical errors, the difference is a pat on the back vs a detailed crit.

    Rarely do I find an opinion to be entirely without merit. Something in my writing must have inspired the thought. If it's a thought I don't want the reader to have, my writing could stand to be improved. That said, some suggestions on how to handle the problem can be akin to slathering honey on a burn--commonly accepted, but useless.

    The point is that opinionated reviews help to identify problems by showing you what isn't working for some people. You can't please everyone, but you should try to satisfy as many as possible within your anticipated readership--publishing 101.

    It is up to you to find a solution that makes sense. If the best answer is in the review, all the better. It doesn't have to be, though, for the review to be useful.

    My comments usually consist of my reaction as a reader, followed by a possible solution from a writer's perspective. I think the reaction is by far the most important part. The suggestion may or may not be good. I'm sure I've given bad advice in the past, but to be timid is to fail in giving good advice.

    I hand out dirty chunks of rock with veins of gold. If you can't be bothered to extract the wealth and cash it in, that's your failing, not mine. (though obviously my reviews can always stand to be improved, as with anything I write) If all you can see is an offensive mess smothering your manicured grass when I dump the pile on your lawn, well. . . all I can say is, it beats dog ****!
     

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