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Thread: Critiquing Other Critiques: Yes or No?

  1. #26
    Smilie Fanatic JAlpha's Avatar
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    I'll offer up two real examples where my lone, descending crits regarding small elements in the poems of two AW poets ended up being discussed and or criticized.

    In this first example I felt my contrary opinion had been of some benefit–food for thought if you will–to the poet and the other posters and readers.
    http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/...543#post500543


    In this second second example, I felt I was about to be eaten alive.
    http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=500942#post500942

    In face to face critique groups as well as on-line forums, contrary reactions to my critiques often come down to personality and writing style clashes; I accept that. But in the case of on-line forums, sometimes it does bother me when I come back hours or days later and find my opinion being criticized or made to be proven wrong, especially by people who have no knowledge of my history of commitment and level of success in supporting and helping other writers get recognition for their work.

    Here’s my honest and personal point of reference that fuels my negative reaction to having my critiques critiqued . . . I have judged several poetry and writing contests. I have also won a number of them too. And I've been an editor of an on-line literary journal as well. In those circumstances there was no necessity for me to have my opinion debated, the judgements and or spoils were mine to make and or take. In the case of contests with multiple judges, a scoring sheet is suffice to weigh the cumulative value of each judges opinion. In other words, when I’m in a judging or editing mode, the theme, tone, efficiency, level of craft etc. of a particular piece I am presented with either connect with me quickly or not.

    I have also participated in a number of university level writing workshops, were all the participants debate and or defend ad nauseam all the finer points of a particular piece for hours on end, week after week. In that sort of environment of face to face give and take, I actually love to debate, defend and blather on and on about the finer points of craft.

    But my preference of critiquing styles for on-line forums is to get in and get out, react to the piece quickly, exactly as I would if I were judging it for a contest or considering it for publication and then move on.

    Admittedly, it's a method that works better in face to face round robin styled critique groups, where each individual critter speaks in turn about their reaction to the poem, and not their opinion and or reaction to the previous critique. The writer is left to tally the opinions.

    Now, after several years of participating in several on-line and face to face crit groups, I've pretty much decided my crit style and emotional temperament are better suited for face to face groups, and lengthy academic workshops. Which is why I haven't offered up many crits recently on the AW forums.

    Great thread Poet

    IMHO the practice of critiquing crits is a fluid situation that evolves with the dynamics of the group at any given time. But it’s always a good idea to shine a light on the subject from time to time, if for no other reason than to encourage a healthy balance–a comfort zone–for the posters and the critters.
    Last edited by JAlpha; 11-11-2006 at 04:41 AM.
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  2. #27
    A Byron man too aspier's Avatar
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    A very good input Jalpha ... tilts the level of the thread to its height. Serious reflection re crit, its expected level, the nessaccity of it, etc. is an absolute must for members of a board that aspires to be a worth it one.

    Tnx for the post!

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  3. #28
    One of the most important people in the world kdnxdr's Avatar
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    I'm jealous JAlpha for those "face to face, lengthy adcademic workshops"!

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  4. #29
    Luftmensch Emeritus, A.D.D. Pat~'s Avatar
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    Which is why I haven't offered up many crits recently on the AW forums.
    This is to our loss. And I think this is why I prefer that critiques stick to critiquing the poem. Critiques can still disagree with one another, but potential critiquers won't be discouraged from participating when critiques stay focused on the poem.
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  5. #30
    Just happy to be here caseyquinn's Avatar
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    I wanted to give this thread a bump - As I read this thread you realize people critique in a WIDE range of ways. There is no wrong or right way, just the way YOU go about doing it. If you want to focus your crit on the poem, go for it. If you read a crit and feel you wanted to comment, go for it. Discussion is good and is not harmful.

    Let's all try not to be rude but understanding of the fact we all do things differently and not try to force our will on how others work. Putting down others or trying to be pushy only deters people from making critiques or comments on poems.

    Thanks -
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  6. #31
    Scars are poems too LimeyDawg's Avatar
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    I think that misses the point of the forum. The forum, and correct me if I'm wrong, is designed to help people improve their poetry. A writer posts here and hopes for input on his poem in an effort to work out the bugs, see what works and what doesn't, and generally get a feel for the poem's impact.
    What the poetry forum has not presented itself to be is a place for discussions on why person x dislikes person y's input on a piece of poetry. And nor should it. It's simple. People should feel as free to post comments on the poems as they do to post their work. I doubt anybody here wants to feel victimized because they didn't like a poem that the majority did. That's about as counterproductive as it can be.
    Have you checked the response rates to poems lately? How is it that so many can get less than ten responses? Probably because people dislike the poem, but don't feel comfortable here in saying so because it is not PC to do so. Why post if your opinion is going to get panned? But there's the sticking point: this isn't a place to discuss opinions about poems, it's a place to DISCUSS POEMS.
    I'm sure I'm the target of the "pushy" comment. Fine. But go back a few thousand posts and see the vitriole and spit that happens when people's opinions get challenged. It absolutely destroys the character of the forum. The point, again and again and again is to help poets with their poems, not try to sway somebody who gave up their time to give input because you disagree with what they say. It's damned disrespectful to do so, given that this is a forum for the discussion of poetry. Or, let's just allow the thing to denegrate into a pissing contest about opinions. That way, there will be plenty of posts per poem. Problem is, none of them will do a damned thing to improve the work.

  7. #32
    Just happy to be here caseyquinn's Avatar
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    But again, that is YOUR opinion and you have every right to it. So YOU should not critique other crits, you have every right not to, what you don't have the right to do is tell others what THEY should be doing. Let the poet who posted the poem see what they get value from. It isn't YOUR place to make that decision.
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  8. #33
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    I'm with Limey on this one. I can't see much difference between critting back and critting another critter. The biggest disincentive to critiquing is negative responses, and having received plenty both from OPs and other AW members, I don't see much difference between them.

  9. #34
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    I probably shouldn't step into this, but really, since I have been posting in the poetry crit forum, almost a year now, there has been a rule not to crit crits. I am not innocent, by any means, of doing this. But I try to stop myself, knowing how much damage it does to the person criting the poem. It is the person's opinion. And telling them their opinion is wrong is not only insulting and rude, it removes whatever value may be gained from that crit by the author of the poem. There may be one gem of truth in what they say that will help the author improve their poem. But if the author is told the crit is useless, which is again another opinion, they may not look for that one gem.

    Yes, sometimes I want to slap a critiquer for being obnoxiously rude. But that really isn't my place. I am not saying I haven't done it. I haven't done it often. That should be left to the Mods. What I try to do is give a crit to the person that has value and let them know every person's crit is just that person's opinion, to take what works for them and leave the rest. That way, I have not critiqued a crit, but still hopefully mitigated any damage a person may have done to a new person with a harsh comment. It is the kinder, gentler way. In my experience, it works.

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  10. #35
    Scars are poems too LimeyDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caseyquinn View Post
    But again, that is YOUR opinion and you have every right to it. So YOU should not critique other crits, you have every right not to, what you don't have the right to do is tell others what THEY should be doing. Let the poet who posted the poem see what they get value from. It isn't YOUR place to make that decision.
    Absolutely not. It isn't a free for all. There ought to be rules of decency that exist. Check out the effect of YOUR point of view. I used to be one of the most prolific critters here, good or bad. I've been absent for almost five months, more or less, exactly because of this. No loss to AW, but what of the poets? Surely in my 2800 posts I've helped at least one?

    And by YOUR definition of what is right or wrong here, I absolutely have the right to tell others what to do, because in your world there are no rules, no boundaries, except where they impact your very jaded view of what should and should not be. How about expending some of your time in giving decent crits (decent meaning extending beyond "I love this" or "the other critter is an idiot because he doesn't get the poem"). There's some value for you.

  11. #36
    Just happy to be here caseyquinn's Avatar
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    LD, you are too funny - hope you have a great new years man !
    Casey Quinn

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  12. #37
    Just happy to be here caseyquinn's Avatar
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    And just to clarify, I am only saying we should respect each other, if that gets you defensive man, not sure what to tell you. Discussions can happen without offending anyone when they are done with respect likewise a critique can be done without offending anyone when done with respect.

    When you fail to respect people the system breaks down, to me that is the only real rule in place. Seems like some times people have a bad day and rip into people and make rude comments which do not help anyone but the poster feel better about themselves.
    Casey Quinn

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  13. #38
    One of the most important people in the world kdnxdr's Avatar
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    glad this got bumped.......

    I've kinda "been away" from the forums, life got in the way and I was attempting to write my novel for NANO (which I did not complete on time as a novel but was so inspired to try. It ended up as a short story and I submitted it to Glimmer Train, my first submission for publication.

    I don't think there are really sides to the issue and I say that because in the past where crits and counter crits ensued and the "conversation" got deeper than just one or two posts regarding the poem.

    I do agree that when that happens it is not fair to the initial poem/poet who is asking for help and (I'm sure) affirmation as a poet. Often, we "test out" our poems on one another to see how they will fly. Revisions often taking place in a different place at another time. It's also rude and counterproductive to have one's critique, one's opinion, unvalued and will result in less critiques being offered.

    I'm one of those types that likes a friendly arguement, believing the art of argument is in process as much as any other art form. As well, critiquing is itself an art form and, I believe, that as our critiques are critiqued by our fellow writers, we stand to benefit as writers. Many famous people have made their careers as critics: food critics, art critics, movie critics, political critics, and as writing critics.

    I don't remember if we've done this before but I think it could serve a good purpose if someone does become caught up in critiquing the critiques and those involved want to continue the "discussion", they could have a place to go and do that. If anyone wants to follow that discussion or become involved with it, they go to that place. If no one is interested as to what those people have to say or the poet doesn't believe it's of any benefit, they simply don't involve themself with that particular discusion.

    Writing is writing and we all come at it from so many different angles. Some of us are very tender and need lots of nurturing and protection. Some of us don't mind losing a "paw" in the heat of a writing battle. For me, it's all good and you can simply pick and choose your arenas. I stay out of some because I'm offended. I stay out of some because they are way over my head. I stay out of others because I am a woos. That's what I love so much about AWforums, it's like a big garden that you can dart in and out of and linger at the flowers you enjoy the most.

    (Disclaimer: I don't consider myself a troll though I have been snapped at a couple of times. I just peek into places and if I'm not comfortable or don't feel accepted, I leave. I try to stick to where I'm most comfortable and rarely attempt to topple anyone's cart.)

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  14. #39
    What do I know? ajc's Avatar
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    I think saying no "absolute anything" seems counterproductive for any growth. Of course, the time should be spent on the poem, and the reason for posting is to help with the poem, but if Limeydawg posted a poem and Casey followed up by saying this poem is not good enough to wipe my gran's arse and it is not a poem but a bunch of ugly words thrown in a pretty way, but not even that pretty of a way. Then, I would exercise my free-will and say that this is just an opinion and that my gran would never wipe with anything but 2-ply.

    And for the record LD, AW poetry lab did miss out for your absence.

  15. #40
    What do I know? ajc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polenth View Post
    The poetry forum is prone to arguments. The sort that seem to come out of nowhere, leaving you wondering what you missed. It stopped me posting here for ages. Now that I do, I often feel isolated and ignored by the people fighting. The few times I've posted something for critique, I was more worried about an argument starting in the thread than anything else - it meant people would ignore my poem in favour of arguing with each other.

    There are times when it's best to walk away or send a PM instead of replying in the thread (or report it to the mods, if it's that bad). The environment the arguments create is unfriendly and it doesn't do the original poster any favours when you hijack a critique thread for a personal disagreement.
    Good points -- all. I think poets are passionate and thus maybe more sensitive (either that or a bunch of argumentative idiots!).

    I was just thinking about it and it seems okay to agree with someone's crit and say how super-duper brilliant that critter is, but never ever should it be the other way. I think we run into problems when we say "never ever". It is so important to remember that there are people behind the poems, and people behind the crits.

  16. #41
    that's di-CROW-ick Dichroic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kdnxdr View Post
    I'm one of those types that likes a friendly arguement, believing the art of argument is in process as much as any other art form.
    That is it, right there.

    That's exactly why I hope never to see a strictly enforced "don't crit the critter" policy here, because you could lose something very useful. Very often I find myself responding to other crits, not to complain or applaud them directly but because they help me see something in thepoem that I would have missed otherwise, like discussion in a poetry class. I won't say, "No, you got it wrong", but I might say "I agree with this part of so-and-so's criticism, but I disagree with this other part because...." and then get into what I hope will be useful discussion of the poem.

    I suppose I could rewrite the sections I agree and disagree with, but that seems silly and unwieldy, plus it seems more honest to respond directly to the post that made me think about something in a different way.

    For the record, LD, I've never said this in public before, but a comment of yours very nearly caused me to quit this forum on about my second poem here - it wasn't a response to the poem itself, but a brutal (in my opinion) comment on my response to another critter. Fortunately (or un-, depending on your viewpoint) my response to criticism is sometimes to become more stubborn. Not everyone responds that way or has skin toughened by decades on the Internet. It's something I've tried to keep in mind in my own crits ever since, especially to new people here. I've given my share of "this is pretty bad" crits, and even some "that's not a good way to respond" comments, but unless the person gets really obnoxious about it, I do try to temper them with some hope or gentleness.

    ETA: Also for the record, I was entirely in the wrong in the response I mentioned and it was completely appropriate for someone to correct me. (I quibbled with the perspective of a crit, when I should have either say said thank you and left it at that, or at most phrased my response as a question. ) But "That's not how we do things here; remember that someone has taken time to think about your work" would have been enough.
    Last edited by Dichroic; 01-06-2010 at 09:47 AM.
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  17. #42
    Petulantly Penitent Magdalen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dichroic View Post
    That is it, right there.

    That's exactly why I hope never to see a strictly enforced "don't crit the critter" policy here, because you could lose something very useful. Very often I find myself responding to other crits, not to complain or applaud them directly but because they help me see something in thepoem that I would have missed otherwise, like discussion in a poetry class. I won't say, "No, you got it wrong", but I might say "I agree with this part of so-and-so's criticism, but I disagree with this other part because...." and then get into what I hope will be useful discussion of the poem.
    Excellent point! I like that aspect of crits also. In the 2+ years I've been here I've tried to be even-handed or at least polite in my comments. Sure, I've failed miserably a few times and usually ended up editing the worst ones and apologizing. Learning to take and give criticism is not easy, but I think it is worth the time spent, on both ends.
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  18. #43
    One of the most important people in the world kdnxdr's Avatar
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    Hey, L.D.,

    Just want you to know that I've got some good perspective adjustments from some of your crits and have enjoyed reading your work.

    kid

    * But, I'm not taking sides or anything......

    ** There are some really great poets and crits that aren't on the boards any longer because they liked to deviate from the subject and get off into tangents.....and I miss them alot, they always took things beyond the "norm".
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  19. #44
    One of the most important people in the world kdnxdr's Avatar
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    Another juicy thread to chew on if your looking for a poetic snack!

    I hope I'm not the only one that really enjoys reading back over old threads, enjoying all the great comments.

    This is definately another thread that helps us see the topic of critiques from a wide vaiety of different perspectives. Enjoy!!
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  20. #45
    Comic guy Bartholomew's Avatar
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    How is a critic going to get better if no one ever tells them what they're doing wrong?

  21. #46
    Has a few recurring issues kborsden's Avatar
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    I think it should be possible to critique in response to another critique whether in agreement or not without bringing the other critters opinions under fire. If a crit is opinion stated as fact, then another critter should be free, in terms of even-mindedness, to reiterate that 'fact' as what it is or counter it with as equally valid an opinion. It defeats the purpose of a critique to blow it out of the water - when a critique is substantiated on pure technical regulation as according to form or actual existing style, but sometimes a critique can be heavily flawed on those same points and to not mention that is detrimental to the OP, yet even then an amount of respect is required. I have had colourful exchanges with fellow poets, and only those I respect and know will appreciate the discussion, and repped or PM thanks/apology where required depending on the resulting scenario.

    I can agree with Mark about spite and venom with regards to certain critiques and have had my fair share - none so common as when I offer a criqtique which highlights negative or less than excellent points of a poem that has a thread full of gold star comments and in the past found myself rather intimidated by such scenarios. However, I'd also like to think that the forum as well as it's members have moved on and a mutual understanding of what is acceptable behaviour and what is not has become the unwritten rule. There are moments, I'll admit, when the opposite appears to be true - but in my experience, such matters regularly seem to fix themselves and should anyone feel particularly singled-out or systematically attacked, that's what the mods are for.
    Last edited by kborsden; 07-22-2011 at 03:11 PM.
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  22. #47
    Engineer Sonneteer Norman D Gutter's Avatar
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    The problems I see with critiquing critiques in a public forum are:

    1) It takes the focus off the poem posted. That should be our goal in a thread: to help improve the poem posted, and secondarily to help the poet in his overall development. Critiquing critiques takes the emphasis off this.

    2) I see critiques as a precious donation of time by the critter. What critter wants to come back to critique if his critiques are going to be found at fault. He'll just go elsewhere. So critiquing critiques will, IMnsHO, reduce the number of good critiques given. It's counter-productive.

    That's not to say all critiques are valuable, or even good. But I think, rather than commenting on a previous critique, counteract it by simply writing a better critique.

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    Last edited by Norman D Gutter; 10-16-2012 at 05:16 PM. Reason: found a typo
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  23. #48
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    I believe the idea behind "critting the critter" is often misdirected. What we should be discussing instead is whether it is okay to "crit the crit." It's not about the people, but the poem. Nor does it do to swing a slogan about carelessly or use it like a baseball bat against the skull of forum participants.

    Poems and poets alike can benefit greatly from not just monologue, but discussion. A reflexive derailing of discussion by oversensitive critics under the slogan "don't crit the critter" can be manifested in an extremely aggressive manner and be a deeply chilling slap in the face to a poet. It will do much more to discourage his participation and even appearance on these forums than anything I can think of. What's more, it can immediately shut down discussion with everyone in a thread (and perhaps many threads to come) instead of just between two people. It can be the proverbial turd in the punchbowl.

    I have seen fertile and interesting discussion destroyed by hissy fits about "critting the critter" that were completely out of tone with the discussion. If the poet has thin skin, it is to be expected. After all, we may be, though unintentionally, lynching and setting fire to his carefully nurtured, tenderly-loved baby before his very eyes. If the critic has such excessively thin skin, he should find another way to spend his time.

    At no time should the attempt at discussion be quashed, least of all by the critics, and even less so with venom or self-righteousness.

    The question is, must a thread be only a place to file our icy monologues at great remove, or can we behave like adults and talk to each other?

    Most people expect to behave as and be treated as adults. Creating an environment that infantilizes the exchanges between people by setting discussion into robotic rules is something many of us can get everywhere, any day -- at work, for instance. Perhaps we can hardly escape it. We certainly don't need to come here to find some more of it.

    An environment that casts a baleful eye upon open, respectful discussion is counterproductive, encouraging the worst in critics while discouraging the poet and impeding both the learning process and any possibility of the feeling of community which good forums need to survive.
    Last edited by Blarg; 07-22-2011 at 11:36 PM.

  24. #49
    One of the most important people in the world kdnxdr's Avatar
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    Writing, regardless of genre, type, skill, education, on&on.....is an activity that is entrenched in the world of production, critique, rewrite, production, critique. As well, critique is an art unto itself that is born out of the world of writing and takes it's own time to mature and reach a level of sophistication where a standard is set. Until anyone reaches the standard of any activity, particularly art...really anything.....it is simply a world of 'trial and error', emulation, and practice, practice, practice....the age of perfection never comes. But, as we acknowledge that we are a giant crowd of many levels, all pursuing the standard in our chosen medium of expressing ourself, we learn to encourage, question, affirm, confront, applaude and analyze and, hopefully, we do it with mutual respect and open-mindedness with the recognition that we are each individuals with individual experiences.

    Doe the poem exist that has no audience? Is the poem dependent on the audience? Is the audience lost without the poem? Does the audience support the poem's existence?

    Isn't living life just one big poem and its critique?
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  25. #50
    thewordmaster flea23's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kdnxdr View Post
    As well, critique is an art unto itself that is born out of the world of writing and takes it's own time to mature and reach a level of sophistication where a standard is set. Until anyone reaches the standard of any activity, particularly art...really anything.....it is simply a world of 'trial and error', emulation, and practice, practice, practice....the age of perfection never comes.
    I think discussion of crits should be in a personal setting. Perhaps it might be better if the crits were not shown to the public eye - just the author. That way, the author benefits. We all know what happened during the civil War. Hundreds of thousands of people died - because of two opinions that clashed.

    Personal preening should take a back seat to the issue at hand.

    On another note: It is my firm belief that when we crit a poem, novel, short story, or whatever - we should encourage the author, not try to make them quit trying.
    Last edited by flea23; 08-02-2011 at 06:46 AM.
    from childhood's hour I have not been
    As others were
    I have not seen As others saw.
    I could not bring
    My passions from a common spring
    (from Alone - Edgar Allan Poe)

    My treatise on Writer's Block
    http://jfmiller.com/wordmaster/

    The complete Adventures of the flea, fly, Floo
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00FL1HQ32

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