Worst Criticisms You've Ever Received

Discussion in 'Editing' started by Jillian Oliver, Jan 23, 2019.

  1. Selbbin

    Selbbin The Moderating Cat Staff Contributor

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    "This is a waste of my time"

    By Australian director Rolf de Heer on the reverse side of a page in the middle of my script, at the end of a long, angry rant about how much he hated the story.

    It still makes me smile.
     
  2. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Supporter Contributor

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    "Personally I don't want to work that hard to read a poem..... sorry just my take"

    For me, nothing cuts deeper than someone who just doesn't want to bother and feels it absolutely necessary to tell you about it. Straight hating on the work I'll take a lot better because I can learn from it.
     
  3. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Contributor Contributor

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    I think you've mentioned this on here before; how did you find yourself in that situation, with him ranting at you in person about your script?
     
  4. Selbbin

    Selbbin The Moderating Cat Staff Contributor

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    You're observant. It was a horror script I had doing the rounds with studios and finance bodies in the early noughties. I met Rolf at an event (I forget if it was the premiere or not) for his new film at the time, The Old Man Who Read Love Stories (which I was invited to by the Australian Film Commission). We chatted for a while (along with Hugo Weaving just to name drop) and when I told him my script was in the final round of applications, and that other Aussie film peeps had already given me their feedback, he agreed to read the script and offer his opinion. I mean, I was a young wanna be. Well, he gave it. He didn't have a go at me in person. He wrote it in a mad scribble in red pen. He was leaving comments all through the script until that page, when he'd had enough. I appreciate him putting in the effort, but it wasn't his kind of story so I could take his utter contempt with a grain of salt. I still have that script (with his notes) somewhere. The lesson is, not everyone is going to like it. Even people you really respect. And that's ok.

    Edit: It was also at a time when the industry here had contempt for horror, while now the genre is celebrated.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2020
  5. Maddy Knight

    Maddy Knight Member

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    There was a time not long ago where all anybody wanted was horror, at least in the Indy circles. One can get a lot of bang out of low-budget buck with horror. I really don't like writing it. This is the time of year most of the short filn festivals do horror, so there were some small writing projects avail a few months ago to get scripts ready to film in time for fest entry. Had to pass. Just not my genre. Horror lite, yes. Slasher, hacker, zombie - no.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2020
  6. Selbbin

    Selbbin The Moderating Cat Staff Contributor

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    Yeah, indy low budget horror isn't my bag. I was involved in making some. They're out there, in DVD and streaming land, but the project mentioned was mainstream Horror Comedy and we were trying to bank a budget between 3 to 10 million.
     
  7. DriedPen

    DriedPen Member

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    I had my own attorney tell me, "Well if you write this stuff, you want to do this stuff."

    At the time, I was doing a pretty decent paying stint at writing pulp erotica, which is Damsel-In-Distress stuff from the 1930's. To best describe it, think of a woman tied up on a buzz saw and about to be killed, before the hero comes in and saves her, kind of thing. The problem is, in that type of writing, the woman is without clothing as it happens...

    My ex-wife was trying to get full-custody of my daughter while going through our divorce, and so she saw this as a way to paint me as an evil dad and win custody. Despite my own crappy lawyer, it was a pretty easy thing to beat because all I had to say was, "Is Tom Clancy involved in espionage because he writes spy novels? Or Steven King a murderer because he has cars coming back to life and killing people?" It was just such a ludicrous statement to make.

    The follow-up was even worse. "How dare you compare your writing to literary geniuses." Again, to the court, "Show me where the First Amendment only covers those literary greats? And just how am I supposed to be a literary great, if I cannot creatively write"?

    It was just interesting how I am probably one of few people who successfully defended the first amendment rights (USA) in a court of law. It is one of the reasons I will viciously defend the first amendment (okay and the second and third amendment too).
     
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  8. Maddy Knight

    Maddy Knight Member

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    There was a pretty important case in 1920. I think we are not allowed to post links here so just look up ...

    Jurgen, A Comedy of Justice, by James Branch Cabell, in wikipedia, and other sites as well. There were some books written on the matter.
     
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  9. Vince Higgins

    Vince Higgins Active Member

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    My first rejection letter. So far all I've gotten.
     
  10. Mark Burton

    Mark Burton Fried Egghead Supporter Contributor

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    As far as I understand it, you can use links if they are part of a post. They are not fine if they are the post.
     
  11. Maddy Knight

    Maddy Knight Member

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    Not sure if this falls under 'worst critic¡ism' but I once worked with a guy helping him to develop his short screenplay idea. All went well, but when it came time to write the first draft, I let him know my price (he knew in advance that I do not write for free) and he responded with 'What? I actually have to pay for this?!'

    Uh, yeah. And you have to pay for that Mustang you just drove off the dealer lot. A test drive is not a pink slip.

    I was insulted. Does that count?
     
  12. Vince Higgins

    Vince Higgins Active Member

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    One of the worse criticisms I’ve gotten came from my professor in English 101-Composition, back in the eighties. I was studying for a degree in engineering, and it would be the only formal post-secondary writing course I would take. Still, I liked to write, and by my senior year in college, I was pretty much the one picked to do the final write up on group lab reports.

    She said I used a cliché. When she pointed it out I did not even recognize it as such. She once hinted that she thought I was plagiarizing. I was not. The question arose for me back then, what is really wrong with cliché. Maybe it was something wrong with me, and cliché was her passive aggressive weapon. I did not like her either, though we both pretended to like each other. My dislike for her was not immediate. It started to develop when she redlined my ‘clichés.’ Her dislike of me may or may not have been immediate. It may or may not have been my dark skin. I have had interactions with others that were unambiguously influenced by the color of my skin, so I know it’s possible.

    It may have had to do with my academic major. Much has been said about divisions in this country. Those divisions are much more complicated than just black and white. Urban and rural, educated and uneducated, even in academia between liberal arts and the industrial arts. Some of my classmates had open contempt for art students. (I was not one of them. The ones that did were all horrible writers.) I experienced some shade once. The university required a college level composition exam to graduate. I showed up and started chatting with a girl in line ahead of me. They opened the door, and when I showed my ticket and ID to the proctor at the door, he pulled me aside and directed me to the very front row. The exam ticket was a computer printout that had information including major code. OK. I can’t be too bugged if he didn’t know if I was one of those horrible writers. Still, don’t psych majors cheat too? Hell, I’m sure even an English major has tried it a time or two.

    Another thing that Gretchen, that cliché hater, did was something I was able to turn into a victory for me. It got a look from her that was the only window into her dislike for me. She was usually very smarmy. I was writing that old classic assignment of describing a friend or family member. My cousin Rico had a talent for getting into trouble. (<Yes, a cliché.) She was going to help me by showing me how to use Roget’s to fix it. She was droning on about how to flip back from this link to that and yada yada yada. I interrupted her with the perfect phrase that had just popped into my head; “inspired mischief.” She stopped, and seemed stunned. Where she wound up by using the thesaurus was far off in another direction from where I ended up on my own. She realized it too, that in context it was perfect. She had no idea who Rico was. I had blocked an opportunity for her to be condescending. I use her first name now because she was one of those who insisted that everyone address her as doctor.

    Back to what is wrong with cliché. In the example above, a talent for getting into trouble, I don’t see anything wrong with it. It has real meaning, and may be one of the more efficient ways of expressing that idea. Also, just because I heard it, it doesn’t mean everyone has. They can be overused to the point they become bad puns. They can be amusing when well used in an internet meme. I still have the copy of Roget’s Thesaurus that was one of the required books for that class back in the eighties. It’s in mint condition, having only been used once.
     
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  13. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I just had to deliver a critique response to a member of my face-to-face writers' group on Saturday. And the guy was TOTALLY defensive, even though my criticism was fairly innocuous. (I do like his writing a lot.) But it came into the category of 'what the writer knows versus what the reader picks up.'

    The situation was roughly this: He's writing a fictional story, but set in the real world. Real world locations and events get mentioned in the story. But then he mentions a feature that everybody always associates with a particular place. But, in his story, this isn't the same place at all.

    Pretend you're writing a story set in the USA, and you mention a fictional character visiting the Grand Canyon. Okay, we assume this is a fictional character going to see the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, right? But no. This is a fictional Grand Canyon as well—set somewhere else entirely. Which, of course, results in confusion on the reader's part, when they realise they're not at THE Grand Canyon at all, or anywhere close by.

    My writer friend ranted and raved, about how there will be many MANY canyons, and some of them will be 'grand,' and the reader has to use the imagination, etc etc. My suggestion that he call the fictional Grand Canyon by a made-up name, to avoid confusion, met with NO NONO nonono nononono, he wasn't going to spoon-feed the reader, his readers wouldn't all be experts in geography, etc etc. After trying a couple of times, I just let the matter drop and we moved on.

    However, I got a message from him today, saying he's had a think and realises he could easily change the name of the thing, and it wouldn't actually hurt the story at all. Do I think that will solve the problem? (Of course I do.)

    Just goes to show, sometimes a writer's first reaction to a criticism won't necessarily be the one they stick with. Just give them space to think and come to their own conclusions.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2020
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  14. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 12/210 MP: 0/130 Contributor

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    Does this count? From my A-Level (17-18 high school) English teacher:

    "I gave you an A-. There was nothing wrong with the story, but it wouldn't be fair on everybody else, you'd have been the only one to get an A".
     
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  15. Vince Higgins

    Vince Higgins Active Member

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    If you read my post above, that particular professor apparently did not believe in traditional grading and gave everyone a B, except for me, who she gave a B-, and the guy who was obviously her class pet, who got a B+.
     
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  16. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I had an architectural design prof in college who worked for Frank Lloyd Wright for 17 years. The theory among us students was that he had gazed upon Perfection, an A denotes Perfection, students by nature cannot be Perfect, and so even an extraordinary student would at most rate a B.

    I was not extraordinary, merely competent. I.e., I fulfilled the assigned programs for my buildings, I designed them to be buildable, and they were nice-looking. They just weren't inspired. He hit me with a C- for the semester and when I protested, he told me my work was good. A C-, he said, was an honorable grade and something I should feel fine about.

    Thus proving our theory.
     
  17. Vince Higgins

    Vince Higgins Active Member

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    No shame in being at the top of the Bell Curve. Most of us live there.
     
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  18. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Contributor Contributor

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    I hate these people. They invent their own unique standards for applying universally recognized grading or rating systems, and then they act as if it's perfectly reasonable that a C- or a 3 star rating should indicate that you satisfactorily met the course outcomes or that they received a high quality service. Guess what dickhead, that's not how it works. There's an entire society out there that places different values on these things than you do, and you're screwing people over by not recognizing that. People might have scholarships riding on their GPA, and despite the fact that they met the course outcomes and produced perfectly satisfactory work, you have the arrogance and hubris to give them a grade that literally everyone else would recognize as indicating subpar or average work. An A or a five star rating doesn't mean that the recipient's work or service was perfection proceeding directly from the holy hands of God.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2020
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  19. Vince Higgins

    Vince Higgins Active Member

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    I have a confession. I was a C student in college. By the standard you are expressing here, it was a legitimate rating. Some of that higher math really kicked my ass. Still, that really didn't affect my performance in the work place. Very few engineers are called on to do that kind of math on a daily basis. The best thing I can say about enduring it is that it made me really good at Algebra and Trig, which was more than enough. I understood how things worked, and if there were things I weren't sure of, life is an open book exam. I never took another writing course after fulfilling my single three unit writing requirement. I owe more of my writing skill to reading quality stuff, and years spent writing horrible stuff that is gradually getting better. Professors like Gretchen, and Catrin's architecture prof. are like a lot of academics that are so focused on what they "know," they are incapable of hearing what the students may know.
     
  20. DriedPen

    DriedPen Member

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    We have disadvantaged youth, so I am always looking for ways to build their confidence, and encourage them, yet when they get out to the working world, being new, and it being a skill-based job, their co-workers do not cut them any slack at all. Often times they will quit or have anger issues over being criticized.

    I just wish in this world of instant gratification, that people would learn that some skills...like what I teach...and writing; is something that is life-long learning.

    Our students just think, once they have did something well once, they are forever masters at it, and when a working world shows them otherwise, they take it rather rough.
     
  21. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Couldn't have said it better myself. I can't imagine being so full of myself, as a teacher, that I would knowingly downgrade a student because they haven't achieved the kind of perfection only attainable by the gods. Here's this student, trying to get into University or on the Honour Roll, and they have been thwarted by some arrogant asshole like that.

    I'm not the sort who advocates complaining about grades. But if you encounter a teacher or professor who states plainly that nobody is ever going to get an A from him or her, I'd report that to the people who run the school. Preferably before you are given a substandard grade yourself, so your own results don't enter into it.

    My husband used to judge traditional singing competitions (he won quite a few of them himself.) Obviously that's a 'curve' kind of grading, as there were no specific criteria to be met, and people's performances were compared to each other, rather than a celestial standard. However, he devised a numerical system—I think 30 points or something like that. The very first person who sang got a 15. The next person got compared to that first person, and either received a higher or lower number of points. And etc—shifting points as needed. At the end of the competition my husband was able to quickly determine a winner.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2020
  22. Malum

    Malum Offline Supporter

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    I was very unwell at university and rarely attended lectures. At first I was getting above 70/100 in m which was considered first class in british gradings, then I noticed every assignment grade after started hitting the 63-69 mark without fail through their eventual aknowledgment of my absence. I kind of lost my drive with it all through that and many other reasons. Through the English teachers and lecturers i've dealt with in my life it was like they had a departmental sense of superiority to those teaching other subjects, even in senior school.

    Edit: Thinking over it 24 hours later, this was probably one of the most insulting ordeals I have dealt with in regards to my output, as I wasn't then in a state to reason it as being due to the faculty's disliking to me. I wouldn't have liked me. In the long term it made me strive for more. I always found lectures/seminars to be useless, they seemed more like a justification for the cost of enrollment.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2020
  23. everythingisfine

    everythingisfine New Member

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    It was actually related with a song I posted on Reddit. I added a few sentences about some bad experiences I tried to express and the only answer was like:

    yeah boohoo "I made it cuz sad" stop saying shit like this because nobody cares
    and the song is too basic and mediocre

    :D

    Today I laugh about it but when I read this message I was just stricken
    Complete insecurity is the worst state of mind to be in when you try to show your art to someone so I suppose it was a valuable lesson for me and it made my skin thicker
     
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  24. PaperandPencil

    PaperandPencil Member

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    @everythingisfine ... if you write songs (if you record yourself singing and make an mp3) you should post on www.youngcomposers.com ... I am a musician and I post my music on there .. I think it's a much friendlier place than what you describe
     
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  25. white_rabbit

    white_rabbit New Member

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    Hello,
    even reading between the lines, I don't understand you. o_O
     

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