Encouragement vs Honesty - Page 11


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Thread: Encouragement vs Honesty

  1. #101
    We have to look at presentation by the writer here, which is little mentioned. Younger writers, in particular, often present a work with comments that show from the get-go that they expect nothing but praise for the book of the century they are condescending to allow you to get a free sample. I am reminded of one a few months ago where the woman got so acid with her replies to people who were trying to diplomatically point out to her that her characters were not believable, that she should modify certain aspects.
    When I first put a work out for critique I was knocked off my cloud immediately - for which I am thankful today. At the time, my ego was damaged and my feelings hurt, but my girlfriend at the time said if I was that sensitive I should find something to do that no one else would ever know about because the real world was a mean place. She agreed that the work was crap, but said it had a core that could be developed.
    It was a good thing it was under a pen name because it is unmitigated crap when I (tried to) reread it recently. I got it printed 38 years ago. I have learned a lot since.
    I do not critique others much. I am a total a-hole and acid and as sensitive as a catfish with my own work.
    It is a matter of tone. I am not that way with others' work. I am not going to try to put a positive slant if there is no basis, however. I will simply say the work needs a lot of work in the areas of grammar and the plot (etc.) needs development to be able to hold a reader's attention.
    I do not critique anything where the writer obviously is looking for approval. In those cases, they don't want a critique and will react negatively to critical advice. If they are persistent, they are the ones showing insensitivity. After a point I will be negative enough to say, "Because it is a boring piece of crap, IMHO. I was trying to avoid having to say that, but you demanded. There it is."
    There are times when a writer demands sharp or negative criticism. There are times when a writer wants help. That is why you criticism has to be tempered to the situation. This is a question without a fixed answer.

  2. #102
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    Does anyone really think that an editor will worry about tone of voice, how they phrase their words, or how they say what they need to say? I've had advice from editors that went: "This is nonsense. It doesn't work at all. Get rid of it."

    I got rid of it. I didn't wallow and complain about his tone, the harshness of his words, or anything like that. I got on with it.

    Such is the industry.
    And it's not just publishing. That's the way the world works. I currently have a boss who's a real sweetheart most of the time - but when something comes up that needs to be done NOW and there are already a thousand other things that also need to be done NOW, he's not worried about sounding gruff or barking out orders. He has a job to do and so do I. I can imagine the response if I were to complain that his tone hurt my feelings.
    Has left the building.

  3. #103
    Sam's just a meanie.
    (hahaha)

    No... it's true. At some point, if you want enter the Pro's, your going to have to enter the ring without a headgear. Any hard shots you receive here will only help. Think of it as practice. Someone has to point out your deficits or you'll never work on them. You've got to be able to take it or you'll never make it.

  4. #104
    None of us are editors. None of us are publishers. None of us are anything more than what the person who puts something forward is. We are writers.

    Why is it that so many of us think that being an asshole in a review/critique is a God given right? If there really isn't anything positive to be found in a piece, why bother saying anything at all? Especially if one is going to be brutal about saying so? An "I'm sorry but this just didn't work for me" would probably suffice. Being nasty about it wouldn't seem to have any reasoning other than the "because I can" I have been seeing.

    Why does it seem like there are so many who would rather be brutal than tactful in the process of being honest. It doesn't matter if that's the way "the real world" is.

    We are not the real world. We are a bunch of writers, making stuff up (unless you are a non fiction writer, of course), sitting behind keyboards and speaking to people via a virtual platform. Maybe that is part of the problem.

    @shadowwalker - I agree that when it's obvious someone is just looking for a pat on the back, it's probably not going to be worth doing the critique.

    Just to be clear....I have not seen much of a problem in the critiques here. There have been a couple here and there that seemed to be a bit oerly harsh, but nothing major. The vast majority of what I am referring to is stuff I have seen on other sites. A lot of them are either one extreme or the other. It may be "Great job, Well done!" on a piece of utter garbage, or it will be "Your writing sucks. There is nothing good about it." on stuff that, to me, isn't bad at all.
    “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.” -Carl Sagan

    Real courage is found, not in the willingness to risk death, but in the willingness to stand, alone if necessary, against the ignorant and disapproving herd. --Jon Roland, 1976

    Have you checked out the Hidden Content

    Founder of the Pantsers United Group and member of the Fantasy Lords Group

    "Life is composed of lights and shadows, and we would be untruthful,
    insincere, and saccharine if we tried to pretend there were no shadows." - Walt Disney

  5. #105
    If there really isn't anything positive to be found in a piece, why bother saying anything at all?
    Because those are the pieces that need honest critique the most.

    The idea that a forum is not the real world is also what makes many writers never grow a spine. When I log on to this forum, I like to think that I'm talking to real people with real perspectives and real qualities and real ideas about what is good and bad and real knowledge and experience, mainly because I am.

    This forum isn't a shelter for people who don't want the real world of writing; it's a place to prepare them for it.
    Sleep is for the weak, or sleep is for a week.
    -------------------------------------------------------------
    I write about anime and internet culture at Hidden Content

  6. #106
    Quote Originally Posted by shadowwalker View Post
    And it's not just publishing. That's the way the world works. I currently have a boss who's a real sweetheart most of the time - but when something comes up that needs to be done NOW and there are already a thousand other things that also need to be done NOW, he's not worried about sounding gruff or barking out orders. He has a job to do and so do I. I can imagine the response if I were to complain that his tone hurt my feelings.
    I can see how this is more acceptable in the real world. My boss definitely gets more out of me when she treats me nice with encouragement, though.

    But here in this forum there is a difference. You are not my boss. No one on this forum is my boss and I am not reporting to anyone with a position higher than myself. We are all the same, all writers, looking for improvement.

    Yes, sometimes we need to be told we need more work on an aspect of our writing, but as a person critiquing you can make that choice to tell me in an encouraging or discouraging tone. I would rather tell a fellow writer what I did or didn't like about their work with respect and honesty with politeness and as much encouragement as I can give.
    for kyle: Freel Barter Braby Hidden Content

  7. #107
    Quote Originally Posted by Cadence View Post
    Because those are the pieces that need honest critique the most.

    The idea that a forum is not the real world is also what makes many writers never grow a spine. When I log on to this forum, I like to think that I'm talking to real people with real perspectives and real qualities and real ideas about what is good and bad and real knowledge and experience, mainly because I am.

    This forum isn't a shelter for people who don't want the real world of writing; it's a place to prepare them for it.
    YEah. I probably should have passed on the "real world" part of my post.

    Still, though, there are many ways to critique a piece, and be completely honest while doing it, without completely tearing someone down.

    In my case (and no, I'm not just being whiny because here I sit, having gotten beaten up pretty good in my two LM attempts) even a small positive comment from that teacher would probably been enough. I know a lot of folks would probably consider that being "weak" or something. But unless they have been in the kind of situation I was, they don't know the mental processes involved in living that way.

    Speaking of the LM...for a good example of what I mean about people being honest, yet still being positive in the process, look no further than the judges for that competition.They seem to have mastered the art of constructive criticism. That goes for the CoF judges as well.
    “Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.” -Carl Sagan

    Real courage is found, not in the willingness to risk death, but in the willingness to stand, alone if necessary, against the ignorant and disapproving herd. --Jon Roland, 1976

    Have you checked out the Hidden Content

    Founder of the Pantsers United Group and member of the Fantasy Lords Group

    "Life is composed of lights and shadows, and we would be untruthful,
    insincere, and saccharine if we tried to pretend there were no shadows." - Walt Disney

  8. #108
    Quote Originally Posted by Cadence View Post
    Because those are the pieces that need honest critique the most.

    The idea that a forum is not the real world is also what makes many writers never grow a spine. When I log on to this forum, I like to think that I'm talking to real people with real perspectives and real qualities and real ideas about what is good and bad and real knowledge and experience, mainly because I am.

    This forum isn't a shelter for people who don't want the real world of writing; it's a place to prepare them for it.
    For you, that is what this place is for. For many others too.

    But you have to keep in mind that we all don't log onto this forum for the same reason as you do.

    I log onto this forum to discuss writing and how I can get better. I like to talk about writing with people that are as passionate about it as I am. I like the comraderie that you feel with fellow writers. Most people outside of this forum in my life don't share the same love for reading and writing as I do.

    This is my place to go to share and encourage. I don't need you to thicken my skin and prepare me for the big bad agent. My spine has grown perfectly without the brashness of harsh critiques.

    This place means something different to everyone. I want it to be a positive place for me. I don't personally want to cringe every time I log in because there is someone out there trying to toughen me up.
    Last edited by Sunny; October 5th, 2014 at 06:35 PM.
    for kyle: Freel Barter Braby Hidden Content

  9. #109
    Quote Originally Posted by Firemajic View Post
    I recieved a critique that was so on point that it changed the way I thought about my writing forever.

    That's happened to me so many times here, that my whole understanding of conveying a story has drastically improved


    Quote Originally Posted by Firemajic View Post
    As rule now, will not comment on anything that I don't love or understand.

    Not sure I read this correctly, but where I might agree with avoiding something I don't adequately understand, I do try to think about and comment on varying content I might not read for pleasure. I've found it helps with my own writing skills.


    Beyond this, I've seen this thread roll by and been intrigued by the varying human perceptions and how they're articulated. I believe we're here to help each other improve our skills, and just saying "great job" alone isn't much of a contribution. Of course we all have varying thicknesses of skin, but well-meaning critiquing can get a feel for that in starting off slowly, and in all cases always being respectful of the person. As to those offering up pieces, it sometimes takes some soul searching in realizing just what one is looking for I've been very lucky in other's pushing me beyond my pontificating to see where my writing is lacking. I always try to see comments as well-intentioned regardless of the writer's skill in conveying such. If there's an obvious personal slight, it's easy to ignore. The person might just be having a bad day, or their personality will land them in more serious problems. As to the latter, on the road of life I try to stay out of the way of such, thinking it better their inevitable 'accident' not involve me

    Site:
    Hidden Content

    The simplest truths are written on the wall,
    where we see imaginary greatness in our fall.

  10. #110
    I don't personally want to cringe every time I log in because there is someone out there trying to toughen me up.
    In the same way, I don't want to sigh every time because there's someone mollycoddling me with nice words when I just want the truth. I've had enough feather-stuffed, bubble-wrapped lets-not-offend-the-writer responses to know that 'encouragement' isn't something we need to encourage people to give more of. I'd rather encourage people to do more of what people are doing less - not holding back. Just as blunt critique can hold a sensitive person back, an over-sensitive critique can hold back someone who just needs it straight.

    I guess we're arguing for the same thing from different sides.
    Sleep is for the weak, or sleep is for a week.
    -------------------------------------------------------------
    I write about anime and internet culture at Hidden Content

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