Crits


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Thread: Crits

  1. #1
    Member dolphinlee's Avatar
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    Crits

    Over the last few weeks I have become more than a little confused about critiques.

    I assumed that when someone put their work onto the site they wanted to know what others thought of it, how it made them feel and how it could be improved.

    Sometimes I don’t have a lot of time, but I will try to comment on a few pieces. When I have more time I will try to do a longer, more detailed critique on a few pieces of work.

    I try to find something positive to say about the piece.
    I look out for spelling and grammar mistakes.
    If there are flaws in the logic of the piece I try to explain these.
    If there is something that ‘jars’ me out of the piece I will mention it.
    If there is a sentence that is not doing the job it is supposed to be doing I may suggest a rewrite.

    I am not an expert, but I am doing the best that I can, based on my knowledge and experience, to help others. I may not always, although believe me I try, write my comments in the form of suggestion (you might try, I think) but what I write is written with the intention of being helpful.

    Before I go on I will say that most of the time when I do a crit the OP says thank you in the thread. Sometimes they ask for a clarification or more help which I am delighted to give.

    So what is my problem?

    I’ve noticed that some posters get upset with some of the comments, mine and others’, written about their work and criticise the comments or the person who wrote the comments.

    Some posters seem to prefer to fight for the validity of the original rather than think seriously about whether the comments given could be valid.

    Several times I have seen the equivalent of – “You have no right to change my sentence/my work in this way.”

    Several times I have seen OP replies that are the equivalentof – “You haven’t understood the piece, this is your problem not mine. You are at fault.”

    And several times lately, after I have done a long and detailed set of comments, I have seen something that really makes my blood boil. The OP posting something like – “This is something I threw together and thought I would see what others think of it.”

    Comments?

  2. #2
    WF Veteran Bloggsworth's Avatar
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    Seconded - It's why I give few critiques. If you don't want to hear that you may have done better, then don't post.
    A man in possession of a wooden spoon must be in want of a pot to stir.

  3. #3
    Taking criticism is a necessary evil in this business, but if heeded, makes us a better writer. That being said, most people have no idea how to deal with it. While some are lucky, and just naturally smile and say "thank you", others find themselves in a bad place after reading a crit of their work. They don't see tips and hints at how to improve--they see negativity, people telling them how bad they are, and feed the dark, little voices that have been whispering the same thing. So, when they get angry, this is a defense mechanism to protect themselves from the harsh words they think they're hearing. Even the claim "it was just something I threw together", is just another form of protecting themselves. If they make the critter think that they didn't spend time on the piece--opening a vein and bleeding for the piece--that explains away the negativity that they received.

    Sadly, there is no cure-all for this. It's something each person has to figure out how to deal with on their own. What works for one person, might not work for another. But, this I do know: time heals all wounds. If you know you take criticism harshly, instead of replying immediately, close your computer and walk away. Let the crit sink in, give yourself time to digest what was said. In a couple of hours, maybe a day, you'll be in a better place to address the advice (yes, a crit is only advice) that you have received.

    You are NOT as bad as you think. One persons opinion does NOT define who you are as a writer. I know how it feels, how you want to scream, and yell and make them see what you were trying to say, but don't--you don't need to. This is not an attack on you (and I know it feels that way), but it's a friend helping you. Even if it's harsh, it's still just a friend. Say thank you. Walk away. Use what they said, figure out how to make it better and show them that you're better because of it.

    Show . . . don't tell
    Serious writers write, inspired or not.
    Over time they discover that routine
    is a better friend than inspiration.

    --Ralph Keyes

  4. #4
    On one hand it shows that they care deeply about their writing, and passion can become a raging bull when it faces the slightest bit of criticism. Depends on the person. Nobody likes receiving negative comments, nobody, no matter how sweetly they're coated. I like learning from them, but I don't like them. Luckily, I understand just how subjective art is; I can easily place myself in another's mind, one with different tastes, beliefs, whatever. Some people simply cannot do that. The shields go up and they think of every excuse that isn't, "I didn't do so well there". It's an ego issue, without doubt.

    You can't please everyone, I wouldn't worry about it. It sounds like you feel hurt/angered because they're pretty much disregarding the effort and time you put into helping them and, instead, interpret it as some elaborate insult. Those kinds of people don't last long in this type of environment. Sometimes it's reasonable to criticise a member's feedback, but I say it's best to swallow your pride, thank them, and move on. You aren't going to change their opinion, after all -- there's no right and wrong in this game. As long as you're polite and honest, you've done your best.

    Let them learn from it. Learning from mistakes is what it's all about, isn't it?
    "When I am gone, it won't be long before I disturb you in the dark."

    ~ Hidden Content ~

  5. #5
    Personally I really do not mind negative comments. In a recent, related discussion, someone said he wrote critiques with the assumption that no piece of writing is perfect, and personally I think that's right on. So when I post something, it's with the idea that something is wrong with it that I haven't seen yet. Yes, I like some sugar, too, everybody does, but if there's problems I want to know. If the reader doesn't understand something I've written, then I have to figure out why they've misunderstood and if I can fix it. It might be them, but more often it's me. If my wording seems strange or my sentence structure is boring or my pacing is off, I need to either fix that or decide if I feel strongly enough about that to keep it as is. Or sometimes they don't see something as a problem but they understand the text very differently from how I do, and that's interesting, too.

    I'm not big on the "open up a vein and bleed" conception of writing. Words on a page aren't my heart and soul, they're not my blood, they're not me. They're my thoughts and ideas*. I like them-- sometimes I even love them. I guess when I love them it's maybe in the manner of a parent, who wants her kid to be happy and healthy and therefore tells him to clean his room and brush his teeth, and sends him off to school. And I want to hear that he's wonderful, but if he misbehaves or has a fever or whatever, I need to know it.

    I don't really understand it when people post first drafts, or work that is "something I threw together just now", without even a spell check. Most of the time if I see a disclaimer like that I just won't read. If I do a crit and the response is like, "Guess I can't please you, LOL," I won't crit that person again unless they specifically ask me to do it.


    *on edit, much later: not even my thoughts or ideas. Representations of ideas. Verbalizations of dreams. Bound to be imperfect by their very nature.
    Last edited by lasm; January 30th, 2013 at 04:27 AM.

  6. #6
    There is nothing so aggravating or disheartening as to get blasted for giving an honest critique. I absolutely refuse to crit something that was 'thrown together' - I will, however, crit something that is clearly stated as a 'rough draft' where the author wants only basic thoughts about it. I've done that myself, when I wasn't sure if I was really on the right track getting started. So those are, IMO, two different animals. But lashing out at the critter for being honest is rude and uncalled for. Authors don't have to agree, and they don't have to accept, any comments - but they should at least appreciate that someone took the time to comment; authors who don't at least consider the merits of these comments are dumb, to put it bluntly.

    I come via the world of fanfic - I've been a beta and I've been part of crit groups. But any site that said "Only positive comments" doesn't get the time of day from me, and authors who don't want to hear constructive criticism don't either. One reason I've stepped back from crits is being tired of banging my head against the wall of resistance writers put up. If you don't want honesty, just query the thing as is, and don't waste our time posting it for crits first.

    (Please note - I do not equate rudeness with honesty.)
    Has left the building.

  7. #7
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    Pride is the artist's Achilles heel. No one loves to hear the work and passion they've put forth. It takes nerves of steel sometimes to accept constructive criticism on something that expresses themselves so openly. For some it is like a blow to their character necause they feel their craft is an extension of themselves. Those that are able to push back their own aesthetic pride and create to share with others instead of themselves are the ones that will ultimately benefit from crit.
    Giving criticism for a work is much like giving money. Althpugh you tell the person "this is what the money is for" ultimately they will spend it to their own desires. Once it leaves your hands it is no longer in your control.

  8. #8
    dolphinlee, it sounds like the manner in which you are critiquing is the way posters are meant to here: helpful, constructive, but with honest advice, and fair criticism. So when you get a defensive or rude response, just disengage and do not critique that person anymore.

    People who respond like that are most likely immature or inexperienced. They may be insecure and seek personal validation through their work, or on the other hand they may be egotistical with success. But one can't teach them manners on the internet.

    Like lasm, I enjoy crits that find legitimate fault with my work, because they help me, even if I may be a little crestfallen about their obviousness. Of course, I like unrestrained praise too!

  9. #9
    No one's ever done that to me. Sometimes I can tell they're seriously offended by some of my comments, but they've never been aggressive about it. If they are offended I usually try and qualify it in a way that is less disheartening to them, but that's all very uncommon anyway. And, sometimes when I worry I've been to harsh I get the most grateful replies. Who are you critiquing?

  10. #10
    Patron Foxee's Avatar
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    Crits aren't always fun but they are necessary. It's wonderful when people begin to give crits as well as asking for them because they understand so much better that negative crits aren't meant personally. The truth is, though, that most writers care most strongly about their own writing. It is, after all, their baby. Truly great critiquers can step out of that and care about other people's writing pretty intensely.

    I don't care for the tactic of rewriting someone else's story in a crit. It's okay to show someone how you might restructure a sentence and it's very tempting to rewrite their work but I've never thought that's the critiquer's job. I just make suggestions and let them either run with it or don't.

    When I have something of mine critiqued in the workshop or on the LM I average out some of the comments. If the majority of critiquers were confused about something I try to resist the urge to defend it and just realize that it probably needs some clarification. Even if I disagree with some of the feedback I do try to give it a fair hearing. And appreciation is definitely key to getting work critiqued in the future.

    As a critiquer, I rarely crit someone's work again if they gave a very negative reaction the first time or even if they didn't bother to say thank you. And I almost never read things that have the "I just sat down and wrote this, what do you think?" note on them. No point in me pouring time and effort into feedback on something that may never be edited or looked at once the initial rush is over.
    Hidden Content in the Daily Dose of Dialogue

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