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acockey
12-13-2012, 09:25 PM
What is the worst Critique experience you have had? Was the piece unreadable? Did the receiver of the critique lambaste you for your opinion? or were you in one of those snooty crit groups? Why?

How bad was the experience for you? underwear dreams bad?

Bonus Points if any one was told literal or politely to go F themselves during a Crit response..or to out and out stop writing

Springs
12-13-2012, 10:13 PM
I've never really had a bad one for myself, but I was just in a fiction writing class which basically turned into a crit group during the second half of the semester, and two people ended up breaking down in tears at the end of their day to be critiqued. In all fairness, though, one of them just wrote about really personal and emotional topics. She was totally fine with taking criticism later on another piece of her writing.

Phaeal
12-13-2012, 10:23 PM
My worst crit experience was from a person who never read a word of my writing. She came into my office one day while I was discussing a piece with a friend. She looked at me and said, as from the Mount, "You won't ever get anything published. You know what? You should just be a librarian."

I'm still not sure whether she thought being a librarian would be a boon or a punishment.

Anyhow, I'm looking forward to sending her a copy of my debut novel. Along with a list, for her own use, of Library Science programs.

:D

Calla Lily
12-13-2012, 10:25 PM
Several years back, I was in an online crit group for (mostly) Christian fic. At the time, I was working on a religious horror with a FMC. One of the members sent me a full-page, single-spaced crit, mostly in red. It ripped my plot, my writing, my MC, my worldbuilding, my faith (seriously? from a piece of fiction?), and said emphatically that he thought my work would "harm new Christians." All of this in separate paragraphs, with headers for each point. He concluded by telling me he hoped my work never got published, and signed it "with love from your brother in Christ." Seriously.

I blew him into the group mod, who told me that the guy was an evangelical pastor who had issues with strong women. :rolleyes: The mod blocked this guy from ever critting my work again.

I tossed the crit, because while I laughed through most of it, it stung. I do reference it when I'm running a meatspace crit group, or when people ask me for crit advice. It's my go-to story of how not to crit.

quicklime
12-13-2012, 10:26 PM
I had one person tell me "at least I was honest" when my avatar tagline said "brings nothing to the table" (they also accused me of just siding with Theo because we were in some sort of anti-boy's club)

one tell me they felt sorry for my children and that I was heartless

one claim I was "weaponizing my education"

one call me "quickslime"



bonus point for any of that?

Phaeal
12-13-2012, 10:28 PM
Several years back, I was in an online crit group for (mostly) Christian fic. At the time, I was working on a religious horror with a FMC. One of the members sent me a full-page, single-spaced crit, mostly in red. It ripped my plot, my writing, my MC, my worldbuilding, my faith (seriously? from a piece of fiction?), and said emphatically that he thought my work would "harm new Christians." All of this in separate paragraphs, with headers for each point. He concluded by telling me he hoped my work never got published, and signed it "with love from your brother in Christ." Seriously.

I blew him into the group mod, who told me that the guy was an evangelical pastor who had issues with strong women. :rolleyes: The mod blocked this guy from ever critting my work again.

I tossed the crit, because while I laughed through most of it, it stung. I do reference it when I'm running a meatspace crit group, or when people ask me for crit advice. It's my go-to story of how not to crit.

I think your "brother in Christ" and my "library woman" should get together.

Calla Lily
12-13-2012, 10:29 PM
quick, definite bonus points for "weaponizing your education." :ROFL:

CharacterInWhite
12-13-2012, 10:31 PM
One particular phenomenon irks me, because it still crops up now and then: Whenever I'm "warned" for using a particular perspective, the rest of the crit becomes difficult to take seriously.

I had one crit send back helpful nitpicks and useful questions, but she began the crit with a warning that I was unequipped to handle my own character's perspective, just because the character was a different sex from mine.

I diplomatically asked my crit partner to give me some credit, to which she responded by sending me back a quote from another author on writing members of the opposite sex like it proved her point.

I have yet to actually call this crit partner sexist, but I'm about to.

acockey
12-13-2012, 10:38 PM
@quicklime .5 points for the children thing, ouch! you should change your tagline to WOME...Weapons of Mass Education

CharacterinWhite gets the first full go F yourself point

quicklime
12-13-2012, 10:44 PM
a girl who no longer spends time here told me she has a beta send a crit that her title was completely misleading....the story was about a guy going to Hell, and the title was "What Dante Didn't Tell You."

Her beta informed her that this made no sense, as the MC was not, nor was anyone else in her book, named Dante.

She deserves at least one point, wherever she may be......

heza
12-13-2012, 10:49 PM
I don't think I've been lambasted for giving a crit. I did have the embarrassment early on of over-critting things on blogs and such. No one called me on it, but later on, I realized I was being too nitpicky and making suggestions based on my own style (before I could recognize it as such). Similarly, the first couple of crits I did in beta situations ended up with the writer thanking me for the first chapter and then disappearing forever. So I assume I did a really offensive job there.

I've also been Hmmm, well that's nice'd in SYW--politely dismissed--for what I suspect were similar failings on my part. I still haven't gotten the knack for crit.

:e2bummed:

These days, I try to crit lightly. (It's less offensive, since my opinion is so meaningless, and it also saves time.)

I also haven't been critted very harshly. I haven't really put much up for crit, though, to be honest. In the two venues where I do post work, I got a crit on something I wrote years ago for being purple (which I was). The crit was written in such superfluous language that I could barely understand the point... point made.

Another crit was for a fanfic chapter with a strong romantic element. A reader who had been following the story didn't like a plot element for personal reasons. Fair enough... but then she wrote a scathing 2-page review of it that accused me of all sorts of things you could, in no way, extrapolate from what I wrote. It was as if I'd written about a man buying a beret, and she accused me of murdering French people in my real life.

She used several of the plotpoints in that chapter in her next fic... :rolleyes:

Obviously, she was being an unstable poo-head. But getting such a vitriolic review about something that was completely not about the work itself (but rather her own hangups), really stung and embarrassed me. I quit writing that fic because of it.

CharacterInWhite
12-13-2012, 10:52 PM
getting such a vitriolic review about something that was completely not about the work itself (but rather her own hangups)

That's a tricky situation. I feel like those are the people you should try to convince to read your material, since they're the types whose minds you want to change with your writing.

But yes, it absolutely sucks.

heza
12-13-2012, 10:58 PM
That's a tricky situation. I feel like those are the people you should try to convince to read your material, since they're the types whose minds you want to change with your writing.

But yes, it absolutely sucks.


Eh, well I totally see what you're saying, but in my case it wasn't so ground-breaking or important that I needed to change anyone's mind about it. People like what they like in a love interest, and that's their prerogative. I just don't expect the whole story (which she otherwise liked) to be trashed for the one element she didn't or for her to paint me as such a worthless person for "ruining the hero" in her eyes. I guess that just goes to show. *shrug*

Now, I just don't respond to unsolicited feedback that's so obviously about them and not about my work.

leahzero
12-13-2012, 11:04 PM
That's a tricky situation. I feel like those are the people you should try to convince to read your material, since they're the types whose minds you want to change with your writing.

Personally, I'm a writer, not a therapist. Adults need to take responsibility for their hangups, not vent them at artists, IMO.

jjdebenedictis
12-13-2012, 11:05 PM
I once had a critiquer who suggested I needed to brush up on basic grammar because "Laura's hand" means "Laura is hand", and the correct way to write the possessive is actually "Lauras hand".

Yeah.

quicklime
12-13-2012, 11:08 PM
I once had a critiquer who suggested I needed to brush up on basic grammar because "Laura's hand" means "Laura is hand", and the correct way to write the possessive is actually "Lauras hand".

Yeah.



how big were her hands? Do you think Laura could suffocate me, and would I smell my spit on them?


*runs and hides

AgathaChristieFan
12-13-2012, 11:15 PM
In my local area, I was in a critique group disguised as a writing group. If anyone gave constructive criticism, one woman in the group would interrupt (even if it wasn't her OWN story) to tell the person they were wrong. She would list points why their opinion was wrong, and she would demand others to agree with her. She wouldn't let it go until one person would speak up. If she did let anyone finish, then she'd demand how the person came to that conclusion (as in prove what you're saying with a reference).

Everyone else was pretty cool beans with listening to feedback and letting it sink in. We appreciated that people took the time to look over our stories. She was the only one who took any suggestions as a personal attack on her. Not on her writing style.

Let's just say, I didn't last in the critique--oops I mean "writing"--group very long after that.

Rhoda Nightingale
12-13-2012, 11:16 PM
a girl who no longer spends time here told me she has a beta send a crit that her title was completely misleading....the story was about a guy going to Hell, and the title was "What Dante Didn't Tell You."

Her beta informed her that this made no sense, as the MC was not, nor was anyone else in her book, named Dante.


Bless. That's almost cute.

My "worst" crit--meaning the one that hurt the most--was one guy coming to tell me everything that was wrong with my story immediately after a fiction reading. I don't even remember what he said, but this story was something I'd been working with a writers' group beforehand, and the reading is what we do after several weeks of critiquing each other and polishing our work. Was the piece perfect? Eh, probably not, but there's a right and wrong time to tell me what needs fixing about it. Immediately after a fiction reading is the WRONG TIME.

acockey
12-13-2012, 11:27 PM
@Rhonda Nightingale on a scale of 1-10 how much did you feel like punching that person in the face

also +1.5 points to heza because "Hmmm, well that's nice'd" counts as a go F yourself because I have read your story and have nothing to say to you

quicklime
12-13-2012, 11:30 PM
well, if passive-aggressive counts, I've gotten tons of "thank yous" that were thinly veiled "hey, you know what would be swell? If you went and fucked yourself. And then died.."s

Calla Lily
12-13-2012, 11:37 PM
Hmm... I don't get passive-aggressive replies nearly as much as I get the argumentative ones.

My favorites are the butthurt replies. "You don't understaaaaand! My character/plot/story is speeeecial and can't possibly conform to antiquated notions of grammar, sentence structure, and readability!"

dolores haze
12-13-2012, 11:45 PM
Years ago I wrote a short story. It was my first attempt at non-fiction. I'd gotten some great props from a professor at school about the writing in my papers and he'd encouraged me to try creative writing. So I did.

I asked my then-husband to read the story and tell me what he thought. He started to read it, then he started laughing. He giggled and he chortled and he chuckled until he got to the end. Then he walked away, still laughing. No, it wasn't a comedy.

It took a long time for me to figure out that crushing every little nascent hope or dream I had for myself was kind of like a hobby for him. And it was many years before I ever got up the confidence to write again.

Ever wish you could go back in time and give your younger self a good talking to?

acockey
12-13-2012, 11:45 PM
@callaily61 quick counter point, the beat writers broke a lot of grammar/sentence structure/ what passes as fiction rules

Rhoda Nightingale
12-13-2012, 11:50 PM
@acockey--Eh, probably about an 8. Mostly I just wanted him to shut up. He wasn't even in the group, y'know? That wasn't cool.

Also, I just want to posit that I've hardly ever interpreted a "thank you" as anything other than a "thank you." Maybe I've been insulted many times and just never noticed. I tend to take people literally, especially on the Internet, unless I know them really, really well.

flowerburgers
12-13-2012, 11:52 PM
One particular phenomenon irks me, because it still crops up now and then: Whenever I'm "warned" for using a particular perspective, the rest of the crit becomes difficult to take seriously.

I had one crit send back helpful nitpicks and useful questions, but she began the crit with a warning that I was unequipped to handle my own character's perspective, just because the character was a different sex from mine.

I diplomatically asked my crit partner to give me some credit, to which she responded by sending me back a quote from another author on writing members of the opposite sex like it proved her point.

I have yet to actually call this crit partner sexist, but I'm about to.

My worst crit experience was when I drew attention to something I found stereotypical in my swap partner's manuscript, wrote him a lengthy response explaining why I felt that way and attached a quote from Junot Diaz about the difficulties men face when writing from the POV of women, and instead of ever responding to me he just made a post on a public forum bitching about it. ;)

Calla Lily
12-13-2012, 11:56 PM
@acockey: True, but I'm talking about regular fiction aiming at a mainstream audience--especially queries.

BethS
12-13-2012, 11:56 PM
I've had the occasional critique recipient argue with me (usually nicely) or get defensive. I think only once has anyone ever really gone off on me.

For critiques I've received, I think the absolute funniest-worst one happened at a writers conference, in a workshop where everyone had submitted in advance work to be critiqued. After reading my first ten pages, this woman told me that Native Americans did not do a particular thing (I wasn't writing about Native Americans, but even if I had been, who says they all have the same behaviors and outlook?); that a particular magic ritual (that I had invented) involving a musical instrument required a different music instrument; and so on, basically correcting several aspects of my imagined world because they did not conform to some obscure set of rules only she knew about.

It was the most bizarre crit I've ever received.

The most hurtful critique I ever received was a long time ago and it was from someone whose writing ability I admired and whose opinion I respected. She basically told me I wasn't good enough to merit her interest.

I ceased to respect her opinion after that, but not until after I spent a few weeks being crushed and discouraged.

Alpha Echo
12-13-2012, 11:59 PM
Several years back, I was in an online crit group for (mostly) Christian fic. At the time, I was working on a religious horror with a FMC. One of the members sent me a full-page, single-spaced crit, mostly in red. It ripped my plot, my writing, my MC, my worldbuilding, my faith (seriously? from a piece of fiction?), and said emphatically that he thought my work would "harm new Christians." All of this in separate paragraphs, with headers for each point. He concluded by telling me he hoped my work never got published, and signed it "with love from your brother in Christ." Seriously.

I blew him into the group mod, who told me that the guy was an evangelical pastor who had issues with strong women. :rolleyes: The mod blocked this guy from ever critting my work again.

I tossed the crit, because while I laughed through most of it, it stung. I do reference it when I'm running a meatspace crit group, or when people ask me for crit advice. It's my go-to story of how not to crit.

Wow. That's so awful! I can't...that's like way too many so-called Christians these days claiming to love like Jesus while tearing down fellow humans. Yuck and good riddance.


I once had a critiquer who suggested I needed to brush up on basic grammar because "Laura's hand" means "Laura is hand", and the correct way to write the possessive is actually "Lauras hand".

Yeah.

Oh. Em. Gee. Was this critiquer 6 years old? Sheesh.

I once had a guy tell me that I was "man-bashing." I was really upset by this because if he'd read further, he would have seen that it it so wasn't! But he just went off on me and about how unlikeable my MC was anyway and how she hates men and how wrong he thinks that was...on and on...

Calla Lily
12-14-2012, 12:00 AM
Back when I was on the agent hunt and getting R after R, Mr. Lily, who generally is the most supportive person around, said: "Maybe your writing isn't good enough to get published."

A year later, when I told him that my agent had sold a 3-book deal for my writing, I indulged in an "I told you so." To his credit, he apologized gracefully. :)

heza
12-14-2012, 12:14 AM
The harshest critique I ever got was also the most important one. It was a line-by-line and nearly four pages of exposition about how much I sucked all over the place. It was harsh, but it was absolutely true, and it was true about stuff I had never realized about myself. That critique was pivotal in my journey as a writer.

Maryn
12-14-2012, 12:15 AM
Smart man, Lily's husband.

My worst one was after a script-in-hand reading, by Equity actors who did a good job, of a play I wrote. It was pretty dark and involved a celebrity killer getting away with murdering his female fans.

The Q&A afterward included a woman who said, "What made you even want to write about something so degrading to women, when you're a woman yourself. You must hate yourself--a lot." And a smattering of applause.

The remark I could accept, but the applause? It still burns when I think about it.

Maryn, who still likes that play

Bushrat
12-14-2012, 12:15 AM
My worst crit experience was from my agent, in response to the first thirthy pages of a thriller I'd written. Although he packaged it a bit more nicely, he basically said it was pseudo-literary garbage *cringes*
Took me a few days and a good talking to from friends before I could gather up the nerve and rewrite - and send it to him. But he was happy with the rewritten version :)

quicklime
12-14-2012, 12:17 AM
: "Maybe your writing isn't good enough to get published."

. :)



wow....see, I could probably say something like that to my wife, but being in my mid-thirties and hoping to have sex at least one more time, ever, before dying of old age (or massive head trauma) I have not.

Alpha Echo
12-14-2012, 12:19 AM
wow....see, I could probably say something like that to my wife, but being in my mid-thirties and hoping to have sex at least one more time, ever, before dying of old age (or massive head trauma) I have not.

I think that's a good move.

Alexandra Little
12-14-2012, 12:19 AM
From the same person, in the same conversation: "Fantasy is worthless," "your writing is worthless," and "if only you wrote like me, you'd write so much better."

(I didn't take her seriously.)

Calla Lily
12-14-2012, 12:23 AM
Oh, quick, that wasn't the worst. The worst (non-writing related) was the day he looked at me and said, out of the blue, "Maybe you should wear a girdle to my office Christmas party."

He looked genuinely puzzled when I burst into tears (only the 3rd time in my life I ever did that). I explained to him that he'd just told me I was fat and ugly and he was embarrassed to be seen with me. We had much conversation on the way men and women say/interpret things. I did not purchase an elastic torture instrument, and I was neither the thinnest nor the fattest female (or male) at that party.

Several co-workers, after I related the girdle remark, asked in all seriousness if I'd killed him.

(He generally calls me his Trophy Wife and still thinks I'm a hot babe, so life is fine.)

Calla Lily
12-14-2012, 12:27 AM
@heza: My second-worst experience was from a well-known C-fic agent. I gave him the first chapter of the above-mentioned religious horror and sat there while he read it. He shredded it. He also praised worldbuilding and horror elements, and gave concrete suggestions on how to fix it--all from his knowledge of what gets pubbed these days.

It hurt like blazes, but it spurred me on. It was exactly what I needed.

angeluscado
12-14-2012, 12:27 AM
I got called a perverted, talentless hack because I wrote a little slash fanfic.

That's the last time I tell people I know where my fanfiction is kept.

jjdebenedictis
12-14-2012, 12:28 AM
how big were her hands? Do you think Laura could suffocate me, and would I smell my spit on them?


*runs and hidesEffective in-joke is effective. :roll:

EMaree
12-14-2012, 12:30 AM
I had a beta reader absolutely shred my first few chapters once, and the tactlessness stung at the time. Now that I've improved my writing, I can appreciate her comments and her honesty, but for a long time I just couldn't look past her attitude to take in the actual critique.

It was a good lesson in what I didn't want to be, as a beta.


a girl who no longer spends time here told me she has a beta send a crit that her title was completely misleading....the story was about a guy going to Hell, and the title was "What Dante Didn't Tell You."

Her beta informed her that this made no sense, as the MC was not, nor was anyone else in her book, named Dante.

That's priceless.


I don't think I've been lambasted for giving a crit. I did have the embarrassment early on of over-critting things on blogs and such. No one called me on it, but later on, I realized I was being too nitpicky and making suggestions based on my own style (before I could recognize it as such).

Ouch, I know that feeling. For some reason I gained a solid knowledge of the writing craft and what-not-to-do long before I had a grasp of critique etiquette and how to be careful with other people's precious stories.

acockey
12-14-2012, 12:36 AM
@Maryn was your feminine card revoked?

@angeluso don't tell me... its in your attic right?

Little Ming
12-14-2012, 12:39 AM
Several co-workers, after I related the girdle remark, asked in all seriousness if I'd killed him.


Well, did you?

***

Not the worst, though one of the weirdest: After doing a critique in QLH, the writer sent me a short message thanking me, even citing specific things I pointed out to him, and told me he would work on it.

About a day later I discovered that he started a new thread in another part of the forums complaining/whining about those exact same things he thanked me for, and then asked/told the critters in general to be more gentle with him and to remember when we first started writing how much we didn't know too....

The writer was banned shortly after.

Friendly Frog
12-14-2012, 01:06 AM
Not the worst persay, in the sense that it was so ludicrous that I just couldn't really take it seriously but this one I certainly will always remember. It was far more memorable than the few 'you can't write' comments.

One anonymous commenter said my story had failed to suspend his disbelief. My crime? I had dragon hunters shooting but failing to kill a human they thought to be a dragon in disguise. He suggested I might save the scene if I had the victim wear a bulletproof vest so she would have a reason to survive being shot. Because that's what you apparently do while waiting at the bus stop. Hm, wouldn't want to live in his neighbourhood, though.

There were more faults to be found in my characterisation of dragons and dragon slaying orders, interspersed with 'facts' and 'theology' about dragons which I -naturally- had all gotten wrong. Basically, there shouldn't have been any story, because real dragons would have eaten all those puny humans long ago and I just wasn't making any sense.

Some time later I came across a thread on that site's forum where someone was using my story as an example of how not to write dragons. Hello there, earlier anonymous commenter! He proceeded to agressively lecture everybody how his draconic mythology was the only correct one and everybody else was mistaken until the mod lost patience and the thread got locked.

ChristinaLayton
12-14-2012, 01:25 AM
Worst crit experience I had?

No, I wasn't insulted, lambasted or anything like that. I was giving this person detailed, thorough critiques on her work, even going as far as to edit her manuscript and include corrections I would make in a different color so she would understand. Everything was going fine. Then halfway through the manuscript, the lady just stopped talking to me. No explanation, she just stopped, and she seemed to be willing to apply all the corrections I'd suggested to her. She would even tell me constantly what a great beta reader I was and no one had treated her like me. When I didn't like something I wasn't blunt or cruel to her. I would explain to her why I didn't like it. Everything fine. When she stopped talking to me, I sent her an email (I know I was wrong) telling her 'Thank you for making me waste time in your work, hours that I could've spent working on my own manuscript'. Then she wrote me back giving me no justifications as to why we stopped communication. You know what she told me? Kiss my... yeah. Needless to say, I stopped beta reading...for over a year.

Wicked
12-14-2012, 01:36 AM
I've had a few crits that made me grumble, but most have value. Even if it's one I really don't like, there is usually something good in it somewhere.

Unfortunately this thread doesn't bring to mind one I got, but one I gave. One of my very first crits.

It was long ago and far away, on another forum.
Someone posted a story that was the most hateful, vile, misogynistic piece of thinly veiled wish fulfillment I had ever had the displeasure to read. The plot revolved around the MC killing his girlfriend's beloved pet to "teach her a lesson". He was getting called on it too.

But for some reason I decided to crit the story anyway. I summoned every bit of tact and subtlety I had (and some of you know how shallow a pool that is).
I pointed out typos, I made suggestions. It was going quiet well considering.

Then I summed it up with, "Your character is unlikable. By the end I was hoping he'd fall out of the rafters, skewer himself with his sword, and get crapped on by the dragon."

If I ever get a crit that tops that one, I shall consider myself wronged.

I'd better clear out my PM's, in anticipation of all the crit requests that will be flooding in. :roll:

Jamiekswriter
12-14-2012, 01:38 AM
This wasn't my worst, but it was my most memorable. I submitted a story to Marion Zimmer Bradley's magazine, back when she was reading all the slush.

She wrote "Too Silly" on the top.

I was crushed. But wildly delighted that she responded personally.

Unimportant
12-14-2012, 01:47 AM
I don't think I've ever received a bad crit. Some are more helpful than others; some are more demoralising than others; some point out errors in English that actually aren't errors; but, really, all of them are valuable in their own way.

I've had people respond in odd ways to my critiques. Some have ripped at me for not recognising their genius. Some have told me that other critiquers didn't point out the mistakes I had, so I must be wrong. Most oddly, one thanked me profusely, raved over my crit, asked me to read and crit more....and then, months later, posted the story for critique without implementing any of the changes I suggested, even the ones that were clearly corrections in punctuation such as it's vs its. That was frustrating because I really felt like I'd wasted an awful lot of time.

Linda Adams
12-14-2012, 02:23 AM
I was savaged by 6 or 7 writers. My book's in omniscient viewpoint, which I mentioned when I posted it to a critique group. They attacked my use of it, told me to change it, that I would never get published if I used, and my personal favorite, "I'm sure you know your story, but here's how you'd do it in third," as if I was stupid or something. And here's the catch -- not one of them commented on the actual story.

M.T.Logue
12-14-2012, 02:32 AM
I think the worst response I ever got based on a critique I did (on another site dedicated to younger writers) was someone deciding they were going to quit writing. Usually I'm a fairly harsh (constructive) critic, but I was actually pretty gentle with this person, and while they weren't just quitting because of my comment (they received numerous critiques which suggested heavy editing) I still felt like I had personally killed their dream or something. It's easy to forget that teenagers don't have the thickest of skin. Then again, if he really wanted to be a writer he wouldn't give up after a handful of bad critiques. But otherwise I get pretty good reactions to my critiques.

I once received a critique from someone who is ESL, and so to his credit didn't understand that a lot of the words I used were more slang and colloquial, but he must have spent an hour going through each word and pointing out the proper definition and why I had used it wrong. That's about all he focused on, so the critique wasn't the most helpful, overall.

Buffysquirrel
12-14-2012, 02:33 AM
Some have told me that other critiquers didn't point out the mistakes I had, so I must be wrong.

I hate that. Time and again I've had, "Well, nobody ELSE pointed that out." I don't mind if people ignore my crits* but they don't have to tell me. As for that...maybe I was the only one who read it that closely. At least consider the possibility....

But I can be a cow when I'm critiqued, so....

I think one of the worst ones I had was someone who ripped me apart for Aquilla rather than Aquila then said I needed to get facts right if I was going to write historical fiction. The piece in question was clearly marked alternate history.

*yes i do

AshleyEpidemic
12-14-2012, 02:38 AM
My worst crit experience wasn't even my fault. I had a good friend my freshman year of college who I asked to take a look over at a short piece I wrote for a class. He read it over himself and told me it wasn't bad, but he wasn't great with stories. So he passed on the story to an ex girlfriend of his that reamed my story.

It made me feel awful at the time. I don't think I took any of her advice. I recently went back and read it and out of all the harsh comments only one really had any merit.

le sigh.

VanessaNorth
12-14-2012, 02:48 AM
One of my beta readers told me once that the hero in a particular story was an utter douchebag, and if he were the heroine, no way he would have slept with that guy.

Then, just in case i missed it, he wrote "DOUCHEBAG STYLE" in all caps.

It hurt to read, but you better believe i took a good hard look at that character's behavior and made some changes. My character was much less of a douchebag by te time i submitted (and sold) that book. Could i have sold it with douchebag style intact? The world will never know.

CrastersBabies
12-14-2012, 02:59 AM
I've only had one person ever get "upset" over something I said in a critique. He'd written a story that involved a female character who was over-the-top bitchy and unrealistic. The main character (male) fell in love with this woman and they began a relationship.

I brought it up in class that the female character wasn't likable and (worse) uninteresting. I simply said that I couldn't understand why the male character--who was far more real and fleshed out--would be interested in a woman like that. She was weird for the sake of being weird, mentally unstable, and borderline abusive toward him.

About half the class agreed. Nothing wrong with making this type of character, but make us believe the MC (male) is capable of loving someone like that. We just weren't seeing it because of how she was executed on the page.

He FLIPPED out at the end of the class--wouldn't talk to anyone and stormed off. Then, come to find out the story was extremely close to him and his current girlfriend and their real-life experiences. It's one issue I see in so many stories written by newbies (using the term "newbie" lovingly!). They think there is a great experience in their lives that would make a GREAT story, but are unable to separate it into a fictional context and start taking critique personally because, "that's how it REALLY happened."

I felt bad for the guy, but tried to explain some of what I said above.

On the other end of things, my first workshop during my M.F.A. program. I was up first with a "vet" from the year before. This "vet" spent 7-8 minutes completely trashing the story AND trashing me. Now, I'm not someone who is blind to my own issues when it comes to writing a coherent, tolerable story. Let's be clear on that. But, her critique was so off that I wondered if she read the story at all. She was mentioning scenes that weren't there (and was reminded by one of the other "vets" that she was thinking of another story from LAST year). She made comments like, "This character is just the worst-written character. I'm not sure what you were doing or WHY you're here in this class," and "You have no story here. It's NOT a story. It's just trash." I did have a story. Why did she not see my story? Because she actually started telling me the plot to HER (lack of) story and telling me how bad it was. Then, she told me that I was using the SAME story as her only I was a "first year" and didn't understand how to execute that sort of narrative arc yet. (My story was about a 60-year-old male sheriff who finds a dead baby in a lake and hers was about a girlfriend having a fight with her boyfriend before a New Year's Eve Party.)

So, I sat there and said nothing and just quietly waited. When she finished lambasting me (not one point she made was actually worth a damn, though many of her "vet" friends had awesome critique to offer), she looked at me, batted her eyelashes and said, "Oh, HUN, am I being too harsh? I know you're just a first year." Keep in mind I was 38 and she was 24.

My instructor looked at me, then looked at her and said, "Does she look like she's NOT fine? Looks perfectly okay to me. Next."

I can't detail the entire critique, but apparently it was so bad that three of my fellow "first years" told me later that they did not want to be workshopped at all after that.

As an instructor, I run a tighter workshop. Whenever someone starts to get shitty, it's pretty easy to step in. Rarely happens, honestly. Most students are thoughtful adults who truly want to help their fellow writers and understand the difference between being an asset and being an asshole.

LeslieB
12-14-2012, 03:11 AM
Hmm. I have had one crit that upset me, and another that made me grit my teeth.

A couple of friends, people who knew and liked my work, told me that the opening to a novel I was working on was boring. That stung. I was talking to one of them on chat about it, and was trying to defend some of the things as necessary setup to the rest of the story. I remember I snapped, "So how am I supposed to make this more exciting? Have a ninja fall out of the sky?" And a lightbulb went off. No, I didn't put a ninja in the story, but I did get an idea that solved about a dozen plot problems I was struggling with. Too bad it meant re-writing most of the book, but them's the breaks.

The other was when I was putting out a serialized story on a forum. Another person griped in four or five chapters running that one of my characters wasn't reacting to a particular event 'realistically'. He kept pointing out that -his- protagonist wouldn't do this or that. Polite remarks that our protagonists weren't at all alike didn't seem to penetrate. I managed to keep from saying that I refused to take romance advice from someone who had used the Sex With Your Twu Love Cures Rape Trauma cliche at least three times, but just barely.

CrastersBabies
12-14-2012, 03:15 AM
Hmm... I don't get passive-aggressive replies nearly as much as I get the argumentative ones.

My favorites are the butthurt replies. "You don't understaaaaand! My character/plot/story is speeeecial and can't possibly conform to antiquated notions of grammar, sentence structure, and readability!"

Just have to LMAO at this.... oh boy. Do I ever get this a lot.


From the same person, in the same conversation: "Fantasy is worthless," "your writing is worthless," and "if only you wrote like me, you'd write so much better."

(I didn't take her seriously.)

Don't you love that? When someone cannot get over a genre or style? I had a workshop waste 25 minutes of MY critique time about the use of 2nd person . . . as in, some people thought one should NEVER use it. How dare I use it. One fellow student also turned in a horror/mystery (literary, but still horror/mystery) and three M.F.A. students, people who should be dedicating their academic lives to the study of fiction, threw their hands up and said, "Well, I don't even KNOW how to critique this. It's . . . GENRE."

Well, ya critique it like you do everything else, Chachi. Pretty simple.

Calla Lily
12-14-2012, 03:34 AM
Way back in college, I had to take one poetry course. Once a week we were required to write a poem in a certain style or meter or something. I knew enough to write something throwaway specifically for the class. We had to read our stuff out loud, too.

One earnest young man read a long poem about someone's idolized older brother who'd died. The poem was terrible: boring, repetitive, poor meter, etc. I watched his face as he read it and knew that it was a true-life poem.

Sure enough, when the class savaged it, I saw it in his face. He got angry, then loud and belligerent, then miserable. It was awful.

Yanno the only true-life incident I put in my ex-nun mysteries? When I took a self-defense class at the local karate studio and my instructor broke my nose. Everyone gasps, then laughs, and no hurt feelings anywhere.

Amadan
12-14-2012, 03:39 AM
My worst critique experience? I posted a harsh but (IMO) fair critique on a critique-sharing site of a very poorly-written first chapter in a fantasy novel.

The author I critiqued left me a very harsh critique in return. It was the first bad review I'd received, but okay, fair enough. There were a lot of things in her critique that seemed off-point and made me think she was being retaliatory, but I thanked her and tried to pick out what helpful bits I could.

Then I got another critique from someone who, as far as I could tell, had only signed up that day, and only ever critiqued me:


I'm afraid I have to disagree with the individual that said he believed your work was ready for publishing and mentioned a query letter. I think he either got a good review and was trying to return the favor, or he wasn't being honest. I believe it needs a tremendous amount of help.

.....

To be completely honest, I found the world to be boring, the characters unbelievable, and I'm absolutely positive I wouldn't waste good money on this book if it was published. I wouldn't even read it if it was free.

What was in the "....." was no kinder.

Okay. Pretty sure this was a friend of author #1, but fine, whatever. The actual critique was worthless because even if this person was correct, there were no specific suggestions about things that could improve it, just a lot of variations on "You suck."

I then made the mistake of critiquing Author #1's second chapter, trying to be gentler this time. Author #1 responded by leaving me a "critique" telling me never to review her again because she would delete my critiques unread. Followed by the person above leaving another critique saying that I was an inhumane SOB trashing other writers, all my critiques were "poisonous," and that the reason my writing sucked was that since I have so little understanding of my fellow human beings, that obviously transmits itself into my terrible, awful, boring, inhuman characters.

o..O

I'll admit, I have a thick skin, but I was kind of WTF? for a while after that. And I'm now leerier of critiquing people I don't know.

Tirjasdyn
12-14-2012, 03:41 AM
I think I've posted this before. It still stands out as the worse critique I've ever had:

"You know vampires aren't real, right?"

Worst experience critiquing. Two experiences stand out. We had a guy who had revised his novel and submitted for a new critique. There were lots of plot holes and questions that came up. Nothing drastic, most of it easily fixable. He then asked if it was okay if he kept submitting it in 10,000 word chunks, which was about 4,000 over the limit. When the idea was turned down by the group, he told us that he planned to have novel published in four weeks so he needed it critiqued by then. We were a little aghast, asking why he was submitting for critique with the intent to publish in that short of time span? How could he make revisions?

That's when he told us he only re-subbed it for critique to make us feel better. He wasn't going to actually do anymore revisions. Considering it also came to point that he wasn't submitting critiques himself, he quit that day. Published his ebook. Never heard another word about it. Funny thing is that we had another short-lived member who did the exact same thing...but we caught the warning signs.

The second worst was probably the person we found out didn't read at all. He had no idea what the tropes of fiction were, he had very shallow characters and no sense of plot. It was nearly impossible to critique him because he had no idea what we were talking about.

Example: we were discussing romance era novels, and he makes a crack about romance novels being smutty. We all blinked and looked at him then ventured to say we were discussing an era not modern romance novels. However, we then, politely asked why he thought they were smutty (we had a few romance authors among us) and his reply was his wife told him they were.

Another: we started calling his first book a fantasy novel, and he got angry because he said he wasn't writing fantasy. When we tried to find out what he meant, we found out that he didn't know that elves, fairies and magic were things found in a fantasy novel. I kid you not. We were dumbfounded.

Took him two years to publish his books as ebooks after he left the group.

Alexandra Little
12-14-2012, 03:50 AM
Don't you love that? When someone cannot get over a genre or style? I had a workshop waste 25 minutes of MY critique time about the use of 2nd person . . . as in, some people thought one should NEVER use it. How dare I use it. One fellow student also turned in a horror/mystery (literary, but still horror/mystery) and three M.F.A. students, people who should be dedicating their academic lives to the study of fiction, threw their hands up and said, "Well, I don't even KNOW how to critique this. It's . . . GENRE."

Well, ya critique it like you do everything else, Chachi. Pretty simple.

Ah yes, the old "I can't critique genre, because it's foreign and weird and worth far less than proper literary fiction" excuse.

From that same person, I was told that my story was Oedipal in tone, and that the only reason the Oedipus complex would come through in my story would be because I must be feeling that deep in my own soul.

The reason that my story had shades of the Oedipus complex was because I had a teenage girl in a scene with an older man who functions as her guardian/bodyguard. That's Oedipal, apparently.

I could write a book on what this person said in workshop.

Unimportant
12-14-2012, 03:56 AM
I think the weirdest experience I had was when several critiquers (of the professional kind, at a professional workshop) all said the same thing about my character's motivation, what it was he really wanted. And I just didn't see it. It never crossed my mind when I wrote the story; that simply was never in my character's head. I revised that story a zillion times, tried really hard to see what everyone else saw, tried to fit it into my character's head, but never got there, not even years later, not even after I sold the story for publication. Made me feel stupid as shit that I couldn't see something that was patently obvious to the rest of the world.

Parametric
12-14-2012, 04:02 AM
I hurt a lot of people's feelings in my critiquing days before I became a paid editor and had to become more diplomatic. On the other hand, at least I was never as harsh as the person who sent me a 2000-word rant about how my work was physically painful to read. :rolleyes:

Atlantis
12-14-2012, 04:16 AM
I had someone say to me once "I believe people are born with talent and you were not" I was pretty shocked and hurt by that but this person was not my friend, did not like me even a little bit, so after a couple of days I shook it off and told myself her opinion did not matter. I was stupid to show her my writing in the first place but I was only 14.

DeleyanLee
12-14-2012, 04:29 AM
Back many moons ago, on another site, I was in a class based on Maass' Writing the Breakout Novel. We had gone through the entire class, with the teacher (a multi-published SF/F author) having given comments to each of us on all the sections we'd covered of the book.

So one guy finished writing his book in about 3 weeks while the rest of us were still writing the beginnings of ours. And he started pressuring us for critique--which was allowed and encouraged in the class. I frankly refused to read it because I knew how he wrote and I knew it couldn't be really finished and I wanted to give him time to polish it up.

And he started cornering me on the class board and in private and public chat, nagging me to do a crit. He finally cornered me sans friends in public chat and got the entire chatroom to badger me into doing the crit.

So I took a few days, read his book, and did the crit.

It was 20 handwritten pages long, complete with links back to the teacher's commentary of what he needed to fix but hadn't and how all it all added up to an epic fail of a book.

His response was to try to use his position as a mod to get me banned from the site.

The teacher, however, agreed with my crit--thanked me for taking the time she hadn't had--and I didn't get banned.

That was my worst experience as a critter.

My worst time getting a crit is when a beta decided she didn't like my hero's name, so she globally replaced it in the entire book for me. Wasn't that thoughtful? And then she didn't like the fact that the narrative was in "in voice" and had a non-standard cadence, so she kindly rewrote the entire first chapter for me so it was entirely grammatically correct (and dead). Oh, and her favorite character was the one that completely dampened all conflict and stakes in the story.

Ah, yeah. I thanked her kindly and never let her see another word I've ever written.

And then there was the one critter who read my book and, because there was a single kiss in it, informed me that "You masturbated all over the page and I was embarrassed to read it." Literally, one on-screen kiss and a hermetically sealed door on the actual sex. I still LMAO about that one.

And then there was the beta who informed me, "I think I spent more time editing this than you did writing it and I bet you're not going to take a single one of my comments." Gee, y'think?

Buffysquirrel
12-14-2012, 04:34 AM
Reminds of a copyedit that was done at a magazine I was editing for, where the author rejected each and every edit. Then the story landed on my desk with a note about how this was the story's "last chance". I think I made two edits.

RedWombat
12-14-2012, 04:40 AM
This is related, though not quite literary critique!

I started out as an artist, and I would post little snippets with the paintings on-line, usually worldbuilding or very short stories so that the painting would be the punchline. Many gallery sites have an option where people can comment under the painting, and you can get everything from "Love!" to in depth critiques about anatomy (whether you want them or not.) And as with anything on the internet, you do get the occasional crazy. (Personal favorite: "I despise the arrogant wombat!" The wombat was just sitting there, but apparently it really bothered him.)

Holy hell, though, you paint a weird dragon that does not conform to type--or you say anything less than conciliatory about dragonkind--and crazy people will fall out of the woodwork.

I had people telling me that because I said that dragons had a brain the size of a walnut (the painting was of a giant riding macaw--clearly a much brainier steed!) that I was a heretic, an apostate, and "the dragons would take care of me." (Somehow I don't think they meant that the dragons would bring me milk and cookies and make sure my car's oil was topped off, either.) I even got a couple of what might have been death threats.

These were people who Knew What Dragons Looked Like and god help you if you deviate. I gazed into the abyss, and the abyss had e-mail.

Fortunately that was all years ago and I guess those people found other parts of the internet to hang out on. Me, I still say dragons are blind and use specially trained Seeing-Eye Lungfish to get around.

Wicked
12-14-2012, 05:02 AM
Wombats . . .

:Jaw: Holy smokes. Do you have a gallery at Elfwood? I knew I recognized that avatar.

Your work is wonderfully weird in the best possible way. Let no one tell you different.

And now I'll take off the fangirl hat and crawl back under my rock.

Amadan
12-14-2012, 05:07 AM
These were people who Knew What Dragons Looked Like and god help you if you deviate. I gazed into the abyss, and the abyss had e-mail.


Otherkin!!!! :eek:

RedWombat
12-14-2012, 05:36 AM
Wombats . . .

:Jaw: Holy smokes. Do you have a gallery at Elfwood? I knew I recognized that avatar.

Your work is wonderfully weird in the best possible way. Let no one tell you different.

And now I'll take off the fangirl hat and crawl back under my rock.

Guilty as charged! Though I'm on DeviantArt these days. (Small world, huh?)

blacbird
12-14-2012, 05:51 AM
Back in the 1980s, at the first writer's conference I ever attended. It involved a workshop, with critiques of submissions by the pro writers. But what writer looked at your submission was entirely arbitrary.

My black humor satirical story, with some strong language in it, wound up in the hands of a geriatric female romance novelist with views on language seriously influenced by evangelical considerations.

Let's just say it wasn't a good fit.

caw

buz
12-14-2012, 06:22 AM
I've never had any horrible critique experiences...:(

I may have given horrible critiques...but...hm. Can't remember. They must have all been perfect...:D

CrastersBabies
12-14-2012, 06:42 AM
From that same person, I was told that my story was Oedipal in tone, and that the only reason the Oedipus complex would come through in my story would be because I must be feeling that deep in my own soul.

LOL, holy cow.

Reading some of these stories makes me wonder where some folks get the ego. It's one thing to genuinely disagree with a critiquer, or, to take it roughly at first then let it sink it. It's another thing to refuse to edit/change a single thing in your work because "it's finished," or "someone else just doesn't GET it."

When I was working in the RPG industry, my editor gave a big project (25k words) to a brand new, untested contract writer who had a lot of knowledge about the game and knew the lore inside and out. His writing? Utterly atrocious. Unprintable. When they tried to get him to turn in edits (not sure why they bothered) he threatened to SUE the company, that his work is good "AS IS."

Obviously it did not work out and yours truly had to edit this dork's work and make it worthy of publication. Let's just say that after 2 days of trying to fix it, I just ended up rewriting the entire thing.

Again, where do these people get it in their heads that writing is a one-time experience that requires no editing or proofreading whatsoever? And why do they throw massive fits when asked to correct things?

Schilcote
12-14-2012, 06:52 AM
The absolute worst response to my writing I have ever received...

Are you're sure you're ready for it? Here it is:


wow this is pretty good a little strange but still real good can't wait 4 ur next update :)

I guess I'm just lucky when it comes to not getting caustic criticism. :P

TNK
12-14-2012, 07:30 AM
Before I joined this forum, I tried to beta read for someone I knew in the fan fic community I hung out in.

I did my best to be polite and point out what I liked, and what I didn't like. Things seemed to go well and then they just stopped sending me the chapters, but they kept posting the story.

It made me feel like I'd done something wrong. :e2bummed:

I didn't offer to beta read for a good while after that.

G. Applejack
12-14-2012, 07:46 AM
I've been lucky. Sometimes I get off-the-wall feedback that seems to be more about the issues of the critiquer than the actual story, but it's not the end of the world.

My most memorable bad experience was when I was young and asked an online friend to beta read some fanfiction. She corrected my grammar, and then attached an additional story of her own: A parody of mine, where the characters got together and made fun of my fic, Mystery Science Theater 3000 style.

There are several ways to tell your friend that their story sucks. That was... one of the more creative.

Kerosene
12-14-2012, 08:13 AM
"You know, you don't know how to write. Like, you can't, like, have all character actions, like, and tell a story that way. I want to know what's going on, like that."

"So how do I do that?"

"Like, you need to tell me all the character's thoughts."

"I would think that the reader could understand what the character is going through and make their own assumptions of the situation."

"Like, you don't understand me."

"Okay."

DreamWeaver
12-14-2012, 08:20 AM
I gazed into the abyss, and the abyss had e-mail. This was just so full of awesome that I had to quote it.

Putputt
12-14-2012, 08:28 AM
Worst crit experience...was at a poetry reading organized by my uni. One of the guest poets, a well-respected figure, read a poem that I found really delightful. Afterwards, I and a few other people went up to him to tell him how much we enjoyed his poem. He thanked us and then looked at me and said, "Why, you are absolutely lovely." He then reached out to grab me before stumbling and falling to his hands and knees.

That was when we realized he'd come to the reading totally drunk. He was very politely escorted back to his hotel and never invited to future readings.

ArachnePhobia
12-14-2012, 09:06 AM
I feel extremely fortunate, reading some of these horror stories. I don't usually write crits because I'm not very good at it, but the serious crits I've recieved have always been polite and professional.

I say serious, however, because...



Okay. Pretty sure this was a friend of author #1, but fine, whatever. The actual critique was worthless because even if this person was correct, there were no specific suggestions about things that could improve it, just a lot of variations on "You suck."

Back when I was in fandom, one of my friends... not even me, but one of my friends... left a detailed critique on a story. The author then proceeded to leave vicious negative reviews, not only on his stories, but on the stories of everyone on his friends list. I was on his friends list. But my stories were a bit on the popular side, so instead of leaving a nasty review, said author just spammed my public messages with a bunch of profanity-laced gibberish.

I didn't remove it. I left it up there for everyone to admire. I have a sick sense of humor.

jjdebenedictis
12-14-2012, 10:36 AM
(I) asked an online friend to beta read some fanfiction. She corrected my grammar, and then attached an additional story of her own: A parody of mine, where the characters got together and made fun of my fic, Mystery Science Theater 3000 style.

There are several ways to tell your friend that their story sucks. That was... one of the more creative.She sporked your story? I don't know whether to shudder in sympathetic horror or laugh hysterically--yeah, that's a wee bit harsh.

BlankWhitePage
12-14-2012, 10:52 AM
I had a classmate in my creative writing class in college who had, let's just say some very... passionate political and religious views. Not saying what side of the fence as that isn't important. But he would critique not only my work but the work of those around him with that passionate eye and if he didn't think our work supported his agenda, oh would he make it known. Needless to say, I made sure he stopped getting my work.

I try not to be too harsh in critiques but some things I have read have just been laughable. I read a piece on another writing community I belong to that was possibly the poorest piece of work I've ever seen, mostly due to a horrid grasp of basic grammar. I think me and several other people offended the author with our grammatical corrections as he has now said he will never ask for help again.

Katrina S. Forest
12-14-2012, 12:12 PM
Worst experience for giving critiques: In-person groups in which the author's explanation about why my critique is wrong lasts longer than my critique itself.

Worst experience for receiving critiques: Refusal to complete reading my story, even though I had already completed my share of the swap. The "you have so much to learn, unlike me" type critiques from people with less sales than I have.

Alessandra Kelley
12-14-2012, 03:38 PM
I went to art school at a good, but not necessarily all that rigorous, school. I was interested in exploring disciplined techniques and classical forms, while the overall philosophy of this school was more conceptual and bleeding edge. We were not that great a fit, although I did have some fabulous teachers.

However, I will never forget the painting class critique with the famous celebrity teacher, one whose paintings were all gigantic conceptual abstracts of thick, gooshy sculptural masses of paint, who turned to me and said "Why are you here anyway?"

LadyV
12-14-2012, 06:05 PM
I feel almost disappointed that I don't have any horror stories to add to the thread, but those I've have both entertained and disgusted me.

RedWombat
12-14-2012, 06:37 PM
I went to art school at a good, but not necessarily all that rigorous, school. I was interested in exploring disciplined techniques and classical forms, while the overall philosophy of this school was more conceptual and bleeding edge. We were not that great a fit, although I did have some fabulous teachers.


Oh god, I have been there! My absolute favorite was the tiny Russian professor who looked over my work, threw her hands in the air, and said in deep disgust "You! You vant to draw Vonder Voman!"

Though I will give her great credit--when I stuck to my guns and handed in three large fantasy portraits at the end, she said "You could hef half-assed this because you knew I vould hate it either vay. But you didn't. You get a B. Now take them out of my sight!"

I think of her fondly.

kkbe
12-14-2012, 06:37 PM
My most painful crit (followed by one of the sweetest) wasn't for my writing, but for a poster I'd created in one of my graphic design classes in college. We students were voting to determine which five posters (of forty or so) would be entered in CCS's annual art show. When the vote got around to mine, the professor said, "Who thinks this one belongs in the show?"

I'm standing next to my poster, waiting for somebody to say something. Nobody would look at me. Nobody said a word.

"I do," I said.

And my professor said, "So do I."

:)

jclarkdawe
12-14-2012, 06:46 PM
For my favorite meltdown about being critiqued, see Go Ahead, Make My Day (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=164405&highlight=basil) (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/misc/multipage.gif 1 (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=164405&highlight=basil) 2 (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=164405&page=2&highlight=basil)). And you might want to take a look at Handling Harsh/Mean-Spirited Critiques (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=219765&highlight=clark-dawe) (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/misc/multipage.gif 1 (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=219765&highlight=clark-dawe) 2 (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=219765&page=2&highlight=clark-dawe) 3 (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=219765&page=3&highlight=clark-dawe) ... Last Page (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=219765&page=11&highlight=clark-dawe)) on critiques.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Sorin
12-14-2012, 07:00 PM
I once had an Aussie writer slam me for my use of American phrases in my writing (I'm from Chicago).

She also called my writing erotic because my characters had sex, and that wasn't meant as a compliment. Now that I actually *write* erotic, I look back at that manuscript and laugh and laugh and laugh.

G. Applejack
12-14-2012, 08:01 PM
She sporked your story? I don't know whether to shudder in sympathetic horror or laugh hysterically--yeah, that's a wee bit harsh.


Yup, she sure did. She didn't go over the top and post it publicly, and I mostly laughed it off at the time, but looking back... yeah, that was a little messed up. :D

fadeaccompli
12-14-2012, 08:24 PM
He FLIPPED out at the end of the class--wouldn't talk to anyone and stormed off. Then, come to find out the story was extremely close to him and his current girlfriend and their real-life experiences.

Oh god. I have been there. I mean, not there there, but in a similar situation. Creative writing class in college, and I basically said that one story had some nice prose and an interesting structure, but the protagonist was a self-absorbed soppy mess that wasn't sympathetic at all, and that the ending break-up letter that was all "Oh, you are too excellent of a protagonist for me! Go be happy! I do not deserve you!" from his girlfriend was laughable.

Guess what story was thinly disguised autobiography!

In the same class, I also got into some nasty passive-aggressive critique practices with a woman who did not at all like the sort of thing I wrote, and...well, I didn't think she was a very good writer either. In retrospect, it's embarrassing; I just shouldn't have engaged. But we disagreed in our analysis of every story we read--if I liked a character, she hated that character, if I thought a plot point worked poorly she thought it was brilliant, and so forth--and since we were all required to critique each other's work in a praise/criticism/praise way, we got...uh...snarky.

As in, a lot of praise along the lines of "You did a really good job of effectively portraying the protagonist as an idiot! Especially since it was from his perspective, so you had to show by his actions that he was deluded," and so forth. Or the curse of the creative writing class critique: "I really liked your imagery." Which was what everyone said when they could not think of anything else good to say about a piece.

Beyond that, I haven't had any really horrible critiques. Some were more useful than others, but that's standard. I did get one critique that was sort of baffling because it kept criticizing the story for things that were part of that genre--sort of the equivalent of "Why does your romance story have a happy ending? I don't like this because the ending is happy!"--but there was still some good stuff in that critique, and I write it off as an example of why I should be far more explicit about genre when seeking betas.

Zelenka
12-14-2012, 08:28 PM
In terms of responses to critiques, I know I've had a few people screaming at me that I didn't understand what they were trying to do etc, but I don't remember the details, just that I thought at the time that if that were true, they must've been trying to create a new version of English without spelling or grammar to get in the way, and that's what I wasn't getting.

Think I mentioned this on another thread but one of the weirdest ones I got was from a beta reader who said she refused to read my book until I learned to spell. Turns out what she objected to was my use of spellings like 'humour' and 'colour'. When I pointed out that I was British, and that that's how we spell things here, she informed me that I was making excuses and that I would have to become much more mature and able to take criticism before she'd continue reading. I was fine with her ditching the project to be honest...

Worst one also was a colleague at work, who has a masters in creative writing that he likes to throw into every conversation. When I got word I'd been shortlisted for quite a cool contest that I thought I'd no chance in, the letter came to work and I was squeeing like a mad thing, so he grabbed my laptop from my desk while I was distracted (I'd actually been working on the book in my break) and started to tell me why it was crap. He also told me I couldn't have everyone in the first chapter being Czech. I told him everyone in the book was Czech, and he said that was a problem. I said that the book was set in the Czech Republic. He still didn't back down. Too many Czech people. I also tried to tell him it was a crime novel so about 70% of those Czechs didn't make it to the end, so there were less of them by the last chapters... Still didn't change his mind. Oh well.

I've had the 'you can't write a male POV character because you're a woman' one too, as well as 'you have no right to write about English history because you're Scottish'.

V1c
12-14-2012, 09:05 PM
I've just gotten rude and clueless critiques in my past. MFA classes were the worst. One, first year, I see she wrote, "well, there's a weird one in every class, good to know early on it's going to be you." - yeah, that made a not good impression on me.

The best for clueless, since I'm mixed race but again, MFA so everyone has to be white, was 'Why do you write about Asians? Where are the white people? And why do they have jobs? They should be a waitress or something.' She then went on to explain the meanings of the names I had given my characters because, you know, she knew the meaning of chinese names - she's a good person like that.

Calla Lily
12-14-2012, 09:29 PM
:Jaw: Have you killed this person off in various unpleasant ways in succeeding books?

Whistle_White
12-14-2012, 09:35 PM
When I first took part in a writing workshop, I was the youngest member there. I was in my early twenties and most of the people were pushing fifty, but everyone was nice and helpful.

Except this one lady.

She picked on me - no way around it, she picked on me because I was young and my writing a little bit more structured than hers. She had great ideas, but her scenes kind of melted one with the other and made it difficult to read - I pointed that out once and she took it quite badly.

From then on, she would try and pinpoint the smallest mistakes in my writing and make a biiiig deal out of it (you used this word twice in one paragraph! That's lazy!!) or else be extremely condescending - "Don't worry honey, this is something you only learn with age." When the teacher/guide corrected anything, she would nod grandly and stare at me smiling, mutter stuff like "Yes, that's correct, yes, did you hear that?"

Luckily I was able to leave the group soon after that and find another one I really enjoyed.

Theo81
12-15-2012, 12:14 AM
Not for writing, but for art - when I was fifteen, I showed my work to somebody who said: "If that's what you handed in, I'm surprised you got a B".

That person was my Mammy.



Then there was the time during my A Levels (the UK equivalent of High School) - as part of our final grade we had to write an essay on a subject but the essay had to be presented in an arty way, so lots of graphic design and illustration. On this particular day, we had to take our projects in so our tutor could check we were getting on with it and we weren't going to run into deadline issues. So, she's looking at mine, then she asks me if she can borrow it.
Then she calls the class together, shows them my work (yes, mentioning that it was mine, although they would have known anyway) and proceeded to go through it explaining, with examples from my work, exactly what we shouldn't do, and if we did, how we shouldn't do it. She only stopped when she became aware the entire room was looking at her in utter horror.


As for feedback to crits I've given ... I tend to write it off. If somebody gets narked, or tells me it's evidence of my mental problems, because I've pointed out what I feel are flaws, that's up to them. My time is always given freely. Nobody owes me anything: not agreement, not MS changes.

I do get tired of the people who feel compelled to give an "that'll show her!" response. I critted a work and commented on the long, long sentences used and the writer told me they only read classic works, not JK Rowling or EL James, so that was probably the reason for their "mistakes" (their inverted commas). I googled them and found a YADS profile for them where they said their favourite books were the Harry Potter Series and 50 Shades.



I had one person tell me "at least I was honest" when my avatar tagline said "brings nothing to the table" (they also accused me of just siding with Theo because we were in some sort of anti-boy's club)



Fneh. Like I'd let YOU in MY club.

acockey
12-15-2012, 12:17 AM
@Theo81 the in class one is like the worst underwear dream ever...are you sure that was real life, or is your writing starting to become your reality?

Great stories everyone

Theo81
12-15-2012, 12:25 AM
@Theo81 the in class one is like the worst underwear dream ever...are you sure that was real life, or is your writing starting to become your reality?

Great stories everyone

I know it wasn't my writing because nobody had a Welsh accent. :D

Little Ming
12-15-2012, 12:34 AM
I had one person tell me "at least I was honest" when my avatar tagline said "brings nothing to the table" (they also accused me of just siding with Theo because we were in some sort of anti-boy's club)

one tell me they felt sorry for my children and that I was heartless

one claim I was "weaponizing my education"

one call me "quickslime"



bonus point for any of that?



Fneh. Like I'd let YOU in MY club.

But Theo, you mean you're anti-boy and you hate women? :tongue

And I think you should only get a bonus point if someone gets banned. (Of course that probably means Jim wins.)

acockey
12-15-2012, 12:36 AM
As creator of Thread I hereby Declare that there can be no winner in this thread

Also Jim will thusly receive 1.75 points

Buffysquirrel
12-15-2012, 02:28 AM
As creator of Thread I hereby Declare that there can be no winner in this thread

No winner? You mean you got us here under false pretences?

LindaJeanne
12-15-2012, 02:30 AM
My worst crit experience was from a person who never read a word of my writing. She came into my office one day while I was discussing a piece with a friend. She looked at me and said, as from the Mount, "You won't ever get anything published. You know what? You should just be a librarian."
As a professional with a library science degree... :rant:


Ever wish you could go back in time and give your younger self a good talking to?
Don't we all?


I had one crit send back helpful nitpicks and useful questions, but she began the crit with a warning that I was unequipped to handle my own character's perspective, just because the character was a different sex from mine.
This is a pet peeve of mine. So, it's fine to write from the point of view of someone in another profession, a different socio-economic/political background, or of a murderer. It's fine to write from the point of view of someone in another historical era, a world completely unlike earth, or who belongs to a non-human alien or fantasy race.

But someone who's a different gender? Gasp! How can you relate?? :rolleyes:



his draconic mythology
I see what you did there ;)

@Maryn: Because acknowledging the existence of misogyny makes one a misogynist right? If everyone would just ignore it, it would go away?


@RedWombat: You've provided me with two new favorite quotes: the wonderfully surreal "I despise the arrogant wombat!", and the painfully true "I gazed into the abyss, and the abyss had e-mail."

@V1c:
:Jaw::Jaw:

A.P.M.
12-15-2012, 03:09 AM
I go into critique bursts, where I'll decide I want to edit lots of writing in order to get a taste of critical reading. They last for a while, but sometimes end when something annoys me.

The first time I got too annoyed to continue was back on another site, which was populated mostly by teenagers learning to write. I never critted anything longer than a novella, but most of them were extremely grateful for my help, which I appreciated. There was one, though, who simply could not write at all, and would not thank me for my critiques. She would simply keep sending me things to critique, over and over, and each time it would be worse than the last. She clearly was making no attempt to improve, and I eventually told her that I didn't have the time to help her anymore.

The latest round of me critiquing ended when I took a lot of time on someone's novel and got nothing but the typical "you just don't get it" response, which floored me. I had never gotten that response before. What made it worse is that I got that response immediately after sending the critique, which just implies they didn't put any thought into what I had to say before dismissing it.

JustJas
12-16-2012, 07:33 AM
I'm sorry about people's bad critique experiences but some of these stories are hilarious. :roll:

victoriastrauss
12-16-2012, 08:02 AM
My college creative writing teacher told me that if I ever wanted to mature as a writer, I'd have to move on from "that fantasy stuff."

(This was a class of 15 sensitive souls all of whom were Very Very Serious about their writing, none of whom would ever have gotten within spitting distance of genre fiction. I often wonder how many of them are publishing today.)

- Victoria

Nicole River
12-16-2012, 10:47 AM
My college creative writing teacher told me that if I ever wanted to mature as a writer, I'd have to move on from "that fantasy stuff."

(This was a class of 15 sensitive souls all of whom were Very Very Serious about their writing, none of whom would ever have gotten within spitting distance of genre fiction. I often wonder how many of them are publishing today.)

- Victoria

And this is why I'm SCARED of starting the creative writing program. What if it's all like this ? :( Then again I had two genre pieces in my portfolio and i got in :)

Some of the stories here truly are awful. Nothing nearly as bad happened to me, but once I had a crit partner just disappear on me halfway through the process. Just one day poof, and not another word. Okay, I get it, it was that bad... ;)

Bartholomew
12-16-2012, 10:54 AM
And this is why I'm SCARED of starting the creative writing program. What if it's all like this ? :( Then again I had two genre pieces in my portfolio and i got in :)

Some of the stories here truly are awful. Nothing nearly as bad happened to me, but once I had a crit partner just disappear on me halfway through the process. Just one day poof, and not another word. Okay, I get it, it was that bad... ;)

I've just finished a creative writing program. I strongly advise you not to bother. Consider writers' retreats instead.

thepicpic
12-16-2012, 02:35 PM
And this is why I'm SCARED of starting the creative writing program. What if it's all like this ?

It's not. I'm currently in my final year, but the others on the course are all great people and there's not even the slightest hint of anti-genre hatred. Some of the tutors have been... less than optimal, but by and large I have no regrets. For taking the course, I mean.

I've only known I want to write for a few years and have only hit the halfway point of my first draft of my (hopefully) first novel in the last month, so dodgy feedback has been thin on the ground for me. I do have an interesting little gem from my GCSE days (err, middle school equivalent? Not sure, I'm afraid).

I was to do one of those dry essays on... hell, I can't even remember now. I got awfully bored in the process and decided I would make the task more interesting by using every synonym for 'walk' under the sun, with the goal of not repeating the same word twice.
My teacher informed me I wasn't taking it seriously and told me to rewrite the whole thing. Apart from my little word game, it was the same tedious dirge everyone else handed in.

Happily, I was (and still am) stubborn enough to not back down and handed the same essay, albeit with some improvements to the rest of the piece, three times before she finally gave in. Better yet, this set us at odds- which made me even more determined to get a good grade.

I still believe any essay can be improved by perambulating.

Alessandra Kelley
12-16-2012, 03:37 PM
Oh god, I have been there! My absolute favorite was the tiny Russian professor who looked over my work, threw her hands in the air, and said in deep disgust "You! You vant to draw Vonder Voman!"

Though I will give her great credit--when I stuck to my guns and handed in three large fantasy portraits at the end, she said "You could hef half-assed this because you knew I vould hate it either vay. But you didn't. You get a B. Now take them out of my sight!"

I think of her fondly.

:D


My college creative writing teacher told me that if I ever wanted to mature as a writer, I'd have to move on from "that fantasy stuff."

(This was a class of 15 sensitive souls all of whom were Very Very Serious about their writing, none of whom would ever have gotten within spitting distance of genre fiction. I often wonder how many of them are publishing today.)

- Victoria

Oh man, I got so much of the visual equivalent of that in art school. My art history teachers seemed cool with my realistic (technical art term, contrast to "abstract") and genre interests, but many of my studio teachers tried subtly or not so subtly to steer me away from it.

The first teacher who was really supportive of my artmaking interests taught scientific illustration, and he was often at loggerheads with the rest of the faculty anyway.

He was my best teacher ever, a tiny Polish man with a senior position at the local science museum and a ruthlessly disciplined approach.

writeontime
12-16-2012, 07:28 PM
I started out as an artist. Worst (and quite laughable) critique in art school: a Painting Prof gave a critique of my end-of-year paintings and listed why, in his view, I would never make it as an artist. Having just graduated from another art school, I didn't have a problem with his critique as I had received far worse ones. In the former art school, I and along with other students got used to receiving harsh critiques from this highly temperamental hot-headed painting tutor whose emotions would swing quite wildly from one end of the spectrum to another.

But what took the biscuit was when this Painting Prof., after having critiqued my paintings, proceeded to try to convert me to his evangelical beliefs. What should have been a dialogue in painting techniques, etc. descended into a debate about the hermeneutics of religion and eschatology. Yegads, it's quite laughable in hindsight...

Another bloody awful critique experience: this time, it was a postgraduate seminar discussion. When it came to my paper, a fellow student (let's call him student A) took exception to it and gave his critique. Before I could respond to his points, another fellow student (let's call her B) leapt into the discussion and listed her reasons why he was mistaken in his interpretation. Needless to say, what should have been a measured discussion descended rapidly into chaos with me sitting gobsmacked on the sidelines, trying to interrupt a very heated debate. The seminar tutor was useless and wasn't providing any effective moderation. You know what happened next? Student A slapped student B for disagreeing with him. Seminar tutor fled the room. Uproar ensued among the students in the seminar room.

Following that incident, we made a complaint. Took it to the appropriate channels in the university. We did everything we were advised to do. Nothing was done. Seminar tutor also refused to provide a witness account.

I certainly learned a lot of valuable lessons from the above.

Tirjasdyn
12-16-2012, 10:52 PM
And this is why I'm SCARED of starting the creative writing program. What if it's all like this ? :( Then again I had two genre pieces in my portfolio and i got in :)


Not all programs are like this. In fact the one I went to completely changed in the last 10 years, dropped the crit style they had been using and welcomes genre & and those that want to publish.

A complete 180 degree turn from when I was in the program. I'm a little jealous, and in the end it didn't matter. I managed to get through the program writing only genre, regardless of how many times I was told that I was a hack, a moron, and untalented by the other students and some of the profs.

If you want to be a writer, you write, after all.

Kitty27
12-17-2012, 08:52 AM
I've had many!

One person told me that writing from the POV of a male European was beyond my skill level.

Another informed that I was using improper vampire lore as most fiction on the shelves doesn't feature vamps of color. I sent links about how vampire legends are in every culture around the world in one form or another. Said person informed that those legends don't count. Chile.

I had a critique that consisted solely of how many times I used a certain word. No notes about the plot,flow,character development and other things I had specifically asked about.

Another incident with my horror novels and multicultural characters occurred when a member of my old critique group applauded me for writing characters of color and how good I was as a White writer to be doing that. I explained that I am Black and she sent me another email saying that she had no idea Black people could write like that. Again,chile.

PEBKAC
12-18-2012, 10:32 AM
I was in a short story class at a university. It was workshop style. My story had 40 minutes of critique time. At least 25 of those 40 minutes were focused on the placement of a particular period (as in punctuation) in my story. No matter where the class tried taking things, the professor kept bringing things back to THE period.

I realized three things that day: 1 - college can be a huge waste of money. 2 - I hated the university I was attending. 3 - If there were such a thing as a professional period placer, I could rely on this professor for a recommendation.

PEBKAC
12-18-2012, 11:14 AM
Oh! I also received this little gem once: "Seeing how old you are, I thought it would be better. Oh well."

Stacia Kane
12-18-2012, 04:01 PM
Oh! I also received this little gem once: "Seeing how old you are, I thought it would be better. Oh well."


:Jaw:



Among other experiences, which were mostly just eye-rolling, I got a first-chapter crit once where the critter in question decided they knew where my story was going and proceeded to tell me how lame and cliche they found their idea of what my story was, and how it didn't appeal to them, and how I was going to have to do better than that. Except that wasn't my story at all, actually. They wrote several paragraphs outlining the problems with where they thought the story was going, and basically nothing about what was actually there.

It was like someone watched the first ten minutes of JAWS and proceeded to say the movie sucked because obviously the shark was going to learn to walk on dry land and eat every person on Amity Island.

(Note: I'm not saying my book was as good as the movie JAWS, that was just an easily recognizable example of the concept.)

DreamWeaver
12-18-2012, 05:47 PM
While annoying, that's almost positive in a way. Few things make me happier with a story, be it book or film, than it going in a direction I didn't expect. Especially after I mistakenly think I see where it's going :D.

ETA: Except, of course, if the unexpected direction is entirely artificial instead of organic to the story. Which I'm utterly certain you would never do ;).

BethS
12-18-2012, 06:29 PM
:Jaw:



Among other experiences, which were mostly just eye-rolling, I got a first-chapter crit once where the critter in question decided they knew where my story was going and proceeded to tell me how lame and cliche they found their idea of what my story was, and how it didn't appeal to them, and how I was going to have to do better than that. Except that wasn't my story at all, actually. They wrote several paragraphs outlining the problems with where they thought the story was going, and basically nothing about what was actually there.



That sounds very similar to the experience I had.

Lycoplax
12-18-2012, 07:18 PM
I've had many!

One person told me that writing from the POV of a male European was beyond my skill level.

...

Another incident with my horror novels and multicultural characters occurred when a member of my old critique group applauded me for writing characters of color and how good I was as a White writer to be doing that. I explained that I am Black and she sent me another email saying that she had no idea Black people could write like that. Again,chile.

Sounds like a Fiction class I had... Taught by a lady who wrote poetry, not fiction. (Still chafes me a bit to this day. I guess the university thought fiction and poetry were the same thing... Ugh!) A gay white guy in the class wrote a short story from the POV of a black lesbian, and she went on to say how it was impossible for him to understand the black lesbian experience enough to write about it. (The teacher, herself, was neither black, nor a lesbian) Egad, that woman said so many things that semester that made me slack-jawed in disbelief. I almost quit my major over her. (She also rejected genre in her class, citing literary fiction as the only acceptable kind. Fortunately, the next semester of Fiction was taught by a much more open-minded person, who actually wrote fiction!)

Personally, there were a few students in her same class who gave me annoying critiques. The one that still irritates me is 'archaic'. One guy's vocabulary must have been so limited, because everything I wrote, he thought my choice of words was 'archaic'. Never mind, the piece I had submitted that started this was, in fact, dealing with period characters who wouldn't have a present-day vocabulary in the first place.

Beyond that, hey, I know some beautiful, appropriate words, and I like to think that I can use them in sentences here and there without going all purple and flowery about it. Not my fault that guy was apparently allergic to brushing up on a dictionary from time to time... Which was ghastly in itself, considering that the dictionary is basically a writer's toolbox.

CrastersBabies
12-18-2012, 07:27 PM
I was in a short story class at a university. It was workshop style. My story had 40 minutes of critique time. At least 25 of those 40 minutes were focused on the placement of a particular period (as in punctuation) in my story. No matter where the class tried taking things, the professor kept bringing things back to THE period.

I realized three things that day: 1 - college can be a huge waste of money. 2 - I hated the university I was attending. 3 - If there were such a thing as a professional period placer, I could rely on this professor for a recommendation.

With a teacher like that, yeah, it's a waste of time. It's sad that instructors like this exist. Makes the rest of us look bad (especially when the rest of us try like hell to do a great job).

Calla Lily
12-18-2012, 07:36 PM
*dredges up an anecdote from HS*

My sophomore English teacher had vanity-pubbed (in 1975 there was no other choice if you didn't get a trade contract) a chapbook of poetry. He was the star of the HS. Thus, he taught a prose-and-poetry writing class, because the two are no different at all. :rolleyes:

His "thing" was passive voice. If even one PV sentence appeared in an essay or a fic exercise, he'd drop it an entire letter grade. If several appeared, auto-F.

Instead of teaching us the proper use of PV--because there is one and I can't believe he didn't know it--he ragged on only that part of our work, ignoring worldbuilding, description, dialogue, imagery--everything else.

So we learned to write everything in first person present. We used the simplest sentence structure possible. And we all got "A"s.

What a useless semester that was.I got a different teacher my senior year who explained PV in detail. Then I understood it.

fireluxlou
12-18-2012, 07:37 PM
My college creative writing teacher told me that if I ever wanted to mature as a writer, I'd have to move on from "that fantasy stuff."

(This was a class of 15 sensitive souls all of whom were Very Very Serious about their writing, none of whom would ever have gotten within spitting distance of genre fiction. I often wonder how many of them are publishing today.)

- Victoria

On my creative writing module we're not allowed to write fantasy, sci-fi etc has to be strictly contemporary realistic literary fiction, and we're not allowed to write Young Adult or Children because according to the guidelines booklet I got Young Adult is sooooooooooooooooo difficult to write as it's a transition genre that must appeal to adults and children. The book says only skilled writers in both children's fiction and adult fiction write Young Adult.

I laugh tbqh.

I don't think people who write these modules or courses understand genre fiction.

The only critique I got in the first assignment was that my language was archaic. I've never understood that. I just write the way I was taught. Funny that my tutor and most of the writers of the coursebook have been vanity pubbed though.

kaitie
12-18-2012, 10:56 PM
I've gotten pretty good at taking critiques without flinching (much) because I recognize I can learn from them. I've had an occasional off critique, such as when someone doesn't read the genre and doesn't understand what's going on as a result, but I can generally recognize those and take whatever is helpful and just dismiss the rest. It doesn't usually bother me, and no one's been particularly rude with a crit for me since my college writing class, which was mostly filled with people who had no idea what they were doing or people who didn't take anything but literary fiction seriously, so I don't really care about that now.

However, I got a response to a full from a big name dream agent once that was just devastating. It was incredibly nice, helpful, and complimentary, but mentioned a few things he felt needed to be addressed to make the book work. The thing is, the things he felt that needed changing were all intentionally written in and were the basis of the entire book. There was no way I could change that without changing the entire book. I felt like this awesome, big name agent who so knows what he's doing had just told me that I had totally failed at execution.

I can usually take a rejection with hardly a bat of the eye, maybe with a little chocolate to soothe the pain, but that one left me bawling. I thought the story was hopeless and basically gave up on it at that point. I'd already been close to the end of my list.

Granted, I had an offer a few weeks later, and looking back now I think it was mostly just personal taste. My book wasn't quite what he wanted or expected, and it didn't have quite the typical structure a book of that sort has. While I did do some revisions for my current agent, none of what the original one had mentioned were ever pointed out by him as a potential problem. But yeah, that one stung.

Marniy
12-19-2012, 01:30 AM
This wasn't my worst, but it was my most memorable. I submitted a story to Marion Zimmer Bradley's magazine, back when she was reading all the slush.

She wrote "Too Silly" on the top.

I was crushed. But wildly delighted that she responded personally.


Oh, MZB...

I got the form letter that said: Suspension of disbelief doesn't mean hanging it by the neck until dead.

I got a few more rejections around the same time and quit writing for 20 years. *sigh*

The sad part was that I was too ignorant to realize that the handwritten notes I was getting from editors was a GOOD thing. I had one that said she'd buy the same story MZB rejected, if she wasn't going out of business and to contact another editor friend of hers. I didn't, of course. I was an idiot!
lol I hope I've gotten wiser now.

I hope.

Stacia Kane
12-19-2012, 03:25 PM
While annoying, that's almost positive in a way. Few things make me happier with a story, be it book or film, than it going in a direction I didn't expect. Especially after I mistakenly think I see where it's going :D.


I know what you mean, and I did try to see it that way, but the crit overall was so dismissive it left me feeling kind of like, "Wow, I guess s/he really thinks I'm just that lame," you know?

I was pretty new--well, I was multipublished in erotic romance but this was my first novel outside that genre--so I was nervous trying something new, and I was really excited to see what that person had to say since it was their genre.

I wasn't angry or anything, just disappointed, and I really felt like, "If s/he thinks that's where it's going there must be some reason, so obviously this doesn't work at all if what people get from it is that my writing is so lame the only place it can go is into Dullsville."




ETA: Except, of course, if the unexpected direction is entirely artificial instead of organic to the story. Which I'm utterly certain you would never do ;).

:)

Lexxie
12-19-2012, 08:37 PM
I know what you mean, and I did try to see it that way, but the crit overall was so dismissive it left me feeling kind of like, "Wow, I guess s/he really thinks I'm just that lame," you know?

I was pretty new--well, I was multipublished in erotic romance but this was my first novel outside that genre--so I was nervous trying something new, and I was really excited to see what that person had to say since it was their genre.

I wasn't angry or anything, just disappointed, and I really felt like, "If s/he thinks that's where it's going there must be some reason, so obviously this doesn't work at all if what people get from it is that my writing is so lame the only place it can go is into Dullsville."




:)

And now you went and made me want to read your erotic romance... as if I don't spend enough money on your UF :P

Kitty27
12-20-2012, 05:54 AM
Sounds like a Fiction class I had... Taught by a lady who wrote poetry, not fiction. (Still chafes me a bit to this day. I guess the university thought fiction and poetry were the same thing... Ugh!) A gay white guy in the class wrote a short story from the POV of a black lesbian, and she went on to say how it was impossible for him to understand the black lesbian experience enough to write about it. (The teacher, herself, was neither black, nor a lesbian) Egad, that woman said so many things that semester that made me slack-jawed in disbelief. I almost quit my major over her. (She also rejected genre in her class, citing literary fiction as the only acceptable kind. Fortunately, the next semester of Fiction was taught by a much more open-minded person, who actually wrote fiction!)

Personally, there were a few students in her same class who gave me annoying critiques. The one that still irritates me is 'archaic'. One guy's vocabulary must have been so limited, because everything I wrote, he thought my choice of words was 'archaic'. Never mind, the piece I had submitted that started this was, in fact, dealing with period characters who wouldn't have a present-day vocabulary in the first place.

Beyond that, hey, I know some beautiful, appropriate words, and I like to think that I can use them in sentences here and there without going all purple and flowery about it. Not my fault that guy was apparently allergic to brushing up on a dictionary from time to time... Which was ghastly in itself, considering that the dictionary is basically a writer's toolbox.


Lawd!

Some people are crazy as all outdoors. We have to take the good with the utterly absurd as writers. I had a guy in my critique group at a local library whose sole vocal contribution was "you suck" and variations of that theme. But when he submitted critiques in emails,he went so in-depth that he basically turned my entire MS around. It was like getting a professional edit,it was so good. He just wasn't good at expressing himself verbally,lol. He had no damns to give about our delicate writer feelings.