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  1. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Taking reviews badly

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Wreybies, May 23, 2008.

    For the newbies, like me, and the not-so-newbies…


    I’m sure this thread has brothers and sisters, but none are here on the first page of threads, so I figured it was worth mentioning again, point blank, no bones about it.

    The first real critique I got here at WF was from Kaij. (Don’t flip out, Kaij. It’s gonna’ start a little rough, but I promise there is a happy ending.)

    She completely took apart my little half-molded start-of-a-novel. It was lying on the bench like a high school auto-shop carburetor. Pieces everywhere. And she had been quite blunt.

    I sat at the computer seeing red. I’m Latino; that’s the way we are. I walked away from the lap-top, I chillaxed, and read her critique again.

    And again, and again.

    This is the conclusion I came to:

    This person took the time to get all the way down to the nuts and bolts of my little story. She really read - every - little - word. Every preposition, every conjunction, every article both definite and indefinite.

    This person spent her precious time reading my work and then spent more of her precious time telling me what she thought. Which is, bye the way, precisely what I had asked for!

    What a compliment!

    I have since gone back to Kaij, with my hands outstretched, in the shape of a bowl, like Oliver Twist himself.

    If you are here to have you worked critiqued, then please be emotionally ready to have it really, truly gone over, because that kind of review is the real thing, the genuine article. If you feel your hackles rising, walk away and then come back, read this post right here, and then read your critique again.

    Remember, the time your reviewer spent on your work is the most real compliment you will ever get!
     
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  2. companionableills
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    companionableills Member

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    Awesome sentiment.

    I remember people saying things like this a lot on my old boards - that nobody wants to waste their time on an awful piece, and the more criticism you get, the more potential the reviewer thinks it has. The reviewer's honesty, time and desire to help you better your piece is a huge compliment.
     
  3. Amor
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    Amor Member

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    Excellent point, Wreybies :D

    All of us should take it as a compliment when our work is reviewed :-D
     
  4. Al B
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    Al B Senior Member

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    That's a very fair point about taking it as a compliment when your work is reviewed, after all, if someone has reviewed it, it means they actually carried on reading, so you must have done at least something right. By the same token, I suppose a lack of reviews, or none at all speaks volumes too.

    Al
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Well, I wouldn't draw too many conclusions about the absence of reviews. Reviewers get crunched for time, for one thing.

    Also, sometimes I'll read a piece amd let it sink in before writing up a review.
     
  6. Kaij
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    Kaij Senior Member

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    *bluuuussshhheeessssss*

    Holy crap, a thread that's thanking me for my reviews. Haha! It's not a problem, Wreybies. By people critiquing my work hardcore, I learn what to watch out for in my writing and other people's writing. And yeah, I spend at least a full minute on each sentence, trying to figure out if the flow is right or if there are things that can be nuked.

    I used to get ticked when people bashed my writing in a critique. But walking away and coming back seemed to help, because I realized later they were right about most of the stuff.

    *shrugs, cause she don't know what the crap to say right now*
     
  7. Speck
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    Speck Member

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    Critiques and reviews can really help you if you know how to take them. Not everything a reviewer might say is actually something I'm going to listen to. It's important to look at it objectively, and take what you think you want to/can use, and leave the rest.

    For instance, I was once advised to switch a sentence around in one of my short stories (not posted), then I got reviews from a bunch of other people telling me how the prose sounded so perfectly poetic. I realized, whoa, if I change that one little sentence I'll throw off the flow...so even though it was a bit unclear, I left it the same. Sure, I might have been able to find a way around it, maybe someone else would have...but different strokes for different folks I guess.

    Good stuff anyway, good, good stuff. Very true.
     
  8. Lucy E.
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    Lucy E. Contributing Member

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    Very true, Wreybies. Critiques and reviews are there to help writers improve, so it's always best to look at them in that manner.
    However, one thing I disagree with is a review in which the reviewer makes unfair statements and gives nothing but criticism. I believe that a good review contains praise and encouragement as well as criticism.
     
  9. MumblingSage
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    MumblingSage Contributing Member

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    Awww.

    Yes, the other day I got a review on another forum that just felt horrible to me. I can't even say why--the person was polite, and wasn't truly ripping apart my story.

    Although they did treat me a bit like an amateur. But since I'm a newb at that forum, I shouldn't expect otherwise.

    Anyway, I sat around fuming, trying to think of a way to 'get back at' her. Then I repped her and thanked her for her time.

    I felt much better.

    I think starting off by thanking the reviewer just makes you feel better about them. And if it turns out they were being rude and insulting (it happens, thank god not on this forum), then you've just proven yourself the better person.

    That said, any critique that stops ripping apart the story and turns on the author (what are you, stupid?) has crossed the line, no matter how helpful it might otherwise be. You can still use the advice in it, but I think you're justified in feeling offended.
     
  10. cboss2
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    cboss2 New Member

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    Both giving and receiving criticism is always hard. However, that's why there is a neutral ground like this one. It's always hard to give an in-depth review to someone you know. The worse off the writing was to begin with the more red one would see.

    One of the first things I came to realize when I decided to start creative writing was that I would never get anywhere or improve unless I learned to accept criticism. This transition wasn't very bad considering I have been working with digital media for a long time and good reviews did the same thing for me there.

    As the O.P. stated though: it's a compliment. Having someone spend so much time to literally "rip-apart" your piece is in my opinion saying they either find a lot of potential in your piece, or they really want you to improve yourself so they are taking the time to pass on some wisdom.

    This is a nice thread to have around. It may help some people remember why they are here for reviews to begin with.

    I personally hate reviews (from friends or alike) that claim everything was awesome. Why? Because I know everything isn't awesome. Nothing is perfect especially if I wrote it.
     
  11. Rickie writes
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    Rickie writes Member

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    Reviews aren't that bad. Keep your mind open, your emotions in check and your ego out of it.
     
  12. ugu
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    ugu Member

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    There is this website that I visit every day where 70% of the stories are barely readable (only because the people there are too lazy to use halfway decent grammar and normal spelling). My comments are rarely positive because I'm a bitter person and I don't make it a habit to compliment something unless it's really, really, REALLY good, but the fact that I review at all means usually means that the story gets at least a "B" in my book. Some people like to mistake my random (but neutral) comment for an insult, though, and I have my share of hate mails that I oddly find amusing.
     
  13. DavidGil
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    DavidGil Senior Member

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    Don't know really if giving in depth critiques out is a good thing or not. At least, for the person giving the critique out even if it's helpful. With focusing on the technical aspects, I always give pointers on how I think the sentences and such can be improved without normally touching on the story.

    This for me, has had mixed results, normally bad ones. I guess it's because I'm blunt and I point anything out I see.

    There was this kid once on writingforums.com, who I gave a review to. His work was praised by others while being told there's grammar faults but guess what, no-one took the time to help him. It was pretty bad and so I spent ages going through each sentence and told him to keep writing, along with reading and such. I was grey repped for it getting this response (not from the author btw): no one reviews like that and dont get one of these

    Then I come on here and I reviewed one of Ieun's pieces (hope you don't mind me mentioning you and thanks for the rep btw) and did the same going through each sentence. Took me until 2am in the morning or something and I'd started ages ago on it prior to that, only getting halfway through. He thanked me and gave me some positive rep.

    So bottom line really, it depends I suppose. Me? I'm not keen on giving out big reviews now, normally I pick out 2-5 bits that I see which I think could be improved via word removal etc. If someone's work is bad, gets praise and no help on technicals, I'll leave it to someone else to hopefully help them. But that rarely comes around. What irks me as well, is no-one ever points out that dialog punctuation is wrong. By ever I exaggerate but it isn't far off.

    I probably will give out the odd in-depth one again but it'll be a rarity.
     
  14. penhobby
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    penhobby Contributing Member

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    Well, I just want to say, that I recieved exactly what I needed when I came here. I wanted in depth critique and I got that and so much more. I've learned quite a bit in my short time here. (I even went out and purchased an english handbook) So thanks to all my patient reviewers. ;)
     
  15. Wet Weekend
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    Wet Weekend New Member

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    If someone takes the time to reveiw your work, you should be greatful...Its time they could have spent doing something else...I came across someone who had their piece looked at on here and when the reveiwer gave helpful constructive comments, the writer then went on about how they'd won state awards and stuff.

    Who cares?, when you are getting your work judged it should be (and is) done on an individual basis by someone who knows what they are going on about.

    If you can't take constructive comments, why post your work?
     
  16. Scribe Rewan
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    Scribe Rewan Contributing Member

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    I agree with the above. And besides, if you think your work is perfect, why are you placing it on a forum to be reviewed?

    I was amazed how easy it is to miss things wrong with ones own work, only to be able to see a hundred things wrong with someone elses in an instant.

    I doubt even the most talented, mulit-award winning authors have managed to write a bestseller without someone going through it and pointing out bits that need changeing.
     
  17. starrynight89
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    starrynight89 Senior Member

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    I agree completely! Just recently, someone took one of my reviews badly and I totally didn't mean to sound rude! It's hard to guess the tone of the reviewer by their review. Nevertheless, constructive criticism means the reviewer thinks the writer can do better, that's a compliment by itself!
     
  18. WingedHermes
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    WingedHermes New Member

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    Odd example, but if anyone checked out a recent episode of "So You Think You Can Dance?", there was some blonde girl, swim coach? who tried out and got torn apart. However, instead of doing what we love to see, which is flip out and act ignorant, she started laughing, took all of the comments whole-heartedly, and walked off stage perfectly content.

    Just an example (and nowhere near related to writing, haha), but you have to think, you take your time to post work, and you'll get what you ask for. So you should be grateful for someone giving up their time to give you pointers and maybe even a good wake-up call. I know I always try to take criticism well without going off the handle. I may not think the person my new guru, but I'll take suggestions that sound reasonable and apply them.
     
  19. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    She even had the grace to make a joke at her own expense. She through her head back and said, "I do! I suck at dancing!" And then laughed in a way that let you know she wasn't there to just make a spectacle of herself (like the drag queen with a beard) but that she just knew how to accept the truth of the matter and have fun with it. She was awesome.
     
  20. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    straying off topic a bit, aren't we?
     
  21. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I think reviewing is something that all artists, and writers, need to learn to take as constructive. The fact that a third party checks it out can help you see things that are beyond your normal vision. However, you could also take the "opinions are like..." attitude. I tend to take a positive attitude, because if I put something up for review, it's because I want to see where I stand in my writing's process-not to be a Prima Donna and complain. Thank you to the reviewers!
     
  22. Anliya
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    Anliya Member

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    I don't think you can really blame a new writer for not being able to take a harsh review constructively. Being able to step back from your work and see it from another's POV is something that comes with confidence. If a writer is inexperienced, he/she has every right to hear some praise or encouragement in addition to the criticism.

    It's kind of unfortunate that so many reviewers have the attitude of, "Well, if the writer can't take my criticism, they shouldn't be writing at all" or "You wanted my help and I'm giving it to you, so you should appreciate it." In fact, if reviewers really care, they would phrase their reviews in a way that is easier to accept, unless the writer specifically asks for them to be completely frank about their opinions. Otherwise, why bother giving a review?
     
  23. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Because those who are tasked with accepting or rejecting written works in the real world of publication are far from coddling, kind, and caring.

    If you have never received a rejection notice, allow me to assure you that it will be cold, impersonal, and computerized.

    Even when you get a yes, there will come a huge amount of editing to your piece of work. When you send your work out into the real world, it is only in its fetal stage. It is far from finished, no matter what you may think. And the editors will be brutal! They will question everything you have written because they know full well what sells and what does not.

    Many of us think of ourselves as artists, and so we are, but the world of publication is business. It will treat you in a businesslike manner that is unconcerned with your personal feelings about your piece of work.

    This forum, and those who give in-depth reviews on pieces of work, is a place to get your feet wet before the real world, with all its cruel indifference, gets a hold of you and your work.

    Don’t you want to be ready?

    I do.
     
  24. DavidGil
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    DavidGil Senior Member

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    I don't know really Anliya. I guess I figure if they're at school still and their grammar is poor, any critique I give out will help them.

    But speaking for myself: I always try and say you're only young and have plenty of time to learn and to keep writing.

    I honestly don't see why a work of mine can be torn apart either when it's not even grammatically piss poor (though the content might indeed be poor. Excuse my language there as well please).

    I can't count the amount of times I see work put up, where it is grammatically poor and gets called great (normally in the fiction section). When people do mention the faults with it, they make no attempt to show the author how to rectify it. How is that supposed to help them? I must admit as well that when I see the great comments, I normally view the content poor also. I.e. recycled fantasy cliches etc.

    The thing is though: if a writer gets praised for bad work by nearly everyone, what will they think when they get that bad review? In terms of bad, I mean one that highlights the flaws but doesn't say it's the worst piece ever or anything.

    That is the crux of it for me. I remember one critique I gave out as well, which was on a 5 page thread I think. I gave it out highlighting the incorrect dialog punctuation which no-one had bothered to say about at all during all five pages. I received no thank you (not even a response I think) and when I visit the thread nowadays, the person is still making the same mistakes. I just don't bother anymore trying to help.

    I mean, is it wrong to want to try and help? It's hardly as though the pieces had intentional grammar mistakes in either.

    Anyways, this is kinda a rant. But I get a bit fed up of having new writers get off easily where I've never had that. So I apologise but my questions and thoughts are genuine.

    Edit: Also, if anything, not being coddled has forced me to try and better my writing. I want to at some point get to that stage where people say: It's great, I can find nothing wrong with it except maybe for just one or two parts. (No work is ever perfect.)
     
  25. Anliya
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    Anliya Member

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    Yes, but we're talking about online forums, communities that are supposed to help aspiring writers, not some sort of mock publication business. If they want the real world, they can go straight to a real publisher for that. A few real rejections shouldn't hurt someone with confidence. Why even bother with online writing communities?
     

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