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How To Take Critique (IMO) (1 Viewer)

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TheMightyAz

Mentor
The first thing you must establish is where you sit on the hierarchy of the site. Yes, they have them. I can say with absolutely honesty, 'I know how good I am'. How would you as a reader construe that sentence though? It's neither saying 'I'm the best' or 'I'm the worse', it's simply stating, within the structure of the hierarchy, I know my position. This is, in my opinion, one of the most important factors when considering critique.

You simply have to recognise those who are more competent than you and those who are less competent than you. It's a hard truth to swallow for a lot of people. Modestly is a welcome trait and so considering yourself 'less capable' than another writer is quite easy, but the reverse is often painful to acknowledge. You have to though. Without understand were you sit on that hierarchy, you can so easily be lead astray by those who may not be quite as competent as you.

But that's not to say that someone less competent than you can't give great advise. There are many layers to writing, and whilst you may be more competent 'overall', there may be some things the less competent writer is ahead of you on. That is also very important to recognise, if only to stop you becoming conceited. Everyone has something of worth to contribute but more advanced and competent writers have more to contribute.

This brings me to Style/Voice. So, you've established were you are in that hierarchy: 'You know how good you are'. But what about personal goals and targets for your style? How does that figure into the equation? This is where the more competent writers can help you more then the less competent writers. Because they've already been through the process and are closer to their own goals, they can recognise what it is you're trying to accomplish and adjust their critique accordingly.

You may be using long sentences while developing that voice. You may be deliberately adding in fragments to develop that voice. You may be using too many adjectives to develop that voice etc. A writer who isn't as competent as you (or hasn't immediately recognised it as a style choice) would likely advise you to cut all the above. There's this 'need to critique' on every site I've ever been on. As a side note, that's also something to recognise when taking critique.

In general terms: If a critique leads you away from your style goals, treat it with care. If a critique recognises your style goals and critiques in line with that goal, eat that critique up!

1/ Know where you sit in the hierarchy.
2/ Don't dismiss any critique off hand simply because the person critiquing isn't quite as competent as yourself
3/ Always be aware of whether a critique is leading you away from your style goals or enhancing your style choice.

And ALWAYS LIKE AND THANK people regardless.
 
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Matchu

Senior Member
Even as we now speak & read the great @AZ template is crafted in our writer mines.

Great, wow, geez
Thanks

Waht a starie 10/10
Thanks

Greetings Dear AZ I know we are the same age and bearing and agree on most issues and must again agree how you are marvellous craft-master, a smith of literary excellence beyond parallel in our long lifetimes...I was only thinking the other day about your other wonderful story.
Thank you I am touched by your equally superb grasp of reality, we must have lunch but you are in a n other country, mmmh, mmh, anything else nice to say about me? Like, Thanks, LoL

Too many adjectives guvnor
...
Guv
...
Guvnor?
...
Oi, adjectives!
...

@AZ you were funny again like Terry Pratchitt.
Thanks mummy I will keep writing, you keep dancing Thanks, Like

Adjectives!
...

In literature one is struggling to encapsulate voice, be it voice or voice, or a voice in void or vogue in time or place of voice. Voice that is vocal.
Yes, yes I quite agree your highness, I said exactly the same thing about my voice. Thanks, Like, LOL

...

xx
 

Matchu

Senior Member
Don't put a quote around something I didn't say tho...I'm not patronising...I'd be fed up if I was patronising. If it comes across patronising I'm sorry and I apologise. I liked your post, I was inspired by your post, I'm teasing a little bit, but you're big enough to shrug me aside. Maybe it's a commentary on all crit threads and 'writer reaction.'

Soz
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Don't put a quote around something I didn't say tho...I'm not patronising...I'd be fed up if I was patronising. If it comes across patronising I'm sorry and I apologise. I liked your post, I was inspired by your post, I'm teasing a little bit, but you're big enough to shrug me aside.

Soz

Oh, in that case I apologise too! I just find it difficult to understand some of your posts.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
1/ Know where you sit in the hierarchy.
I love you, Az, but I feel like this is far too big in your thought process. It's also dangerous in some situations to your creative progress.

Example:

When I started out on my first writing forum looking for help and knowing that I was a newbie there was a member whose name was a variant on "Mama" (how warm and comforting) and in any critique would very persuasively say she was a mentor, she had mentored many writers, and that she would be happy to mentor the person she was giving a critique to. So the next time I wrote a story I sent it to her as invited...after all, she was at the top of the site hierarchy. The whole site seemed to agree on this point.

She shredded what I had written, gave me very little critique back, and told me I should find something to do other than writing. Her best advice, she said, was to cease trying to be a writer.

This is why you need to be super careful with this "they're better than me" thinking. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't, but don't give them power over your efforts.
2/ Don't dismiss any critique off hand simply because the person critiquing isn't quite as competent as yourself
Agree. Be thankful that someone read your work and took the time to comment. There is no rule anywhere forcing you to act on their input.
3/ Always be aware of whether a critique is leading you away from your style goals or enhancing your style choice.
Style is great. Style isn't everything. Story is everything. Tell the story. If input is helpful use it, if not, don't.
And ALWAYS LIKE AND THANK people regardless.
Politeness and appreciation will get your stories critiqued again. At least by me...when I get to critique anything. LOL
 

Matchu

Senior Member
I suppose I approach things at a tangent I find easiest. I don't have your skill to debate and discuss the craft at length - without going 'straight to lit' - from my perspective. It gets me in bother sometimes.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I love you, Az, but I feel like this is far too big in your thought process. It's also dangerous in some situations to your creative progress.

Example:

When I started out on my first writing forum looking for help and knowing that I was a newbie there was a member whose name was a variant on "Mama" (how warm and comforting) and in any critique would very persuasively say she was a mentor, she had mentored many writers, and that she would be happy to mentor the person she was giving a critique to. So the next time I wrote a story I sent it to her as invited...after all, she was at the top of the site hierarchy. The whole site seemed to agree on this point.

She shredded what I had written, gave me very little critique back, and told me I should find something to do other than writing. Her best advice, she said, was to cease trying to be a writer.

This is why you need to be super careful with this "they're better than me" thinking. Maybe they are, maybe they aren't, but don't give them power over your efforts.

Agree. Be thankful that someone read your work and took the time to comment. There is no rule anywhere forcing you to act on their input.

Style is great. Style isn't everything. Story is everything. Tell the story. If input is helpful use it, if not, don't.

Politeness and appreciation will get your stories critiqued again. At least by me...when I get to critique anything. LOL

If I wasn't philosophical and felt some actual negativity from recognising someone is better than me, then yeah, I agree. But that's not the case and need not be the case for others. Recognising you are 'less than' isn't a negative, it's a positive. That 'better' writing will one day be 'your equal'. It's not a static consideration, it's an ever moving scale. I have no problem at all recognising someone is better than me. There's no negative attached to that statement at all. It's just a reality. :)
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I suppose I approach things at a tangent I find easiest. I don't have your skill to debate and discuss the craft at length - without going 'straight to lit' - from my perspective. It gets me in bother sometimes.

I get you man. I have two modes too and sometimes can't bring myself to put the lit' hat on. It's hard enough bringing it to my writing, let alone bringing it to forum posts. I admire people who can do that though. They've clearly got an inherent gift.
 

JBF

Staff member
Global Moderator
When I started out on my first writing forum looking for help and knowing that I was a newbie there was a member whose name was a variant on "Mama" (how warm and comforting) and in any critique would very persuasively say she was a mentor, she had mentored many writers, and that she would be happy to mentor the person she was giving a critique to. So the next time I wrote a story I sent it to her as invited...after all, she was at the top of the site hierarchy. The whole site seemed to agree on this point.

Having lurked some on WF in years gone... I feel a great disturbance in the force.
 

Matchu

Senior Member
I dunno about better and worse. I tell you tho, if you wrote a 2000 about trawlermen heading to sea in 1950s I'd pay you money for it, AZ.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
If I wasn't philosophical and felt some actual negativity from recognising someone is better than me, then yeah, I agree. But that's not the case and need not be the case for others.
But this is advice given to others and in some ways is an unexploded bomb.

Some people are 'really good' and some people are great at dressing up BS as being 'really good'. Sure you want to get your input from the most competent you can find just be careful.
 

Matchu

Senior Member
Who hasn't stared at the "Editor's Poem" on the front page of the literary magazine for hour upon hour? 'That is crap, now that is crap. Crap. My crap is better than his crap, and he posts me those damned personalised e-mails using my first name AND when I send HIM a personalised e-mail he says go use submittable, fffff.'
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
There's a stark difference between criticize and critique, I strive to give the latter. How one takes critique depends on how it's delivered.

Go to YouTube and search for and listen to 'Mr. Tanner by Harry Chapin' - excellent example of a horrible critique and it's affect on the artist.

The critique doesn't have anything to do with hierarchy, instead it has everything to do with the skill of the reviewer. A critique is not and should not be about tearing down an author, instead it's about helping them get better at the craft. When I tutor a student in martial arts, I first praise what they're doing well, then pick the low hanging fruit to correct. In that way, the student is encouraged and will keep training, and the next time I help them their technique will have improved and I'll correct other aspects.

No one starts climbing from the top of the stairs. The task of a mentor is to help them climb one step at a time.
 

Crooked Bird

Senior Member
When you first said hierarchy, I heard social hierarchy. But what it really is is actual quality of writing, right?

That's where it can go wrong, is in mistaking social standing for talent. Some people are good at making themselves seem more than they are. I have no idea about this Mama person, but all the stuff about being a mentor is familiar to me from other places, and a lot of talk about one's status can serve to obscure one's actual abilities. I'd take a shredding from someone who writes amazingly, if it's a substantive shredding. (If it's just a contentless or nitpicky put-down, I'd go "Wow, sometimes even the wildly talented are really insecure.") But if someone's respected by others on a social level but I personally see big flaws in their actual work, not so much.

I mean that's where it is, right? If someone, a) knows what they're doing and b) knows what they're doing in the actual arena you're trying to improve in, that's who to listen to. If you know you know more than someone, you listen, but use a pinch of salt. Always always thank them for their crit, but use discernment in taking it to heart.

(Oh and Matchu to your last comment, I've never literally done that but boy do I know what you mean.)
 

Ibb

Senior Member
I think the only appropriate way to handle critique is to politely say thank you while secretly harboring resentment and thoughts of revenge against your foe. Thereafter you must do everything within your power to discover their whereabouts that you might exact revenge at a later date courtesy a good old fashioned bludgeoning via perusal of your favorite Russian classic.
 
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