By Wreybies on Dec 27, 2014 at 8:04 PM
  1. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

    May 1, 2008
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    Puerto Rico

    How to Get the Critique Luvin'

    Discussion in 'Articles' started by Wreybies, Dec 27, 2014.

    So, you've fulfilled your requirements and waited the two weeks, posted here and there in the forum, chatted, made friends, given your two requisite critiques and now you're ready to post your own work. Exciting and slightly scary. You hope for good, positive, constructive feedback. You post your thread. There it is. It's in public view. It feels a little like going to a nude beach and even though everyone else is also nude, all you can think is that people can see your wiener! You pray that no one will be cruel. You worry that someone is going to point at your junk and snicker behind their hand.

    But something even worse than that happens: nothing happens at all.

    Your thread sits there. The threads of other members who posted around the same time are getting all kinds of play, the critiques racking up, the conversation lively and engaging and enviable. Nothing is happening in your thread. You start to worry. Is my writing so bad that no one will even point and snicker? Even a point-&-snicker right now would be better than nothing because at least that's a prelude to some kind of conversation.

    What do you do? My advice is to check the technicals first.

    1. Did I fix the missing line spaces between paragraphs?

    Like it or not, members in all forums across the internet get turned off by wall-o-text. It's too hard to read on screen and yes, even this little finicky point will make members look for other threads to critique. It happens because the character that your word processor uses to denote a carriage return is different than the one used by online forums and doesn't get recognized.

    2. Have I honestly checked the work for SPaG and random typos?

    Posting a sloppy item for critique says volumes about you to a critic. Even the most expensive cut of meat can be ruined by poor preparation. What faith does a critic have in the "meat" of the work if the preparation is shoddy? It's also a visual distraction to the reader when they run across SPaG errors and punctuation issues. The read should be as smooth as possible so that the critic can focus on the actual writing, not errors.

    3. Is my excerpt too long?

    Very long items are daunting to critics. We do not have - and we're not imposing - any rules for the length of an excerpt, but history says that the 1500 word mark is a threshold. It's not that you can't get critiques for longer samples, but there's a steep dive after that mark where it's quite a bit harder to get them. If you feel that a longer item is a must to post because shorter just won't do, then make sure that everything else is spit-spot. Give a critic more than one reason to look elsewhere and it starts to look grim.

    4. Have I given genuine, best-effort critiques?

    All of us in this forum, and in any forum, know that everyone starts at the beginning. We all have a first critique that we gave where we didn't really have a clue what to do, maybe disagreed with the whole process, didn't grok or twig or anything. Members who are more seasoned know this and are very able to spot the difference between someone who is trying their best and just doesn't have much experience, and someone who sees the obligatory two (2) critiques per new item as a PITA and just wants to get it out of the way with something inane and vapid so they can post their work and brace themselves for the flood of ecstatic adulation that is surely coming. When we see the latter from a member, there's less positive interaction to make a member want to critique their work. When we see the former, we see someone who is trying and wants to learn the stuff and the terms and the smarty-pants things everyone else is talking about, and this member gives others positive interaction and reason to want to help them.

    5. Have I explained too much?

    Some members feel the need to give a long preamble in front of their posted item to explain things. A short preamble to let us know where we are in a novel excerpt is fine, but more than that is a distraction. The point of posting is that the work should speak for itself, and your critic is meant to tell you if it does or doesn't. A little lead in if the excerpt is from deeper in a work, but not more than that.

    6. Is my post in a strange font, font size, font color?

    Many writers have an inner Luna Lovegood. Some writers have her on the outside. She's a precious, affected little thing, and we all love her, but... When you post your work, it's your words that should be front and center. Now is not the time for artsy affectations in your presentation. Critics see this and know that your focus is not... focused. Posting your work like that makes it look like you're not taking the task or the goal seriously.

    7. Are you arguing with your critics?

    There's a fine line between defending one's work and flat-out arguing. When new critics come into a thread and see that the OP is defensive and sensitive about their work, they walk away. No one is going to put the time into critiquing an item just to have the OP fight with them. It's important to remember that nothing that happens in this forum is by obligation. No one here is an employee or getting paid. When your work is critiqued by a member, they are doing you a service. You are free to agree, disagree, or even disregard the words of others, but getting argumentative drives people away, or worse, attracts other argumentative people and in the end all you have is a debate thread and not a critique thread. Using the critique process as a way to hone your argumentative skills as to "how people are totally wrong about your writing" is a pointless endeavor. If/when you ever get published, you will have no access to the readers of your work to argue about how "wrong they are", and if you're not interested in hearing how people engage and absorb your work, you're wasting your time, and the time of others.


    Keep these things in mind when posting your work. The dynamic that will come into play when you finally send your work off to a publisher is very similar, so now is the time to practice that regimen and have it become second nature to you.


Discussion in 'Articles' started by Wreybies, Dec 27, 2014.

    1. peachalulu
      Great points, Wreybies. In a much needed article! There have been a few times when I've sent newbies a privet message telling them if you don't change that wall of text that's all people will comment on.
      Number 5 I especially love - I don't mind if writer's explain if this is a snippet or where it is in conjunction with the novel but telling us this is some crap I whipped up last night is a little bristling to a critiquer.
      Wreybies likes this.
    2. Jordan J
      Jordan J
      Very useful tips. I will definitely have these in mind when I make my first posts! Thanks
      Emily Johnson and Wreybies like this.
    3. Burroughs
      Thanks for these tips. I'll make sure to follow them whilst posting work
      Wreybies likes this.
    4. qwertyportne
      Number 5 was the lesson I learned when I began performing my poetry at open mic venues. The first few times, I got up there and said stuff like, "This is a poem I wrote about my cat. Blah, blah... " Let the poem speak for itself.

      Reminds me of something George Keithley wrote: “In the process of putting sentences together, a subject I didn’t start with begins to emerge, like Nessie rising out of the loch. I fight the monster, then acquiesce, and rewrite the scene to set a place for it at the table. And there, in revision, writing takes me where it wants me to go, for it knows how to make me disappear.”

      Good tips, Wreybies. Thanks.
    5. Miguel A. Wilder
      Miguel A. Wilder
      Great tips, and very helpful. I am going through the nude feeling as we speak. LOL Views but not many replies, but I got one that was positive and helpful, so I am thankful :)
    6. Jillie415
      Definitely some great information! I'm going to make sure to back here when making my first post. :)
    7. Jeff Cochran
      Jeff Cochran
      To have some simple ground rules laid out when starting a journey into new and uncharted territory is a gift ! Thank you so much.
    8. shaan
      Rules are made to be followed.
      Thanks for the useful tips. I will definitely follow these.

    9. Tenderiser
      This was really useful to read before posting in the workshop, thank you. Even if I did fall foul of two of your suggestions. :D
    10. Coni_89
      Very useful tips, thanks a lot!
    11. CoJo Scott
      CoJo Scott
      Useful advice. Thank you.
    12. Temmy Sabrina Oyinloye
      Temmy Sabrina Oyinloye
      Got me laughing and more apprehensive. Thanks for the scare. ;)
    13. Scot
      Some good tips there. WRT rule #6; is there a preferred font?
    14. Crybaby
      Thanks for the tips!

      The opening did make me giggle. If your thread is not looked at and everyone else is getting responses, you fear the worst, so on and so on...too funny. That would definetly have been me...hands up. Now I know to check the technicals before jumping off the nearest cliff.
    15. Trevor Richardson
      Trevor Richardson
      Thanks for the info. Nothing like your first thread on a forum getting no replies :p
    16. savethebbbees
      I'm so glad that there's so much great information already put in place on this site for people who are just getting started! I look forward to putting all of these points into practice in 13 days time! :D
    17. Ellbell Schnieder
      Ellbell Schnieder
      Thank you so much! Everything here has been so great and I am loving it!
    18. Mark Burton
      Mark Burton
      Love these, Wreybies!
    19. Christopher Mullin
      Christopher Mullin
      Excellent article. Very useful.
    20. John Grant
      John Grant
      Exactly where I am. My comments get a regular response, but my stories only get crickets. I think it's the universe punishing me for craving validation. If I don't believe in my own work, why should anyone else?
    21. Wreybies
      Well, you've only just joined our forum, so I'm assuming this is in reference to your experience in other climes. If you've genuinely taken into consideration the basic items I mentioned in this little ditty of mine, you may need to also consider the venue itself. Every writing forum (or live group) has a certain personality, a certain lean as regards the kinds of works that are engaged and appreciated therein. Ours is a purely voluntary venue, so there's no way to guide this lean. It evolves of its own accord over time. We have sections for most kinds of writing, but there can be no doubt that the citizenry herein is one that has a strong preference for Fantasy and Science Fiction. A pretty even spread as regards novels vs short stories, but while we do have areas for poetry, screenwriting, song writing, essays and other non-fiction, the crowd starts to become rarified as regards sitting at those tables. It's just the way it is. Do you think, perhaps, some permutation of the aforementioned could be in play as regards active engagement of your work? Could you be sitting at a Fantasy venue where the lean is really more towards documentary screenwriting (as a random example) or widdershins likewise?
    22. John Grant
      John Grant
      Thanks for the reply. You mentioned some things I hadn't considered. I had taken forum names literally and not considered that a personality had already been established. I have also, not been prolific in my submissions, giving me less opportunity for consideration.
    23. Miguel A. Wilder
      Miguel A. Wilder
      My feelings are, if you give feedback, you should get it, at least from the people you took the time to give ur two cents to. There have been many times when I have posted on ten threads in a day, and there won't be one post on anything I put up. This is a forum where we all want to grow, learn and hone our skills. If you can't get feedback as a bare minimum from people you gave feedback to, what's the point?
    24. BabyNayahi
      :supergrin:The layout and rules of this forum is amazing and so nicely put together. I am still reading through the rules little by little and I can tell alot of thought went into it. This is really good advice for if I ever decide to post some of my work. Thankyou.
      8Bit Bob likes this.

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