1. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    When to ignore critiques

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by starseed, May 9, 2009.

    Have you ever had a critique that you disregarded completely?

    Just an example.. awhile back I had someone critique some of my work.. they said that they found it difficult to know what was going on because I didn't use "he said/she said" enough. I tend to not feel the need to tell the reader who is talking every time someone speaks, I feel that the context of what's being said usually is enough for the reader to follow the conversation. But this person said otherwise.

    Well later I added a lot more "he said/she said" back in, and had it critiqued again. People complained that the "saids" were unnecessary and bogged down the story.

    :cool:

    So obviously we can't please everyone. There are times I get critiques I simply don't agree with at all, and I don't want to change what feels right in my gut. But then I ask myself why I'm even putting it out there for critiques in the first place.

    What is your criteria for whether or not you take a critique to heart and actually apply it to your story? Is it instinct?

    I'm curious about how others sort through their critiques, sorry if this has been done before.
     
  2. -NM-
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    -NM- Active Member

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    I always take them to heart, which is why I very rarely ask for one.
     
  3. Torana
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    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

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    With a review/critique, it is good to read each one you are given and thank the person for their time, but you do not have to use all their suggestions. What you do it read through, pick out what you think is helpeful to you, what points that were made that you feel could be helpful, and work on those areas. I may say do it like this, but you look at it and go, "I get it" and do it totally different.

    I've had reviews in the past that were counter constructive and weren't that helpful at all, but I still took on board what was said and found that it did help later in other pieces I wrote. A review/critique is simply one person's thoughts, opinions on your work, we all think differently and it is good to get an understanding how a variety of people see your work. Even if it doesn't help what you are writing, it does help you gain understanding of what the target audience/ any reader thinks when they are reading through something.

    So every review is helpful in some small way, just depends on the way you decide to look at it. :)

    Personally, I tend to prefer a review/critique of my piece where the reviewer has said what they did and didn't like about the piece and why. Even if ti don't help me with improving on the piece, I still want to know what everyone thinks of it. It is the only way to improve and know where you are going right and wrong in every piece you write.

    I don't think a critique/review should be ignored really, but just taken on board and used in a different manner if you can't use it to improve upon your work. That is just my opinion anyways.

    And I am sure from this review/critique you did learn that too much can be a bad thing as well as not using it enough. YOu could have learned an even balance through this review/critique. Or even how to go about such things in future pieces. NO review is totally useless. :)
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Other than obvious trolling or insincere meaningless praise/dismissaql, you shouldn't ignore a critique.

    Every critique point is an opinion, and you should try to see what value you can derive from it. Maybe it's something you already considered and decided not to do, but it still may be worth a secondlook. Proibably you don't want to make a change, and your first instinct will be to defend your original choices. Resist that instinct, and at least consider the change, Better yet, try rewriting the passage using that suggestion and see how it reads.

    Sometimes you will discover that a reviewer completely missed where you were going with the writing. DON'T just discard the suggestion in that case. Instead, try to see why they took the thought process they did. It usually means something that seemed clear and obvious to you was written ambiguously, or never written at all.

    Never blame te reader for misunderstanding what you wrote. Always assume that YOU were the one who miscommunicated.

    You may not be able to use every single critique comment. But the more of then you can extract something useful from, the better YOU have learned from the critique.

    I have even found value in reviews that were obviously posted maliciously.

    I often emphasize how important a skill giving a critique is. But learning to use critique effectively is te second most useful thing you can learn from the Review Room. The least useful side of the triangle is te actual comments you get from posting your work. Until you learn to use them as critically as you dig out issues in someone else's writings, critiques can be worse than useless.
     
  5. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    That's a good way of putting it. Not to ignore a critique but more how to learn how to use all critiques to better my writing in some way, and which ones to take literally vs not.

    This is very good advice, thank you.

    So true. I want to get better at giving critiques too. I am so not a critical person, so it's very hard for me. When I read something I usually can only think of what I like about it and it's hard for me to criticize other peoples work but I'd like to be able to do it more because I know how much it helps me, and I want to help other writers. I am going to read over some of the threads about how to give a critique again.
     
  6. Daniel I Russell
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    Daniel I Russell Contributing Member

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    Torana brought this thread to my attention, and I thought I'd pop in and take a look.

    I think the two rules to abide by when critiquing is to be neutral and to be constructive. I would recommend anyone to ignore a critique that is neither.

    For example, it's easy to read a piece and leave the comment 'this doesn't work' or simply 'this is cr*p' (which I've had a long time ago!). The crit needs to say why that opinion is valid, and suggest ways the reader would like it improved. Even then, you have to bear in mind what your level of writing is. Should a novice writer leave a crit on a more experienced writer's work, it may be the case that the novice is wrong, and the seasoned writer can ignore any suggestions. But at the same time, it is nice to see what the reader thinks.

    In regards to being neutral, this was the problem I came across the most often. I write horror. When I read a critique that starts 'I can't stand horror, but thought I'd give this a go...', while again, it's nice to receive an opinion, you have to take the comments with a pinch of salt. When I was a book reviewer, I was constantly sent homoerotica (were they trying to suggest something? ;)) despite the constant requests for horror. I had to try to be neutral, but this is hard for something not in your field.

    In addition, sadly, it depends on WHO conducts the critique. Back at my old forum, I had people who would slate whatever I wrote, just because it was me. I tested this once, and posted a short story. The same old characters again said how bad it was, that the writing was poor and it would never be published. Fool on them. The piece had already been sold! It made me decide to completely ignore their comments from then on.

    Just because someone suggests something, it doesn't mean you have to do it. Be decisive. It's your work!
     
  7. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    Thanks Daniel. Btw I looked at some of your books, they look interesting, I love horror myself and will have to give them a read sometime. :) Congrats on your success!

    It's ridiculous and unacceptable for anyone to ever be that mean. :(
    I know people can be like that and I am prepared for the day someone says something awful about my novel (the worst I've had to deal with so far was someone making fun of me because something else and then throwing the fact that I was writing a novel in there in a mocking way) but I know it will sting when they do, probably worse than anything has stung before.

    I could never actually put down someone else's work. People put their heart and soul into writing, ripping someone down like that is just plain cruel.
     
  8. Daniel I Russell
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    Daniel I Russell Contributing Member

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    Thanks for the kind words, Starseed.

    As a writer, I'm very uncompetitive. I never begrudge anyone's success, as I know from personal experience how hard this business is. Even when I get from a rejection from a magazine or antho, if a friend gets in, I'm happy for them and am glad to see them in there.

    At this old forum I was a part of, the owner and admin was the main perp. Just because you run a writing workshop does not mean you are the god of writing. (This is nothing against the admins here of course! This is a specific rant about another forum, I sincerly promise!). When he said that something was unpublishable, and then it got published, he ultimately saw it as proving him wrong, which simply can't happen! Therefore, a grudge was developed.

    I developed a few enemies there because of differences in opinion. I unfortunately see it alot on these boards when I pop in on occasion. For example, if someone disagrees with my opinion in a discussion in the lounge, I would never seek out a story or poem of theirs just to trash it.

    The writing world would be a much nicer place if people supported each other's successes instead of trying to keep them down.
     
  9. Daniel I Russell
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    Daniel I Russell Contributing Member

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    And wait till you get a bad review! My God that hurts! Not only does it get you when you read it the first time, but people read it constantly ask 'have you seen this?'. It's like having a bandaid pulled off again and again! Ah well, you live and learn. Luckily, dealing with arses in a forum setting develops you a thick skin!
     
  10. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    Yes, bad reviews would suck a lot. I just figure, not everyone is going to like my book. That's okay. I'm writing for 1) myself and 2) for the people who WILL like it. So basically, if someone doesn't enjoy it, it's not for them. Something that helps me is hearing people talk badly about books and movies that I think are masterpieces. I figure no matter how great or terrible I write someone out there will probably hate it or love it, so in the end, I just have to write what I love.
     
  11. desm
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    desm New Member

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    My general rules are to look up grammar critiques to see who is right, as everybody has opinions on grammar!
    Accept stylistic critiques, modifications to the flow, sentence structure, unless I particularly like what I've written. As having readable, understandable stories, is a must!
    Disregard any criticisms of what actually happens. It's my story, it happens how I want it to :p I wrote it for me.
     
  12. Castlesofsand
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    Castlesofsand Banned

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    bad reviews good reviews

    when to ignore.

    I am in agreement to never. you should always look at them. if you can't see through a readers eyes, then who are you writing for? There is always something to find, many new reviewers hesitate on posting detailed reviews because they don't believe they have anything to say, but if you read, you have an opinion.

    for the last few years i've been writing within my characters mind, a few people told me that it was too vague...i argued for years against this, saying that they had to look deeper, but though I disagreed i still want to learn and see if maybe they are write. So i try to change and am trying to change how i present a story, draw on the outside activities as well as the inside.

    the thing is you can't please everyone but don't stick with just pleasing yourself. Give the suggestions a try, its why writers come here, to learn something new. there is an edit function and other reviews, if the changes you make don't work, well at least you tried them out, but if others say its better for it, then you learned again. don't attach yourself to stories here, they are unmolded yet, try new things, learn.

    interesting subject, thanks for the read

    CoS
     
  13. Daniel I Russell
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    Daniel I Russell Contributing Member

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    As I told a friend the other night, grammar is like playing pool. You think you know everything but then play somewhere new, and they have different rules!
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The first critique I received here was harsh. It was also right on target in nearly every point.

    I swallowed my pride anf cut out about half the story that merely diluted the point I was aiming for.
     
  15. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    This is a good point and I agree. Not everyone is going to like what happens but I feel that isn't really constructive critique, it's not like I'm going to change the purpose of the story because someone doesn't like it!

    Very good points! A lot of times I do try re-writing a paragraph or two in the way the person suggested it. Sometimes it works awesome, other times it doesn't feel right to me because it doesn't feel like my style. So it just depends.

    A better title for this thread would be "how to use all critiques" vs when to ignore. :)
     
  16. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    I would consider critiquing parts that simply don't make sense different than critiquing the entire premise. If someone said that the overall idea of my story was stupid I would definitely ignore that! :)
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That would be a stupid critique, unless the critic can point out exactly where the premise is unworkable.

    For example, if a premise involved two US Air Force officers married to one another and working an investigation together, that would directly violate Air Force regulations.
     
  18. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    With smart reviews, don't ignore any of them. With your example of he said/she said, maybe you were going to far in each way. Maybe you need a few more of those tags, but not as many as you used when you did have them. Maybe you didn't have the characters' personalities coming through with the dialogue, and that was why it was hard to follow. On the other hand, it's possible that you were doing nothing wrong both times and it's a simple matter of opinion.
     
  19. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    I think a LOT of what you should DEFINITELY do when critiquing is give alternatives or explain EXACTLY why you feel that a certain part doesn't work.

    I would rarely FULLY dismiss a review, but I have seen some overly opinionated reviews that were almost laughable.

    "I don't think you should use the word 'obscure,' because no one probably knows what that means."

    A good reviewer might say that he would prefer something another way, then say why and perhaps give some alternatives.

    For example:

    Your elves are completely different from elves in any other story in the universe. If I were you, I would just-- not call them elves at all. Why not fabricate a name and have your own, original creature, instead? But that's just how I feel about it.


    If the writer is relentlessly decided on calling them 'elves,' then he'll keep them called elves, but he'll have a wider perspective whether he changes the name or not.
     
  20. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    That is a good point. I always try to be accurate in my writing. Obviously matters of opinion and experience are one thing, but when it comes to little facts like that I'm really anal about it. I know if I am reading a story and something obviously untrue sticks out, it pulls me from my focus.

    LOL! Wow.. that is incredibly sad. :confused:

    This is an awesome thread and I feel I've become better at both giving and receiving critiques because of it. :)
     
  21. katica
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    katica Senior Member

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    This is what I think.

    There are genuinely bad reviews and wrong reviews. Just because someone knows how to read, doesn't mean they know what good literature is. What is the proof of that? The proof is how many people will call classical literature boring or stupid, when it's obviously on a higher level than other literature.

    Critiques are better when you get them from as many people as possible. Why? Because when you hear the same complaint over and over again, then you KNOW it's genuinely a problem. If you get 40 reviews (which some authors are lucky enough to have 40 people who can proofread for them or this is what I've read), and all 40 people say that a certain sentence sounds awkward, then you KNOW that you need to change that sentence because everyone agrees upon it. Compare that to one person complaining that they didn't like a certain word. If no one else cared about that word, then it's probably not actually a problem.

    Also, balance critiques with books. Read books written by experienced and published authors on how to be a good author (I bought a few myself) because they are written by professionals who can actually tell the different between a good and bad story. You will learn a lot from those places. I already learned enough that they were like receiving hundreds of critiques because they made me see what things were wrong with my writing without anyone except me actually reviewing it.

    And of course, if someone gives you advice that disagrees with a book you read, written by a professional, you can tell that you can ignore it without feeling bad.

    Just remember, critiques are important because as a writer, you are always going to be excited about your story no matter how bad it is and for that reason, since you put it on such a high pedastool (we all do because humans are made to create and it makes up proud when we create), you will often miss the flaws. Readers will help you see the flaws because they do not hold your work on the same pedastool you do and can take a step back and analyze it without involving their feelings.

    Also, yes, I agree that it helps when a reviewer actually explains why they want you to change something so you can see if their reasoning is sound. I try to do that when I review as much as possible. Usually my reviews are as long as the chapters themselves. Also, someone explaining their reasoning for telling you to change the things they do shows that they have put deep thought into both writing and your story, which probably means they are more intelligent than other critiquers.
     
  22. Vapor
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    Could you share some of the titles of those books?
     
  23. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Beware books on writing by experienced and published authors. Often they will try to tell you how to write, when in fact what they are telling you is how they write. There are many different approaches to quite a few aspects of writing, not a right way and a wrong way. Don't drown in the ego of a writer just because he is a household name.

    There are writing guidelines that you are wise to follow when you are developing your style, unless you really enjoy making life difficult for yourself. The time to break rules is after you can write within them, and understand why the rules exist. But these are the principles you can best learn by reading voraciously, and paying attention to what books best hold your attention. The more you read, from a variety of authors, the better you can distinguish between good and mediocre writing regardless of whether the story is as appealing. A good sign is if a book in a genre you feel lukewarm about manages to grip you because of the writing.
     
  24. Laverick
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    I think it is essential for writers who want to grow in their writing to take all critique with a critical eye.

    I have seen other reviewers give absolutely stupid and senseless reviews. One that is fresh in my mind is someone stating that first person was an immature writing styles. I was ready to tear that moron a new one. Anyone who knows even a page of literature knows how silly that is. I told this person that if they said such a stupid thing to me I wouldn't take any of their critique seriously.

    I believe writers should be wary and realize that this is the internet and not everyone knows what they're talking about. If I say something ridiculous in a review, I want the writer to say so.

    I put a lot of thought into content review, but I don't want writers to take what I say too personally. I'm giving my opinion, that's all. If you can't take a challenged then specify exactly what you want reviewed.
     
  25. HKB
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    HKB Contributing Member

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    Ignore flattery. The more unspecific it is, "good job", the more completely you disregard it. I find these kinds of "critiques" more offensive than the harshest criticism (which I don't find offensive at all. It's clear when someone's being helpful vs being a jerk).
     

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