1. CoyoteKing

    CoyoteKing Good Boi Contributor

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    How to gracefully reject critique?

    Discussion in 'Revision and Editing' started by CoyoteKing, Jan 21, 2022.

    This is something I’ve been puzzling over since reading the “Bad Beta Reading Experiences” thread.

    I’ve been on a LOT of forums and worked with many betas.

    I’ve had experiences where I received advice I totally ignored… not because I didn’t read their advice or didn’t understand it, but because I thought their advice was bad, and I don’t know how to tell them that without hurting their feelings, so instead I thanked them and then moved on.

    Usually because:
    • They missed obvious information everyone else got.
    • I know them. They give terrible advice to other people. They’re giving me terrible advice right now. I honestly don’t think they’re paying attention.
    • I asked for advice on a specific thing and they gave me something completely unrelated I can’t use.
    • They gave me great advice and I agree with it… but I can’t change the story to fix the problem without making something else worse. Sorry! I genuinely feel bad.
    • I’m making a cheeseburger; they’re giving me advice on how to grill steak.
    Anyway, in the past, I’ve told people directly “I appreciate your time, but I don’t think this works for me, [for x reasons]. I appreciate this other advice you gave me, and will work on that.” Basically… I’m “compliment sandwiching” them.

    Honestly? This has caused some fights. I’ve had people insist they want to know why I’m rejecting their advice and then get very hurt and offended when I tell them.

    So instead, I’ve taken to politely thanking them and continuing on. Problem is: People notice, and they’re not thrilled about being ignored. You’re still rejecting them… just silently, without explanation.

    Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is:

    Do you WANT to be informed? Do you think writers should directly reject advice, or is arguing with critics rude? If someone says “No thanks, this doesn’t work for me,” is that okay?
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2022
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  2. Thomas Larmore

    Thomas Larmore Senior Member

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    When you are critiqued, you must never critique the critique. Just smile, and say "thank you." Remember, people are doing you a favor to critique your work.
     
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  3. Cress Albane

    Cress Albane Active Member

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    Sounds like the best type of rejection to me. Remember, a critique (no matter how poorly constructed) is a piece of literary work in itself. So, of course, no one likes it when you ignore it. Imagine writing a poem that has a motive everyone disagrees with. Would you prefer that poem to be ignored, or be appreciated despite its controversial message?

    Really, I think that even when a person gives you bad advice, it's still important to appreciate that they read through your text. So, thanking a person for their time and effort would be a nice thing to do. Then you can say something like "Unfortunately, the advice you gave me does not fit the story I'm going for." If you're feeling particularly malicious, you can always add "It did broaden my horizons on a few matters", which is a polite way to say "I'll never send you my text again, cause your critiques suck"
     
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  4. CoyoteKing

    CoyoteKing Good Boi Contributor

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    Yeah, that’s been my policy for a long time. The problem is, sometimes I feel like I get backed into situations where I need to say something, either because they notice I’m not taking their advice and directly ask me why, or they keep repeating the advice to make sure I heard it and won’t let it go. I don’t know how to gently get them to stop. Ooph.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2022
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  5. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber marshmallow Contributor

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    It leaves a bad taste in my mouth when people try to justify themselves after I offer some critique. I think it's best just to say thank you very graciously and leave it at that. There's never a good reason to try and argue with those who have been kind enough to give you criticism, and those who do so, unless the criticism is really tone-deaf, come across as ungenerous and vain in my opinion,
     
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  6. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Also thank them for the time and effort they put in. Even if they misunderstood or missed some things, they still made an effort and that's worth something anyway. You have no obligation to tell them what you're going to do, and they have no right to know. In fact, most likely you don't decide immediately (maybe for some things). It's often a good idea to wait a few days or a week, maybe respond after several people have critiqued it, and thank them all, tell them you'll take it all under consideration. Which is true, though some of that consideration might take all of a half a second and be already done.

    Once they've done their part and given their critique the ball is entirely in your court.
     
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  7. Felix J. Léon

    Felix J. Léon New Member

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    Honestly, if people demand why you aren't taking their critique in consideration and changing your text to fit their vision, it feels like they want to take a claim to your work, and you really do not owe them that. As stated previously, you should still express gratitude for them taking the time to not only read the text but actually give their thought on it. Once they get belligerent, you can just remove yourself from the situation.

    If there's some advice that doesn't fit your vision, you can still try to examine their point of view, see what was bothering them. And if it's good advice but would break something else, and that you have that type of relationship with the reader, you can try having a conversation with them to try and resolve it. (them or someone else, by the way.)
     
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  8. evild4ve

    evild4ve Senior Member

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    Critique is an artform in its own right and I believe it should be written for its own sake. In its natural environment it's done to finished, published books - where there is no longer any opportunity to change anything anyway. So when it's done to an unfinished WIP there shouldn't be any expectation the writer will act on it, or even acknowledge it. Asking the writer why they haven't made changes or said 'thank you' isn't just needy and impolite, it might arguably weaken the critique - but I do think people should ask questions back to critique if there is anything they don't understand or that isn't clear.

    So writing is cooking? In that case Jacques Pépin and Marco Pierre White are in the public domain. There's an eternal, free-of-charge, all-you-can-eat buffet at Maison Gutenberg. Salt Bae is still £15 but Heston Blumenthal's £4.50 in the bargain bin and Gordon Ramsay and Ainsley Harriott are in the ten meals for £1 deal in the charity shop.

    A cheeseburger? A steak?
    Writers had better be cooking concasse of raw oysters, green & blue lobsters, caviar with smoked sabayon - or they may find themselves without any Michelin stars.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2022
  9. shoTgun

    shoTgun New Member

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    "compliment sandwiching" :)

    I agree with most of what has been said: minimize interaction politely. There are all sorts of people, especially online, and it's impossible to adhere to everyone's wishes and expectations.
    Take what you can from their feedback and focus your energy on those who seem more helpful.
     

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  10. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    in general where i use beta readers i'll respond before I've read their feedback " Hey thanks for sending this through i really appreciate you taking the time" and thats it, if i don't agree i won't act on it but i don't need to disrespect the time they took

    if a beta read is truly terrible i'll just quietly remove them from the list for the next time
     
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