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ArcadiaDarrell
03-16-2010, 06:20 PM
What's the meanest, worst, cringe worthy reveiw/critique/comment you've ever received on your work?

I know sometimes reviews/critiques can get us down but sometimes you have to laugh at how horrid some people can be not realizing or caring that someone poured their heart into a piece of writting. So, I'll start off an let everyone laugh at me with me:

Years ago when I was a student, I had the opportunity to have a certain nameless Oscar winner read one of my scripts. I was encouraged by others telling me how kind he was and that he was willing to read any student's work. Not so true. He threw my little 20 page short at me cutting my face with one of the brads and said, "I don't read drivel." I had no words yet felt really glad to be wearing glasses as the brad only cut my cheek and not worse. It's been over 10 years and that still stands as the worst "review" of my work. Now, I just brag when I get a bad review or critique 'cause so far no one else has made me bleed.

lucidzfl
03-16-2010, 06:25 PM
Awesome! I don't think I've ever gotten a bad crit I cared about.

xtine
03-16-2010, 06:33 PM
My manager said of my spec pilot, "It's not the worst thing I've read in my career."

Out of sheer self-preservation, I took it as a compliment.

Ellefire
03-16-2010, 06:44 PM
Not for anything major, but for a script 'short' which was one scene about a vampire and his victim, although the twist was, the intended victim was an actual vampire who killed the wannabe. It wasn't bad, It won the forum weekly competition! It got a lot of positive reviews and then there was one comment from someone who ranted about how vampires were so cliched, and how people like me should get some fresh ideas etc etc.

I was enraged. Mainly because it's probably the only vampire-related thing I've ever written. It was the stereotyping that annoyed me most.

As for cringeworthy etc, if the comments are made, then I have to take note. It can only improve my writing, yes? So God bless my dad, who read one novel and said "Well, it's not ever going to be a best-seller." He was right. It's not. At least I can count on him for honesty!

Chris P
03-16-2010, 06:46 PM
Hmm . . . . I've not posted much on SYW, so I've not gotten much.

I was recently told that the opening to my WIP was "Perhaps the worst [he'd] ever seen." I got a good laugh (and other users liked it), but now my opening is better.

I think the most telling is that of four beta readers, three have not been able to finish the book and not a one responds to my emails. The fourth beta is only on the second chapter. This project might get abandoned.

Another hint is that at least two users declined to crit my query letter (for the beta-read project) until I decided what direction I wanted to take in the query and in the (finished!) book as a whole. Stay tuned for a thread asking at what point you cut your losses.

Calla Lily
03-16-2010, 06:51 PM
I once got a full-page single-spaced RED critique (from an evangelical preacher with women issues) detailing how my religious spec fic was terrible, a danger to baby Christians (honest), that I was a bad Christian, and that he hoped my work never got published. He used bullet points and was painfully specific.

At first I was horrified, then I blew him into the crit group mod. That's when I found out about this guy's multi-level hang-ups. When I started my own meatspace crit group, I used his diatribe as an example of what not to do. :D

Toothpaste
03-16-2010, 06:52 PM
Goodreads is an excellent breeding ground for bad reviews. Two I got were:

One of the worst books ever written!

And someone else who wanted to hit me (yes, the author) over the head with a flower pot.


But I figure I'd rather my books inspire strong feelings than "meh", so I'm cool :) .

(Arcadia - can you PM or rep the name of the Oscar winner? I'm so curious - no worries if you'd rather not though)

Perks
03-16-2010, 07:00 PM
This was my favorite. I have it printed out and framed on my desk. It was written by my critique partner early in our acquaintance, and it is 100% correct in its assessment of the offending passage -


AAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!! Kill it!!!!!! If you ever, EVER, use such a bile-inducingly, soul-destroyingly, obvious as-you-know-bob, ever again, I will print it out, wrap it around a cricket bat and beat you savagely to death with it.

the addster
03-16-2010, 07:03 PM
Let's see, I was told by an editor for a series of books that you've probably heard of, let's just call them Fowl Sustenance for the Spiritual, that my work was well written, but manipulative and not suited for decent readers of any kind.

I guess laid it on a bit too thick.

I once received a review of a "little story" that was included in the same anthology as the reviewer that mentioned the book as a whole would be better off without my inclusion.

I have to work with her, it's fun.

ArcadiaDarrell
03-16-2010, 07:15 PM
But I figure I'd rather my books inspire strong feelings than "meh", so I'm cool :) .

(Arcadia - can you PM or rep the name of the Oscar winner? I'm so curious - no worries if you'd rather not though)

Yes, to quote Eminem (yeah, I'm goin' there), "You've got enemies? Good, that means you actually stood up something in your life."

Oh I don't have a problem mentioning the guy's name publicly but I wasn't sure if that was "bad form"? He's totally dead now. I wished someone had told me he was sick 'cause I would have been there sitting on top of his chest pounding away CPR screaming, "You will not die! You must live! I don't have a book or movie deal yet! You can't die until then! Only that must kill you." Dang it.

ChaosTitan
03-16-2010, 07:39 PM
I'll play.

I think the worst I've seen so far was a review implying that the only reason I got such great cover quotes from three fantastic, best-selling authors (whose books the reviewer adored) was because cover quoting was a back-patting, incestuous game orchestrated by editors that served only to put words on the cover, and not because those authors could have possibly liked the crap I wrote.

:rolleyes:

NoahS
03-16-2010, 07:44 PM
"I smell fried ducks, and that's not because there's a Mongolian restaurant down the street."

Don't know if I should laugh or cry. :D

WendyNYC
03-16-2010, 07:54 PM
You might enjoy this blog. (http://theworstreviewever.blogspot.com/) Some of the posts are hilarious! I'd totally send my bad review to them.

Jamesaritchie
03-16-2010, 10:46 PM
I never read reviews, so I don't know what's been said about my work from those circles. I'm more concerned with the size of the check than the size of a reviewer's ego.

Phaeal
03-17-2010, 06:31 PM
So far I can't say that I've gotten a bad review or comment from the professionals. But...

Back in first grade, my mother threw my flashcards across the dining room and yelled, "She'll never learn to read!"

The next day I was the only one in the class who could say what L-O-O-K spelled. The rest is history.

Yes, I remember all offenses. I may forgive, but I never forget. ;)

DrZoidberg
03-17-2010, 06:38 PM
My first full novel I wrote I submitted to a free story site (on a site that will remain nameless). I'll start by saying, this was a truly awful story. Everything was wrong with it. Some reviews were nice, but they probably weren't honest. The good ones were cuttingly honest. Mostly about the flatness of my characters and lack of conflict. The worst one I got from a publisher who said it was "boring".

What I learned from it was that I can obviously write, or nobody would have bothered reading it at all. But my plotting needed work. All in all, I'm incredibly grateful about those very negative reviews. Without them I would never have developed in the way I did.

Roly
03-18-2010, 07:28 AM
I would love to get horrible reviews on my novels :D Because where there are horrible reviews there are good ones and hey - a published novel to review.

I think in a creative writing class six years ago someone said I couldn't write but he "appreciated" what I was "trying to do." Patronizing :)

wittyusernamehere
03-18-2010, 07:32 AM
I was in a critique group this week, and one person said, "I don't have too many comments because I fell asleep."

0_o

Polenth
03-18-2010, 07:58 AM
So far, all the negative comments have been aimed at a prose poem I had published. I think the issue was I sold it as flash fiction, so some people were expecting action-adventure and a detailed plot, rather than poemy goodness in prose form.

My other published pieces have escaped anything very negative so far.

rugcat
03-18-2010, 08:26 AM
I've had fairly good luck, but one phrase that stuck in my mind was a review that started out, "This unpleasantly written book. . ."

Has a certain ring to it.

RainbowDragon
03-18-2010, 08:31 AM
On a short story: "Everything before the [penultimate scene] drags, and would benefit from being drastically shortened."

I love bad reviews. Must be the strong reaction either way is better than indifference thing that Toothpaste mentioned. No one's wanted to hurt me yet, though; that might not be so fun. . . :/

Renee Collins
03-21-2010, 12:34 AM
I had a reviewer say that my YA book was "an insult to teens." Of course, he then went on to say that when he was a teenager he was "reading Achebe." :rolleyes:

DonnaDuck
03-21-2010, 06:01 AM
I think the worst thing I got was a critiquer saying, on one of my short stories (we're talking maybe 2000 words) that he just skimmed over the last few pages because he couldn't keep reading it. In all honesty I haven't looked at that piece in a while so I can't remember if it was absolute crap but I do know it was a very experimental piece and I was taken aback because it was so short yet he could criticize it without having read through it all.

Alanna B.
03-21-2010, 06:31 AM
What's the meanest, worst, cringe worthy reveiw/critique/comment you've ever received on your work?

I know sometimes reviews/critiques can get us down but sometimes you have to laugh at how horrid some people can be not realizing or caring that someone poured their heart into a piece of writting. So, I'll start off an let everyone laugh at me with me:

Years ago when I was a student, I had the opportunity to have a certain nameless Oscar winner read one of my scripts. I was encouraged by others telling me how kind he was and that he was willing to read any student's work. Not so true. He threw my little 20 page short at me cutting my face with one of the brads and said, "I don't read drivel." I had no words yet felt really glad to be wearing glasses as the brad only cut my cheek and not worse. It's been over 10 years and that still stands as the worst "review" of my work. Now, I just brag when I get a bad review or critique 'cause so far no one else has made me bleed.
Wow! It sounds like you're lucky you lived to tell the tale! If someone cut my cheek with my MS I don't think he'd be unmentionable in my blogs! :) You're a better person than I am I guess. I have been lucky so far to have fair, nice, informative rej. GEEZ!

Cranky
03-21-2010, 10:16 PM
I've been lucky. I haven't gotten any that were what I'd call "mean". Sharp and pointy might draw blood, but it ain't for no good reason, so I'll take my lumps and learn from 'em. Of course, no one has thrown my work at my head or anything like that.

I don't think what I write is interesting enough for that sort of impassioned response. :ROFL:

Jane Poirot
03-23-2010, 07:15 PM
Honestly...I feel like a baby for getting upset over it, but...a while ago, I wrote two AU fanfics for the And Then There Were None section on ff.net (though not published together; one was in the summer of 2008, the other spring of 2009). For those of you who don't know, there's a bit of...controversy...over the ending. But I am a happy endings fan, and the book and Russian film version fuelled my imagination for two different possibilities, so I wrote them, did my best to make sure they were written well, and put them up on The Pit.
I did not expect a lot of reviews, so I was satisfied with the few I got...then this guy shows up:
1) (Review for And Then There Were Two) "Well, the story is written well, but I still stick to my belief that the original ending was the only appropriate one."

2) (Review for Aftershock) "Although the plot you came up with is interesting and original, I'm not a fan of letting the last two victims live, and then examining what happens to them. (I personally think they both deserved what they got- Lombard showed no remorse, and Vera was just plain evil: even if her crime was one "for love", it was still a crime.)

The Verdict: Well-written, but an unnecessary alternate ending."

So yeah. Maybe it's just me, but I think it's "unnecessary" to criticize a story for its genre and not its content.

stormie
03-23-2010, 07:36 PM
Arcadia--what happened to you was just plain mean. To have someone throw your ms. back at you, and the fastener cutting your cheek.... I'm speechless. (For once.)

Miss Plum
04-25-2010, 12:27 AM
For me, it's not so much the florid, detailed slams that leave a mark, but the responses that cut the legs out from under me in some way. I had written some fiction with a passage that I considered particularly lofty and dramatic. Classical, if you will. Sublime! A reader labeled it "silly." Agh! Right where it hurts.

Parametric
04-25-2010, 12:39 AM
The most negative critique I ever received (which was less than a month ago) ran to 5000 words of pure hate for every aspect of the story. I may have cried. :tongue

leahzero
04-25-2010, 04:20 AM
I haven't received a soul-crushing review, but I know I'm definitely the one who gave that review to somebody.

In high school, my friends and I had a little informal critique group going. (We were total art nerds--involved in the school theater, literary journal, etc.) On one side of the group was E., the alpha female of our circle, who wrote what can most tactfully be called "eager" vampire erotica. On the other side was me, who wrote speculative and dystopian fiction.

We would print out our stories and pass them around the group, with a blank page at the end for readers to leave comments. E. passed around one of her vamporn stories, and when it got to me, I read through it (there was lots of "thrusting" and "ravishing"), and then read the comments on the last page. Everyone was praising her and saying how great the story was. I shouldn't have been so hard on them: they were just hormone-addled teens using fiction as a safe catharsis. And because of that, I can understand, grudgingly, why Twilight and its ilk are so popular.

Anyway, because I was annoyed that everyone was praising such drivel, I decided to line-edit the thing, marking up all the errors with red pen. Then I took up most of the remaining space on the comment page to explain in meticulous detail just what was wrong with her story, from the painfully one-dimensional characterization where personality was prescribed by a character's hair and eye color, to the porno-style plotting where scenes and action served merely to get the characters into a sexual situation, often with unintentionally hilarious results. I wasn't very tactful about it, and I threw in some digs at the vapid praise the others had given, saying that it was dishonest and wouldn't help her improve her writing.

After I passed the story on to the rest of the group, I heard that the writer wanted to talk to me after school. There was an ominous tone in the word "talk"--it was the art nerd's equivalent of "meet me in the alley." I was a little nervous, because E. had a reputation for being ruthless, but I stood by my criticism.

So we met after school (in the most heavily-trafficked hallway, just in case blood flew--you know, metaphorical blood, since we were nerds), and she was surprisingly calm, though I could tell she was working hard at cooling her anger. She said she actually agreed with some of my criticism, but she thought I had gone overboard with it, and shouldn't have marked up the MS without her permission. Which was fair. I was jealous of the praise and attention she was getting, which I thought was just because she wrote about sex and vampires, two things guaranteed to sell to teens (even back in the 90s). And, I wanted her to notice me--I had a burgeoning girl-crush on her, and I was always the odd kid out, never popular, known for being a sarcastic goofball and a strange egg. Well, it definitely got her attention, if not in the way I'd hoped.

E. challenged me back and said she'd be interested in reading and critiquing my stuff. We left on strained terms, but at least she didn't maim me. Being the competitive, one-upping girl I was, I decided to beat her at her own game. I wrote my own little vampire pseudo-erotica story, with a certain homoerotic subtext (girl on girl vamp action! $$$)--granted, mine was Twilight-esque repressed longing rather than straight-up sex--and passed it around. And I got the same kind of praise on my comments page--including a long, laudatory comment from E. herself! And, again, another invitation to talk to her after school (in the school's literary journal office--where, I presumed, she would be less likely to murder me). But this time she was all smiles, and we chatted about books for a bit. She gave me her number before leaving and said we should hang out sometime. I was totally floored.

We later became best friends, then more than friends for a while, then back to friends again. To this day, we stay in touch online. She went on to get a doctorate in psychiatry, and is one of the most intelligent and driven women I know. She's an exceptional scholar and will do great things in her field. I still can't believe how well she handled my unasked-for line-editing and savage criticism--and that she actually turned around and complimented my work afterward. In hindsight, I see that she already had the ability to deal with difficult, even antagonistic people, and objectively assess them, without letting her own emotions cloud her perception.

What I find amusing, though, is that she's still into that hedonistic, Neo-Gothic subculture. Well, Dr. Vampira can psychoanalyze me any day.

veinglory
04-25-2010, 04:33 AM
My worst was an online beta reader who said I write well for someone who obviously had English as a second language.

(Which is not the case)

Parametric
04-25-2010, 12:59 PM
My worst was an online beta reader who said I write well for someone who obviously had English as a second language.

(Which is not the case)

I have really hurt people's feelings by asking if English was their second language. :( I still wonder when I see misused prepositions, strange word choice, etc, but I no longer have the nerve to ask.

Maryn
04-25-2010, 05:16 PM
My worst one was at a script-in-hand reading of a play. There was a Q&A between audience and playwright when it was over. One woman stood up and asked, "Why would anyone even want to write such a disgusting story?"

I didn't write for the stage for another ten years. But when I did, I made sure it was 'disgusting.'

Maryn, who's got disgusting down

simplyaven
04-28-2010, 04:08 AM
English is my fourth language but I've never taken offense if anyone asks. On the other hand, editors in North America have worked with so many immigrants that the misused word here and there, assuming this is an accident and the overall level of speaking is high as well as the grammar knowledge, won't be a deal breaker. Not to mention that people coming from different background, even if English is their native tongue, do show major differences in knowing it.

My worst but comical critique came last week from an editor who said she was on the second chapter and wasn't sure what was happening yet. She didn't even know who the main character was. Given that the story is told by the main character and up to this point only she and the hero were present, I couldn't take it seriously. But I did cry - foolish, of course. A couple of hours later I received a very uplifting comment from another editor. It's just crazy subjective.

Jack_of_None
05-01-2010, 06:58 AM
I'm not sure about the worst, but I just had something come in an hour ago that frustrated the piss out of me.

Three days ago, "Your character is too Mary Sue. You need to liven her up. Give her more of a personality. Build spunk. The tension will come much easier in your dialogue then."

And hour ago, "Your character is too flawed. She just uses men. She's rich. And she treats her friends like dirt? I wouldn't read past the first paragraph."

(Note: I never even said she was rich, nor implied it. She doesn't act like a snob, but because she had a particular accessory in her car, the beta assumed she was a rich b_tch.)

COchick
05-01-2010, 07:39 AM
A few years ago, I was a columnist for my local paper, and I wrote mostly about parenting. For the most part, people seemed to enjoy my articles...but then I started getting these terrible emails telling me that I should never have been allowed to procreate, I should give my kids up for adoption, blah, blah. I think they were all written by the same person--and I think whoever it was needed some serious mental help.

Unfortunately, I let that one person get to me and I resigned. I just couldn't stop reading these stupid emails. AND, we lived in a really small town, and I was constantly wondering what idiot local was writing this stuff to me. Paranoia sucks.

Mike Lynch
05-07-2010, 10:12 PM
The following is a review someone wrote on Amazon for my novel:

"Ever hear a Lenny Kravitz tune that sounded weirdly familiar? You'd swear your listening to some previously unreleased Beatles, Led Zep, or Hendrix song. Lenny denies it vehemently, but he has a well-deserved reputation for borrowing too much and presenting the results as new material. Unfortunately, the same holds true for When the Sky Fell. Almost everything is head-shakingly similar to an old Battlestar Galactica or Star Trek script."

He goes on to say more, but you get the point.

Mike

RobertlewisIR
06-02-2010, 12:55 PM
The worst critique I received (from a good friend of mine), was well-deserved: "This is the first time you've written something this bad, so it's forgivable. The next time, you'll probably choke on your own stupid."

I did, however, write a pretty good one:

"[The author] surely must have been molested by grammar as a young child. It is the only possible way to explain his grasp of the English language, which is on par with that of a mentally retarded newborn French poodle. His writing style is unreadable, his stories little more than nonsensical ramblings, and his characters are obviously nothing more than painfully one-dimensional self-portraits of a man who has more business spending quality time in a padded room than pretending to write professionally."

It went on similarly for a few pages, and earned me a death threat.

I should point out that I'm not usually quite so cruel. But you don't publicly wish cancer upon a friend's child, and then expect me to ignore your failings as a writer.

DonnaDuck
06-03-2010, 03:30 AM
"This is the first time you've written something this bad, so it's forgivable. The next time, you'll probably choke on your own stupid."


I will file this line for later use. And what author would wish cancer on someone's child? What an ass.

RobertlewisIR
06-03-2010, 04:31 AM
Yeah. Turns out he actually is mentally ill and spent some time in a facility about a year later. Last I heard, though, he's off his medication and back to his old tricks again, but I'm steering clear.

jennontheisland
06-03-2010, 04:37 AM
This was my favorite. I have it printed out and framed on my desk. It was written by my critique partner early in our acquaintance, and it is 100% correct in its assessment of the offending passage -

AAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!! Kill it!!!!!! If you ever, EVER, use such a bile-inducingly, soul-destroyingly, obvious as-you-know-bob, ever again, I will print it out, wrap it around a cricket bat and beat you savagely to death with it.

OMFG That's awesome. I got a similar reprimand, sans death threat, from my CP early on. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

scottVee
06-03-2010, 09:28 AM
Over 20 years, over 5,000 submissions, over 500 published short things ... I guess I've seen some kooky things. But to me, the nastiest thing was just being more or less ignored, and not accomplishing much of anything, all told. Even when I got a story accepted at a decent market (like Analog), oddly, it seemed that reviewers would mention almost everything except my work. Hundreds of things published, hardly any evidence that anyone ever read any of it, no mentions anywhere, really. And just a month ago, one of the boldest pieces of cover art I ever did was up for a small award, and lost to something that looked like a zillion other covers ... though the book itself (which I edited) got a few nice comments. After a while, it's just numbing.

Interesting note. When it comes to feeling bad, snooty comments on rejections never really got me (I could imagine someone was just having a bad day), but when I was editor of a project, and took the time to write a well-intended note -- just trying to be nice -- the meanest treatment I ever got was from writers who would bitch & moan about it, and tell me what a horrible person I was.

Just an odd tangent. Feel free to ignore it. :-|

Mr. Anonymous
06-03-2010, 09:47 AM
I was once told that my writing had less literary merit than a discarded cereal box.

scottVee
06-03-2010, 10:01 AM
If only that cereal box could talk ...

Mr. Anonymous
06-04-2010, 10:53 AM
Thank God it can't. If an actual cereal box insulted my writing I think I'd either have to

a) Lay off the drugs
or

b) commit sepukku

As to your story. That's kind of sad to hear. Have you ever thought of writing a novel? With those kinds of credentials I'm sure the skills are there and you'd definitely have the attention of agents. Maybe I'm mistaken but it seems to me like you'd reach more people, and be compensated more (monetarily). And you'd get your own personal reviews too!

Beckstah
06-07-2010, 07:52 AM
When I was a sophomore in high school, one of my electives was a Film class. We had a screenplay assignment, and after we wrote the scripts, the teacher distributed them anonymously for people to fill out critique forms.

My script ended up in the hands of the most abrasive girl in the class, and she mercilessly tore apart my script out loud in front of everyone. She read all the dialogue in this high-pitched, mocking voice, and got all her friends to join. All while I was sitting right behind her and too mortified to say anything.

When I got the form back, she'd written, "What was bad: everything. Advice: stop writing."

I acknowledge that the screenplay wasn't very good at all, and critiques don't usually get under my skin, but my stomach squirms every time I think of that day.

thethinker42
06-07-2010, 08:00 AM
When I got the form back, she'd written, "What was bad: everything. Advice: stop writing."

Dude, that's cold. I'm surprised the teacher didn't put a stop to at least some of it. The mocking voices, etc. But that advice? Man, that's just...mean. Ugh. Teenagers.

Reminds me...
Marge: Kids can be so cruel.
Bart: We can?? Thanks, Mom!

Beckstah
06-07-2010, 08:08 AM
The teacher had left the room after handing out the plays, and the girl took advantage of that. But when she came back later and announced that we were going to discuss the critiques, she thankfully didn't question me when I left.

And yeah, kids can be terrible, can't they? My high school was actually an arts school, and I was in the Creative Writing program, so I had to deal with power-tripping teenage editors on a regular basis. That was definitely the worst one, though.

thethinker42
06-07-2010, 08:11 AM
The teacher had left the room after handing out the plays, and the girl took advantage of that. But when she came back later and announced that we were going to discuss the critiques, she thankfully didn't question me when I left.

And yeah, kids can be terrible, can't they? My high school was actually an arts school, and I was in the Creative Writing program, so I had to deal with power-tripping teenage editors on a regular basis. That was definitely the worst one, though.

Makes me glad high school is far, far behind me.

MartinD
06-07-2010, 10:46 PM
I had a beta reader tell me the beginning of my manuscript was terrible in oh-so-many ways.

Then she asked if she could read the rest of it because she wanted to know what happened next.

thethinker42
06-11-2010, 05:48 PM
Oh, hooray! I get to contribute now...


(book) is number two on my list of worst ebooks I've ever read. And that's saying a lot. Reading it was like reading really bad soft core porn! Seriously. The plot was sadly unoriginal and just plain boring. If it could be called a plot at all. Every single character was unlikable, unredeemable, and cliched. Especially the two love interest, who were masochistic to the point of being pathetic. I would have gotten more entertainment out of having a spinal tap than reading this crap!

I thought the spinal tap bit was a nice touch. Very creative. I give the whole thing a 7.5 out of 10.