1. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Who really benefits from critique?

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by 123456789, Feb 22, 2015.

    @GingerCoffee

    I said, "I actually think people who post in the workshop contribute more than those who critique. Critiquing helps the critic. Perhaps unintentional, the main reason behind the rule is to encourage new aspiring writers to get out of the "am I the next superstar?" mindset that most normal delusional beginner would be writers have, and instead to take an earnest detached looking at another's writing, see what works and what doesn't. It's the difference between closing one's eyes and taking a massive leap of faith (I am going to post my stuff on the workshop and pray someone sees something special in me) and taking measured, self aware steps to better one's writing (I couldn't get past this person's first sentence. Why is that and how can it be corrected?)."


    You said you disagree. Why do you disagree? :)
     
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  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    It's not that I don't think we benefit from the entries posted in the workshop. I have found other people's critiques very educational as well.

    I just don't think the main reason for requiring 2 critiques before posting your own stuff was for the reason you suggested:
    That doesn't even make sense to me since more than half the new writers here are more self-deprecating about their work than overly confident.

    There are overly confident new writers, not saying they don't exist.

    I've been going to a critique group for a couple years now. If someone gets their critique and leaves early before giving other people theirs, it feels rather impolite. We all bring in a piece, we all stay to critique everyone's work. It's a matter of fairness.
     
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  3. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    I don't know about the superstar thing, but I think you've made a good point, as evidenced by the fact that the two critique rule exists in the first place. Without it, the critique areas would be jammed full of submissions from people who have no interest in participating in the forum, save what suggestions others will offer about their work. Seems like having to examine others' work would have to give a new member some insight into how his/hers will be considered, which might lead to some editing before submission.
     
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  4. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Surely it helps whoever pays attention to it?

    I like to read and give critiques of things on here that takes my interest. Some of the time I've had random people, not the author, PM me or tell me in the story thread that they found my post really helpful. I've also been helping one person in particuar who, no matter how many times I say the exact same thing, doesn't listn to a damned word I say. Other people I've had have utterly rejected my comments. I didn't do it to help me, really, though it has made me more sure of my own convictions, I do it for whoever listens - be that the author of the work or anyone else.
     
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  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Both parties benefit, but it is my ardent belief that the critic benefits more than the person receiving critique. But I think it also depends on a basic precept one has upon engaging the process: Are you here to A) improve your skills as a writer, the skills you will hopefully apply to many future projects, or are you here B) to improve this particular piece of writing you are working on now, this one project?
     
  6. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    Giving a critique makes you take your head out of your own writing box and look at things from a different perspective, a perspective that might not have been otherwise attained. And perspective is a priceless tool in any creative endeavor.

    I've found the critiques that I'm the most thorough with are the ones that I've given on pieces that are way outside my comfort zone. It make me analyse my thoughts and reactions as to why I am responding to a piece in such a way. It is the journey to the why that is the ultimate benefit and the receipent of the critique doesn't share in that process. They get the end result: The why.

    I've also benefited from being on the receiving ends of honest critiques. If I'm being an idiot about something I apperciate knowing and the suggestions on how to rectify the situation. It works both ways.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2015
  7. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think being encouraged to critique can build up one's confidence. How many times have you heard a newbie say, "I haven't critiqued anything cus I don't feel I know enough yet"? But they don't realise even a reader's reaction can be invaluable - and by encouraging them to critique, they are encouraged to trust their own value judgements. And I think that's necessary to be a good writer - at some point you have to have enough confidence to trust in your own judgement.

    My husband who is neither a reader nor writer has often given me immensely useful feedback by simply telling me his emotional/gut reaction to something he's read. Everyone can make these judgement calls - it's just as a critic you have to analyse why your reaction is that way and try to explain it. This in turn helps the critic learn what not to do, or why something works.

    In terms of critique, I prefer to analyse books - why I find something boring, why I find something interesting. Somehow I lack the patience to critique other people's things unless they've asked me personally as a favour, or else because we're swapping pieces.
     
  8. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Since we have a lot of newbies who come and go as if through a revolving door, I'm for encouraging them to be more into critiquing then being critiqued. Not just to get out of the 'superstar' mentality - which I'm sure a lot of writers go through at one point or another - but to get them to realize they have to become their own best editor. It's great to get feedback but you really need to find people you can trust. I'm on several sites - critiques can be positive, encouraging, discouraging, worthless, priceless. On many sites there's also point systems involved and people can be in such a hurry to post their work they'll give a sloppy critique that just falls within the guidelines, or if your story is short it will be picked even though they wouldn't normally read it and don't really get it. Ditto for those trying to returning critique favors. I'm not saying these critiques can't be helpful but I've watched Christian writer's getting slammed for putting too much God in their book when their story is clearly marked Christian fiction or some such other clearly unhelpful critiques - lol. Who does it hurt more the author or the critiquer? - I think it wastes the time of the author but it hurts the critiquer more in the long run.

    Right now I'm critiquing several books chapter by chapter and it's really helpful to see a 'raw' work evolve. I'm really learning through doing critiques how important character motivation is. More so than if someone mentioned it in a critique on my story.
     
  9. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You enjoy reading works as they're being written? Care to read mine as it's being written...? :whistle:
     
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  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Anybody can give an opinion of a piece. We see this all the time on Amazon, when reading 'reviews.' That's a review, not a critique. (Although sometimes the Amazon ones are no more than a vote!)

    No matter how detailed your opinion is, to my mind it's not a critique, unless you also give suggestions about how the piece could be improved, or can analyze what is good about the piece. Finding solutions to writing problems is what truly benefits the person giving the critique. Whether the writer takes your suggestions on board is not really relevant. But if you can solve story/writing problems for other people, you'll probably be able to solve them for yourself as well.

    So I guess I'm in the camp that says critiques benefit the critique-giver more than the recipient—in general, anyway. However, as a recipient, I've certainly benefited greatly from other people's analysis and suggestions about my own writing—so I'm happy to do both.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2015
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  11. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Looking for an extra beta reader? Pm if you like.
     
  12. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    For me I find it most helpful when people ask the right questions - not so much about the writing but about story structure, or the background and the why's of things, because it shows me where things aren't clear and those are actually much greater blind spots for me than whether a sentence or paragraph is well-written. From all the Harlequin romances we know your writing really doesn't have to be spectacular to be published or to sell - but the story has to hang together, and I find that much harder to do, and also harder to see/judge as the author that a second opinion is very needed and appreciated in these areas.
     
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  13. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    This is very true cause i used to post work with a sheer amount of grammatical errors out of immense stupidity and i got deservedly mauled for it. Now i go through incorrect words like crazy every time i write. I also feel like i'm one of the few rookies that's still part of this community at times, only the hardcore writers stay. It's kind of sad actually. I still consider myself a rookie and i've been here for almost four years now.

    :write:
     
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  14. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Agreed. The merit of this sort of help is incontestable. I think this would qualify as caring about a specific work, rather than caring about improving one's writing.

    As far as caring about improving one's own writing skills, I think critiquing is more helpful, based on my own reactions and those being critiqued. How many times does someone react to constructive feedback,regarding their writing abilities, with a bland, unenthusiastic response? "Thanks! I'll consider that." Often, the writer being critiqued will simply explain himself and presumably ignore the advice all together. Compare this to the not infrequent revelations members like to create threads for (which I personally find rude but that's another story)? When a writer learns something about his own work by himself, not by others, suddenly it's such a great discovery, they need to share it with everyone! This is because many people learn best when discovering things for themselves. While someone can learn for themselves using their own work (which of course would have nothing to do with the workshop anyway), I still think that it's easier to learn lessons about writing from other people's works than one's own, because when working on one's own writing, the person is simply too close to the work. Speaking for myself, I learn lessons from objectively analyzing someone else's work, and then I can more easily apply it to my own writing.

    So, to answer @Wreybies question. In terms of bettering one's story, the person being critiqued benefits and I'm not sure the critic benefits at all. In terms of improving one's writing, I'm just going to say that I think the one critiquing benefits significantly more than the one being critiqued.

    Obviously this isn't always the case. Someone here had his work critique based on his voice, and the guy really went to town, and did a good job improving. He definitely got a lot out of his critique, and I was happy to see that.
     
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  15. Boger
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    Boger Contributing Member

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    It's an adventure for both sides because you're never sure what you're going to get. Both sides benefit from this sharpening practice, that's a bit mandatory but not an arbitrary commune at all.
     
  16. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think both are equally useful. I got some great (as in useful) reviews here on some early pieces; two in particular from Wreybies and KaTrian spring to mind which clearly identified where I was screwing up and gave me something concrete to go and learn and fix.

    At the same time I am more emotionally removed from other people's writing and I find it easier to identify the issues. This in turn has allowed me to be more objective with my own writing.
     
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  17. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    So do you basically mean that when a critic critiques, the critic is sorta teaching himself in a way - discovering why things work and why others don't - and since we tend to learn best when we discover the knowledge by ourselves, this means the critic benefits significantly more than the one being critiqued? As for the one being critiqued, he hasn't had to work out the problems himself but rather had them pointed out to him - a little like being taught in class and having your work marked - but that this person ends up learning less by virtue of the fact that he hasn't been through the problem solving process to get to the answers?

    You know, I have seriously never thought of it this way. I know Wreybies is always saying how the critic benefits from critiquing other people's work, but I've never understood why lol. What you say though makes sense :)
     
  18. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Exactly! My post above wasn't very eloquent so nice job deciphering... ;)
     
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  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I agree totally with this, with one caveat. You can learn to improve your writing by yourself, but you will NOT know, until you've run it past others for feedback and critique, what kind of impact it will have. You may think your story is clear as a bell. It may be in your own mind, but if other people don't 'get' it, you need to go back and re-work.

    In that sense, the writer benefits hugely from feedback/critique. If the writer chooses to ignore feedback, fair enough. But it's silly to be so confident about your own writing that you think you can spot and correct all the bits that don't quite work all by yourself.

    I can't begin to say how important feedback has been to me. Even recently, when I thought ...damn, this thing is FINALLY done ...no it wasn't! My last beta reader made some observations that really hit home. My ending wasn't having the impact I'd hoped it would. Why? Because I was leaving too much for the reader to guess at. It was all there, but I needed to spit it out more clearly. Instead I was being a tad too coy, right at the moment when everything came together and the story got wrapped up.

    It's not a difficult fix, but I definitely need to fix it, and I didn't see the problem till he pointed it out. Still tweaking away like mad. Hopefully in another day or two it WILL be done! And done better than it was a few weeks ago. That's what good feedback can do for you. Of course you learn while giving feedback to others, but that doesn't mean you won't have blind spots about your own work.
     
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  20. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Yes! And sometimes something odd can happen - I posted my untitled robot story at another site and someone said some of the discussions were - to paraphrase - long winded. I was like that's long winded? But I was working on a scene in Not Pink at the time that I was having problems with and suddenly the idea of being long winded came to mind and I was able to transfer the advice to another work! I cut back the scene and was much happier.
     
  21. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Of course. I consider the workshop and beta reading two different things. Beta reading is absolutely essential.
     
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  22. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Yes, if you're doing a long piece you really need output over the overall piece. Snippets in the workshop are good but sometimes it's hard to get a grasp what people are doing. I've watched people step in on chapters - not having read what went on prior - and this one recent critique I read, the person didn't understand the mc was carrying for her little brother ( she thought it was the mc's child ) and she wasted a lot of critique correcting words and stuff that didn't need to be corrected because she didn't understand the context.
     
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  23. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Ah yes. A galloping case of snippetitis....
     
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  24. Swiveltaffy
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    Swiveltaffy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Little brother can't pull their own damn weight!
     
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  25. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't be discouraged if someone reacted to my critique in that way. Ages ago, when I was first posting excerpts from my Work in Revision to the Workshop, a member commented that my POV character would not take notice of the location of a certain object because she would be accustomed to seeing it where it was and would take it for granted. Ergo, my saying the MC did notice was narrative intrusion. I couldn't enthusiastically agree and promise to cut it out, first because the concept of "narrative intrusion" was wholly new to me, and second because my MC was the kind of person who would notice such things. Which I pointed out in the thread.

    At the moment I left it at "Thanks, I'll consider that," and kept the critique point in mind. Ultimately I decided the MC didn't need that object at all to spur her thoughts-- and saved the noticing of it for another character, when it engenders a revelation from the MC that, IMO, enhances the story.

    So "I'll consider that" isn't necessarily polite code for "go screw yourself." People need time to process new ideas.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015
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