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  1. #31
    Have you ever heard of a film critic called Roger Ebert? Probably one of the most famous movie critics of all time. His critiques of certain movies were legendary. Here is his view on Stanley Kubrick's famous A Clockwork Orange:
    Public critique is a fundamentally different beast from private, though. Public has an obligation, first and foremost, to entertain and inform the audience. Private critique is, at least in theory, given entirely for the artistic enlightenment of the author.

    If something is bad to the core, I'll say it's bad to the core. But I'll also try and draw out some specific strings of especially fatal badness, with the hope that the author will be able to apply this to their next project. Engaging with text beyond 'this sucks' lends respect to your subject. It means you believe he'll try again. I don't know why I'd engage in the first place unless I wanted him to try. Who am I to say he won't become a great author? Harlan got laughed out of college, and look where he went.
    Last edited by BornForBurning; February 23rd, 2021 at 11:24 AM.
    Nail it to the Cross

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    Can you give some more detailed examples of what was said?

    I don't disbelieve you, but people do have a tendency to take criticism personally, especially criticism that does not offer some sort of sugar coating. That doesn't make such criticism 'insulting', nor does it necessarily mean anybody is laughing at you. It just means you perceived it as such.

    Have you ever heard of a film critic called Roger Ebert? Probably one of the most famous movie critics of all time. His critiques of certain movies were legendary. Here is his view on Stanley Kubrick's famous A Clockwork Orange:

    Here he is lambasting another great movie, Dead Poets Society:

    Arguably, these are pretty insulting, right? They're certainly not what most people would call 'constructive critiques'. He offers no suggestions, no real balance. He simply let's loose with his opinion. He hated it. He says so.

    Some people may, understandably, think of Ebert as a big mouth asshole. I get that. But nobody can doubt that he was honest in what he thought. Importantly, he was fair. Some movies got this sort of thing, but Ebert always tried to assess things based on their merits and how he thought most audiences would appreciate them (a bit of that 'objectivity' Olly mentioned) and he would applaud things done well as vehemently as he would slam things done badly. Consequently every movie maker during his lifetime wanted the 'thumbs up' from the guy. It meant as much as an Oscar, to many.

    And, like, this is what critique is! Real critique is honest, reactionary, but fair. It tells you when something is wonderful. It tells you when something is awful. These are things you need to know. If it is good critique, it will give an idea as to the reasoning behind its conclusion, but it ISN'T about offering pastoral care to the writer nor being considerate of egos. If you want that, get a mentor...or a mother. The industry is hard, it can be cruel, it can be hurtful sometimes. But if what you want is to be a good writer you absolutely have to learn from destructive criticism as well as constructive criticism. It's a destructive world, you can't pick your audience.
    I do not know him.
    I never read the criticisms of films, books, I have TV series.


    I believe, perhaps, we have a different vision of how a Critique should be done.
    For me a criticism made with insults, laughter in the face, is not a criticism.
    I'm just gratuitous offenses.
    My dream? Being able to enter people's hearts with words: giving emotions and dreams.
    JK Rowling (Harry Potter) has been rejected more than 10 times Remember, don't give up!
    Thank you all for the help you give me to improve my English.

  3. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by vranger View Post
    Norman Boutin will never publish a real book because he's a shit writer who deluded himself into thinking he's a superstar before he ever started. He spams the damn thing everywhere, and was incredibly insulting to EVERYONE who tried to offer constructive criticism. Boutin never had a chance to be a good writer. Finally, the people he both insulted and defamed started making fun of him, and he deserved every bit of it. No one has ever been as nasty to Boutin as he is to the world, but no one ever mollycoddled Boutin.

    I'm intimately familiar with the [pick your own pejorative]. He spammed his trash under my reviews and then harassed me for years after I got his spam deleted. (I'm far from the only one with that experience with him).

    He's not alone in the locus of shit writers who think their first work is marvelous, but he's in the running for most deluded and obnoxious. Frankly, I NEVER ran across a shit writer who had delusions of grandeur who ever had a chance to improve. To improve at anything, a person needs to believe they have something to learn, and that just doesn't jive with the whole deluded psychology. Just like Boutin, those people are a guaranteed failure before they type a word.

    However, here's the dividing line in the discussion between you Pamelyn: shit writers who think they are superstars don't come to communities like this with an eye to learning. It simply won't happen. They might show up to spam, but they get banned forthwith. So we can afford to take a bit more of a nurturing attitude here.

    Also, on that subject, I believe every writer is responsible to honestly evaluate their own skills and take charge of their own development. That's why I constantly advise hopeful authors to study, study, study. Learn the common mistakes and identify them in their own writing. Learn how to edit those mistakes into something better. No critic pointing out a poor writing feature means so much to a developing writer as figuring it out for themselves.

    That doesn't mean criticism can't be valuable, but it's a bit of a dartboard. Read great writers. Read great lessons. Evaluate our writing by taking those lessons SERIOUSLY. Then employ them.

    Pamelyn's point is that most writing isn't ALL shit. So tell the writer their strengths, then point out the poor features. Yes, be honest. Maybe someone should have told you, "Great story idea, just don't drag it out to infinity." LOL Then you'd have had the good and the bad.
    The reason I picked on Boutin is because (1) He did visit this forum (2) He is a very good example of somebody for whom encouragement was (or would have been) a poisoned chalice, whether it was here or anywhere else.

    I think you make a very dangerous, and not particularly fact based, assumption when you say 'shit and deluded writers exist but they aren't the sort of people who ask for critiques'. Why aren't they? Sure they are. Nobody said their request needed to be in good faith, nor must it necessarily be obvious spam. Such people may well ask for 'critique' just to massage their own ego, to obtain acceptance. Such people need that. Think of it rather like one of those 'approval polls' a certain former President used to put out in which you had to be a paid up donor to actually respond. These sorts of people exist.

    Perhaps you haven't been on this forum quite long enough to come across one yet, but I can't count the number of very balanced critiques people have given on here, for work that frankly didn't deserve the attention, only for the 'writer' to snap back at ANY perceived negativity with something along the lines of 'you didn't understand it' or some variation of 'your critique is wrong'. No it's not the majority, but it's enough. Let's say, five percent or so.

    I think those five percent are why a lot of people don't really like critiquing all that much, or at least feel intimidated by it. At a certain point, workshop becomes an echo chamber: The same people post work, the same people critique it, the sense of 'free speech' (I'm putting that in quotes because it's not really free speech obviously, but you know what I mean) is gone as people get caught up in the politics of not upsetting others. Suddenly everything has to be positive or else you're a big meanie. People retaliate. It's the same reason certain people on here go out of their way to 'like' certain members posts. There are people on here who will never agree with other people no matter what they say because that person once pissed in their cornflakes. There are others who will give stupid opinions a free (or heavily generous) pass routinely because the person who posted once gave their poem a nice review or whatever. This happens all the time.

    And...that's not how real critique works. You can tell me over and over about the importance of nurturing and I won't argue that you're wrong about what nurturing is....simply that I don't think it's particularly relevant. Critique -- real critique -- isn't supposed to be about the author, it's supposed to be about the work. The work alone, without the muddying context of people and personality, hopes and dreams. The nurturing that comes from critique, comes from the writer responding to the critique themselves. This is why self-awareness is so important and why 100% of the time bad writers like Boutin lack it.

    Just to be clear, I am all about critics highlighting strengths. I do it constantly whenever I critique. The difference is, I don't think that should be required for the critique to be valid, especially in a case where the critic found there to be no strength and yet moved enough to feel the need to say something. Why is that wrong?

    Quote Originally Posted by BornForBurning View Post
    Public critique is a fundamentally different beast from private, though. Public has an obligation, first and foremost, to entertain and inform the audience. Private critique is, at least in theory, given entirely for the artistic enlightenment of the author.
    I think that's a nice try but it isn't really different, unless you want to argue that Ebert's views on those movies would have been significantly different had he not held a public platform. You can make the case that Ebert was a liar if you want to, I don't think there's any evidence for it.

    I think what you're getting at is presentation, the 'literary flourishes' he used, and you're probably right about that. But that isn't really the point. Ebert may have dialed back the rhetoric slightly if critiquing for the author (director) only, but he would -- I think -- have still said much the same thing: I hate it.

    If something is bad to the core, I'll say it's bad to the core. But I'll also try and draw out some specific strings of especially fatal badness, with the hope that the author will be able to apply this to their next project. Engaging with text beyond 'this sucks' lends respect to your subject. It means you believe he'll try again. I don't know why I'd engage in the first place unless I wanted him to try. Who am I to say he won't become a great author? Harlan got laughed out of college, and look where he went.
    The key word there is 'try', isn't it? If the story in question contains, lets say, fairly outdated or downright toxic depictions of, let's say, black people....then fuck that story and the horse it rode in on, right? Right. If I was judging a LM an somebody submitted a 650 word version of The Turner Diaries...I am either ignoring it completely, or I am going nuclear. I hope we agree that's fair?

    That's an extreme example, but what about stories that are more subtle in their toxicity? Ones with a sense of glorifying misogyny, for example? Or perhaps ones that hugely and intentionally misrepresent science or history or something? Again, maybe there will be something there to salvage. Maybe there will be a reason to 'try'. But there may not be. If so, the fact there may not be should not mean that one either avoids the issue or invents/emphasizes other 'strengths' (suuuuch nice font) so that the critique meets some imagined standard of 'constructiveness'. That is wasting everybody's time. If you're going to critique, the most important thing is honesty. Empathy or sympathy for the creator always matters, but it's not the primary concern when reviewing art.
    Deactivated due to staff trolling. Bye!

  4. #34
    Functional critique, like algebra homework, requires the critiquer to show their work and support their conclusions with examples. A large majority of readers hate doing this because it requires critical thinking. If there is a question or confusion with a passage, ask about it. Consider: What is causing the confusion. If there are no examples as to what works and why, what doesn't and why, why should a writer even consider the opinion, when the 'critique' is entirerly based on opinion, not facts present in piece X. In many cases if someone says, 'This sucks', but fails to illustrate why with objective facts from the work, the 'critique' itself is at fault for poor writing.

    From a personal standpoint, I submitted a poem for peer review while in school, (under grad), and the 'critique' I got back was scathing! Starting with the form which was a simple trecet, birhyme. Nobody writes in three line stanzas, those are wrong. (Exact verbiage.) It needs to be blank verse, iambic and about subject A, not this fairy tale crap as it is blasphemous. Please note, this was a nonsensical fairy tale geared for the 4 - 8 year old demographic, which was clearly stated in my request.

    The 'critiquer' then proceeded to find fault with absolutely every word in the piece and then explained how it should be rewritten to fit her standards. Not only was the writing called into question, but also my very ability to attend school. Obviously, I had a severe LD, given my syntax and writing style. And if I let her tutor me every other day, I might be able to scrape a passing grade. Oh , I also forgot to add that she was going to present her critique of my unpublished piece, as a paper for learning disabilites for her psychology class! I would be helping others learn from my stupidity. She kept a word count 16,500 words.

    Needless to say, I laughed my way through her 'suggestions' then proceeded to critique her 'critique' emailed all the attached documentation and her 'example project idea' to several relevant professors, and voiced the fact that she had not asked me for either the use of my neurofuction or my material. I was not about to be paraded as a freak show because I wrote a fairy tale. I got extra credit for my peer review of her critique...and ended up writing a paper on narcissism. I deal with ASD and ADHD. I'm not stupid or impaired. She was asked to leave the peer review group because of questionable ethics.
    Last edited by Darkkin; February 23rd, 2021 at 04:34 PM.


  5. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by Darkkin View Post
    Functional critique, like algebra homework, requires the critiquer to show their work and support their conclusions with examples. A large majority of readers hate doing this because it requires critical thinking. If there is a question or confusion with a passage, ask about it. Consider: What is causing the confusion. If there are no examples as to what works and why, what doesn't and why, why should a writer even consider the opinion, when the 'critique' is entirerly based on opinion, not facts present in piece X. In many cases if someone says, 'This sucks', but fails to illustrate why with objective facts from the work, the 'critique' itself is at fault for poor writing.
    Yeah, maybe when peer reviewing an academic paper that's what it is, but we're talking about the internet. It isn't how it works, unfortunately.

    Whenever writers try to define standards regarding 'real critique' I cringe a little bit. You have entirely two options when it comes to any negative feedback you receive: Accept it stoically or don't. If you don't, then enjoy being largely ignored, because absolutely nobody is going to 'support their conclusions with examples' when it comes to telling 'yummysnax666' their 5,000 word story about cannibals devouring teenage girls is not sufficiently elegant.
    Deactivated due to staff trolling. Bye!

  6. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    I think you make a very dangerous, and not particularly fact based, assumption when you say 'shit and deluded writers exist but they aren't the sort of people who ask for critiques'. Why aren't they? Sure they are. Nobody said their request needed to be in good faith, nor must it necessarily be obvious spam. Such people may well ask for 'critique' just to massage their own ego, to obtain acceptance. Such people need that. Think of it rather like one of those 'approval polls' a certain former President used to put out in which you had to be a paid up donor to actually respond. These sorts of people exist.

    Perhaps you haven't been on this forum quite long enough to come across one yet, but I can't count the number of very balanced critiques people have given on here, for work that frankly didn't deserve the attention, only for the 'writer' to snap back at ANY perceived negativity with something along the lines of 'you didn't understand it' or some variation of 'your critique is wrong'. No it's not the majority, but it's enough. Let's say, five percent or so.
    You made my point for me. If they ask, they're NOT asking for critique, they're asking for ego stroking to validate their delusion. And correct, when they don't get it, they blow up. Been there, done that with them a few dozen times ... to the point I finally got pretty good at recognizing them going in so I could just ignore them.

    No, I can't deny they would come here to spam. I was talking about people wanting to honestly engage, if I didn't make that clear enough. You would NEVER have found Boutin here in his first 20 pages asking for the critique that if he had followed, would have improved his writing. That's my point. (And frankly, NO critique would change his peculiar fetishes).

    You also made my second point. It doesn't matter WHAT critique you give them, whether it's harsh, balanced, or soft soap. It's not going to help them. However, for everyone else, a balanced critique might help them.

    But I'd love to see the Boutin thread(s). It's not his usual MO to ask for anything but adoration after he's spammed that PoS. Normally what happens is he spams it with copious cow-patties out of the middle of it, gets some comments on how wretched it is, then "It's on ...".

    How long did it take the ban-hammer to hit?

    ETA: That doesn't mean that the sort we're discussing aren't nice people. Boutin is a raging ass, but I encountered quite a few who were perfectly nice people unless you started to burst the bubble about their writing. Sadly, I also encountered more Boutin's, too.

  7. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by vranger View Post
    But I'd love to see the Boutin thread(s). It's not his usual MO to ask for anything but adoration after he's spammed that PoS. Normally what happens is he spams it with copious cow-patties out of the middle of it, gets some comments on how wretched it is, then "It's on ..."
    https://www.writingforums.com/thread...wer?highlight=
    Deactivated due to staff trolling. Bye!

  8. #38
    I'm surprised it took on to five months for that shoe to drop. And I'd forgotten how he loves to elevate his masterpiece above To Kill a Mockingbird. LOL That thread is a virtual carbon copy of every Boutin thread I ever saw on Amazon.

  9. #39
    Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange is an ideological mess, a paranoid right-wing fantasy masquerading as an Orwellian warning. It pretends to oppose the police state and forced mind control, but all it really does is celebrate the nastiness of its hero, Alex... But they've really hyped A Clockwork Orange for more than it's worth, and a lot of people will go if only out of curiosity. Too bad. It is just plain talky and boring. You know there's something wrong with a movie when the last third feels like the last half
    That's not a critique. That's a hit piece pushing a political agenda. He's smart enough to know the movie isn't a "paranoid right-wing fantasy" masquerading as anything. The movie is about narcissists and hypocrites.

    If someone were to deliver a critique like that about anyone's story, I'd dismiss it as a waste of time.

  10. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by MistWolf View Post
    That's not a critique. That's a hit piece pushing a political agenda. He's smart enough to know the movie isn't a "paranoid right-wing fantasy" masquerading as anything. The movie is about narcissists and hypocrites.

    If someone were to deliver a critique like that about anyone's story, I'd dismiss it as a waste of time.
    You're entirely welcome to dismiss it as a waste of time, however you are not entirely welcome to redefine what criticism is because you personally find a certain style of it unpalatable or unpleasant.

    Ebert's approach is completely in line with mainstream criticism of film, theater and books. Here is The Austin Chronicle on Twilight "I've had mosquito bites that were more passionate than this undead, unrequited, and altogether unfun pseudo-romantic riff on 'Romeo and Juliet.'" Here is NPR on The Other Woman "'[It] might not be preferable to simply staring into your empty airsick bag, but it has enough nicely executed physical comedy that in the event you become ill, it is definitely preferable to staring into your occupied airsick bag." Here is the New York Times review of Jack Frost ""With emotions as sincere as the soap flake snow on its sets, 'Jack Frost' goes on to show how much fun it is to have a snowman as a loving, though dead, father".

    So, when we call Ebert guilty of writing a 'hit piece', we're really describing just about every critic under the sun at some point. Which, yeah, maybe EVERY critic under the sun got together and decided to do (I don't think it's possible to write hit pieces by accident)? Or maybe, just maybe, we all need to toughen up a bit with this stuff?

    Personally, I think it's rather ridiculous and embarrassing, when writers choose go down the route of attacking critics/critique for being nasty. You were the one who made the decision to put your work out in the public square to be opined on. If the critic doesn't get to dictate how you write, why would you get to dictate how they respond?
    Deactivated due to staff trolling. Bye!

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