The Importance of Critiques - Page 3


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Thread: The Importance of Critiques

  1. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    or Phil who scrapes bird shit off the sidewalk for a living. The mere privilege of having an audience, especially an opinionated audience, is a gift.
    I wouldn't stoop so low - I scrape it from windows
    Yes, a critique honestly given is a gift. The town where I live finally has a proper, real-life writing group beginning to evolve where pieces of work are submitted in advance and people critique for each other. It's in its fledgling phase and I feel like I'm doing battle to prevent it becoming another coffee morning natter - like the other writing group has been. People in the town where I live now have a choice: if they want polite nods about their work and a natter about the issues within, they can, and if they want a proper critique group, they can have that too. I see myself as the pesticide man who prevents cross contamination.


  2. #22
    I only have one writer on my beta team, and she's for final proofing and continuity, as she's amazing at it. But it says it all, really.

    My husband beta reads for me, which sounds a little odd as he's straight and my writing is M/M crime. But he's spot-on with his crime and history knowledge and reads with crime: plot, tension, pacing, in mind. When it comes to the sex scenes...? He just looks afraid, very afraid, mostly because of the BDSM and C&B torture, I think. He hasn't argued with me much since he read my work anywhoo....
    "You don't wanna ride the bus like this,"

    Mike Posner.



  3. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Aquilo View Post
    I only have one writer on my beta team, and she's for final proofing and continuity, as she's amazing at it. But it says it all, really.

    My husband beta reads for me, which sounds a little odd as he's straight and my writing is M/M crime. But he's spot-on with his crime and history knowledge and reads with crime: plot, tension, pacing, in mind. When it comes to the sex scenes...? He just looks afraid, very afraid, mostly because of the BDSM and C&B torture, I think. He hasn't argued with me much since he read my work anywhoo....
    I so jelly. My hubs saw "a bad word" (something pertaining to a M/M scene) over my shoulder ten years ago and hasn't beta read anything since, I think. Last beta I had was in 2013. Kinda pent up for action on that front, but I need to finish it before I ask for betas here... but by then, will I even need one? It's generally too late (or just super difficult and time-consuming) to change the really big things by then.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."
    --adrianhayter

    "Art is life, just add bull****."
    --Chris Miller

  4. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by seigfried007 View Post
    I so jelly. My hubs saw "a bad word" (something pertaining to a M/M scene) over my shoulder ten years ago and hasn't beta read anything since, I think. Last beta I had was in 2013. Kinda pent up for action on that front, but I need to finish it before I ask for betas here... but by then, will I even need one? It's generally too late (or just super difficult and time-consuming) to change the really big things by then.
    Most betas prefer a full story to read, to be honest, so I'd defiitely go for a round with betas when you're done!
    "You don't wanna ride the bus like this,"

    Mike Posner.



  5. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Aquilo View Post
    Most betas prefer a full story to read, to be honest, so I'd defiitely go for a round with betas when you're done!
    Yup, and for good reasons. It's hard to give advice on an ending that hasn't been written yet, but it's also nice to give a writer input they can use in the middle, too. In the middle of a work, said reader has some power to alter the flow of the eventual story, whereas a writer is less likely to make sweeping adjustments once finished (and likely partial to what they've written and really just wanting to be done with the dang thing). Plus, nobody really wants to read a half-finished book because it's a cliffhanger "ending". I am entirely sympathetic to betas of all types and stripes.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."
    --adrianhayter

    "Art is life, just add bull****."
    --Chris Miller

  6. #26
    My wife refused to read the entire Calizona series.
    But then again, it was centered on a pair of redneck stoners who keep hookers in their bunker. Too coarse for a lady.

    But she proofs my other works.

  7. #27
    Plaidman -- I figger yer gittin' the picture by now. It's ok to write "I dunno, I just can't see this guy being so brave here. He wasn't before" OR "in S1 the room was very dark, so I don't see how it's "bright" in S4" OR "I know it's free verse but I don't feel ANY rhythm in this line" OR "I've read S3 five times and it just makes no fucking sense to me. Maybe the tense shift is a problem--I'm just not sure." OR "isn't eschew kind of a weird word for this pretty ordinary guy to use?"

    You're concerned about your writing or you wouldn't be here. So am I. And I value your "impressions" or "vague feelings" every bit as much as the Ph.D from Harvard who knew Ferlinghetti personally and has published two books on the SF poets. SHE will give me a different perspective written with different motives, but not necessarily more valuable to me as a poet. And we ARE 'peers', my young friend: we travel the same road,though we may see the signposts differently and walk at a different pace.

    As numerous others have said, offer something. Do not praise without saying why you choose to praise. Do not say a piece sucks, without saying why it sucks We function in a one-dimensional world here. Tone of voice, facial expressions, gestures, body language. .all unavailable to us. Your critique on the screen is all the writer has from you. Make your words honest and clear. Refer to the text of her piece so she knows where to go. Be yourself.

    I disagree with a harsh and direct tone. Direct for sure. Can't think of any reason for harshness. You're a writer--you can offer an unsugared pill without coating it with vinegar. Why make the other writer feel like an idiot, or perhaps elicit an angry, defensive response? Simple decent manners never go out of style. Often a simple question: w​ould you consider. . .? OR wouldn't it be more logical if. . .?" ​will get your point across just fine. And make the OP feel like you're members of the same team.



    ________________________________________________

    "I believe in nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the Truth of the imagination". Keats, ​Letters

    "No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main . . . any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls -- it tolls for thee. " John Donne, Meditation XVII

  8. #28
    My mom just finished reading my novel and gave me mostly verbal feedback on it. She wrote some things down from the beginning of the novel she felt needed fixing, mostly words I used that I should change because they don't work in context with the sentence. She's in her 70's and has a hard time writing. Overall she really liked the book, and that's saying a lot since she's not a big fan of vampire novels. When I told her it is 122k words long, she was surprised because it didn't seem so long. The writing was smooth and easy to read and the story so interesting it kept her from wanting to put the book down. Just what a writer wants to hear.

    My other beta, a guy I know from way back and am still friends with on Facebook, his second language is English but he speaks and writes it impeccably. He too thought the writing was good, enjoyed the story very much, can't wait for it to come out as a book to purchase and recommend it to several of his friends. He added comments directly to the manuscript, some grammar issues or story issues that he thought might need a second look.

    Both are readers and not writers, but I have a third beta who is a writer and she's in the process of critiquing the story. I have no doubt that she'll find more to comment on than the other two. I will thank her and use what I need of her critique and that of my mom and friend and adjust the story accordingly. When I get several critiques in a critique forum, I tend to not thank people individually but in a single post to all. Thank you's go a long way to getting people to want to work with you in the future. Build bridges, not burn them.
    Hidden Content <--Proceed with der clickity.

  9. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Ma'am View Post
    The etiquette seems to have changed to the recipients arguing, or expecting that the critique/beta read is actually only the beginning of a long working relationship of discussing their work with you. (Often without even getting the "thank you"). I've heard the same from many other longer term writers.

    So when people complain that they are having a hard time getting critiques or beta reads now, I am not surprised.
    It would be very easy just to agree with this, but I think that a critic / beta reader benefits from receiving feedback about the impact that their comments have on the writer just as much as the writer benefits from those comments. I agree that the writer should always be thankful for the reader taking the time to comment, but any general embargo on further interaction is likely to diminish the benefits of that contribution.

    My angel wife BlondeAverageReader has very recently had the difficult task of telling a member why she stopped reading their work after reading several chapters and she welcomes writers' honest reactions to her comments simply to know how well she is tackling that task. She is only a beta reader, not a writer, but the specific skill that she is developing here also needs honest feedback. Polite but potentially meaningless thanks serve her no purpose apart from encouraging her to continue doing exactly what she does already without improvement. In the case of that recent piece of work the writer did admit that they'd had similar thoughts about it, so my angel felt that her comments had hit the right mark, which was reassuring to her. She actually once assisted a member here who bargained with her, offering to take out of his work something that she disliked if he could leave something else in. In effect between them they were evaluating the relative importance of her criticisms. Why not interact like that once the piece had been read? They both already had the story in their minds, so it made sense to make the most of that fact.

    Hence she is willing to continue to assist a writer with a particular work once she is acquainted with it, but if one wants her to read other works as well as an extension of the relationship then she has no qualms about politely refusing if she doesn't want to, especially if a new work differs significantly, such as in genre.

    She joined WF specifically to beta read and so far that has been the most rewarding and enjoyable aspect of her membership while she is quite critical of other aspects of the site, so suggestions that writers may have the wrong attitude to such readers won't ring true to her here even if they do apply elsewhere. In fact it is I who has mentioned her experiences here because she would rather spend her time discussing the impact of a writer's work with them than discussing issues such as this one. Also she is the hard-working one around the house while I am a relative drone who has the time to write things like this, so I understand. Am I entitled to give her my feedback on that critique though?
    Last edited by JustRob; August 26th, 2019 at 04:49 PM.
    'Sharing an experience creates a reality.' Create a new reality today.
    'There has to be some give and take.' If I can take my time I'm willing to give it.
    'The most difficult criticism that a writer has to comprehend is silence.' So speak up.

  10. #30
    When offering feedback, I always try to point out the good things they did right...
    Then I ease into the bad things.

    I also tend to tailor my feedback to the writer's level.
    Some writers get high-level feedback, others get very basic guidance.
    After all, what is the point of mentioning deep philosophical issues when they are still at the mechanical level.

    I also avoid giving a lot of proofing feedback. My advice typically speaks to the flow, or character development, or brush strokes.

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