1. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    When the Asinine Critic is me . . .

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by KhalieLa, May 5, 2016.

    I am ashamed, oh so very ashamed.

    It's no secret that I've been looking for a better critique group. I've come across a couple and have spent the last three Saturday mornings with one. Truth be told, I wasn't impressed. But in an effort to put my best foot forward, I've been doing my part.

    Last Saturday I received 10 pages to critique. I dug into them with the same ferocity I do with my students work. In short, I bled all over it. (At least I didn't use red ink!) Sitting back to look at my handiwork left me feeling embarrassed. I would be crushed to get something back that looked like what I had just done. I know because I've received more than a few harsh critiques. I reminded myself that I am not here to kill a writers dream. I am here to help them improve.

    But there was something else, something that nagged me, making me feel even worse about what I'd done. Unlike the others, this man had shown me kindness and attempted to include me when others did not.

    Bob is a 70+ grandfatherly gent. He sent me the email about the next "regular" meeting and pointed out to the bitchey women in charge that they "neglected" to add my email to their roster.

    At my first meeting the man next to me leaned over and said, "Sometimes the fringe element of society tries to join, but we don't allow that at all." As a card carrying member of said fringe element, I was not impressed. Shannon made a big deal of adding my email into the roster on her laptop then and there, saying she was sending me the rules of the group at that very moment. No email ever came; not then, or anytime since.

    When Bob announced that he posted some work on his website (https://30minwrite.wordpress.com/) and would appreciate some feedback Shannon declared, "Word press doesn't work. It's a horrible platform and there are far better programs out there. No one will be able to read it." Then Jackie, the Pres., and Terri agreed, "WordPress won't even load on my computer."

    Allow me to take a moment to call bullshit: CNN uses WordPress. If it's good enough for a major corporation, it'll work just fine for Bob and me.

    Now, I'm trying to right my wrong. Penance is a bitch.

    I won't be attending another meeting of this group, so Bob will never know what I've done. They are clearly snooty and spiteful. And I've never been interested in drama unless it's between the covers of a book. Besides, they only allow you to have 3,000 words critiqued twice a year. At that rate it would take 17 years to work through a novel. Seeing as it only takes about 3 months to write a novel, I'm not interested in a 17 year critique.

    As soon as this is posted, I'm emailing Bob to let him know that I won't be returning to the group and I will include the critique he deserves in the message. If you have some free time, swing by Bob's website (https://30minwrite.wordpress.com/) and offer some words of encouragement. It will give his ego a boost and maybe I won't feel like such as ass now that I have confessed to my sin.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2016
  2. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    Critique is critique and, well, if that's what you think, that's what it is. It's important to make sure you aren't just being mean or ragging on work just because it's not to your taste, and I generally find it wise to wait a day before sending feedback so at least I make sure that I'm not 'critiquing angry' as it were. But if its your opinion it's your opinion. That's what it is. If there's a nice way to put it then put it nicely, if not you owe the guy your opinion.

    The other stuff... Ew dude. I feel your pain. I wouldn't even have gotten through a meeting. I'd have bid them a hearty '...And fuck your ugly baby too!' as the door slammed behind me. Not to overly knock them as a concept but part of the problem with such stuff is that, well, adults are just teenagers with better shoes and credit cards. It's really easy to slip into this high school crap and get into the thing of focusing on running the group instead of actually getting anything done. Anarchists have a word for that (which escapes me because no-one cares what anarchists think); how groups tend towards supporting the group as a structure instead of the thing the group was set up to do. And well, it's kinda true. People show up for a night out or because its what they think proper writers do and soon your writing group is 'drink wine and complain about your husbands' night. I'm sure that good groups do exist out there but stuff like this is why I don't bother looking.

    And seriously; 3000 words twice a year? I write 8k words per day. How the fuck am I ever going to get anything done with these people?
     
  3. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    Constructive critique is good and I'm not saying to shy away from giving an honest critique, but not brutally so. Overwhelming a writer who is trying to improve isn't going to help. I favor the sandwich approach where a couple of issue get smashed between the bread of praise. Rather than hand back a paper covered in ink, I choose to focus on three things where I thought he could improve, and ended with a healthy dose of praise.

    Couldn't agree more!

    Yep. I get the feeling that a lot of people are so caught up in "being writers" that they forget they actually need to write something!
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2016
  4. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Writing is a lifestyle.
    It's all about the prestige of attending swag soirees where you can be like "Oh, I'm a writer."
    And feel good about yourself.
     
  5. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Writing is a lifestyle, BDSM is a lifestyle. Whats the big deal? :superlaugh:(You have to have endurance for pain in both.) :superlaugh:

    @KhalieLa You did nothing wrong, it sounds to me like that member is just being a twat. I don't blame you for not going back. You have much better things to do like writing any ways, while they cluck away about what ever evil hens cluck about. If anything it is their loss, cause it sounds like you were one of the few to bring any substance to the table to begin with. :)
     
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  6. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    I lean toward a more hedonistic lifestyle. :)

    It seems others may agree with you there. Two members of that group asked me not to leave because I was the only one giving decent feedback. One guy just sent me an email saying he's also looking for another group. We will be exchanging chapters while seeking this mysterious "other group" together.
    :superwink:
     
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  7. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    First off that might be a good choice of life. Cause a needle in the nipple hurts like a son-of-B. :supergrin:

    Onto the other I was just giving you the benefit of the doubt based upon what you had posted originally. I am glad I made the wise choice, I hope you all ditch those waspy hens and start your own group. Hope it works better this time around and good luck with it. :)
     
  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    While it's best to avoid crushing someone, there are currently a couple people in our group that don't do anyone any favors by gushing all over bad stuff. What good is that? Either you want to improve or you are just there to socialize.

    Worse yet, the last critique I got from the same suspects made me upset, not because they were uselessly kind, but because they were ignorantly trying to change my story.

    The worst two things a critic can do, tell you something bad is good, and tell you what you've written isn't to their taste. If it's not to your taste, don't read it.

    Tell people when the character is flat, or the setting lacking, or you don't feel any reason to care about the story. Don't tell them there wouldn't be sexual slavery in a YA book, or that they should read The Story of O to get an idea how to write the scene. No, I should not. I'm not writing another version of 50 Shades. I'm touching on the sensitive subject of sex trafficking because the novel is about real world trauma. :rant:

    Sorry, I digressed there.

    It really depends on what you wrote, not how much you had to say or that it was negative.

    Just make sure what you said was relevant critique and not telling someone what story you would write if it was yours.

    And don't forget to say what is good with the writing too. We learn from what is wrong, but also need reinforcement for what is right.
     
  9. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    Can't hurt any worse than a babe cutting teeth. :)

    Anyway--The other guy is writing a novel about a serial murdering granny, so his work didn't fit well with the whole, "redeeming power of Christ" bit either. I'm excited to be reading as granny offs the neighbors and if he's happy to read about dwarf sex, all the better!
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2016
  10. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    "

    It was relevant, but there just so much that it was overwhelming.
    The critique I ended up sending back to him, was still mostly negative (3 of 5 points), rather than 20+ negative issues to work on.

    When I went back to make sure that I started with a positive and ended with a positive. "What you wrote was thought provoking and really made me think," followed by, "Don't copy and past URL's directly into the text. Cite your sources properly in a bibliography." I didn't want the poor guy to give up, and other issues can be dealt with down the road.
     
  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    When someone's stuff is a long way from skilled writing, you have to take it piece by piece. What step would this writer benefit from taking next rather than how can he/she fix everything? Pick something to focus on.

    It sounds like you did that.
     
  12. Raven484
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    Raven484 Contributing Member

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    I don't think there is such a thing as an asinine critic. You read their story and did not like it. They asked you to do it. You agreed. You didn't like it and explained why.
    The rest is on the author. You can't make everyone happy. Did the critic have a point? Did I miss a plot hole? Does this make sense? Is this boring?
    I would take your critique everyday over someone who just says its good and I liked it. Tell me why?
    I get pretty picky critiques that piss me off, but I am more mad at myself then the person. I would not change the way you critique, it actually helps writers that want to learn to be better.
     
  13. Raven484
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    Raven484 Contributing Member

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    You have to be on guard with a lot of the older writers. The group I meet with has a few over 70. They can't stand it when a 20 year old bashes their work. It has got to the point that after the young person gives their opinion, they immediately look to this other guy and myself to see if they are right. If we agree with the 20yr old, then they take the criticism.
    It's like being caught between two worlds sometimes. I value what the younger generation thinks of my story. The idea of writing it is for people to want to read it and think its cool.
     
  14. Raven484
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    Raven484 Contributing Member

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    To get off subject for a second, we have three ladies over 65 that like to write erotica. Its like my grandmother talking about her sex life. I always get a little chill when it is their turn to read. Lol. The worst part is that sometimes they really have a good story going. I just feel dirty.
     
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  15. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Hehe I was about to suggest the same thing. Maybe recruit Bob in too, just 'cause he's a nice guy :)

    And yeah, one of my friends' writing got ruined precisely because she's in a writer's group where all the members gush praise only @GingerCoffee - so I can definitely agree with you that saying a bad thing is good is definitely not helpful! My friend still thinks her writing is good, though I can't say it is anymore.
     
  16. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Oh yes there is. When a critic tells you that you should change major story elements, in other words write the story they would write, it's very poor style.

    You can still say, thank you and walk away. But that is not the way to critique and a lot of people do it.
     
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  17. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    That sounds truly appalling. I, too, feel your pain. Critique groups can be cliquey, catty and more than a little misandrist, IMO. But I will check Bob out. He deserves a little attention for all he must be putting up with.
     
  18. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    I just looked at Bob's site. It could hardly be easier to read. Clean and simple. Screw that critique group, and the bitchy horse they rode in on.
     
  19. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    I met with Steve last night, he came to my other critique group meeting. (The one with Mr. Mann). He's got balls. When someone used the word nigger he came back with, "That's just linguist laziness. The word is evolved from negro, which is Spanish for black and since you believe that in 'America, everyone should be speaking English, dammit,' then the correct word to use would be black." Then a discussion over gender pronouns left one person pounding the table with their fist and Mr. Mann got up and left in a huff.

    Best night of entertainment I've had in a long time. I'm liking this guy Steve.

    You are a kind soul.
     
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  20. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Is Mr Mann the guy who didn't believe a girl could be a hunter who knows how to use a crossbow?
     
  21. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    That'd be the one. Except it's not a cross-bow, those haven't been invented yet, just a long bow. He's also the guy who said she couldn't possibly pick strawberries on her own.
     
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  22. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Why, of course she couldn't! Everyone knows how strawberries would eat you alive if given half a chance! How would a weakling little woman protect herself from the monstrosities that are strawberries!? Those pesky little red bugs, hiding between the leaves hoping no one would notice they were there, pretending to be all harmless until someone picks them. Only a man would be smart enough to keep a girl safe amidst hidden nests of strawberries in the deep forests!!!

    [​IMG]
     
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  23. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    This book review offers some interesting insights of what archeology looks like when early archeologists were mostly men:
    Distorting the Past. Gender and the Division of Labor in the European Upper Paleolithic
    That doesn't mean there wasn't often division of labor by gender. But human groups consisted of all number of variations from small bands where the whole group traveled and hunted together to larger encamped bands with small hunting parties going on excursions away from the main group.

    The blunt bird arrows are carried only by women and boys and are used chiefly against ptarmigan.

    Sorry.../sidetrack.
     

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