Worst Criticisms You've Ever Received

Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Jillian Oliver, Jan 23, 2019.

  1. GraceLikePain

    GraceLikePain Member

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    I've received some pretty harsh critiques...which I can't remember. Completely dropped out of my head. Lol. The worst critique I can remember is someone commenting about how my first person narrative story used the word "I" too much. Which, while possible, I couldn't take too seriously as a complaint because it was from a person who did not like me, and thus would be motivated to put me down regardless of the actual quality of the work.

    Heh, I don't mind legitimate critiques, the only thing that really annoys me is when people talk down to me like I haven't been writing for ten years. Fortunately it seems to be mostly non-writers who do that. Writers generally know better than to treat each other that way.
     
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  2. galaxaura

    galaxaura New Member

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    I write professionally German texts as commissioned work.It happens that you don't always find the wording the client wants. And usually it can be changed without any problems. A former client, however, has occasionally exaggerated it considerably with criticism. Once the client was really mean and personal. I could neither understand her arguments about the content nor why she was so mean.

    I gave the text to several people to read. No one could understand the harsh criticism. I offered the client to find another copywriter in the future if they thought I was incapable. They did not do so, but continued to hire me. I never heard such criticism again afterwards.
     
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  3. Fervidor

    Fervidor Active Member

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    Too harsh? Not really.

    If "worst" as in "most bad", there was this one guy who completely missed the entire theme of the story, resulting in him not liking the ending for what was basically arbitrary reasons. That is to say, he didn't account at all for the message I tried to get across or whether or not the ending suited the story.

    I have no problem with people pointing out stuff they didn't like, because I occasionally learn something from that, but I do reserve the right to resent critique from people who apparently don't know what they're talking about. At least when they fancy themselves critics rather than regular readers giving their casual opinions.
     
  4. Lazaares

    Lazaares Member

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    I gave a beta reader the first chapter I have ever written in present tense. It was a good experiment and I enjoyed the change.

    The reader laughed, asked me why I wrote it in present tense and told me to re-write it in "past proper" before he'd read it.

    Haven't written anything in present tense since...
     
  5. Fervidor

    Fervidor Active Member

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    ...See, this is exactly what I was talking about. Anyone who arbitrarily decides a creative decision you made is wrong, without some serious justification, should not be trusted to give proper critique. This apparently directly affected your writing style for no reason, which makes me kinda sad.

    There is a point to First Person. Like, you use it when you want to achieve a particular effect, because that's suits the story you're telling. Now maybe you did that wrong, because you weren't experienced with it, or it just wasn't the right perspective for the story. But if that was the case he should have said so. He should have explained why it didn't work. He absolutely shouldn't have objected to first person just because he didn't think it was "proper."
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020
  6. Xoic

    Xoic Senior Member

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    I took some art classes at the local community college. They didn't actually teach technique for drawing or painting, it was more along the lines of "You learn to draw by drawing, you learn to paint by painting". I learned a lot more in the library after class let out, but I did learn one invaluable thing while there, and that was how to critique.

    First and most important, you try to understand what it is they're trying to accomplish. This might require asking some questions. Then, if you get a handle on that, and if you know some way to help them do it better, by all means, give some advice. But you should never tell them that you don't like the piece they're doing and think they should do something different instead—that's not critique, it's just an opinion.
     
  7. Fervidor

    Fervidor Active Member

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    Yes. This.

    By extension, the better you understand what the creator was trying to accomplish, the better critique you will be able to provide.

    Well... I don't entirely agree on that. Opinions can still be valuable feedback, because we're usually not specifically writing for seasoned critics; we're typically writing for the average reader who isn't going to think quite so deeply or analytically about it. There have been times I tried something experimental, hoping for a certain reaction, only to find that a majority of readers had a different and more negative reaction.

    That's worth taking note of: It means I misjudged my demographic or miscalculated somehow. At that point it kinda doesn't matter what I meant to to, I still failed.
     
  8. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    you need a better beta reader - ive written three novels in present tense...
     
  9. Xoic

    Xoic Senior Member

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    Yeah, I can see that perspective too. I think the point in class was to break us of the habit of only giving opinion, so we'd only do it occasionally rather than all the time.
     
  10. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Senior Member

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    I think I would have to decline to beta read a first person story. It just doesn't work for me and I think I'd be unable to give a fair critique.
     
  11. Fervidor

    Fervidor Active Member

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    Well, I think that if you know what you're doing it shouldn't be a problem to do both at once: You can say you don't like a story because that was your honest emotional reaction but if you get what the writer was trying to do, you can either pinpoint where it went wrong or admit it was just a matter of taste.

    The important thing is that you don't, like, just tick off points off a list of stuff stories "aren't supposed to do", or say it sucks without giving a justification for why.

    (Note: Most worthwhile negative comments I've had on my stories were able to explain what they thought I did wrong, albeit sometimes in very basic terms. I think most readers are capable of identifying whatever problems they have with the story even if they haven't specifically trained themselves to do so. I just hold "critics" to somewhat higher standards.)
     
  12. GraceLikePain

    GraceLikePain Member

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    I don't mind when people give their opinions. This one time someone criticized one of my characters and said he hated him. That was fascinating, because it made me see the character in a new light. Hating him was fair because he was kind of ditzy, and yet he was also supposed to be an important general.
     
  13. galaxaura

    galaxaura New Member

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    Of course, different readers can also provide valuable input. After all, each person brings his or her own story with him or her and interprets texts more or less differently. No text ever exists only in the version that the author has thought of, but always also in the variations in which the readers receive the text.

    But it makes a difference if someone notices that he or she thinks a character is worth hating. Or if he tells you that your whole book is badly written and belongs in the trash. Criticism and opinions should always be formulated in such a way that it is appreciative and the recipient can accept the message.
     
  14. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Contributor Contributor

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    Even more than a decent word processor, a fiction writer needs a very thick skin. Press on good luck!
     
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