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Thread: Encouragement vs Honesty

  1. #81
    WF Veteran Gavrushka's Avatar
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    I'd never considered encouragement and honesty as opposing forces. Indeed, the best encouragement you can give any writer is to suggest how their prose can be made even better.

    How you deliver that encouragement is important, but to suggest that encouraging a writer has to be in some way dishonest sounds strange to me.

    Dishonest comment is a millstone holding back many a writer, and I witnessed it first hand on another site where people were 'encouraged' to reciprocate 'likes' with other narcissists.
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  2. #82
    the writing is not going to be reading your critique—the writer will be the one reading your words
    Still, whenever I ask for feedback I don't filter responses through my feelings towards my work; I just take the responses and see how I can use them to improve my work. A writer who emotionalizes the process of critique, IMO, won't get as much out of it, and they're not going to grow a thicker skin because people are prioritizing their emotional maintenance over their work. I've become more confident myself because other writers have critiqued me critically and confidently, knowing that, regardless of how I feel about their words and my own, I understand that they're being honest.

    Furthermore, editing often requires you to remove the emotional connection you have with your work and/or craft if you want to improve your work; that's why writers take long breaks from their stories before getting out the scissors. I try to encourage this practice by focusing on the work alone myself.
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  3. #83
    Quote Originally Posted by Cadence
    Still, whenever I ask for feedback I don't filter responses through my feelings towards my work; I just take the responses and see how I can use them to improve my work. A writer who emotionalizes the process of critique, IMO, won't get as much out of it, and they're not going to grow a thicker skin because people are prioritizing their emotional maintenance over their work. I've become more confident myself because other writers have critiqued me critically and confidently, knowing that, regardless of how I feel about their words and my own, I understand that they're being honest.
    I hear you, Cadence.

    It's important to be as helpful as we can be when critiquing a writer's work. On that you and I seem to agree.

    What we each consider helpful seems to be at odds though, and that's okay too. Everyone approachers writing (and reviewing) differently.

    You believe sterile and detached is the best way to go. I believe encouragement does wonders, and can be applied in addition to anything provided in a sterile and detached critique.

    In other words: take those critiques that have helped you so much, and add on a few words of positive reinforcement and encouragement. Logically speaking, the reviews would be no less helpful. Rather, they would be even more helpful (in my opinion), because they would not only be addressing the writing itself, but also encouraging the writer.

    Just my perspective on it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cadence View Post
    Furthermore, editing often requires you to remove the emotional connection you have with your work and/or craft if you want to improve your work; that's why writers take long breaks from their stories before getting out the scissors.
    This is one of those bits of writerly advice that I consider a partial myth, though that's probably best saved for another (likely very interesting!) discussion.

  4. #84
    Encouragement does nothing if it isn't earned.

    If you encourage someone when they write crap, they'll always write crap.
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  5. #85
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    Encouragement does nothing if it isn't earned.

    If you encourage someone when they write crap, they'll always write crap.
    I find your statement sad.

    I know we're all different and we have our own ways of thinking and teaching others, but to insinuate encouraging someone's crap writing means they'll always be a crap writer is so unfair and completely untrue. I think as a fellow writer you are not making that individual a better or worse writer with your comments, you're just giving them a new angle to look at things. You can still get your point across without negativity.

    I think to be a good teacher, and that's what we're doing when we're critiquing, is teaching others what we think they could learn from us, you should be respectful of that author and know that they did their best, and whether it's up to your standards or not, you can tell them how you'd make it better for you with a little consideration to their feelings.

    People that have great influence on others should use it for good. Just sayin'.
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  6. #86
    I don't care if someone else becomes the best writer they can be. My disdain, or encouragement, is not going to have much of effect on their success. If a young writer can be dissuaded from telling his/her stories because a total stranger didn't like one of them, then they aren't going to get past the first handful of rejection letters they get anyway.

    That being said, when I do choose to critique a story I do so with respect for the person behind the words. There is never a reason to get sarcastic about someone's work (even if it is pretentious crap), or to make fun of it (even if it reads like it came from a sixth grade study hall). I have seen both on this site in the past, in critiques and in LM judging and I have less respect for the reviewer than the unskilled author. I tell the writer what works (for me) and what doesn't. I try to do so in a professional manner, but I don't hunt for something to praise. Readers won't, reviewers shouldn't. If it's there I mention it (and why I think it's good), if it's not there my critique is going to sound all bad. So be it.
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  7. #87
    Quote Originally Posted by Sunny View Post
    I find your statement sad.

    I know we're all different and we have our own ways of thinking and teaching others, but to insinuate encouraging someone's crap writing means they'll always be a crap writer is so unfair and completely untrue. I think as a fellow writer you are not making that individual a better or worse writer with your comments, you're just giving them a new angle to look at things. You can still get your point across without negativity.

    I think to be a good teacher, and that's what we're doing when we're critiquing, is teaching others what we think they could learn from us, you should be respectful of that author and know that they did their best, and whether it's up to your standards or not, you can tell them how you'd make it better for you with a little consideration to their feelings.

    People that have great influence on others should use it for good. Just sayin'.
    I hate political correctness. I hate the fact that, as a race of people, humans have become so offended by the littlest things. I hate that we can't tell the truth for fear of making someone feel bad. I hate that we can't be negative about something without being labelled a mean-spirited a-hole. I hate that we have to be on tenterhooks around people in case we make them feel insecure about themselves.

    I don't know about anyone else, but I would consider it disrespectful to a writer if I didn't tell them the truth, and I would lose respect for them if they didn't do likewise with me. People shouldn't be condescending a-holes, no, but they should tell the truth. If it's negative, so be it. Feelings? Feelings don't come into it. If you can't handle the fact that something you've written isn't good, you're in the wrong industry. How are you going to handle rejections? Reviews? Criticism? Thoughts of beta readers?

    I don't set out to make people feel bad. I never attack the person when I critique. I mention positives, but most people don't ask for critique in order to be told everything is fine. You have to mention the negatives, otherwise what's the point of asking for critique? And if you think there shouldn't be any negativity, any areas where improvement is needed, why are any of us even here?
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    "One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. How he got into my pyjamas I'll never know." ~ Groucho Marx.

    "It is better to be feared than loved, if one cannot be both". ~ Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince.

    "A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer". ~ Bruce Lee.

    "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few". ~ Shunryu Suzuki.

    "Give a man a mask and he will show you his true face". ~ Oscar Wilde.

    "He who learns but does not think is lost; he who thinks but does not learn is in great danger". ~ Confucius.

  8. #88
    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    I try to do so in a professional manner, but I don't hunt for something to praise. Readers won't, reviewers shouldn't. If it's there I mention it (and why I think it's good), if it's not there my critique is going to sound all bad. So be it.
    I agree with this. One shouldn't have to hunt for something good. Just as I point out the problem areas that catch my eye, I will point out well-done areas that catch my eye - ie, the things that are above and below the level of quality I expect when I pick up a book. Just as I will not point out every grammatical error, but instead note that the grammar in general needs work, I'm not going to point out every "good" piece of writing, but may just state if I was favorably impressed with the overall writing.
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  9. #89
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    I hate political correctness. I hate the fact that, as a race of people, humans have become so offended by the littlest things. I hate that we can't tell the truth for fear of making someone feel bad. I hate that we can't be negative about something without being labelled a mean-spirited a-hole. I hate that we have to be on tenterhooks around people in case we make them feel insecure about themselves.

    I don't know about anyone else, but I would consider it disrespectful to a writer if I didn't tell them the truth, and I would lose respect for them if they didn't do likewise with me. People shouldn't be condescending a-holes, no, but they should tell the truth. If it's negative, so be it. Feelings? Feelings don't come into it. If you can't handle the fact that something you've written isn't good, you're in the wrong industry. How are you going to handle rejections? Reviews? Criticism? Thoughts of beta readers?

    I don't set out to make people feel bad. I never attack the person when I critique. I mention positives, but most people don't ask for critique in order to be told everything is fine. You have to mention the negatives, otherwise what's the point of asking for critique? And if you think there shouldn't be any negativity, any areas where improvement is needed, why are any of us even here?
    That's a lot of hate, Sam.

    I guess I'm just opposite of you. That's not good or bad. Just different.

    I don't like to feel hate or negativity; it's draining and a weight I refuse to carry. So when something happens that I don't like, or someone does something that makes me angry or makes me have those feeling of hate, I do what I can to avoid it and shake it off. I don't think it's healthy, for me anyway, to carry those feelings. I just choose to avoid making someone else feel bad, too.

    Kyle is very good at telling me my writing needs work. My grammar is often wrong. I need to work on plotting. But, not once has he had to put me down with any kind of negativity to get his opinion out to me.

    Same goes for him. I don't like all of his sentences or word choices or characters all of the time, but when I tell him what doesn't work for me, I don't make him feel bad about what he did create. I tell him it's my opinion and if he truly loves what he's written then he needs to stand behind that, and he does. If I tell him these things with the intention of bruising his ego, of hurting his confidence just to give him a head start on building this bulletproof armour that writers are supposed to have for skin instead, well that's just Bull.

    I'm not preparing him for anything by putting down his work with opinions of rudeness or sarcasm. That's like calling my kid names when they're small just to prepare them for the bullies at school!
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  10. #90
    There is a massive chasm between mentioning the negative and being negative in the process.
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