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BlackMagic528
02-13-2010, 09:24 AM
I have - in other places - heard . . . what are best described as horror stories about the SYW section of this place, which is why I haven't added anything to it. :) But, in the spirit of fairness, I will ask here on the site: Is it really the mess I've heard it is (basically a contest to see who can be the most hateful, rude, and obnoxious person to comment on a submission)?

Furthermore, what's the accepted practice around here if one wants to put up an out-of-context scene from the middle of a future story for the purpose of making sure the idea is understandably written?

As usual and always, thanks in advance. :)

Kyle

Scoates
02-13-2010, 09:43 AM
From my experience, you may get some rude responses, but more likely it will just be blunt honesty. To tell the truth, it's more helpful to get torn apart than complimented.

Clair Dickson
02-13-2010, 10:14 AM
If you ask me what I think of your writing, I'm not going to pretend it's fantastic if it's not. I'll tell you if the characters seem flat, the writing is full of errors, and the scene is confusing.

Some people would think this is me being rude. If there are other comments also saying such things, it may be percieved that we are competing to see who can be the nastiest.

But some people confuse honesty-- without sugar coating and false praise-- to be rude. Some people come to SYW looking only to be told how simply fabulous their writing is. I imagine some think that an agent will happen by and simply HAVE to sign the author immediate. To say anything other than what these authors are looking for is construed as rude, mean, and nasty.

If you want HONEST feedback to help you IMPROVE your writing, then SYW has some of the most helpful critiques I've ever seen. They are not commenting to make friends-- only better writers. They are also not getting any joy out of crushing people's spirits. If that was the case, why would they put so much effort into the critiques rather than just attacking the poster with vitriol and sweeping comments? Take a look at SYW and you'll see the line-by-line edits where people have taken great pains and lots of time to offer feedback. It's not like a commenter can even see the OP run off and cry, so I don't see the benefit.

Similarly, some of my students think I'm the meanest teacher in the whole school. Why? Because I track them down when the sneak out of class and bring them back. How horrible that I want them to not get marked absent or fall behind in their work! What a mean and nasty teacher I must be!

I have posted several things in SYW and greedily ate up all the criticisms. I WANT so badly to be a better writer that I wrapped myself tightly and prepared for that inevitable sting of critism-- because without it I can't improve. So, where do the people who are happy with SYW hang out? Certainly not other forums to complain. Quite a few of them actually hang out in the announcements thread celebrating their publications...

Yeshanu
02-13-2010, 10:22 AM
I agree with Scoates. It sounds like the folks who may have made those remarks weren't looking for real criticism, but encouragement.

The comments I've gotten in SYW have been helpful to me, but then, I was putting my work up there to try and make it better, not to see if it was any good.

I find it helps if what you post isn't horribly long (it's hard to read long pieces in a thread), is as good as you can make it (spelling, grammar and suchlike have already been addressed), and if you have specific areas on which you want comment.

If you put up a piece that isn't ready for beta reading, that's riddled with spelling and grammar errors, or that has plot holes you could drive an SUV through, you can expect that the folks commenting on it won't be very complimentary.

If you put up a piece that's as good as you can possibly make it, with the goal of gaining insight into what can make it better, then you'll probably get what you're after.

Finally, if you feel a comment in any thread on this board is truly hateful or rude, you can report it and the mods will take a look at it. Our main rule is, "Respect your fellow writers," and hateful or rude comments in SYW aren't any more acceptable than they are in Office Party.

But all of this is hot air. I've just realized that the best way for you to decide if SYW is for you is to go in there and take a look at some of the pieces and the comments they've received. Then you can decide for yourself if it's for you.

(If you do decide to post, out of politeness, try to look at the work of a few other people and comment critically on it. I've found, in my six years on this board, that the locals don't take lightly to "users" who come here, take, and don't even try to give back.)

bettielee
02-13-2010, 12:17 PM
I would go in there and look around and read. Even do some critting yourself. I was amazed at how critting other people helped me in my own work. I started in syw, but then went on to sharing work with friends I found here.

It kills me to see people with 1 or 2 posts put something in for critting and complaining about what they get told DESPITE the suggestion in the stickies about looking around and reading to see what you are up against. I hate when someone says "this is just a first draft." You should put something in there only if it is carefully edited to the best of your ability and you are ready to improve it.

The people doing the critting might not always be nice about it, but they are being honest and they are taking their time to read and comment on someone's work. Sometimes... you will feel the wrathful tongue of disdain when you make an error... but wouldn't you rather know now, at the beginning, rather than sending it off to an editor or a potential agent? You can always make faces at the monitor, anyhow.

Another thing: you can always ignore what you don't agree with and take what's helpful!

ad_lucem
02-13-2010, 01:45 PM
Rude? No. Can you get your ego bruised and walk away feeling more than a little pissy? Oh, yeah, you bet. (Best solution: scream or swear into a pillow for a few minutes about those evil busterds that had the nerve to tell you the truth, then return to the computer with your big girl pants on and get down to fixing your work...oh, and don't forget to thank them for having the cojones to be honest with you.)

But, will you get some good advice from honest people? Yeppers. And that's a lot more helpful than the sort of back-patting "Oh, my dearie, everything you do is wonderful" that Grandma might give you after reading something you gave her to "critique".

Grrarrgh
02-13-2010, 03:39 PM
I haven't posted anything in the SYW thread yet, but I have spent some time there looking around. I've never seen anything that I thought was hateful, rude, or obnoxious. That doesn't mean that everything was complimentary and "You're so fabulous!!", it was all honest.

There's an expectation that when you post something up for review, you do so feeling that the piece you're posting is in the best possible shape. It is not riddled with spelling errors, it's not one huge run-on sentence, etc. If you post something that is full of spelling errors and grammar errors, you're likely to be told to fix those issues before asking for any criticism. I don't think that's rude at all. Most people here, myself included, can't handle trying to decipher someone else's multiple mis-spellings.

However, if you post something that you feel is genuinely the best you can make it, or you have a piece that just isn't working for you and you're looking for honest feedback as to why it isn't working, you'll find that the people on that thread will give you their honest opinions. I've seen people give excellent crits that were longer than the original piece. They clearly took a lot of time to go through the post word by word and sentence by sentence and give their best crit. Even the crits that haven't been complimentary have never been rude, at least at what I've seen. If a character is a Mary Sue or a plot point isn't working, they'll tell you, but isn't that why you would post something for criticism to begin with? If you don't want genuine help to make a piece better, why would you post it at all?

As others have said, you should go over there an judge for yourself. Spend some time reading the pieces posted and deciding how you feel about them, then read the crits and see what you think. There have even been a few crits that I felt were too kind to the OP. But the SYW forum is one of the most valuable here at AW.

BlackMagic528
02-13-2010, 07:28 PM
then return to the computer with your big girl pants on

Just to head off any more misconceptions, I'm not a woman. :) The pic at left is not me. :)

Thank you. :)

Maryn
02-13-2010, 07:32 PM
(In that case, you can borrow my big girl pants, since you probably don't have any of your own.)

BlackMagic528
02-13-2010, 07:42 PM
One thing that may not have been clear, and sorry for that: I'm certainly not at all opposed to criticism. I have been highly involved with other writing sites (mostly one in particular, but I'm not going to name it) and am more than used to folks finding areas of improvement in my writing. :) Hell, I still haven't written anything I'm completely happy with, so I'd be an idiot to think someone else would be. :D

Thing is, the people at the other places I'm at make an effort to be honest without being rude, snippy, and whatnot. They point out whatever problems they perceive, and they try to point you in the right direction - and they don't get miffed if you disagree. Basically, everyone treats each other as friends, not adversaries.

What I've been told about this site is that it's the norm for people to do more attacking of the piece than critiquing - like going on a soapbox rant about the author's concept and ideas or questioning the author's parentage because of something in the piece. Those kinds of things are akin to schoolyard bullying, to me, and I seriously doubt any author would find it helpful. Know what I mean? That's what I'm concerned about.

Perks
02-13-2010, 09:00 PM
I definitely think there are occasions of people getting their jollies by sharpening their wits on other people's work and egos and calling it 'tough love'. It's truly obnoxious, but not in any greater percentage of irritating than you would find anywhere else.

The proof is in the pudding, though. If you get feedback that really sets good progress in motion, it's worth it. If not, well then, not. Many people have found AW's SYW section a significant contributing factor to their eventual success in securing publication.

Wayne K
02-13-2010, 09:16 PM
The testiest response (to me) that I got in SYW--The one I hated most--Is the one I looked at the hardest.

I then went and wrote the chapter over the way she suggested, and my agent loves it.

Maryn
02-13-2010, 09:48 PM
Wayne's nailed it. In my experience, the critique which really wounds me is the one that's absolutely correct. Therein lies its power.

BlackMagic, rather that fretting about whether AW feedback will be gentle enough, I urge you to go to the Share Your Work board for your work's genre. Read a half dozen recent threads in which work is critiqued in detail. This is a pretty solid indicator of what you can expect when and if you post your own work. If it's too much for you to take at this point, then maybe it's time to absorb the writing instruction all over this site without sharing your work for feedback quite yet.

Be aware, too, that if you are new, young, delicate, easily discouraged, or otherwise in need of extra-gentle feedback, just tell us that. We're not monsters.

Well, except for me and Wayne.

Maryn, growling fiercely so you can see the blood dripping from her canines

Perks
02-13-2010, 10:05 PM
I'll also say that I discovered a different critiquing arrangement that ultimately worked better for me than SYW, but when I did post there, I was never mistreated. And there's no denying the results. Quite a number of AWers started off in SYW and ended up with agents and publishing contracts.

The vast majority of those offering critique in SYW are very dedicated and generous with their time. Whenever I wander in, I'm always impressed by the level of detailed criticism on offer.

Yeshanu
02-13-2010, 10:33 PM
What I've found is that the character of posts on this site could be described as "bluntly honest." We don't necessarily take the time to make our posts less than that because, to be honest, there are some folks who won't get it otherwise.

Before you pass judgment, or decide based on what others tell you, it would help if you do the following:

1) Go into SYW. Read a number of pieces in the genre of your choice, and read the comments. Post a few comments yourself.

2) Go back to your other writing site. Do the same in that forum's area for sharing work.

3) Compare the beginning quality of the writing. Compare the comments received. Compare the end quality of the writing. Not in a judgmental way (this is better than that), but in a qualitative way (this site has these types of comments, this level of writing, etc.).

4) Take a good look at your writing. Take a good look inside yourself. Where does your writing "fit?" What kind of comments are you looking for? Which board would meet your needs better?

Then go to that board and comment and post.

But don't judge us or anyone else on what a few people on another site say (or by what we say, for that matter.) Do the work and decide for yourself.

Rowan
02-14-2010, 12:06 AM
I definitely think there are occasions of people getting their jollies by sharpening their wits on other people's work and egos and calling it 'tough love'. It's truly obnoxious, but not in any greater percentage of irritating than you would find anywhere else.

The proof is in the pudding, though. If you get feedback that really sets good progress in motion, it's worth it. If not, well then, not. Many people have found AW's SYW section a significant contributing factor to their eventual success in securing publication.

QFT... another option is the Beta Forum. There are a lot of willing beta readers here! Maybe try critiquing some query letters or submissions before posting your own work?

ad_lucem
02-14-2010, 12:14 AM
Just to head off any more misconceptions, I'm not a woman. :) The pic at left is not me. :)

Thank you. :)

Actually, I was speaking more from experience...

Um...

But, whatever sort of pants you need to don, that are more, um, gender specific... I still say that's the way to go.

Perks
02-14-2010, 12:17 AM
What's to be learned from SYW? At the very least - FOR GOD'S SAKE! PUT SOME PANTS ON!

ad_lucem
02-14-2010, 12:35 AM
What's to be learned from SYW? At the very least - FOR GOD'S SAKE! PUT SOME PANTS ON!

:roll:

Truly sound advice... really. I can't think of many great figures in history who rode the waves of success sans pants.

Perhaps this is a conspiracy directly aimed at keeping the nudists among us down. I'm not sure.

Still, I'd go with pants. Definitely. They are a must if one wants to be taken seriously.

Rowan
02-14-2010, 12:43 AM
Or a skirt at the very least, if that's how you roll... :)