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  1. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Contributor Contributor

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    The art of the critique.

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by exweedfarmer, Sep 21, 2018.

    The art of the critique.



    Lately I've noticed the story critiques have tended towards grammar, spelling, tense correction, and basic language mechanics. As for me, that's not why I'm here. There is something fundamentally wrong with the story, and that's why I posted it. I get a fair number of views but no comments other than, mechanical corrections. I will find those myself eventually.



    What I really want to know is, if you got through it without forcing yourself.

    Could you relate, did it make you feel something?

    Please comment, one way or the other, even if you can't put your finger on what is wrong. It's Okay, it sucks, it's great, I couldn't get through it, any of those are better than nothing. Thank you for your kind attention.
     
  2. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    If there are things such as grammar that you can fix on your own, why haven't you? It's really not fair for you to pass off your novel knowing you haven't made it as good as you can. And then to complain about the type of feedback you're getting... Well, what did you expect? Did you really think your poor grammar and other issue you say you would have eventually fixed on your own would not distract from the story? I can tell you right now that if you have the problems you mention, yes, I would have had to force myself to get through it. And, honestly, I probably wouldn't get through it which is a good thing because you're approach to seeking out betas before you've done all the work you can on your end is just a big waste of everyone's time.
     
  3. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    Fair point, but I understand where OP is coming from. Yes should work on grammar and sentence structuring before you give your work to others to review, but in fairness sometimes little things slip through that you have difficulty noticing as the author, and sometimes these things are debatable as to the best approach.
    At the end of the day though, I think grammar, spelling, tense correction, and basic language mechanics are not bad things to get feedback on, because of the aforementioned points- so you shouldn't complain.
     
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  4. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    @DK3654 -- Of course things are going to slip through, but the OP was complaining about receiving feedback related to his poor grammar and saying those were things he could fix on his own. It sounds like he hasn't put much into polishing his work so why should anybody else? He's clearly saying that he wants better feedback and maybe the way to achieve that is to provide better work.
     
  5. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Contributor Contributor

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    This is the OP:


    The point I was trying to make, is that spelling and grammar are only germane to the story submitted. As for me, I have more fundamental problems. I use spell check like pretty much everyone else and as for grammar, that's subjective, unless you mean to say something like, “I couldn't get through it because you said “out of sync” when you meant “out of time.” at line 357 two words in. It upset my stomach so much I had to run for the bathroom, twice!”

    Any proof reader is going to pick up things like that. I don't see a point in posting something to a writer's “help” board, if you're only going to get the “help” that any idiot can provide. I'm hoping for the insights of other writers, accomplished and not so accomplished, who are going to say something more along the lines of, “I couldn't get through it because (insert insight here.)”
     
  6. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Well, grammar is not subjective. You can believe that or want to believe that, but it isn't true. And if your writing has issues "that any idiot can provide" answers to like you say, why can't you be the one to fix those problems before you start asking people for feedback. You're coming across as rude and dismissive. And this attitude sure isn't going to make people want to read work and try and help you out any more than they would before. Are you just lazy? Are you waiting for the "idiot" proofreaders and you think that will fix everything? Are you paying for this proofreader? Because a piece of writing filled with errors that any "idiot" can spot, isn't likely to make it very far in the publishing world. Yes, we are all going to make mistakes and not catch them all ourselves, but you should be presenting your best efforts when it comes to submitting your work whether it be to a publisher or beta reader. It sounds like you're just wasting people's time. And maybe if you took the time to clean up and polish your own work, you would figure out how to resolve some of the other issues on your own. It sounds like you have a lot of work to do when it comes to writing and how you view and treat or speak of those trying to help.
     
  7. DeeDee

    DeeDee Contributor Contributor

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    Grammar is a legit reason to not like a book/story. Because reading is not just about "let's see what happens". It's about enjoying what we read. Bad grammar is irritating. And we're not talking about the odd comma here or the odd word there. We're talking (in general, not about you) about writing where bad stuff sprouts in almost every sentence. At some point it becomes too much and not fun to read anymore. You can't make people read something they dont' enjoy. Grammar is the easiest thing to fix and good grammar can make a story 50% better, and readable. So that's the first thing to fix. It helps a lot.

    Grammar helps the reader understand what you mean. If you're writing a scary story but the grammar (or basic language mechanics) makes it sound funny, that story is not scary any more! How can we relate to the MC being scared, if the situation doesn't seem scary?

    In a similar vein, if you misplace pronouns, as in : "Bill and Bob came to visit. He was dark, tall and handsome." then we won't know if you mean Bill or Bob was tall, dark and handsome, or even if those are one person named "Billandbob". If I have to read another page to sort this out, that's just not going to happen. It's not fun to read that way.

    Tenses tell us when something happened. "Bill crossed the street." is completely different from "Bill had crossed the street". Nobody wants to read a story where they have to constantly guess what the writer meant. So, Bill's crossing the street now. Oh, wait, he's already crossed the street. That's not fun to read.

    Basic language mechanics is how reading works. Readers want to read books that "flow" nicely.

    Problems with the story can be discussed without the whole story written down: "I have this story about an orphan who goes to magic school. I'm not sure if having him go on a train will work. Shall I put him in a car instead?" That's discussing a story and finding flaws with the story.

    Another way is mentioning what sort of critique you want, when you post the story. But then you can't really make people read a story they are not enjoying. Even for critique. Some people may see it as hopeless and just think there's no use wasting time and energy on it. Because, really, if the writer hasn't gotten to grips with the basic language mechanics, their story is not going anywhere, however much we try to fix it.
     
  8. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Contributor Contributor

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    Deadrats: I'm not being rude, I'm just disagreeing with you.

    Kindly pick a story that I have submitted, pick it apart, and then tell me my grammar is bad.
     
  9. DeeDee

    DeeDee Contributor Contributor

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    I looked at your Workshop posts and your grammar is fine. Other people's stories may be not :D. Critiquers will start with the first thing that comes to mind, the most obvious stuff. As I said, grammar prevents further comprehension. And first of all the reader has to comprehend the story, get to the meaning of each sentence, pick the nuances. But why are we talking about grammar in this thread at all? You started it, but it's not a concern for your stories, so ...? I didn't even see anybody commenting on your grammar in the Workshop posts. If you need specific comments on something specific in your story, just put that request at the top. Or put a link here which story you'd like to discuss so we can discuss it. Some places have guidance and each critique has a paragraph on setting, characters, conflict, etc. But being so structured is boring. Besides, writers and readers would critique differently. The art of critique depends on who's doing it and what you want to get out of it. It's pretty much freestyle.
     
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  10. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    The difficulty is that if there are SPAG issues beyond a certain very, very low level, I can't get through it without forcing myself. Everything else is lost.

    If you say, "No SPAG critiques, please," I'll comply with that, but that means that if there are SPAG issues, I just won't critique at all. If you are willing to accept SPAG critiques, I might also say something in the realm that you're interested in.

    ....if any idiot can provide it, why not fix it before you post? Yeah, sure, you may miss a few issues; most people can deal with a few. But if there are a lot of them and you have the ability to fix them, fix them. If you don't have the ability to fix them, you need to develop the ability.
     
  11. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I don't care to read your work and provide any feedback. I don't like the way you've criticized those who have tried to help. You're the one who said people were pointing out problems with your grammar, and saying that's something any "idiot" can fix. Well, I have no desire to be put in that category or waste my time. There are very few people on here I will read for because I've gotten to know them, and I know they are respectful and wouldn't view my feedback or efforts to help them the way you have done here. Saying the feedback you're getting is stuff that any "idiot" could point out is rude. Maybe you think it's okay to treat people that way, but I'm not going to read your work and play some game with you.
     
  12. badgerjelly

    badgerjelly Contributor Contributor

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    Just ask your post what kind of critique you’re looking for. If people wish to comment on other things take it as it comes.

    I do understand what you mean though. Sometimes I write something partially formed amd want some feedback about something specific - usually not in an artistic medium though.

    You’ll certainly get more responses if what you post doesn’t suffer Spag issues and all that’s left to comment on is the more artistic/creative element of your work. As you take on board the spag critique you’ll eventually get past that issue.
     
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  13. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Contributor Contributor

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    Thanks to the few replies I did get, I was able to figure out what was wrong in general.... It's boring. Readers have a hard time relating to the characters and situations. That's not going to get better until I puzzle this one out for myself. Thanks all.
     
  14. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    I just took a look at your one about the note (it's recent). I don't think the concepts are boring. You just lack voice, compelling narration, and tension. These are all things that are hard to develop. Personally, I think how-to books can potentially help, although they are not too popular around here. Either way, you need to work on the CRAFT aspect of your writing. Finding ways to make readers invested in your story, getting them to get to the next paragraph, making sure they understand enough of your story for these things to happen...
     
  15. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Contributor Contributor

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    " You just lack voice, compelling narration, and tension." Great! At least you've given me something to investigate. The reason I think that the "How To" folks are unpopular in general is the old saying, "Those who can: do. Those who can't: teach."
     
  16. LoaDyron

    LoaDyron Senior Member

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    When I think about critique, is more about the plot, characters, clarity of the story, retcons, etc etc. If I have to show to someone a story I will be more concern about the things I have said early. But now it occurs to me another question. Word choice. Would give a feedback as well in word choice?
     
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  17. DeeDee

    DeeDee Contributor Contributor

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    Word choice is extremely important. Word order, too :evilsmile:. All the elements that make a great sentence, then a great paragraph, then a great chapter, and of course - book. You can't just pick one. But if you put something you've written up for critique, nobody is going to do such a thorough job on it. One person will pick one thing, another person will pick another. So do ask in advance, what exactly you expect from a critique. It makes things much easier for everybody.
     
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  18. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Until the writing reaches a certain level of quality, I struggle to care about plot, characters, etc.
     
  19. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah. I think it's a huge milestone for a writer to routinely get plot/character feedback instead of prose feedback on the first three pages.
     
  20. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Senior Member

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    I get what you mean. My process is write everything out. forget grammar, forget spelling, just get it all out on paper. Then go back and do a little light editing for things like spelling and grammar. I do it lightly because if I go back and do it extensively, it pulls me out of my head. I want to carry the momentum forward, not backward.
    If I am really at a spot where I need an opinion, I go back and clean it up a little and pass it off with the disclaimer that there may be spelling and grammar errors (some of which I've already highlighted) so at least they are aware that I am aware. This has always been my process, from writing essays to short pieces in my Writing Popular Fiction classes in undergrad. Instructor has never commented on it because my final product is always polished.
    I feel like, if that is your process and your work isn't finished but you still want a little feedback, people shouldn't penalize you for it.

    This hits me on a personal level and now I'm irritated again: I was writing a paper with a classmate on a shared Google Doc. We each gave ourselves sections. Me and my process, I wrote everything out first. editing and organization later. I open the doc the next day and she had edited my entire section. Threw off my whole thought process! I had made mental notes of what to fix, what to scrap, what to move, what to add, etc. It was frustrating!
     
  21. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

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    I read a response to a critique that was defensive, frustrated, and while not outwardly hostile, I could sense it. I equate it to the 'new kid on the block with something to prove' playground thing. They're going to get into fights til they learn to get along. Fine.
    I then see a similar ill intended reply from the critique-er(?). I could jump into the middle of it and lecture, or take a side, but it serves nothing. Nothing.
    So, instead, I went and found mister 'didn't handle crit too well' and just talked about the story being told, and the story turned out to be pretty cool. Yeah, it was going to need a lot of work to transmogrify into readable text.
    One chapter.
    I helped em with one chapter. Upon realization that someone wanted to help em connect their story with the rest of the world, they completely opened up to suggestions. I think I heard, "that's my style", once. To which I said, "just try it, and change it back if you don't think it's better for the reader". It did work out.
    It turns out this individual is massively prolific! Their first ever attempt at sharing ideas with the world could have been their last ever! They were ready to leave the site, still fearful of reading their own work alone in a dark room! I've read everything they committed to digital bits, and it's wonderful, even if juvenile in style (wrote it at 12!).
    So, for all the 'professors' and 'doctors' out there, stop diagnosing and edit-critiquing, and try a little bedside manor. If you don't have the balls stones to jump in the mud and shovel through one chapter, don't bother with critique at all. What are you here for?
    I swear to God, we should have to take an oath like doctors, and do a mentorship, before we're set loose in Workshop.
    As a matter of fiction, that's exactly what meesagonna do.
     
  22. Hammer

    Hammer Senior Member

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    This is all very well and good but it's not critique. Critique is asking for the opinion of a fellow writer (or possibly an editor who may frequent the site) as to whether something is of merchantable quality; and most writers will (should) have a good grasp of the basics which they will point out if missed.

    It's fine to workshop drafts and concepts (although, to me, that is more sandboxing than critique) but make it clear in the post what you actually want. By just sticking it up you are simply asking "what's wrong with this?" and if the thing is undreadable because it's only a draft, don't be surprised when that is pointed out. Grammar, spelling, tenses, and basic language mechanics aren't there to trip us up, they're there to ensure that our meaning is clear.

    Work should really only be put up for critique if it's already polished to the best of the writer's ability.
     
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  23. DeeDee

    DeeDee Contributor Contributor

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    We definitely need more grandparents on the internet, they are doing a great job at cheering up creative 12-year-olds :D
     
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  24. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

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    Since I'm officially 'old' today. I'll step up. Whatever it takes. :-D
     
  25. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Contributor Contributor

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    I respectfully disagree. "Don't try to teach your grandmother how to suck eggs!" as they used to say. By not commenting on spelling and grammar you are granting the poster only an acknowledgement of their possible competence in basic language mechanics. I may make a typo that goes unnoticed or even drop a word, but I'm at the point where all I really want to know is "Why doesn't the story grab you?" which is why I'm asking writers instead of readers.

    As for accepting a critique, new writers tend to argue and defend their points but... in the end all you can really say is "Thank you."
     
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