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What don't you like to see in a critique? (2 Viewers)

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TheManx

Senior Member
If someone takes the time to read and comment, that's cool. If I disagree with something, I'll say so -- but I try really hard to step back and consider all criticism. Even banal criticisms can apply -- or things that seem proscriptive on the surface. I'm not going to try to say what I don't like to see ahead of time -- it ALL depends on context. Just put it on the table -- it's up to the writer to take it or leave it.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
Sugarcoating. I don't like compliments that sound like they are only included to avoid the critique being too negative. "I really like your font choice! But... [paragraph unloading on how terrible it is]". If it's crap, tell me it's crap, I don't need 'encouraged'.

This sometimes also goes the other way. People feel like they can't just say they *like* something, because it's a *critique* so they end up manufacturing areas to *improve* so they don't sound like ass kissers and these often become pedantic waffle. Boy, if you like my ass then kiss it.
 

Terra

Senior Member
I can tell sugarcoating when I'm given it, and don't like it either. I take writing seriously, regardless of being on the upswing of the learning curve. How the hell am I supposed to become a better writer with fluffy critiques? In saying that though, I am still developing the thick skin that writers need to have, so sometimes it takes a day or two or ten to process through a 'harsh' critique. I can take it, just need the time is all.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
My "thick skin" towards receiving criticism took some time to develop but now I accept all criticism that I can get. It's a good writer trait to take criticism. It's difficult to improve if the person lies when giving the critique. I think that sounds like new advice to me because I have never heard what sugarcoating was until now.

I also think encouragement is important. There are extremely rare cases where I am guilty of the sin of sugarcoating ( a lot of people want to write a novel for instance). For example if the person needs extra help in grammar such as a person who is not a native of the English language. I can sugarcoat what I say because the person has an emotional disability. Lately I've seen the damage this has done and I've been honest to make sure they know what they need to do. I try to give honest comments and keep my tone in check when dealing with people who are emotionally disabled. If not being honest I do give my thoughts and reader reaction to the story when working with such a person who needs a lot of help (if possible what parts I did not like and which I did). However, they don't have a thick skin yet. It's something they gradually have to accept by themselves. But I gave them my most honest feedback to them the last time I reviewed their work which improved. I plan on helping them.

What I feel or my response concerning the plot's action as how it pleased me as a reader. That is something I try to give to every writer regardless of how well they write. But lying in a critique is something I did because I believed in encouragement to a certain degree in the rarest of cases. But a person can waste years lying and the writer never improves. It happened to me even when I had some bad people I knew over the internet. We had a writer's group many years ago. They would never tell me what was wrong with my writing, but I would do my best to read their work and give my feedback. I was being sugarcoated in that case.

So yes honesty is valued when reading a critique someone wrote. At least I value it now more. Most writers want honesty. Agreed.
 
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TL Murphy

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
I also don't like sugar coating and try not to give false praise. But you can usually find something good to say about a piece of writing. If you can't find anything good to say, is there really any point in offering critique?

What I don't like to see is critics who insist on a particular change. I like to think that an author is free to concider a suggestion and accept it or dismiss it and I think it's disrespectful when a critic digs their heels in if their advice isn't followed. Or they say something like "well, it's your poem, but...". I don't like to see that.
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
What don't you like to see in a critique? Help our critiques improve.

Ooh, good question. Hmm ... what I do like to see is clarity, respect, honesty, umm ... that's about it, so anything that's not those is, I guess, the answer. Funny though. TL and TGH and others, you mention sugar-coating responses. I actually don't mind that. Sugar-coating and honesty are not mutually exclusive, but by sugar-coating I mean basic politeness rather than simply saying everything's amazing when it clearly isn't. That's sugar all the way through which is no use to anyone. And it's always nice when someone clearly "gets" the text and sees my vision and what I'm trying to do, but of course that won't happen every time. Sometimes I miscommunicate it; sometimes it's just not a natural fit. Most of the time I'm just thrilled when anyone reads my writing at all.
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
If you can't find anything good to say, is there really any point in offering critique?

I almost feel this warrants its own thread. Is there any point? On one hand, you could argue that that's when critique is most needed. On the other, if you can see that nothing you say will generate any sort of improvement then there is perhaps little point. I'd say much depends on the writer, and what the critiquer knows of them.
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
As someone said earlier, people who are writing a crit. so feel they must find something, or create something, to be critical of.

People who give a reasonable short crit., and then go off into a long winded tangent on something that interests them but has no real relation to the piece they are supposed to be critiquing. It so often leads to a discussion/argument that is not useful to anyone.
 

clark

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
How would you react to this: "You offer a headnote explaining that English is not your first language, then post a poem so full of basic errors in English structure and vocabulary that it cannot be understood, on any level. Poetry is the most intense, most compressed, most profound use of language . . .in ANY language. You are ambitious in the extreme to be writing poetry in English. The experience will be so much more meaningful when you understand the language better. Good luck!"

I wrote that comment many years ago . . .and was roundly criticized in a PM by an accomplished poet. She said it was so "brutally frank" that the writer would be "devastated". She said native speakers had an obligation to support and encourage. My comment was the exact opposite.

The poet thanked me.
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
I coat all my critiques with a thick, shiny sugary glaze. Because if you feel good, I feel good — and that’s all that matters.

All that matters to you maybe, some people are not so confident that they have reached the zenith of their ability and genuinely want to get better at what they are doing, not read praise. I will admit that on the odd occasion that I can be of help it does feel good, and yes, there is a place for saying where you see them on the right track, but a 'shiny sugary glaze' ? That does not make me feel good.
 

TheManx

Senior Member
All that matters to you maybe, some people are not so confident that they have reached the zenith of their ability and genuinely want to get better at what they are doing, not read praise. I will admit that on the odd occasion that I can be of help it does feel good, and yes, there is a place for saying where you see them on the right track, but a 'shiny sugary glaze' ? That does not make me feel good.


Olly, I was joking based on everyone's aversion to sugar coating...
 

Pamelyn Casto

WF Veterans
I mainly dislike a sense of know-it-all-ness in a critique. I dislike that sense of "I'm an expert writer and you're not." I can take tough criticism, and even welcome it when it helps me improve my work. But that overly confident, overly arrogant critique type is irritating. One critique I got said I should give up writing and look into a career of pulling staples out of the administration building's ceiling, work more suited to my skills. That critique told me nothing about how to improve the piece I'd offered for critique. It was clearly a case of someone wanting to show off how bold he was in his hard-hitting style. I was far from impressed. I ignored him as did most people in the group and he finally went away. I read critiques done for others so I can learn a person's critiquing style. Critiquing is an art and not all of us are artists so a bit of humility can't hurt. I think we need to remember that as we work on someone else's writing. Critiquers can be as fallible as writers, and sometimes wrong. Then other times they can be right on the mark.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
As someone said earlier, people who are writing a crit. so feel they must find something, or create something, to be critical of.

People who give a reasonable short crit., and then go off into a long winded tangent on something that interests them but has no real relation to the piece they are supposed to be critiquing. It so often leads to a discussion/argument that is not useful to anyone.

Definitely, but that's only because people confuse the colloquial use of 'criticism' (focusing predominantly or sometimes exclusively on negatives) with the term as it applies to 'critique' (which is only about evaluation)

Criticism in an academic sense can be, and occasional is, entirely positive or negative depending on relative existence and importance of faults and merits. For instance, it's possible for an art critic to criticize the Mona Lisa in an entirely adequate way and not find anything negative to say because, in their opinion, it's that good. It's not required to find fault with something just because it's a critique and believing it is required lends itself to insincere feedback.

The only requirement for a critique is that it's analytical and provides an honest assessment. If an analytical and honest assessment finds that the work in question is exemplary with no fault worth mentioning, that critique is much better than a supposedly 'balanced' version that expends wordcount on the most pedantic of faults just to meet the grade of what we think 'criticism' means.
 

Sir-KP

Senior Member
1. Blind praise or disapproval. "Suck!" doesn't help. I need to know why.


2. Following point 1, saying a reason which idea is too broad or perhaps even too obvious that we are already aware of in the first place.

Example: "It's not good because the character's personality isn't enough."

Yeah, ok, such as what? Which scene the problem glares the most? Narrow it down, then suggest a concrete idea to tackle it.

However, if you can't speak out your reason because you don't understand it yourself, then just kindly lay it out how you feel it, while humbly admit that you don't really understand the problem either. It never hurts to do so and the one receiving the feedback would tolerate most of the time.


3. Underestimating remark.

Example: "It's not that hard!" "How is that so difficult to do?!"

Far too often used by amateurs or somebody who's completely clueless on the thing they're criticizing about, usually put at the end of their feedback.

Not only this sounds arrogant, but you will soon reveal yourself how stupid you are on the subject.

This may be more justified if you're an experienced person, but still make you seem like an @ss regardless. So please don't use this unnecessarily.


At least these 3 points are what I practice, in anything.

I see a lot of people are very enthusiastic to criticize something by being as nasty and brutal as possible. The problem is that doesn't make anything better than popping an air-filled garbage bag. Loud only, brings nothing but heart attack.
 
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Tettsuo

WF Veterans
What don't you like to see in a critique? Help our critiques improve.
- Advice that's more related to the critics' personal style preference than the writer's work that's being reviewed.
- Vague points that aren't exactly related to the work (this is especially troublesome when it comes from other writers)
- Critics that rehash those writing advices that are nonsense. Sure, too many adverbs is not good, but no adverbs at all? Please, stop.
 

EternalGreen

Senior Member
Interjections like "really?", "seriously?".

Imperatives like "change that, change this".

Edits that change the meaning of my sentences.

Edits that make the text wordier.
 
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