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Vescoiya
11-26-2006, 01:34 AM
Iíve been spending too much time at the share your work boards and had some questions.

How much critique do you offer?
How harsh, but fair in your opinion, is it reasonable to be?
Do you only offer detailed criticism to poster you have met in another context or say that they welcome critique?
Do you critique everything you read that falls in the area of books you do read?
If you only have read a bit of the piece, do you comment on that, or only if you have read the whole piece?
Do you only comment if you genuinely loved the piece and saw a few things that could do with improvement?

Sorry if this is the wrong forum to ask, but Iím trying to give myself some sort of mental guidelines for commenting on work on AW. Especially as I have some tendency to give overly blunt comments and would rather not upset anyone.

greglondon
11-26-2006, 01:52 AM
> How much critique do you offer?

I prefer to critique on the characters and plot. which can get a little long winded.

> How harsh, but fair in your opinion, is it reasonable to be?

I always present it from my experience, my opinion. There is never a "right" way to do something. I try to convey my feedback in the form of

"If I were reading this, I would have put the book down at this point".

Which is different than saying something like

"This destroys the story" or some otehr absolute statement.

> Do you only offer detailed criticism to poster you have met in
> another context or say that they welcome critique?

I don't offer feedback unless they want it.

> If you only have read a bit of the piece, do you comment on that,
> or only if you have read the whole piece?

Since I focus more on the characters and plot, I generally reserve
a lot if I haven't read the whole thing. I'll end up with a lot of questions
on my feedback like "Does this get explained/resolved/etc later?"

> Do you only comment if you genuinely loved the piece and
> saw a few things that could do with improvement?

I always try to give my feedback in the context of what I think
the author can hear/understand as far as how I think they could
make the story better for me as a reader. Some of my writing
absolutely sucked and some of it still sucks. I give the sort of
feedback that I would want: what do I need to learn to make
this piece great?

KiwiChick
11-26-2006, 01:55 AM
Iíve been spending too much time at the share your work boards and had some questions.

How much critique do you offer?
I'll say anything that (1) I think might be helpful and (2) I can be bothered typing.

How harsh, but fair in your opinion, is it reasonable to be?
Unless the person specifically asks me to be gentle, I will generally be blunt about the writing, while trying to avoid implying anything about the writer as a person. If one piece shows all the standard beginner mistakes but the writer seems eager to learn, I may tone back a bit and just pick out the most important errors. Critique is one thing, but I don't want to totally discourage people like this. In general, I think being harsh about writing is fine so long as you don't say the writer is stupid and sucks.

Do you only offer detailed criticism to poster you have met in another context or say that they welcome critique?
I assume anyone posting in SYW wants critiques. I don't pay much attention to who wrote the piece unless it is a first time poster who doesn't seem to have contributed anything and is asking for what amounts to a beta read of half their book.

Do you critique everything you read that falls in the area of books you do read?
No, only if I think I have something useful to contribute, or I liked a piece so much that I just have to say it.

If you only have read a bit of the piece, do you comment on that, or only if you have read the whole piece?
Often I only read a small section and just comment on that. If the first paragraph is full of craft errors, I assume the rest will be too and once I've pointed out the errors in the start doing more will just be repeating myself. Unless the story seems intriguing enough that I want to read on and make more general comments despite the poor writing, I'll stop there.

Do you only comment if you genuinely loved the piece and saw a few things that could do with improvement?
Sometimes.

Sorry if this is the wrong forum to ask, but Iím trying to give myself some sort of mental guidelines for commenting on work on AW. Especially as I have some tendency to give overly blunt comments and would rather not upset anyone.
People who will be upset by blunt but honest comments should state they want critiquers to be kind. Otherwise... fresh meat!

KiwiChick

jbal
11-26-2006, 01:55 AM
This is on the SYW board here: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=43986

I try to stick with my genre. I read a lot of stuff on there, but only comment if what I have to say hasn't already been covered, and I feel I have something useful to add.
I will also say that the most useful crits I've received there have been the worst ones, so I wouldn't worry about being harsh if the criticism is valid. Some people bruise easily, but a writer needs to hear negative things about their work to improve it. Glowing reviews have little value.

Vescoiya
11-26-2006, 02:05 AM
Thank you for the responses. Theyíve been very helpful.

Jbal I did see the other thread, but its focus was on whether you let yourself be guided by or read other peopleís criticism and I felt my questions were slightly different. If it was about which forum this question should be posted in, I couldnít find that thread again when I looked. Though I possibly didnít look as hard as I should have and instead put the question in a place that seemed sensible to me.

TrickyFiction
11-26-2006, 02:23 AM
I try to pay attention to what the author says. If they say nothing or, "shred this," then I shred it. If they say, "Be kind," or, "I'm sensitive," I focus on the positive. If the author starts debating or doing point-by-point rebuttals, I leave the thread.

Overall, I usually do line-by-line, reaction critiques my first time through the piece. I figure that the audience is going to react first time through and so are agents and editors, so I try to give my first response. If line-by-lines seem to have been done already, or it's solid enough that I have nothing to add, I just mention what I thought worked as well as what might be improved. If the author asks questions, I try to answer them.

Critique forums usually have more people wanting a critique than those who are willing to give them. So, I don't think you can give too much critique, unless the author puts out that vibe.

jbal
11-26-2006, 02:30 AM
Thank you for the responses. Theyíve been very helpful.

Jbal I did see the other thread, but its focus was on whether you let yourself be guided by or read other peopleís criticism and I felt my questions were slightly different. If it was about which forum this question should be posted in, I couldnít find that thread again when I looked. Though I possibly didnít look as hard as I should have and instead put the question in a place that seemed sensible to me.
I know, it's different. I just thought if you hadn't seen it, it might be interesting.

soloset
11-26-2006, 03:08 AM
I’ve been spending too much time at the share your work boards and had some questions.

How much critique do you offer?

It depends on the work in question and on what the poster has requested.

Personally, I divide my critiques into rough groups I think of as "broad" and "nitpick". Broad being things like "your characters are loathsome, I hate them, change them all now" and nitpick being things like "commas can't do that" and "it's is not possessive".

It's a spectrum, of course. Someone might have issues with clauses that point towards not understanding commas, but the end result is that there's no way to tell what happened when to whom (muddy thinking). I might mention both of those things, but I won't ever do a line by line edit of an entire piece.

And any grammar or spelling advice needs to be double-checked. If you're not 100% sure of your advice, google it or phrase it as a question. I never comment on "whom/who", for example, since I can never remember which goes where why.


How harsh, but fair in your opinion, is it reasonable to be?

The trick is to be diplomatically realistic, not harsh or fair. I'm not a huge fan of couching -- "In my opinion", "I feel", "This might work for some people" -- but sometimes it can help soften the blow. "I'll be blunt, but this didn't work for me because..." is a lot nicer than "this sucked".

If a work is poorly written enough that I can't think of anything to say besides "this sucks" or "you need so much work I can't even begin", I don't critique it.

Really. We're not saving the world or preventing global warming or earning points in some coolness game by telling some stranger on a forum his writing sucks. A critique's purpose is to help that stranger (and any reading lurkers) get better at writing so I have something to buy when I go to Borders (isn't it?).


Do you only offer detailed criticism to poster you have met in another context or say that they welcome critique?

I try to respect the author's wishes. If you post something in a critique forum, you've pretty much opened yourself up to at least general critiques, but not everybody is looking for or can handle a detailed one.

If I'm not sure what the author wants because they've been vague or haven't specified, I either keep my comments general or don't comment at all.


Do you critique everything you read that falls in the area of books you do read?

Nope. I critique very, very selectively. Usually something or someone who has caught my attention elsewhere. And not often on these forums.


If you only have read a bit of the piece, do you comment on that, or only if you have read the whole piece?

If I've decided to comment, I comment on as much of the piece as I can manage to get through. If I can't finish a piece, I try to note where I stopped and why. I think of myself primarily as a reader, not a writer, and I try to approach critiques from that perspective. This is why I would have put the book back on the shelf. That is why I would have picked it up in the first place.


Do you only comment if you genuinely loved the piece and saw a few things that could do with improvement?

Nope. I usually only comment if, as above, I've come across the work indirectly and something about the author or the piece appealed to me.

To turn the question on its head a bit, I do sometimes come across works I'd like to critique but there's just so much fundamentally wrong with it I feel exhausted just thinking about starting a critique on it. And about half the time I feel like that, someone more graceful, intelligent, and wise than I am sees something different in the work and takes the time to do a helpful critique, proving that I am not, as I always assumed, always right about everything. ;)


Sorry if this is the wrong forum to ask, but I’m trying to give myself some sort of mental guidelines for commenting on work on AW. Especially as I have some tendency to give overly blunt comments and would rather not upset anyone.

When you look at a piece, decide if you have anything insightful to say about it. Read the other comments so you can agree with or refute someone else's opinion if necessary and to see if anyone else made any points that change what you think or affect how you'll phrase your response. If the author is being prickly, take that into consideration.

You really won't be able to avoid upsetting someone in the long run. You'll find the nicest of critiques make some people angry or teary, while things you'd be crying over make the OP laugh. You never know, maybe the OP's dog died that morning or something. Be polite and give your reasons. If you think you've been misunderstood, clarify once or twice and then walk away.

When you start getting your feet wet, you might want to include a disclaimer along those lines ("I'm new to critting, but..."). I think you'll find many people willing to give you tips and gently nudge you if they think you're being too harsh.

TrickyFiction
11-26-2006, 03:52 AM
Also, Vescoiya, you critiqued my piece and I think you did a wonderful job. One of the things you and others do that I think works really well in critique is to give examples. When you mention a style or a story contradiction, you post examples from the piece that you noticed. This is super helpful when it comes to clear communication.

Carlene
11-26-2006, 04:28 AM
I'd like to go there and see some of the work, critique and perhaps post some of my own, but I don't have a password and have no clue how to get one. Where do I go? How do I do it?

Carlene

aadams73
11-26-2006, 04:44 AM
*blink*

It's written below the name of the board: vista

Linda Adams
11-26-2006, 05:37 AM
There's a fairly lengthy post in SYW that covers this topic:

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=17735

jbal
11-26-2006, 05:38 AM
Ah, I grabbed the wrong one, didn't I? I knew it was there somewhere.

icerose
11-26-2006, 09:47 AM
How much critique do you offer?
1) If they haven't already recieved the kind of feedback I have, I offer everything I can see and jumps out to me.

How harsh, but fair in your opinion, is it reasonable to be?

2) I try to be blunt but helpful. Actually I don't try to be blunt I just am by nature. I always hope they don't take it wrong, but I do it with the intent to help, not tear down. In the end it is up to the writer on whether or not they accept what I have to say. I try not to take it from an absolutist point of view but more of a suggestive. This isn't working for me, I don't care for this type of wording, that sort of stuff, I never imply anything about the writer, their abilities, every comment is focussed entirely on the piece before me. If they take it personal despite my best attempts to keep it as painless as possible while being helpful, there's nothing I can do about that.

Do you only offer detailed criticism to poster you have met in another context or say that they welcome critique?

3) If they don't welcome critiques, they shouldn't ask for them. So I always assume they are welcoming them and act accordingly.

Do you critique everything you read that falls in the area of books you do read?

4) Not quite sure what you are asking on this one. I read all kinds of books so I try to critique all kinds of pieces.

If you only have read a bit of the piece, do you comment on that, or only if you have read the whole piece?

5)Most pieces are not posted in their entirety, and if things jump out from me at the beginning I will start my critique first read through. Sometimes my early comments will be answered and I try to go back and delete those because I got my answer, but for the most part they are fairly applicable despite not having read it all the way through.

Do you only comment if you genuinely loved the piece and saw a few things that could do with improvement?

6) Few pieces that come up for critique are pieces I even like, so I try to give the best suggestions I can that would help me to like them. Some I will always hate so I deal with issues that have nothing to do with likes and dislikes but the actual telling of the story.

Puma
11-26-2006, 05:51 PM
Hi - I spend a lot of time on Share Your Work too - doing critiques. There are a couple things I do that I don't think are too common among the critters. For one, I look for posts (within the genres I look at) that have been sitting for a day or so with no responses or very few responses and take a look at them. Sometimes those posts are the ones that need the most help - English is a second language, lots of grammatical and other problems, etc. And sometimes this gets me into a problem because I am the only one responding. I also skip by posts from people who are posting frequently - three posts from the same person is usually my limit unless there has been a fairly long intervening time since the last post. Puma

ChaosTitan
11-27-2006, 07:24 PM
I don't crit as often as I'd like to, and am trying to get into SYW more often. I admit that I do tend to hang out in my genre (SF/F) and on the Query board, and rarely venture into the other boards (*hangs head in shame*).

If I offer a crit, I will usually give first impressions. If a line of dialogue strikes me as out of place for the character or time period, I will say so. If I have trouble following the narrative, I say so. I mention anything that confuses me. Not so much a line-by-line crit, but general things about the story and characters.

I, too, assume that anything posted in SYW is open to crits and will post accordingly. And I agree with TrickyFiction about author rebuttals. We are questioning a choice because we don't understand it. Explaining yourself in a reply to the crit does not make that choice any more clear in the story.

I have only posted one work (besides a few queries) in SYW, and found the crits to be extremely helpful in pruning the weeds and making the story as strong as it can be. SYW is one of the most valuable resources on this board, and I thank everyone who takes the time to offer crits.