View Full Version : Criticism

January 5th, 2013, 09:45 PM
I found this lovely video on Youtube about criticism. Because criticism is so important in the field of writing, I thought I post a link here. So without further ado: VLOG - Criticism of criticism of criticism - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-98ZFl1sKt4)

August 5th, 2013, 03:54 AM
Criticism is a necessary part of the editing process. Without it, writers would never be able to improve because they would not know what they need to improve on. Writing groups provide an amazing service to writers for both criticism and for writers to gauge the reactions of readers. I really enjoyed the video, and I agree wholeheartedly with your statement that criticism is important in the field of writing. Thanks for sharing!

Odd Greg
August 20th, 2013, 02:52 AM
Oh, my. Concept and reality are such fickle lovers. In theory, receiving a plethora of critiques of varying detail is supposed to help you to become a better writer. This is especially true of beginners. Neophytes. But, once the process is applied to authors looking for feedback on their 10th or more unpublished manuscript (perhaps a seasoned neophyte?), the process can begin to have negative affects. Sometimes (and I know this is controversial on many sites) it is better to have a few critics you trust before handing it off to strangers. Again, I'm not talking about raw neophytes who can benefit from and be terribly scarred by un-vetted strangers, but those who have already gone through the gauntlet quite a few times. Even then, from a story structure view rather than the nuts and bolts that tie words together, this happens:


One publisher sent this helpful little missive to Ms. Le Guin regarding her novel, The Left Hand of Darkness:

The book is so endlessly complicated by details of reference and information, the interim legends become so much of a nuisance despite their relevance, that the very action of the story seems to be to become hopelessly bogged down and the book, eventually, unreadable. The whole is so dry and airless, so lacking in pace, that whatever drama and excitement the novel might have had is entirely dissipated by what does seem, a great deal of the time, to be extraneous material. My thanks nonetheless for having thought of us. The manuscript of The Left Hand of Darkness is returned herewith.
The Left Hand of Darkness went on to win both the Hugo and the Nebula awards.
Reference: 30 famous authors whose works were rejected (repeatedly, and sometimes rudely) by publishers - National Book | Examiner.com (http://www.examiner.com/article/30-famous-authors-whose-works-were-rejected-repeatedly-and-sometimes-rudely-by-publishers)


We all know the stories, and there's a tendency to misinterpret the meaning behind these anecdotes. But this is clear: Ms. Le Guin, one of my favorite authors, had access to quite a few personal critics - people she trusted and had vetted. There are no guarantees or promises of suitability of any critique, even by seasoned critics, and yet that book was wonderful. Again, beyond the nuts and bolts of writing, which almost any marginally learned seasoned writer could do if they so desired, a critique is evidence of almost nothing when it comes to the whims and whimsy of individual readers - and publishers are readers, too. Fallible and opinionated like anyone else.

Critiques are extremely important, and even the famous recluse, Emily Dickinson, is thought to have had one or more secret critics, but she wrote for herself and did rather well at it. I simply do not believe that tossing our work into a bull pit in the belief that any critique is a good critique is a good idea. We need to vet the critics first, by reading some submissions and the critiques that follow them. It's is fine, nay a wonderful idea, to ignore bad critiques. It's customary to say 'Thank, you' and be obsequious about it, so we do. People mean well, and no one should discount the time and effort someone has put into a critique for us. But we need to learn what is, and what isn't, useful in a critique.

Sorry if this seems controversial or poorly advised. It is only my opinion. Take this with a grain of salt, too. And remember, ad hominem replies are never acceptable.

August 23rd, 2013, 09:37 PM
I think constructive criticism is great. However, I don't like rude criticism (i.e. your story is awful the way it is). I would recommend saying what is fine the way it is and what can be improved. For instance, if you have a character who doesn't talk like a person his or her age, I would say, "I think it would be best to listen to people your character's age and see how they speak. If you don't have the time, then find some real life videos."

August 23rd, 2013, 11:42 PM
I do agree that critique partners should be chosen carefully. I don't think they have to even like the story to be effective. My partners and I write different genres, but we know each other's strengths and weaknesses as both critters and authors, and we play to those. One doesn't expect me to be enthralled with her romance story - but I will find the contradictions in it. Another isn't really into spies and guns and such - but she can tell me if my character is starting toward Rambo Land instead of being 3-dimensional.

That said, not every publisher is going to love every book submitted, any more than every reader will love every book published (even in their favorite genre). Doesn't make the critic wrong (it's all opinion, after all) - it mainly means it was the wrong publisher to submit to, or there were revisions made before it got accepted at another. Sorry, but I just have a tendency to look with jaundiced eye at all the legendary rejections.