PDA

View Full Version : You Know You're in a Bad Crit Circle When. . .



Riley
02-18-2008, 09:11 AM
I thought I'd post this serious/humorous add-a-post. The ones I post are really supposed to be serious. I'll leave anything funny to those who are good at the art of comedy. My part of the list is based off real experience that almost completely obliterated my confidence because the circle was a big, rather prominent one in my small community.

You Know you're in a Bad Crit Circle When. . .

1. The "best critiquer" is one who calls your work "piss", and hands you back a critique with that word scrawled across the top of the work, with no other proof-reading marks in sight.

2. The critique circle is in total agreement that each line of a poem shouldn't be capitalized (you can debate on this, but capitalizing every new line in a poem is sort of a norm/tradition and isn't technically wrong) and that "pseudo-rhyming" is 'teh ebul'.

3. One bubbly critiquer compares your hard sci-fi work to JK Rowling and Tolkein.

4. Everyone's work seems to be strangely inferior to yours, and not in an egotistic, 'I'm immune to mistakes' kind of way.

5. No one can give you a truly good critique because they're too busy shoving their heads up the "best critiquers" a. . .ah, buttocks.

Fanatic Rat
02-18-2008, 10:51 AM
4. Everyone's work seems to be strangely inferior to yours, and not in an egotistic, 'I'm immune to mistakes' kind of way.

Yeah, I know how you feel. I mean, I really hate it when I'm reading something and I know that it's bad for whatever reason, but either can't exactly put my finger on it or feel as if I can't really say anything.

Along the same lines, I hate it when people are egotistical jerks and brush aside your critiques. I mean, for example, I know a guy who's a writer and he thinks he's, like, some sort of god at writing. Now, he's not bad--he actually does have potential--but he doesn't take any of my critiques seriously, even if I go in depth and spend, like, an hour on the comment. It really irks me.

Polenth
02-18-2008, 11:05 AM
The critique starts with "This isn't my sort of story, but". The next stage is to tell you all the things you should remove - the fantastical elements from your fantasy, the scary bits from your horror or the love from your romance. The critique ends once your story has been dissected so that it fits into the genre that is the critiquer's sort of story.

bluntforcetrauma
02-18-2008, 01:27 PM
The critique starts with "This isn't my sort of story, but". The next stage is to tell you all the things you should remove - the fantastical elements from your fantasy, the scary bits from your horror or the love from your romance. The critique ends once your story has been dissected so that it fits into the genre that is the critiquer's sort of story.

THAT'S IT!:poke:

Lccorp2
02-18-2008, 01:55 PM
Well, I'll share my experience, if anyone cares:

I used to belong to this internet critique group, and there was this particular fantasy work that I critted. Anyways, there were quite a few problems, but the main problem was he was using his story as a blatant mouthpiece for his own views against organized religion in general.

Well, I pointed out the fact that he wasn't giving the issue a fair and balanced viewpoint, and that obvious string-pulling in this manner actually diminished his theme to the reader. For the record, I think of myself as a centerist, libertanian agnostic.

The guy blew up in my face, accused me of being, to quote him, "Elite classes always make the mistake of thinking that they have rightfully earned their wealth, when in reality ity has come at the cost of those beneath them on the worldwide social ladder. There are many more important things in the world than being able to roll in cash. I suspect from your critique, and your general touchiness about religion, that you are a right-wing neo-con fundie who thinks wealth aquisition and resource plundering are your divine right, and that the poor of the world can go jump. If that's the case, then I'm glad my story offended your sensibilities.""

How the heck complaining about religion turned into that, I have no idea.

Anyways, he called the mods in on me and booted me off the site. After a few days, I did come to realize that kind of critique site simply wasn't worth it.

That's my experience, if anyone's interested.

HeronW
02-18-2008, 02:03 PM
Then there's the: 'this is wrong' without giving alternates. Opinions without solutions are useless.

Elaine Margarett
02-18-2008, 03:05 PM
That was the gentle title given by my very first crit, ever! LOL It was an online group and this critter was not only the worse critiquer but a horrible writer; truly one of the worse I've read. Forunately, I had already written three ms before joining this group so I had a pretty good sense of my own voice. And once I read her stuff, well, her comments were easy to ignore.

I left the group when I realized everyone's work sounded the same; it was like writing by commitee. One time I read someone's stuff and praised her opening line because it was different and attention getting and really hooked the reader. Everyone else in the group collectively said the opening should be changed (because according to the "rules" it shoud be like everyone else's) and this person changed it!

I knew then, I didn't belong there.

EM

Mr Flibble
02-18-2008, 04:09 PM
1 - You turn up in full biking leathers, to find everyone else in twin set and pearls, and they suddenly look like someone just farted on their biscuits.

2 - They think fantasy isn't you know, proper writing, unless there is a strong christian morality thread not quite hiding in it, a la Tolkien and Lewis. Not the time to admit I'm not a christian then?

3 - Proper writing does not have humourous lines in it, any form of humour is not Art.( this was the sole crit on the piece). IIRC the line was 'I'm too young to die' thought X, and promptly wet himself. So would you, if you were facing what he did :)

4 - Crits consist of 'Oh well that was nice,' or the alternative 'Not quite my cup of tea.' This is Not Helpful.

At least they weren't nasty about it.

BlueLucario
02-18-2008, 04:38 PM
Try something like, people who bashes other writers for giving people 'bad' advice. I've seen that a lot. "Don't to this noob, such horrible advice." "If you don't have experience in writing then don't critique"

Is it common in teenage critique circles?



EDIT: "Here's how "I' (Emphasis on the "I" of course.) I would change the names. of your characters. I would add description. If I wrote this story, I promise it would be MUCH better than they way YOU wrote it, which is horrible.

Norman D Gutter
02-18-2008, 05:16 PM
6. Everyone except you has published a book, then you find out their publisher is Publish America.

Norman D Gutter
02-18-2008, 05:23 PM
Then there's the: 'this is wrong' without giving alternates. Opinions without solutions are useless.

I don't fully agree with this. Yes, sometimes a critter can make a suggestion to fix something and will be helpful. The original was "A", the critter suggests "B", and the writer finally settles on "C" or "D", which is a derivative of "B".

But even a statement such as "This part isn't working for me. I don't get a sense of what you are trying to communicate," or "This is trite. Surely you can find a better way to say this," is a valid critique, and should become a springboard for the writer to come up with a fix.

NDG

Maryn
02-18-2008, 06:08 PM
The group includes writers who have yet to master basic writing mechanics such as punctuation, sentence structure, etc.

The group tolerates hostility, digs at the writer, verbal abuse, or anything else which can't possibly help the author improve or the group function.

The group meets in a place where food or beverages are served, and always argues over the check, often leaving an inadequate tip.

There's a petty martinet confident in his or her superiority as a critic and as a writer (having published one story in 1987), more eager to squelch dreams than help others improve.

Critics do not read, much less write, in the genre of the work being critiqued, and cannot recognize quality or distinguish unique concept from cliche. (I'm a serious believer in genre-specificity.)

The group includes those who critique but never submit their own work for critique.

Attendance is spotty, and those who miss a meeting don't provide the author being critiqued with any feedback.

The group is more social than goal-oriented.

Maryn, who could go on and on and on

Zelenka
02-18-2008, 06:41 PM
The very first university crit / writing group I joined, I turned up and we had to introduce ourselves around the table (this wasn't a course or part of any degree programme, it was an extra curricular thing open to all students at any level). Everyone was studying English lit with some other really artistic subject, until it got to me. 'And what are you studying?' 'Law.' They all stared at me and said 'oh', and I was waiting for the pitchforks to come out.

We then had to read this section of the group leader's favourite book, and then critique it as practice for reading each other's work later on. The section she handed out was something to do with a transvestite or transsexual (I couldn't work out which, or which way round it was, girl-wanting to be a boy or boy-wanting to be a girl), contemplating suicide on the Albert Bridge in London, or something like that. Anyway, it was four pages of introspection on how awful it was to be a transvestite / transsexual / whatever in London and of contemplating suicide, in the most purple prose I'd ever seen.

Got to the crit, everyone around the table raved about it, until it got to me, and I gave an honest opinion of it. Too much introspection, no story, no action, too repetitive etc. Again with the pitchfork looks, and I was told I 'probably didn't get the subtlety of it' because I wasn't an arts student. Which might have been true, as nothing about the piece struck me as 'subtle'.

We then had to write a short piece on a prompt, read it aloud, and get critiques from the others, so yet again, mine was too cold and unemotional 'probably because I'm not an arts student'. If I had heard that phrase one more time I was going to coldly and unemotionally throttle someone.

At that point, the group leader says we should do an exercise to help us with our own writing, something that helps you to get into the flow of it and really get creative. I'm thinking freeform writing or another prompt or picking up the dictionary, opening it at random and choosing a word to write about, something like that.

Group leader gets up, and utters a phrase that sent shivers down my spine. 'Because you see, before I came to university, what I really wanted to do was to be a clown.'

Yes, her exercise to get us to be better writers was to do 'clown games'. Standing in a circle pulling faces at each other, or making strange sounds, or jumping around making hand gestures. So I just looked and asked if I might be excused from the games. I said I had been to theatre college and had to endure two years of this sort of thing, and didn't particularly want to do it again, nor did I think it ever helped me write a book. I think that time the pitchfork looks were deserved but I really was at the end of my tether.

Didn't go back to the group after that.

Anyway, just thought I'd share that, but that's the worst crit group experience I've ever had.

Red-Green
02-18-2008, 06:47 PM
I'm a smart ass 30-something with an MFA who turned her back on academic writing, and the crit group that sent me running in the opposite direction consisted of:


another MFA-type who believed in the purity of artistic prose and literature. She frequently used the word "unworthy" when discussing my writing. Specifically, unworthy of my intelligence and education.
a Debbie Downer with zero sense of humor.
a creepy guy who wrote exclusively stories about prepubescent girls with a disturbing taint of sexuality about them.
Run away! Run away!

Higgins
02-18-2008, 07:15 PM
I thought I'd post this serious/humorous add-a-post. The ones I post are really supposed to be serious. I'll leave anything funny to those who are good at the art of comedy. My part of the list is based off real experience that almost completely obliterated my confidence because the circle was a big, rather prominent one in my small community.

You Know you're in a Bad Crit Circle When. . .



Everybody else in the group is a war hero with the medals and weird horror stories to prove it. And they all write intense, soulful romances about ghosts.

Elaine Margarett
02-18-2008, 07:43 PM
Regarding Crit Groups



(I'm a serious believer in genre-specificity.)



I am too. Although I've recently teamed up with a male CP for a romance I'm getting ready to submit. I really value his POV! But I'd have a problem with someone who wrote essays or poetry or war fiction critiquing my romances. If you're writing genre specfic fiction, having someone unfamilar with it will limit what that person can effectively comment on.

That's why I stay away from local groups and stick to the internet. It gives writers a huge pool of resources, and you can try prospective groups or partners on for fit without hurting people's feelings or being told you're not supporting the group.

EM

LianeW
02-18-2008, 07:51 PM
When I was 16 I went to a Very Prestigious University for a summer session in creative writing. It was so bad. So bad. The "professor" was the husband of another (real) professor at the university and, as best I could tell, had been given the gig so that he'd have something harmless and vaguely useful-seeming to occupy himself; his greatest writerly accomplishment was getting a semi-personalized rejection letter from a Very Prestigious Journal. Actual publication credits, not so much. I believe he spent the weekends working on his tan, sailing a yacht, and telling his friends about his latest masterpiece-in-progress.

Anyway, the whole class was geared toward producing New Yorker-style "high literary" works, which was predictably disastrous for a class of 16-year-olds. Good times. I was then and am now an unrepentant SF/F genre hack, and I don't think I wrote another word for two years after that. People who tell you that your sci-fi thriller would be greatly improved by cutting out all the worldbuilding and action bits in favor of focusing on the POV character's internal turmoil = not helpful.

And that's my worst crit group ever.

Red-Green
02-18-2008, 08:09 PM
I love it when adults are trying to out-teen-angst the teenagers.


People who tell you that your sci-fi thriller would be greatly improved by cutting out all the worldbuilding and action bits in favor of focusing on the POV character's internal turmoil = not helpful.

DeleyanLee
02-18-2008, 08:20 PM
My very first crit group, back in the late 70's, was founded by a couple of published authors (one claimed to be a Hugo nominee) and I was very thrilled to get in there. However, it has become the standard of BAD Crit Group, IMHO.

1. You are informed, ipso facto, by one of the esteemed members of the group that "Women can't write." And no one argues--even the female members of the group.

2. You are informed through blunt & authorative, but constructive sounding critique, that you have no natural talent at all and must work diligently to improve your skills to make up for that lack.

3. Everything you are excited about in your story is discounted, including the title, character names and genre.

4. There is an air about the "senior" members of the group that they are doing you a great favor by even dealing with your "peon newbie" questions. (Yes, honest quotes.)

5. Any given advice starts to change your natural voice and style in any minute measurement.

6. You feel you have to keep going just "to show them".

7. You start dreading any contact with any of these people in any regard.

8. You get just blunt critiques along the lines of "You masterbated all over these pages and I was ashamed to read them." (The book in question had ONE kiss for luck in it and no other interpersonal relationship--and that is another direct quote.)

I suffered through this group for 2 years because my fiance-husband was active in it and because I thought I could "show them", stubborn stupid idjit that I was. I also plead youth and inexperience because there was nothing like AW back in '79 and this was the first group I'd ever found. How could such published authors be wrong? Young and stupid and I've paid that price for many, many, many years.

This is another thing to trust your gut on. If every fiber in your writerly being screams "Run away!", it's best to listen, regardless of social constraints or personal friendships.

Susan B
02-18-2008, 08:28 PM
Well, it's bad sign when the organizer arrives late and then stomps out in the middle of the first meeting because it's not going the way he/she hoped.

This really happened! A group of us had responded to an internet posting for what we thought was going to be a group of writing peers.

The organizer (unpublished, like the rest of us) turned out to have a particular format in mind--and seemed to have expected to be the defacto leader.

So we were all left sitting there. Completely stunned.

The outcome was positive, though. Three of us connected in that first meeting, because we were all working on nonfiction projects. We formed the nucleus of a group that is ongoing, over two years later. Of the original three members, one published a book last year with one of the major houses, one (me) has an upcoming book with a university press, and the third is getting set to start querying her proposal. And we continue to welcome in new members.

And we try very hard to be kind and supportive to each other!

Maryn
02-18-2008, 11:54 PM
It seems like the right time to point out that a good critique group can be found, or created. Mine's been going for many years now (although we had a schism, the core group breaking away a few years back) and runs quite smoothly. The biggest flaw is that we're too homogeneous; we'd love more men, younger people, minorities, etc. for a greater number of viewpoints, but haven't found them.

What may have done it for us is that we started with guidelines on what our goals were and how the group would operate. We failed to anticipate the problem of an overproductive member (oh, to have a job that lets you write 30+ hours a week while you wait for work to come your way!) whose manuscripts took too much of the group's collective time, but other than that, totally smooth sailing.

Maryn, whose group is in its 15th year

BlueLucario
02-19-2008, 12:13 AM
You're in a bad crit circle where the members do nothing but sugarcoat your work without anything constructive.

maestrowork
02-19-2008, 12:18 AM
I went to one group and never returned because:

- there were 20 people and they spent two hours critiquing one short story. There was a critique queue and they said usually it took about 2 months from time of submission (to the group) for your piece to get critted.

- most critiques were either a) pat on the back, group-hug, job well-done nonsense or b) nit-picking crits that had nothing to do with the story or quality of writing. Please, we don't need another lecture on the proper use of commas.

- while they still had a long crit queue, they devoted a meeting every two weeks to do "group writing." Please, if I want to write, I stay home.

- Only 1 out of the ~20 people there had any real publishing credits. And the other one had published his collection of poetry... via Lulu.

- There were more men with ego than Congress or a modeling agency. And women who just wanted a hug. And cheesecakes.

Red-Green
02-19-2008, 12:28 AM
Cheesecakes, sure, but Congressional-grade egotism...no thanks.


There were more men with ego than Congress or a modeling agency. And women who just wanted a hug. And cheesecakes.

AZ_Dawn
02-19-2008, 02:03 AM
I haven't been in a crit circle before, but I can guess what would turn me off of one.

1. The most helpful critique you get is "DIS STINX." The most elaborate critique you get is "U R SO KEWL! RYTE MOAR!!!!!111111!!!!!"

2. After repeated explanations that your story is supposed to be PG, the other members insist you need more sex scenes.

3. One or more of the members are more interested in picking you up than reading your story.

4. Members suddenly get cancer or their mothers die whenever you give them a less than glowing review.

5. They all swear they're going to be the next Tolkien, Asimov, Christie, etc., and you realize why certain paragraphs they wrote look so familiar.

Harper K
02-19-2008, 02:35 AM
The worst things I've encountered are:

One member who fawns all over another member's work. The rest of us found some merit in this guy's generally disjointed writings, but his #1 fan always insisted that Mr. Disjointed was "totally channeling Burroughs" and that the rest of us just didn't grasp the genius of his work.

(My husband and I still use the phrase "totally channeling Burroughs" in regular conversation.)

In this same group / class, there was a girl who directed totally off-the-cuff mean remarks to another girl and me. I don't know why she singled us out. She was nice enough during the discussions, but when we'd receive hard copies of our work back from her, there'd be scathing personal comments on it. One comment from her I remember seeing on the other girl's story was, "You need to spend more time on your writing and less time trying to impress men." Whoa!

What's been most frustrating to me over the years is finding a group where most people are on the same level, but one or two people face a huge learning curve. It's difficult to try to catch someone up on, y'know, the whole business of writing and publishing, especially when he won't do his own homework.

Stormhawk
02-19-2008, 03:11 AM
4. Members suddenly get cancer or their mothers die whenever you give them a less than glowing review.

5. They all swear they're going to be the next Tolkien, Asimov, Christie, etc., and you realize why certain paragraphs they wrote look so familiar.

Oi...those would be clues to run away.

JoNightshade
02-19-2008, 03:31 AM
Almost everything listed here is why I ran away from the prestigious Grad school creative writing program I was accepted into. Even though they were essentially going to pay me to write for 2 years.

There's almost no amount of money that would convince me to sit through 2 years of pretentious posturing. They would have been highly disappointed by my non-"literary" style, anyway.

donroc
02-19-2008, 03:37 AM
And there's nothing like paying $$$ and making a first appearance at an annual writers workshop attended by eternally unpublished regulars who gleefully savage the newcomers and praise each other regardless of the quality of writing.

Zelenka
02-19-2008, 04:32 AM
I forgot my other crit group, actually, the very first online one I found. That was one of those where there was a core group who just patted each other on the back, whereas me, being an idiot, came into the group later and thought it was for serious feedback on the submitted work. Every critique I gave the group leader, she had an excuse for, sometimes the most convoluted reasons why she chose to word something a particular way. I felt like saying, I don't care what mathematical formula you used to come to that particular sentence, it doesn't read well! But I was a newbie, so I said, okay, whatever.

Why it makes it into my list of 'worst crit groups ever' though? And I swear I'm not making this up. The group leader finally told me that I couldn't question her MC's actions, dialogue or motives or any of the things she wrote about him in fact, because she was writing down what he told her to. Not as a muse or intellectual phenomenon, but as an actual entity that lived inside her head (a ghost of someone who had died in a car crash, but instead of going over to the next life, had ended up inside her mind).

I left the group soon after that, when the MC started critting us.

Thinking about it, maybe I'm a crit group jinx.

stormie
02-19-2008, 04:36 AM
I know there are good crit groups out there. Somewhere. But they seem to be few and far between.

There's one in my area that people have asked me to join. I won't. I know the members and it would be all sweet and nice and they'd discuss more about who's going to bring the dessert the next time and what it will be than discussing a manuscript. That's a critique group you don't want to belong to.

Polenth
02-19-2008, 05:29 AM
Why it makes it into my list of 'worst crit groups ever' though? And I swear I'm not making this up. The group leader finally told me that I couldn't question her MC's actions, dialogue or motives or any of the things she wrote about him in fact, because she was writing down what he told her to. Not as a muse or intellectual phenomenon, but as an actual entity that lived inside her head (a ghost of someone who had died in a car crash, but instead of going over to the next life, had ended up inside her mind).

I left the group soon after that, when the MC started critting us.

"As a ghost myself, I know that you completely misrepresented the transition to the afterlife."

Takes the magic out of a ghost story a bit.

escritora
02-19-2008, 05:31 AM
I left the group soon after that, when the MC started critting us.


I LOVE this!!!!!

hammerklavier
02-19-2008, 07:00 PM
I said I had been to theatre college and had to endure two years of this sort of thing, and didn't particularly want to do it again, nor did I think it ever helped me write a book.

Sure it did, that would be great material for a book.

Zelenka
02-19-2008, 08:23 PM
Sure it did, that would be great material for a book.

Going to theatre college in general would possibly be good material (I've thought about writing it but I can just see the defamation suits coming in already), but standing around in a circle going 'arggggh', not so much. ;)

Zelenka
02-19-2008, 08:25 PM
"As a ghost myself, I know that you completely misrepresented the transition to the afterlife."

Takes the magic out of a ghost story a bit.

I do remember some comment about how one of us had portrayed death wrong, or something like that. This character started lecturing the character on what it had been like to die, and how she should write it.

Broadswordbabe
02-19-2008, 08:50 PM
I am now positively sweating gratitude for my current crit group!

Favourite gruesome moments from previous critique groups include: "If it doesn't rhyme it isn't proper poetry..." <choke>

"Why does it have to have elves in it?" (Er...because it's a fantasy story about an interaction between humanity and the denizens of Faerie?)

People applauding (literally - there would have been whoops if the group hadn't been so terrifyingly refined) when someone got a letter about their kid's cute sayings published in Women's Own. I mean. A story, yes, but a letter?

But the prize was a chap who introduced himself by saying he'd been thrown out of his last group because he was 'too controversial'.

He was of course too brilliant and controversial for rules like "we've got a lot of people so please restrict your reading to five minutes" and "respect your fellow writer" to apply to him. I later met someone from his previous group and apparently they'd not responded with the right levels of drooling gratitude to his genius, so he'd visited before the next meeting and left 'stories' on the chairs - vicious little rants about the personal flaws and writing inadequacies of everyone there, turned into 'fiction' in which each character realised that something vital was missing from their lives...

He left when he decided we weren't going to recognise his genius either. It was wearing too good a disguise.

hammerklavier
02-19-2008, 10:31 PM
Going to theatre college in general would possibly be good material (I've thought about writing it but I can just see the defamation suits coming in already), but standing around in a circle going 'arggggh', not so much. ;)

Sure it would, imagine if it was a support group for depressed people and that was the moderator's idea of cheering people up. Mix in a little Kung Fu, espionage, and an evil albino and you have great, humourous thriller.

Sassee
02-20-2008, 12:09 AM
I think all of these are the reasons I've never tried anything EXCEPT online crits...

DeleyanLee
02-20-2008, 12:17 AM
But the prize was a chap who introduced himself by saying he'd been thrown out of his last group because he was 'too controversial'.

He was of course too brilliant and controversial for rules like "we've got a lot of people so please restrict your reading to five minutes" and "respect your fellow writer" to apply to him. I later met someone from his previous group and apparently they'd not responded with the right levels of drooling gratitude to his genius, so he'd visited before the next meeting and left 'stories' on the chairs - vicious little rants about the personal flaws and writing inadequacies of everyone there, turned into 'fiction' in which each character realised that something vital was missing from their lives...

He left when he decided we weren't going to recognise his genius either. It was wearing too good a disguise.

Oh, I had someone like him in a group in days thankfully gone by.

Every comment on someone else's story got interrupted and challenged with "How does that relate to MY story?"

Huh? Like anyone else's story would have ANYTHING to do with what he's writing?!?

And then there was the time he didn't like the crit he got, so he started beating on the furniture. Mind you, it was an heirloom over-a-century-old chair. His ring left dents in it.

We asked him to leave the group. It was either that or figure out where to hide the body. I had several secluded spots picked out, personally.

stormie
02-20-2008, 04:24 AM
Do you realize all these characters in the posts would be great in a novel? A Circle of Crits. People would pick up the book just because they'd be scratching their heads over the title.

Broadswordbabe
02-20-2008, 03:55 PM
Every comment on someone else's story got interrupted and challenged with "How does that relate to MY story?" .

Now that's a whole new level of ego! Scary.


We asked him to leave the group. It was either that or figure out where to hide the body. I had several secluded spots picked out, personally.

:) I'd have helped dig.

Robin Bayne
02-20-2008, 07:58 PM
1) What's to be served for lunch is the most important topic.

2) One member, the resident English teacher, merely says "Oh" after you finish reading.

3) When you get your work back after passing around the crit circle, you find notes in the margin about how much of a "ho" your heroine is.

Bubastes
02-20-2008, 08:23 PM
The resident know-it-all who lectures everyone else on the publishing business and the "right" way to write was published by PublishAmerica.

DeleyanLee
02-20-2008, 08:41 PM
The resident know-it-all who lectures everyone else on the publishing business and the "right" way to write was published by PublishAmerica.

My response to that is definitely not PC: "You're right, PA is definitely the way to go if you're a typist, not a writer."

And then sit there, grinning, and wait for them to try to figure out where that insult came from.

stormie
02-20-2008, 08:42 PM
The resident know-it-all who lectures everyone else on the publishing business and the "right" way to write was published by PublishAmerica.
One of those online crit workshops (free) promoted its teacher as being an author of many books. I looked up her credentials. Yup, good ol' PA.

BenPanced
02-20-2008, 08:56 PM
Yeah, I was in a group where nobody could say anything wrong about anybody's work. It was all nice and positive and sweet and rainbows and sunshine and ghod forbid you actually spoke up and suggested there really were areas of improvement, no matter how many personal "I" messages you used ("I think...", "I feel...", "It seems to me..."). A couple of us had the nerve to speak out against crappy writing and people had no idea what we were talking about; the stories were just perfect the way they were.

DeleyanLee
02-20-2008, 09:07 PM
Oh, the memories this thread is dredging up. LOL!

My ex-husband (still to this day the BEST editor I've ever met--he can edit prose WITHOUT affecting style) spend hours going over what was claimed to be a only-needing polish submission (we did this hard copy, not read aloud) with a blue pen, catching all the little errors. Upon starting his presentation of this work, the author looked at him and said "I don't care about that grammar shit. Just tell me how great and wonderful it is."

He departed the meeting after a few choice words not suitable for most children (though most children know them anyway).

And then there was the woman (different group--I was in a lot of these things when I was younger) who listened to all our comments about her Epic Fantasy MIP, nodding and seeming to be completely all right with our comments about structure, conflict, etc. When it was her turn for commentary, her response floored us all: "But that's not the way it happened. I can't change the way it happened, but your comments were interesting."

*headdesk*

Some people just wouldn't be believeable in fiction, y'know?

Bubastes
02-20-2008, 09:26 PM
My response to that is definitely not PC: "You're right, PA is definitely the way to go if you're a typist, not a writer."

And then sit there, grinning, and wait for them to try to figure out where that insult came from.

Oh, I wish I had that comeback at the time!

The guy was SO abrasive and kept saying stuff like "my editor this" and "my publisher that" and he gave really demeaning, unconstructive crits (with incorrect grammar advice to boot). The group organizer soon kicked Mr. PA out because apparently I wasn't the only one complaining about him. :D

BardSkye
02-21-2008, 12:18 AM
The only crits I've had have been here, in SYW. Reading this thread, I thank any god who might be responsible for bringing me here.



:Hail:Thank you SYW critters.

Adam Israel
02-21-2008, 12:31 AM
I've been in a critique group for a number of years and while overall it's been useful there are a few choice comments I've received that have set my head spinning and left me wondering if it wasn't time to move on.

Even in the best of groups there are nitpicks and less than helpful comments. Usually I find the least useful feedback relate to the way that author would have told the story, rather than the story itself. For the rest, you have to pick and choose, find the common complaints among the readers and decide which ones you agree with.

My favorite comment, received on multiple occasions from one member, is: "You didn't put any thought into this."

Really? No thought at all? Oh, that's right. I just vomited words on a page one night and they were arranged in such a pretty pattern that I decided to subject it to group.

Kate Thornton
02-22-2008, 05:09 AM
I have had work critiqued by others before (here in SYW, even!) but not belonged to a formal critique group. The writing groups to which I belong are more than crit groups - I guess I really like a more rounded group. For specific crits, I get specific writers/editors or you guys here.

These horror stories of ego, greed, megalomania and inexplicably bad and unnacceptable behavior make me glad I come here instead.

But I am a pretty forthright person and I think - if confronted by some of the behaviors cited here - I would let the offending dimwits know exactly what I thought of their techniques before leaving and taking anyone promising with me. Life's too short to try to change the obstinate and self-centered.

Novelhistorian
02-22-2008, 09:01 AM
Oh, does this thread bring up memories. I'm hoping I can respond to it without bringing up my dinner.

The cast of characters of my past writers' groups includes:

1. a born-again type who judged every story according to religious criteria (to him, I was a heathen) and either supported or attacked the author on personal grounds;

2. a genial but not very bright guy whose sentences didn't follow logically and who must have thought "Spell Check" meant a town in Poland;

3. a teacher who was too burned out or depressed to stop the backbiting that went on and pretended she didn't see it;

4. a writer who had attended a workshop led by the editor of a prestigious literary magazine. She'd circle half the words in any given sentence, sometimes writing in the margin, "to ____." Meaning, of course, "too _____."

5. a writer whose stories were three times as long as anyone else's and about a third as interesting. She could never find a helpful word to say, either, tossing off everything that came her way as jejune (the only person I've ever heard use that word), boring, sexist, unpublishable, or pointless.

I could probably think of others, but I'm starting to gag.

Susan B
02-22-2008, 07:27 PM
I agree that good crit groups can be created. The one I'm in (that grew out of the fiasco described above) is a good one, I think.

Some of it is just luck, the right combination of people who set a positive tone. And we're very lucky to have more diversity than many groups have. Our initial 3 members were an under-30 second generation South Asian woman, an English man in his 40's, and me, American-born and in my 50's. Current group includes 3 men and 4 women, 3 people in their 20's, one who has just turned 30, 3 in their 50's. One Latina, two of South Asian background. Maintaining diversity has been a definite consideration in adding new members.

We have also tried to maintain a nonfiction focus, and to have people who are already working on a project--a book, or some body of work with some consistent theme, with an eye toward publication. I think it helps to have people who are roughly at the same point in their writing life, though covering enough of a range that people can learn from others who are a little farther down the path. (Like for me, I benefit from the experience of another member who is a retired professor and in a past life published a book with a university press.)

I really love the mix of youthful energy and people who are more at my stage in life. (Not that we don't have energy, of course :-)