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Birol
08-30-2007, 04:38 PM
What do you look for in a critique? What do you look at in other people's writing when you're critiquing? Do you consider yourself good at critiquing? Have you ever responded badly to a critique you have received?

janetbellinger
08-30-2007, 04:59 PM
The thing I look for in a critique is honesty. If the piece sucks then I want to hear that, plus some suggestions about how I can go about making it not suck.

Azraelsbane
08-30-2007, 05:06 PM
I'm with janet, honesty. I don't need someone to tell me I have a good idea if I don't. If it's bad, please tell me so I don't waste my time, or so I can tweak the idea until I'm not wasting my time.

As for what I look for when I crit: #1- stiff dialog...I'm such a stickler for that. #2- sentence flow. This one is soooo hard to explain, because people don't take it very well when you say "this doesn't flow well." Their response is usually..."Uh, okay, well I think it does." *shrug* I don't know, some sentences can be perfectly fine, but jar my reading because they just hang up the read on syllable count/word length & placement in the paragraph. I know it's not poetry, but there's still a rhythm, imo...

Am I just nuts on that one?

Calla Lily
08-30-2007, 05:15 PM
Yep. Honesty. And don't just tell me something bites, break it down so I can fix it. Why don't you give a hoot about my MC? Did I just have someone jump out of a moving car who one paragraph up was still in the house, looking for the keys?

When I crit, I look for grammar and flow. Do I want to read more? Are there so many typos it affects the reading? Does your dialogue ring true? Is there too much description? Not enough? (My own big failing there.) Do you use all the senses?

And yes, I have reacted badly to a crit--in a forum. I won't mention how many epithets I've hurled at my screen. :D I had my MC sniffing her armpit prior to an interview and the critter was "offended" and suggested I was too earthy. (It became a running gag in our house for awhile--armpit-sniffing sightings on TV.) I laughed out loud and posted my reaction. Stupid of me. My policy--broken there--is never burn a bridge, because someday you'll be interviewing for a job with that person's brother.

The best crits I've received? The ones that tear it apart and give the reasons why. Crits that tell me they loved things are great. I need an ego-boost as much as the next writer. But the harsh ones force me to improve.

Momento Mori
08-30-2007, 05:30 PM
Birol:
What do you look for in a critique?

- Honesty - like everyone else, there's no point being told my stuff is brilliant (which it obviously is), if it actually stinks.

- Reasons - if a critiquer says they think something doesn't work, I'd like a reason for it (e.g. "It doesn't work because it contradicts something in the previous paragraph). I'm not looking for an essay - just a handy pointer that I can work from.

- Thoroughness - I'd like a critiquer to actually sit down and go through it thoroughly rather than skim-reading it. Again, I don't want a line-by-line commentary (unless they're volunteering to do one), but I need something a bit more substantial than some random comments at the end.


Birol:
What do you look at in other people's writing when you're critiquing?

- Anything specific that the writer's asked me to take a look at, e.g. if they're concerned about a dialogue exchange, then I'll always focus on that.

- Consistency - this applies to tone, events and characterisation. If I think something's gone off then I'll point it out and give a means of maybe fixing it.

- Plot holes - this kind of ties in with consistency, but if I think that the author's failed to address something or there's a leap of logic required then I'll point it out.

- Poor characterisation, style or dialogue - pretty much self-explanatory.

- Grammar and spelling - goes without saying.


Birol:
Do you consider yourself good at critiquing?

I don't know if I'm good, but I think I'm pretty fair in what I have to say in a critique and I usually back up what I'm saying. No one's ever told me they've been unable to use anything I've told them.


Birol:
Have you ever responded badly to a critique you have received?

No. I usually get critiqued in writing groups so if I'm being told something I don't like then I'll usually go very quiet and maybe glower a bit, but I've never had a tantrum about it because I don't see the point. I do always make a note of whatever's being said about a piece of my writing (bad or good) because it always gives me something to think about - my general approach is that I might not like what someone has to say, but I will listen to it and think about it*. There've been a couple of times when I've engaged with a critiquer to explain what I was trying to do and ask what they think about an alternative, but that's always been pretty civil and useful.

MM

* Note: the only exception is if I'm in a critique group with someone who is just slagging off pieces for the sake of slagging them off. I don't listen to those people because they're not interested in helping and I'm not interested in aiding their masturbatory fantasies.

Azraelsbane
08-30-2007, 05:36 PM
Oh, I totally missed the last question (too early). I've responded poorly to a crit before, but not in a response post. The first piece I posted on AW...The first response was a rant about how it was the biggest pos the guy had ever read and I believe the term "Rugrats orgy" was somewhere in there... Something like that. I responded with a nice thank you post, but I DIDN'T give him a rep point. :e2paperba I almost left AW, because I was pretty crushed. I actually almost stopped working on my novel because of it, but my husband took me to dinner and convinced me the guy was a douche.

Glad I didn't leave now. I love this place! And when I came back a couple days later other people had responded and loved it...and then the jerk was banned a few days later. Is it wrong that I rejoiced when he was banned? ;)

So, yeah, if anyone is wondering how NOT to crit, take a look at post 2 on this link. :tongue

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=68336

Namatu
08-30-2007, 06:55 PM
The best crits I've received? The ones that tear it apart and give the reasons why.
These are the best. It's nice to hear that people enjoyed the story, but I want substance in a critique. General comments, such as "this section was slow," can be helpful. I should be able to figure out why that section is slow on my own. I may not, however, pick up on a character inconsistency or point of plot confusion because it all makes sense in my brain; I likely neglected to relay it properly on the page.

Even if I don't agree 100 percent with a critique that tells me why something doesn't work, it gives me fresh insight. It makes me reassess: Is this really what I want to do? Can I do it another way? Can I be more effective? How would changing this part impact what follows?

I've never shied away from rewriting scenes to see how things fall out. Sometimes it gives me better character insight. Sometimes I get an entirely new direction. Sometimes I get crap, and sometimes I get genius.

I want people to tell me what they think.

When I'm critiquing other people's work, I look for overall flow, realism in dialogue, plot holes, inconsistencies, info dumps, and show v. tell. Does the story pull me along? I'll pay attention to grammar and spelling, but I won't mark up an entire manuscript for it. I'll edit for some of it, but then point out the consistent problems and leave the rest alone.

I think I'm good at it. Opinions, however, are subjective. The feedback I've received about my feedback has been positive. I will tear a piece apart if that's what the author wants, but I always try to do so constructively. I don't critique very often because it's time consuming and I prefer to critique for people I know, who know what to expect from me. I don't want hurt feelings and tears and demoralization and all my efforts to go to waste.

One thing I do like to give - and to receive - in a crit is mention of what's working particularly well. Positions on this may vary, but I've found it can help make a critique less overwhelming if the critiquer points out "Hey, you have a great way with imagery" or something like that. We expect the bad to be pointed out, but reassurance that there are good things you don't have to fix is always nice too. At the same time, I won't mention things that don't deserve mentioning.

I haven't responded badly to a critique, but I have good-naturedly sworn at my critiquer - usually for pointing out things I was trying to avoid having to deal with (because sometimes I try to be a lazy writer). In most instances, the feedback I've gotten confirms what I already knew or suspected.

MidnightMuse
08-30-2007, 07:07 PM
What I hope for is honesty - mostly I'm looking to make sure my story makes sense, that the plot doesn't have a hole you can drive a truck through, and to find out if my thoughts translated properly on the pages.

I want to know if the reader understands what is taking place, can "see" what I've created, and isn't confused by any actions or direction. If I had a character sit down twice, without ever standing up between - I wanna know. If the plot is laughable - I really want to know. If I missed some dialog tags and the reader can't tell who's speaking - I want to know.

But I also want to know if the reader liked the story. If the characters were interesting, if the plot was an enjoyable mystery until the resolution. If they were left wanting more or not.

I appreciate more than anything when a crit can say what's wrong, then suggest how to make it right.

As to responding to a crit - I have never said anything other than Thank You. I might occasionally ask for clarification of what was said, to find out exactly where they lost what I was hoping to say. But I have never, ever reacted badly (except to go have a good cry/rage/vent in private). Even if it's a crit I don't agree with, I appreciate that someone took the time.

As to giving crits - I suk at that. I emplode. Anything other than "That was great, I really enjoyed it" and my brain locks up. I think it's because I don't feel qualified (except as I'm typing this I'm reminded that I've been helping my mother learn how to write by fixing what she does and explaining why it needed to be changed) Go figure.

Claudia Gray
08-30-2007, 07:07 PM
I don't critique here, but I do critique some friends and some other people on a one-on-one basis. I'm not the world's greatest, because why I can usually pinpoint a few areas for improvement and find the parts that are working (equally important FB), I often don't know how specifically to address what's going on. Also, I find I have no idea what sells. The project I got my agent with is dead, dead, dead; the vampire story I thought wouldn't sell in a zillion years is what sold. Not that marketability is the #1 thing you have to look at with fiction, but it does matter, and I'm annoyingly blind to it.

I don't go into anything I'm critiquing with the idea that I'm looking for anything specific. Different elements will jump out at me, depending on the story and the style.

I want my critiquers to be honest and thorough. If the work needs to be ripped to shreds, start tearing. However, I've had a few critiquers who would only point out the negatives, never the positives, and that's not that useful. You have to know what IS working in your story to assess how best to fix what isn't. If there are honestly no positives to call upon, then I don't need a line edit; I need the critiquer to tell me to just start over.

I've never responded badly to a critique in terms of being nasty to the critiquer. There have been times I've done some sulking in private, for sure. But I always revisit the notes a couple days later and try to reassess in a fresh frame of mind, and I usually get over myself.

Calla Lily
08-30-2007, 07:11 PM
The "Sandwich Method." There are other names for it too. Say something positive--even if it's "clever names, good setting" THEN point out the weak stuff, and always try to finish with a positive--even if it's just "a good start."

We use this in my RL crit group, because we seem to attract very very very shy people. One person came to her first meeting and actually said she'd never shown her writing to anyone other than her dog. Eep. We made sure we were extra-gentle with her.

Koobie
08-30-2007, 07:52 PM
So, yeah, if anyone is wondering how NOT to crit, take a look at post 2 on this link. :tongue

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=68336

I don't see much wrong with posting an opinion on a story, considering he took the time to read it, even if it's a negative one... Personally, I wouldn't mind people telling me they thought whatever I wrote was bollocks, considering that's what they really thought, of course. IMO, only helps. But then, it's not like I ever had self-confidence problems, either. :D

I think it would be pretty hard to become a professional writer for someone overly sensitive to some random stranger's negative opinion, nevermind a submission rejection.

Don't take this as a stab in your direction or something, by the way. I'm just saying what I think about all this stuff on a more general scale. :)

Calla Lily
08-30-2007, 07:57 PM
Just remembered: I once got a single-spaced full page crit all in red that trashed my plot, my premise, my theology, my MC, and ended with how my work will be harmful to newbie Christians--in glorious detail. The critter ended by saying he hoped I never get pubbed--and in the same breath told me he was on my side and just wanted to help.

Oy. Turns out he had issues with differing ideas about Christianity AND with strong women. Whod'a thunk? I blew him into the group mod and avoided him for the rest of my tenure with that online group. It was a completely useless crit, because it told me nothing about my work, only about his views on life and fiction.

Azraelsbane
08-30-2007, 08:02 PM
I don't see much wrong with posting an opinion on a story, considering he took the time to read it, even if it's a negative one... Personally, I wouldn't mind people telling me they thought whatever I wrote was bollocks, considering that's what they really thought, of course. IMO, only helps. But then, it's not like I ever had self-confidence problems, either. :D

I think it would be pretty hard to become a professional writer for someone overly sensitive to some random stranger's negative opinion, nevermind a submission rejection.

Don't take this as a stab in your direction or something, by the way. I'm just saying what I think about all this stuff on a more general scale. :)

I don't think there's anything wrong with posting an opinion on a story either, but when it's sniping and specifically written in a hurtful manner, sorry, I think it's bad form. I read a lot of stuff and think "Wow, you've gotta be kidding me?" but I don't post that because it's not at all helpful. Everything is in the presentation. We're writers, and as such we shouldn't be vomiting words. There's a right and a wrong way to say, "This sucks."

Also, (personal opinion here) it does help to know your lore when you post a raving response wherein you pretend to know what you're talking about... ;)

JoNightshade
08-30-2007, 08:14 PM
Hm, I don't have specific things that I look for in a critique. Basically I go in with a blank slate and then I usually pick the three or four most important points I think the author could work on and improve. Usually I'm more of a big-picture person, so I don't do line-by-line crits (mostly). As for whether I'm good at it, I think you'd have to ask the critiquees. And yes I know that's not a word.

Hm, have I ever taken a critique badly? Yes, but not here. And actually, it was not a critique. I was crazy PMSing. My Russian lit professor wanted to see some of my fiction so I sent him a short story. He sent me an email that wasn't just "wow great!" but it was a very well-thought out response in FAVOR of my story. I don't know WHAT the heck I was on, but I read it totally the wrong way and I just blew up. I hit "forward" and wrote in all my nasty comments under his sentences and sent it to my friend.

Except that my friend never got my email. Then I start thinking OH CRAP, I hit REPLY! And in the meantime said friend has been good enough to point out that his email is entirely complimentary and I have come to my senses. So I end up sending the professor this nutty email to the effect of "I was out of my mind and did not respond well to your email, I may have hit reply, if so I AM SO FREAKING SORRY."

He wrote back: "Uh, I never got anything. But what I said was complimentary and I meant it." [You freak.]

Sooooo now I am very careful what I say in response to critiques. :)

Koobie
08-30-2007, 08:35 PM
One a barely related tangent: in my experience, all Russian lit. professors are completely off-the-charts bat-shit insane. :D

Azraelsbane
08-30-2007, 08:36 PM
One a barely related tangent: in my experience, all Russian lit. professors are completely off-the-charts bat-shit insane. :D

Totally agree, and German ones are not much different. ;)

ajkjd01
08-30-2007, 08:52 PM
The first time I was ever critiqued on my novel, or anything like it was also the first meeting of my critique group.

They were right about 90% of what they said. I disagreed with the 10% that was left, but have found that much of it was from not knowing the rest of the story as I do. It's stuff that needs to be there for continuity, so they were asking the right questions. That's still good critique. Letting me know that the reader is asking the question they should be asking, or that I want them to ask, is good. Letting me know that they're asking the wrong question is even more important if that is the case.

The problem was that they were SO excited to be there and be part of a critiqueing group that they were a little overzealous. None of it was mean. But the eighth time I heard the same critique comment was rough. It didn't just happen once, it happened all night. It was not easy to listen to. What should have been a small comment by one and then on to the next turned into not just beating a dead horse, but throwing gasoline on it and lighting it on fire. My best friend had gone with me to the meeting, and I had to ask her to stop talking about my novel on the ride home because I was almost in tears.

After I'd had a week to let it all soak in, I realized that the problem wasn't that I was right or wrong, or that they were, it was that we were all getting used to each other in a new group. I realized I'd been brave enough to put my stuff up first, and that we'd all learn from doing rather than instinctively knowing how to critique. My stuff didn't suck; in fact, they'd really liked it and had been really excited to talk about it.

We've put some safeguards in place to have any member stop a discussion when it gets beat over the head of the person who's done the writing. And their input has been invaluable.

When I critique, I do a lot of line editing and stripping, even in my own work. I have a tendency to use more modifiers than necessary, so I'm always on the lookout for it when I critique others. I also look for consistency in plot, tense, and character. I always try to find the one thing (or more) in the selection I'm reading to praise. The best praise for me to give is when I've put down my editing pen because I'm lost in the story. I look forward to those moments.

JoNightshade
08-30-2007, 08:58 PM
One a barely related tangent: in my experience, all Russian lit. professors are completely off-the-charts bat-shit insane. :D

If I didn't think he was insane, does that make me insane too? He was my favorite prof in college. Awesome guy, I still keep in touch now and then.

Russian writers, on the other hand...

RickN
08-30-2007, 09:41 PM
Giving critiques: I don't want to see your first draft or second draft. I want you to reach the point where you think it's ready for public consumption. That way, I can concentrate on characters, plot, etc and not on "there vs their" and typos. This is one of my major pet peeves. A good critique cannot be replaced by a spellchecker.

Getting critiques: You will never see the first two or three drafts of my work. When you see it, I think it's ready to be sent to a publisher. I want to know if I'm wrong. Be honest: show me plot problems, bad dialogue, confusing sentences. If a joke is just stupid instead of funny -- tell me! A critique that only says "the story is great! Keep up the good work!" is as useless as one that says "Your work sucks! Don't quit your day job! Love, Mom." :-)

I used to do lots of critiques on writing.com but I've dropped almost to none due to the problems above. I love giving good critique, but it's frustrating when the writer sends me a note back says "thanks for the info, but it's only a first draft so I'm not sure where I'm going with it yet." Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

dobiwon
08-30-2007, 09:42 PM
I like to see two things in a crit:
1) the opinion of the critter as a reader; did they like it, or did it "not work for me" (to use a phrase I see all the time, which I take to be a very nice way of saying "I didn't like it")
2) the opinion of the critter as a writer; point out the POV problems, the awkward wording, the lack of flow, the grammar and punctuation problems; whatever they think should be changed to make it technically better. Suggestions are a plus!

As an example, one of the crits I received which I think was absolutely great said (paraphrased) that the subject matter just completely turned her off, but the writing was good enought that she felt she had to respond with a few comments and put aside her political views, and then she followed with some very good specific comments.

Like everyone else, I appreciate honesty. I can say that because I don't think I've ever had anyone tell me my masterpiece just plain stinks and I shouldn't even be allowed in the same room as any form of writing utensil, although this might be more of an indication of the quality of people critting on this board than on the quality of my work). :)

Have I ever reacted badly to a crit? Certainly, but not in a retaliative manner. I appreciate it that people take the time to respond, and I try to remember to thank them with a rep point or a thank-you post.

Am I a good critter? I don't know; I only know I'm honest about whatever I say. I tend to look at clarity, logical flow, and grammar, and make sure it's obvious that all comments are my own opinion.

Namatu
08-30-2007, 09:53 PM
After I'd had a week to let it all soak in, I realized that the problem wasn't that I was right or wrong, or that they were, it was that we were all getting used to each other in a new group. I realized I'd been brave enough to put my stuff up first, and that we'd all learn from doing rather than instinctively knowing how to critique. My stuff didn't suck; in fact, they'd really liked it and had been really excited to talk about it.
This is important: knowing your own work and having a certain level of confidence in it. If you're completely insecure, no amount of feedback is ever going to be well taken if it's not exactly what you want to hear. If you have confidence in your abilities, you can pick through a critique and pull from it what you need. If you're over-confident, well, what are you getting a critique for? You're perfect already and no one will ever properly appreciate the full extent of your fabulousity!

Koobie
08-30-2007, 09:53 PM
Russian writers, on the other hand...

Yes. My friends think I'm crazy too. :tongue
(I'm a Russian citizen by birth)

Birol
08-30-2007, 09:54 PM
Also, I find I have no idea what sells.

Do critiques need to take marketability into account?


I think you'd have to ask the critiquees. And yes I know that's not a word.

It is now. ;)



But the eighth time I heard the same critique comment was rough. It didn't just happen once, it happened all night. It was not easy to listen to. What should have been a small comment by one and then on to the next turned into not just beating a dead horse, but throwing gasoline on it and lighting it on fire.

On the other hand, don't you find if multiple critiquers whose opinion you respect say the same thing, that it makes you think about it more rather than if just one said it?

Karen Junker
08-30-2007, 10:44 PM
One of my favorite critiquers was a published author who told me that beginning writers always start their book in a train, plane or automobile, or waking from a dream, or with a flashback.

I like to get suggestions from people who critique my writing.

When I do a critique, I usually point out everything that hangs me up as a reader, including punctuation, spelling, grammar and everything to do with how the story is being told. I rarely praise the writing except at the beginning and the end, unless something really jumps out as being exceptional.

Also, I always point out that I'm not the world's biggest expert on the above, so the writer needs to consult a manual of style, dictionary, and so forth, to see if they want to make any changes.

I think I'm a good critiquer. Most of the last few people I've beta-read for have gotten published. Two have fulls with an agent/editor.

Dave.C.Robinson
08-30-2007, 11:24 PM
I want to see what doesn't work for you as a reader and why.

As I mentioned elsewhere, I take the position the critiquer is always right. Whatever they say about my writing is what they got from it. It may not have been what I wanted them to get, or what I expected them to get, but it's what they got. It lets me see how effectively I'm communicating my ideas and where I'm on or off track. I don't always agree with specific suggestions on how to fix a problem, that may need to take something into account that they don't know about.

When I critique, I tend to focus more on the writing than the story; especially when I'm only given an excerpt. Also, there are a number of writers here who write in aspects of genres, even my genres, that I'm not enthralled by. Just because I'm not fond of a particular subgenre, or some of the tropes a writer employs doesn't mean I should judge the story by my preferences.

Claudia Gray
08-30-2007, 11:28 PM
Do critiques need to take marketability into account?





Always? No. Sometimes? Yes. If a friend says, "Do you think this is any good?", I'm not going to think about whether or not it will sell. But if the same friend says, "Do you think this will interest an agent?", in part, they're asking about marketability, and that's the part that I just cannot answer.

Namatu
08-30-2007, 11:41 PM
Always? No. Sometimes? Yes. If a friend says, "Do you think this is any good?", I'm not going to think about whether or not it will sell. But if the same friend says, "Do you think this will interest an agent?", in part, they're asking about marketability, and that's the part that I just cannot answer.
I agree. It depends. If the writer wants help placing it in a genre, I can make suggestions (although hopefully it's not that hard to place), but no one can say whether an idea will sell or not. In terms of marketability, I think it's important that an author research this him or herself. Be familiar with the genre you're writing in, with the "competition," and get an idea from that of how you want to pitch your story. Writers who want to get published can't just be writers. They also have to acquire a certain level of business sense. I won't do that for someone else, but I'll certainly offer what advice I've gleaned from my own experiences.

DancingMaenid
08-30-2007, 11:42 PM
What I look for in a critique is a full take on what I've written. I want to know if my characters came across the way I want, and if they can understand the story. I want to know about things that can be improved, but I also like to hear about the things, if any, that did work. If you focus only about the positive or only about the negative, I don't think you can really have a clear view of your work.

When I critique, one thing I pay close attention to is whether or not I can understand what's going on in the story and whether I feel the author has gotten their point across well. If I know from talking to them what their character's motivations are, but I don't see evidence of those motivations in the story, I'll bring that up. If it's hard to visualize what's going on, I'll bring that up. I try to have a mixture of positve and negative. I also try to offer solutions with the criticism. I think telling someone that I think they should add more description to a scene because it's hard to visualize it is more effective than just telling them that the scene didn't work. It'll hopefully give them an idea of why the scene didn't work and what they might be able to do about it. I think it can also make it easier to bear. It's nice to get the impression that the person doing the critiquing thinks we can improve the piece, rather than just thinking we suck.

I think I could be better at critiquing, but I've definitely improved since I started. I like to think I can give helpful input most of the time, and if there isn't much for me to add, I keep things short.

I've gotten upset at some critiques before, definitely, but I'm usually pretty good at staying calm. If I really disagree with something that someone has said, I'll calmly explain why I disagree. But I try to get what I can from critiques.

ajkjd01
08-30-2007, 11:50 PM
On the other hand, don't you find if multiple critiquers whose opinion you respect say the same thing, that it makes you think about it more rather than if just one said it?

It's one thing to have them all have marked the same thing on a piece of paper. It's very different when all the critiquers are sitting around the room parrotting each other verbally, so that by the time they are done, the writer of the piece feels like they've gone ten rounds as a punching bag. Yes if all of them have marked the same thing, it's cool. I don't mind a debate over it, but if each of them have to expound on the same issue for thirty minutes, it's hard not to feel like you've been pounded into the ground. I guess that's the art of in-person and written critique instead of just written critique. If you're discussing it one on one and in person, and someone's already made the point, don't beat it to death. You've written it down for them. They'll see that you agree.

akiwiguy
08-31-2007, 12:52 AM
There are I think two quite different things that I'm trying to guage when having work critiqued. One is the more technical aspect, grammar obviously, but identifying the aspects that confuse or seem weak to a reader, those things that I can't see from my own less objective standpoint.

But the more important in some regards is whether the story, and my voice and style, are distinctive and interesting enough to compel the critiquer to want to read the story. It's the bottom line really... all else is useful in terms of the grunt of final revision and editing, but to me my work's not worth a rat's arse if no one really wants to read it. OK, at the moment I work in erotica, and to put it crudely, the real question is... does it turn you on? Though I think that the same question is as relevant to any genre.

Monkey
08-31-2007, 01:11 AM
I want honesty, but secretly I hope that it will be couched in nice terms.

Azrael no doubt reacted badly because of sentences like this:
"From this point on it tumbles into the realm of ludicrous..."
being sandwiched in between paragraphs of "I didn't like your plot" without any sort of light given at the end of the tunnel.

I try very hard to say *something* nice, even if it's just "Keep working at it!"

I try not to get offended if other people do not extend the same courtesy.



When I crit, here's what I look for:
1. Do I feel drawn in by the story's opening?
2. Is it grammatically correct?
3. Do I lose interest, get confused, or feel jarred by the structure of the story?
4. Is it believable? (The characters and emotions should feel believable even if the setting or plot is outrageous.)
5. How could it be improved?
6. What is one good thing I could say about the piece?

When I get critted, I'm open to any sort of feedback, even "I thought it sucked". If one reader thought that, another may, too. I just have to decide how much I feel that the critter's opinion will match the general feelings of my intended audience. If I'm writing YA, and everyone loves it except the few teenagers who chime in, I had better do a rewrite.

So, basically, almost anything can be useful, though I vastly prefer it when people explain why they feel the way they do or what, specifically, I did wrong.

I did tell someone, once, that *if that was what they got from my writing, then I didn't write clearly enough*. It was kinda cheeky of me, and I felt bad about it later. Especially when I re-read and saw how incredibly helpful the comments had been and how knowledgeable the commenter actually was. That's as close as I've ever had to a bad reaction, and I learned my lesson.

I'm sort of a mid-line critter, I think. Mostly, I chime in whenever I can, even if it's just to say that I liked the concept or to mention a few general problems with the peice. I do line-by-line's whenever possible, but don't expect anyone to take my word as gospel. I try to be nice. I hope that saying my peice will put one more opinion out there for the poster to consider, and perhaps it will bump their thread so that someone who *really* knows their stuff will see it.

I think I missed a couple of questions, but this post has gone on long enough. It must end NOW

Lauri B
08-31-2007, 01:21 AM
Am I a good critiquer? Yes.

JJ Cooper
08-31-2007, 03:01 AM
I'm a better critiquer than Nomad.

I took a critique of my own work badly once. Someone suggested I had not done enough research into my subject and let me know what it was really like. Fortunately, Kim (Dancre) sent me a message before I read the post to warn me not to go getting myself banned etc. Anyway, I read the critique and spent a very long time trying to figure out how to respond. In the end I think I just asked the critter if seven years working in the subject that I wrote about qualified as enough research.

Even critters need to select their words carefully.

JJ

Saanen
08-31-2007, 03:46 AM
I want to know about my pacing and story--plot holes, places where the tension slacked off, etc.--and whether my characters came to life or not. I love suggestions for how I could improve a story or fix problems, even if they're kind of wacky, because you never know when a wacky idea will spark another idea perfect for that particular story.

I'm way less interested in line edits and grammar/style quibbles unless it's something that pulls the reader out of the story. Most of that stuff I catch in the final edits before I submit anyway.

My writer's group is really professional and sometimes kind of harsh. If I disagree with a critique (or if someone flays a piece I love), I have to remind myself over and over that I'm there to learn and improve, and that the payoff for my ego will come when I sell that particular piece, not when the group discusses my first draft.

wrdsmth
08-31-2007, 05:41 AM
- Honesty -
- Reasons -
- Thoroughness -
- Consistency -
- Plot holes -
- Poor characterisation, style or dialogue -
- Grammar and spelling -

MM




These are exactly the things I look for in a critique and exactly the things missing that drive me away from local writers guilds. These are also the things I try to offer when giving critiques. I used to be a proofeditor and book doctor. (I had to give it up because it took too much time from my own writing.) I think it is because of that experience that I am so adamant about the quality of critiques, both given and received.

In my 'novice years' as a writer, I used to get quite hurt by some critiques I received. Then I learned to filter the information, not take it personally (the hardest part) and try to weigh the comments. Sometimes, far too often, it is just a difference of opinion or writing style and someone is trying to rewrite my work to suit their own style. (Which is why I so value the reasoning behing comments.) But every now and then, someone comes along who understands the art of the critique and I get so much out of it!

heatheringemar
09-02-2007, 06:00 PM
I don't take criticism well. But with my writing, even though it's like sticking my feet in an open flame, I still do it, because, well, it makes my writing better.

In a critique, I look for honesty. I'll lose my patience if I get the impression the critiquer is bashing my piece without any reasons backing them up (I have had this happen quite a few times during creative writing class, and once or twice out of it, usually the reasoning was because "All sci-fi/fantasy/horror is crap." Please. *rolls eyes*). I also like to hear the reasoning behind the negative comments, hopefully so I can improve.