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  1. cazann34

    cazann34 Active Member

    Sep 18, 2012
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    Scotland, UK

    How do you critique?

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by cazann34, Jun 20, 2013.

    I'm just curious how the forum at large critiques. Do you use a word processors to help correct grammar errors or do you use your own knowledge in S.P and G to critique other members work.

    I use my own knowledge as I find as well as helping the recipient it also helps me in improving my editing skills.
  2. chicagoliz

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    May 30, 2012
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    I don't generally critique SPaG, because that is something the writer can get anywhere. For me, the idea of critiquing is more on the flow of the story, whether there are cliches, too much showing versus telling, unnatural dialogue, if the story drags on, etc. I may point one out if I really feel like it, or if the piece is just rife with errors, I might say that they need to work on spelling and grammar. Often, if there are too many such errors, though, it's so distracting that I don't bother critiquing it.
  3. erebh

    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 12, 2013
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    Los Angeles
    What's SP&G?

    edit - got it spelling punct and grammar :)
  4. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Nov 21, 2006
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    Coquille, Oregon
    never have, never would, never will...

    ...and my clients' and my mentees' and my own...
  5. Anthony Martin

    Anthony Martin Active Member

    Apr 18, 2013
    Likes Received:
    San Diego
    My eyes glaze over when I see line-by-line critiques, each thought color-coded based on its area of concern. That is not to say this can't be useful to other writers, but my critiques usually take the form described by chicagoliz above because, were I to post work here for critique (I haven't yet!), I would find this kind of critique most useful.
  6. peachalulu

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    May 20, 2012
    Likes Received:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    I don't use grammer programs and I rarely point out things like spelling ( too easy ) or comma placement unless I'm pretty
    sure or it could turn out like Mr. Magoo saying follow me. :)

    I try to focus on the flow of things. If someone uses the same word to start every sentence in a paragraph I point it out.
    The only time I use some program is when I find something is off and copy and paste to see how many words they use in a sentence. Too
    many can make the piece draggy.

    I also try and point out whether a sentence broke rythym with strange word choices. And show
    examples if something sounds a little dry.

    Someone once had a character climbing in bed - a runaway in a forest. I suggested why not - snuggled into a sleeping bag
    or wriggled into my sleeping bag. My suggestions were to show her two different verb options to get away from the cliche of 'climb into bed'
    and also precise word choice of sleeping bag.

    If things are dry or sparse or the author is grabbing for favorite phrases - I ask questions or make suggestions.

    I always point out the positives.
  7. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
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    Ralph's side of the island.
    If there are a lot of technical errors, I only correct the first paragraph or so and suggest editing is needed.

    If it's decently written, I think I can offer more for the person looking for conflict, emotion, a hook if it's the beginning, whether the characters or story are interesting. Is it showing or telling? Can I see the scene or the characters from the passage? Is the description multi-sensorial? That's what has done me the most good when people critique my work.

    And definitely the positives are needed. Yes, people need to know what could improve, but what works is also good to know.
  8. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    May 1, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Puerto Rico
    So true. It's just as important to know what to keep doing, what you're getting right, as what needs work.

    My personal focus in most critiques is the infamous show v. tell. It's the thing that stands out most to me in the read of any piece of work, amateur or published.
  9. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Absolutely I use my own knowledge, which is enough to know that software grammar analysis is crap, and will be for quite some time. That is inherent in the nature of the problem.

    Would you use a graphics program to advise you on your use of brush strokes in a painting?
  10. killbill

    killbill Contributing Member

    Feb 27, 2012
    Likes Received:
    where the mind is without fear...
    Whenever I see punctuation and grammar errors, I point them out, because as a non-native speaker doing so helps me develop an eye to catch such errors in my own writings. However, my overall critique is rarely confined to SP&G errors only. The subjects of critique and the way I do it (coloring, quoting, using bold letters ...) entirely depends on the piece I am critiquing.

    I have never used a word processor for finding out SP&G errors in a piece I critique. It will defeat the purpose of developing my own skill as mentioned. But if you know the limitations of the word processors I don't think using it will cause any harm to the writer or to the one who is critiquing. I admit I became aware of the limitations of the word processors while checking my own writings in them. So, if nothing else, the critiquer will become aware of the limitations assuming he/she had no knowledge of it beforehand.

    Also, if somebody takes the pain of copy pasting a piece and checking for errors in a word processor, he/she is serious about critiquing, and that's not bad at all. To conclude I would say, let the way of critiquing be whatever way anybody wants as long as they are serious about it, because in the end they will get something out of it.
  11. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Mar 17, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Profaned Capital
    I read it through and pick stuff that sticks out: tautology, some glaring grammar errors, sentence construction, flow, rhythm, and pace. I never run it through a word processor; I try not to be a free, crappy editing service for the writer. I might suggest some alternative sentence structures, usually tell the writer how the piece made me feel, whether I could relate to the characters, etc. I also tend to point out stuff that feels unrealistic which, I guess, is stupid because how do I know if the writer wants to be realistic or not? If I spot some "amateur blunders" like lots of telling, info dumps, etc. I try to point them out if I feel they jar the story.
  12. michaelj

    michaelj Active Member

    Mar 18, 2012
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    If there's tons of grammar and spelling errors, I'll tell them, but I won't nitpick every error. I'm not an editor.

    I'll tell them if I found the story enjoyable or not, because that's the most important aspect. Did the reader enjoy the story or not? Most readers can bypass too much telling, repetition etc if they enjoy what they're reading.

    Then I'll obviously mention repetitions, lack of descriptions, too much telling (if you can make your enjoyable story a better read, why not?), prose and what didn't work for me.

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