Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

Levels of critique - do others see it this way? (1 Viewer)

Status
Not open for further replies.

Crooked Bird

Senior Member
So I'm a newbie and all, and that's why I feel like this is my one chance to say this. Never said it at my old forum because I felt like certain people would know I was talking about them! And I don't know what y'all's traditions are about critiques, I haven't jumped in yet, I hope to do that maybe this weekend. But please enlighten me if I'm saying A) what you've all always said already, B) something contradictory to everyone's thinking or C) something that sort of fits your traditions but not quite.

I've often wanted to ask people for a particular level of critique. You know, like the difference between a developmental edit (big structural stuff, plot & character & POV changes, adding & removing scenes etc) and a line edit (syntax, flow, continuity, detail). What I found in my old forum was that a line-by-line critique or LBL (putting inline comments into the person's writing in a quote box) was considered the best critique, but what I found is that it lends itself to becoming the equivalent of a line edit--just right for a third draft you're trying to polish, not right at all for a second draft where you are seriously wondering "But does this work?" Sometimes I wanted people to engage with the story, not just comment on individual phrases of the prose or whether small details were realistic. I wanted to know whether it had made them feel the way I wanted the reader to feel, and if not, to get some wisdom from them on where I might have played my cards wrong.

I really think of fiction writing on two levels. The deep level isn't the prose at all, it's the dynamics between the characters, the dilemmas they face, the choices they make, the things they say & do. The stuff that would translate directly to a movie or play while the prose wouldn't. And then there's the prose itself, that's the other level. I don't think that needs as much explaining, I think that's the level people are more used to. I also think of these levels as the root level and the branches/leaves level.

Maybe you could call it a story critique and a prose critique, to be simple. And the thing about a story critique--for me anyway--is that if you have a problem with my scene on a story level and I believe you're right, I will rewrite that scene from the ground up. Several times till I get it right. That's why I wish people wouldn't give me prose critiques on a scene that needs a story critique--it's like sanding & polishing something that's probably going to have half of it chainsawed away tomorrow.

Do these ideas make sense to people? Does anyone feel the same way? Is this something you're already doing, or a concept you'd be interested in adding to the lexicon by any chance?
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
This makes absolute sense to me. I'll often state in the OP of a posted story what I'd like from a critique in general. I'll sometimes edit that eventually and ask another set of questions. My question used to be all about whether a paragraph worked, whether the character worked, whether the mood was right etc. But my focus is on style and voice right now so I tend to ask about that.

If I have a paragraph I want examining, I'll post it on this section usually. I'll probably do the same when I move back to considering pacing, mood and all that jazz. Unless it's a much larger section. Then I'll edit my posted story in the writers workshop section.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
That makes complete sense, and is why we should be specific of what we are looking for when we ask for a critique.

Look for plot holes and unnecessary scenes.
Are the main and auxiliary characters defined adequately? Do they each have a unique voice?
Are the descriptions vivid?
Beyond that - and after the above is handled, line editing etc.

Start with the big chunks and work your way to tighter grains.
 

LCLee

Financial Supporter
If I have a paragraph I want examining, I'll post it on this section usually. I'll probably do the same when I move back to considering pacing, mood and all that jazz. Unless it's a much larger section. Then I'll edit my posted story in the writers workshop section.

I try to respond to the OP's request, but I like to do the line per line it makes me more aware of my own mistakes.
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
I agree, and it's always handy when people say what they're looking for. That being said, I confess I find it hard to look past line-edit items like grammar and flow so I like to have those sorted before I engage with the story, and tend somewhat to default to those points in the first instance. In fact, if they're not sorted, I struggle to engage with it for that exact reason...
 

Crooked Bird

Senior Member
Sweet! Thanks for responding and I'm glad you all totally get it! Looking forward to getting into the critiques here. & I'll definitely read the sticky. :)

I try to respond to the OP's request, but I like to do the line per line it makes me more aware of my own mistakes.

Yeah, & I don't have a problem with line by line per se--it's possible to give a perfectly good story critique in LBL if you're actually trying to, I just find that if people aren't aware of the distinction LBL tends to make them revert to a prose critique. One thing I do really like in LBL can be those reader reaction moments, like "she did what??" You don't get those in a paragraph critique. I actually most often do both LBL and then a paragraph at the end where I pull back and do big-picture, though it depends.

I agree, and it's always handy when people say what they're looking for. That being said, I confess I find it hard to look past line-edit items like grammar and flow so I like to have those sorted before I engage with the story, and tend somewhat to default to those points in the first instance. In fact, if they're not sorted, I struggle to engage with it for that exact reason...

Yeah, everyone's got different tolerance levels. I just sent my book to my very first "alpha reader" who is sure she can look past that kind of thing; hopefully that's true! But definitely plenty of people can't.
 

bazz cargo

Retired Supervisor
This has that hoary old answer, it depends. It mostly depends on where the writer is in the creative process. The chances of a miscommunication are always with us but any alternative eyeball that gives a return is worthy of note.
Good luck
BC
So I'm a newbie and all, and that's why I feel like this is my one chance to say this. Never said it at my old forum because I felt like certain people would know I was talking about them! And I don't know what y'all's traditions are about critiques, I haven't jumped in yet, I hope to do that maybe this weekend. But please enlighten me if I'm saying A) what you've all always said already, B) something contradictory to everyone's thinking or C) something that sort of fits your traditions but not quite.

I've often wanted to ask people for a particular level of critique. You know, like the difference between a developmental edit (big structural stuff, plot & character & POV changes, adding & removing scenes etc) and a line edit (syntax, flow, continuity, detail). What I found in my old forum was that a line-by-line critique or LBL (putting inline comments into the person's writing in a quote box) was considered the best critique, but what I found is that it lends itself to becoming the equivalent of a line edit--just right for a third draft you're trying to polish, not right at all for a second draft where you are seriously wondering "But does this work?" Sometimes I wanted people to engage with the story, not just comment on individual phrases of the prose or whether small details were realistic. I wanted to know whether it had made them feel the way I wanted the reader to feel, and if not, to get some wisdom from them on where I might have played my cards wrong.

I really think of fiction writing on two levels. The deep level isn't the prose at all, it's the dynamics between the characters, the dilemmas they face, the choices they make, the things they say & do. The stuff that would translate directly to a movie or play while the prose wouldn't. And then there's the prose itself, that's the other level. I don't think that needs as much explaining, I think that's the level people are more used to. I also think of these levels as the root level and the branches/leaves level.

Maybe you could call it a story critique and a prose critique, to be simple. And the thing about a story critique--for me anyway--is that if you have a problem with my scene on a story level and I believe you're right, I will rewrite that scene from the ground up. Several times till I get it right. That's why I wish people wouldn't give me prose critiques on a scene that needs a story critique--it's like sanding & polishing something that's probably going to have half of it chainsawed away tomorrow.

Do these ideas make sense to people? Does anyone feel the same way? Is this something you're already doing, or a concept you'd be interested in adding to the lexicon by any chance?
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top