1. Darrell Standing
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    Darrell Standing Member

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    What sort of a critter are you?

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Darrell Standing, Oct 8, 2013.

    Do you like to excoriate a piece if you don't like it is written or do you like to point out the good with the bad?
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Hmmm... I was mislead by the title of the thread. o_O I was going to tell you what kind of woodland beastie I am. ;)

    The good has to come with the bad, otherwise that's just discouraging. If the piece is a real pile-o-crappola and I cannot find a good thing to say, I apply the golden rule and walk away. :cool:
     
  3. Darrell Standing
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    Darrell Standing Member

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    lol..I think if i find something good I say it. If I didn't see at least some potentail in the piece I prob wouldn't crit it so I'd say I like to point out the good with the bad and the ugly.

    Wise counsel ;)
     
  4. Mottahko
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    Mottahko Active Member

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    One of the big things I find in most writing is sentence flow/syntax. I do ly best to figure out the reason something reads awkwardly. Usually when I stumble on something I'll say it out loud. That lets me actually hear what is wrong with the sentence. Though when a piece is well written I'll be quick to point it out and offer praise. I don't want to sound like I'm just tearing a piece apart.
     
  5. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I deal more with presentation/style even though I know the writer probably doesn't want to hear
    about their misplaced this-an-that, they want to know if their story is any good. For me, though
    it's not so much about the story but how they're telling the story. After all the story will take care of itself
    and find its audience as long as the writing style is good. We're usually only seeing snippets
    anyway. So my focus is more on per sentence - does it flow or work?, word usage, overall flow,
    and story issues like fluky logic or character responses.

    After that's done then I usually make a comment about the story. I try to keep things upbeat. Don't gush
    but don't annihilate either. I try to give people the critique I'd like - to know where I'm missing it and where
    I'm nailing it.
     
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  6. Motley
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    Motley Active Member

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    Dishing brutal truth to writers is never helpful, in my opinion. Neither is being excessively complimentary. Being honest but encouraging is. I would always point out the good with the bad.
     
  7. Darrell Standing
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    Darrell Standing Member

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    I notice some critics have a vendetta almost and love unequivocally ripping the life out of pieces - usually because this has happened to them before.
     
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  8. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    @Wreybies I thought so too :(

    Whenever I was beta-reading/critiquing or whatnot for others, I focused more on the flow of the story and wording.
    I did my best to get it properly textured, phrases flowing smoothly, and dialogue/description feeling real instead of flat.

    I did grammar mistakes and whatnot too but I was more interested in making it all work.
    I also made sure to let them know what worked and what I liked so they don't get discouraged.
     
  9. Motley
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    Motley Active Member

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    I sometimes think these people are trying to reduce the competition for their possible future publications. Ha.
     
  10. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I have a habit of tearing pieces apart, usually because I go in and flaws are all I see. I'm really pretty hard to please, and on top of that, I hate editing and have little patience. All this leads to me burning the piece with fire and brimstone. I treat my own pieces the same - I have happily mocked my own characters and entire scenes with a friend in the past.

    Anyway, because of all of this, I don't tend to critique much. I used to do line by line and it just got exhausting for me, and the truth is I'm not sure how helpful it all was anyway because when I get critical, I get reeeally critical, and that dampens anyone's spirits, and I don't like doing that either. And the most annoying thing - the writer responds later saying, "Well I don't agree with you. Here's why my writing is EXCELLENT!" And I just roll my eyes and think to myself, "All right, you go and think that. Bye bye."

    Nowadays I just give general comments - my general impression of the piece. I haven't quite learnt how to spot structural problems yet, so I'm only really good for flow and sentence structure stuff. In any case, I get bored/annoyed so fast (within the first sentence) that it's rare that I'd read anything that needed anything too major in the first place. And the pieces that I like, I hate to critique cus I don't wanna ruin it for myself.

    All in all, I'm a pretty darn lousy critic. If it's honest opinions someone wants, I'm great with that, but I'm just terrible at cushioning the blow.
     
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  11. Dresden260
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    Dresden260 Corrupt Diplomat

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    But, but you have a cat eating Noodles D: How are you not nice.
     
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  12. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Hahaha you're funny. I *am* nice :3 <--- see the kitty smiley? It's just if you give a kitty a fluffy twitching toy, the kitty's bound to wanna pounce on it :D
     
  13. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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  14. Macaberz
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    Macaberz Pay it forward Contributor

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    @erebh that about sums it up for you, doesn't it? ;)
     
  15. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I couldn't help myself. ;)
     
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  16. Macaberz
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    Macaberz Pay it forward Contributor

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    I admit, I noticed that too, but I didn't say anything. I was tempted though. Now I am left to wonder if the OP made that mistake on purpose...
     
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  17. smerdyakov
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    smerdyakov Senior Member

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    ^Could well have done :)
     
  18. smerdyakov
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    smerdyakov Senior Member

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    I think to be fair to a writer you have to let them know when you spot something that jars with you. But to answer the question, I always like to give someone their due as well
     
  19. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I try to stay as far away from the story and dialogue as I can. It's their story, their characters, their dialogue; that needs to be respected, no matter how silly, flawed, or cardboard-ish. I usually go through the boring line-by-line and point out flow and grammar issues that stand out the most, because I think that's what it says to do in the critiquing guidelines here on the site.

    The only part I kind of like, and what everyone else finds annoying, is pointing out inconsistencies by asking rhetorical questions: If Mary is extremely allergic to dairy, why is she eating a chocolate chip cookie? Are the chocolate chips very dark and 100% milk free? If so, how does she know that? Did the baker tell her? Did she read the label?

    I think it's also important to point out specific good things, because that makes the writer trust you, in a way. Then they might listen to some of the other things you say;).
     
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  20. The Codex
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    The Codex Member

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    Although with no experience with actually reviewing and I don't plan to unless it's a friend of mine, I would check to see if the story is flowing average/well. If the writing is kinda just there and the story is presented then I would focus on the story and suggest to the writer to edit it or hire an editor for the best.
     
  21. Wild Knight
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    Wild Knight Active Member

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    I'm not very good with critiquing, but I usually look for what I liked about a work first... and THEN I look for parts that confused me, or I question whether a character's actions made sense or not.
    If I absolutely don't like a work, or simply don't find anything of note... I leave well enough alone. I definitely don't critique a work if it's not my cup of tea as a genre.
     
  22. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think it's important when critiquing—and note that I'm not saying 'buying the book' or reviewing a finished one on Amazon—that you ask the author what they are trying to accomplish in the piece. (It's very helpful if the author includes this information at the beginning of their post, so you can judge the result against their intention.)

    For example, if a writer says they want us to watch the relationship between Nelda and Fred breaking down, then you can keep that intention in mind when angling your critique. You can offer suggestions on how to make this breakdown happen. It's not very helpful in that situation to just jump in and start rearranging sentences or whatever, if you don't know what the author's goal actually is. You send them away confused, discouraged, and STILL not exactly sure what they did wrong.

    I think sometimes people 'critique' as if they are reviewing, from a reader's point of view. I think a 'critter' (! love that!) should instead pretend to be the writer. Why are you writing this? What would you do to make it work better?

    ................

    Correcting grammatical/spelling/punctuational mistakes is really a different issue for me. (Important, but different.) I tend to ignore typos and minor mistakes when critiquing most offerings on this forum—these things can be corrected later, in a more advanced draft. If people are making major mistakes, though—the kind of writing that makes you go: 'where do I start?'—I tend to walk away. Folks who can't string coherent sentences together really can't be authors until they take the time to learn that part of the craft. I think there are other forum members who are much better at getting this idea across than I am.
     
  23. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Bad idea. It works better to make your own best guess at what the writer is attempting, and indicate your conclusions in the critique. That's a much better measure of the writer's effectiveness at communicating that intent.

    Better to go into it without preconceptions.
     
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  24. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Fair enough. I get what you're saying, and your approach is valid. But so is mine. I guess there is room for both approaches, as long as they both work. My approach does work, if the feedback I get from the OPs is anything to go by.

    People who post snippets of novels rather than poems, or a more-or-less completed short story, do require a different critique approach. We aren't going to get the total picture from what they post on this forum. (I've been misled many a time into thinking a workshop posting is the start of somebody's novel, only to find out later on that it's Chapter Three, or whatever. I go on about creating a good start ...and of course, it's not the start. Embarrassment all around.)

    If I don't know what the author was hoping to achieve in the piece they offer for critique, it's hard to point the critique in any particular direction. It's a waste of time for me to critique something from one perspective, when it turns out the author was actually attempting to say something entirely different. At least it seems that way to me.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2013
  25. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've found these kind of critiques very, very useful, to be honest.

    Me, I tend to pay attention to the syntax and clarity, as well as dialogue. I also nitpick, point out stuff that's probably irrelevant to the writer and give advice that should definitely not be followed 'cause I'm an utter novice :p

    But I think it's good to get some feedback, even if it's not most useful or most professional. At least you'll know if someone enjoyed it (or hated it) even if they can't explain the why, not all that eloquently anyway.

    I must admit, I don't like it when the writer gets defensive over their work. The best response is "thank you." Or sometimes, "Thank you, but could you please clarify?"
     

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