PDA

View Full Version : Has your crit ticked someone off?



CasualObserver
03-06-2008, 09:29 PM
I'm blue. I gave one of my greatest pals constructive criticism on her finished ms the other day, and I'm pretty sure she's not speaking to me now. She doesn't answer her messenger and I haven't gotten a return email (from someone who, if she is home, she is on her computer). And on the one hand I feel really bad, because I adore her to bits and I'm bummed that she's mad at me and I'm bummed that her feelings are hurt; but to the left, she's a good writer with a few issues. Hiding the issues behind false praise isn't doing her any favors.

So. Should I apologise and in the future keep in mind that it is a bad idea to crit her work, or let her nurse her hurt feelings until she comes around on her own? She's a writer, she understands thick skin and crit is never personal and all that.

Red-Green
03-06-2008, 09:42 PM
It may be that she isn't angry, but that she's processing. While processing, maybe she doesn't feel able to talk about your critique and isn't comfortable communicating with you for fear you'll bring it up before she's ready to talk about it. I've been in that situation, where I got hard news on a project from a friend and I finally had to say, "Um, let's talk about other stuff for now," until I'd gotten past the first emotional reaction.

So, perhaps you could send her an e-mail on an entirely different subject, not bringing up the crit or her project at all?

Marlys
03-06-2008, 09:46 PM
Ditto what Redzilla said. Sometimes it takes a few days for a critique to sink in, and even longer for the recipient to realize its worth. I would give her some time, though, before I emailed her even on a different subject. She might see any contact as "Well? Well? How did you take it?" But you know her--I don't. Could be Redzilla is right on about that, too.

Shadow_Ferret
03-06-2008, 09:47 PM
She's a writer, she understands thick skin and crit is never personal and all that.
Sorry, I'm a writer, been a writer for many, many years, I still don't understand thick skin, and I take every crit personal. It's why I hardly ever put work into SYW or offer anything to a "Beta" reader.

And when I give crits, I usually point out all the positives. But that might just because I'm not very good at analyzing fiction.

mscelina
03-06-2008, 09:53 PM
*shrug*

Yes. Countless people. Unfortunately, I can't seem to help it. I even warn people, "Be careful. This will be a really harsh critique." Not harsh for the sake of harsh, mind you, but full of nits. In my experience, I let them stew for a week or so before I approach them. If I haven't gotten the 'you don't understand literature' email *cue scarf blowing over shoulder* by then, I'll send them an email just to see if everything is okay.

Susan Gable
03-06-2008, 10:21 PM
Sorry, I'm a writer, been a writer for many, many years, I still don't understand thick skin, and I take every crit personal. It's why I hardly ever put work into SYW or offer anything to a "Beta" reader.

And when I give crits, I usually point out all the positives. But that might just because I'm not very good at analyzing fiction.

How does that help the writer improve? You SHOULD point out the positives. But you also need to give the negatives as well.

I've had a few people stop speaking to me after getting a crit. :Shrug: I'm not mean, but if you ask for my opinion, you're going to get it. I'll tell you the good, but I'll also tell you where I think something needs work. Otherwise there is no point whatsoever to me investing my time in doing a crit.

I've done crits for people on this board, though, and never had any of them stop speaking to me. <G>

Which I think says something about professionalism. If someone is serious about wanting to improve, they'll consider what the critter said. They don't have to agree with everything, but they should at least think about it.

And it's okay to be knocked for a loop at first and to need time to process. It's okay to feel a little hurt by it.

Susan G.

IceCreamEmpress
03-06-2008, 10:34 PM
So. Should I apologise and in the future keep in mind that it is a bad idea to crit her work, or let her nurse her hurt feelings until she comes around on her own?

I'd do a little of both.

Send an email saying, "I was thinking about the critique I did of your work, and I hope it wasn't so blunt that it annoyed or offended you. You know that I think {good things you think about the work, or her talents as a writer}."

Then let her sit with that, and her hurt feelings, until she feels like talking.

And, yeah, maybe the two of you aren't a good match as a critique partnership. Whether it's because she's overly thin-skinned for your critiquing style, or your critiquing style is more direct than what she's looking for...it could be either or both.

mscelina
03-06-2008, 10:37 PM
*grin*

I bet that was a fun crit to do, though.

heyjude
03-06-2008, 10:40 PM
Hi, CasualObserver! I'm your friend. Or at least I could be. I have extremely thin skin (it's a problem, I know) and when I get a negative crit I go silent and eat chocolate for a day or so. Or potato chips. Sometimes both. Depends on how bad the crit was.

Anyway. Then I pull myself together and thank the person and soldier on. I really, really, immensely value the feedback. Even when it hurts. So your friend could be drowning her sorrows a bit and you'll hear from her soon.

CasualObserver
03-06-2008, 10:55 PM
Depends on how bad the crit was.

It was bad, and made worse by the fact that I'd clearly thought this a long time ago and never mentioned it to her before. That was completely my own fault, and one reason why I feel like such a first-class heel. We've been writing partners for years and she's my best friend. She's a few years younger than me and I've held back some of the stronger criticisms because she's younger and it might have been redundant. She'd work out some of those problems on her own in the process of getting her million words of crap out of her system - she writes constantly. And she did wind up fixing most of the issues on her own, but this one she didn't and now she knows that I knew about it all along and never said anything.

Yeah, I'm a first-class heel. *headdesk* I'm going to email her a very humble apology.

mscelina
03-06-2008, 11:01 PM
ack. that's a little different.

See, whenever I do a crit I strive above all else to be honest. Although I do make allowances for younger writers to a point, I still consider it my obligation to make my critique as helpful and to the point as possible. It's never helpful to anyone to try to soften the blow--ever. It leads to hurt feelings and situations like this.

I understand your dilemma, I really do. It's a tough place to be in. But, before you rip off that humble apology ask yourself this: in the long run, will the crit be more beneficial to my friend or will my apology? Apologise, if you must, for not being more straightforward from the beginning and explain your reasons for it. Hope that your friend will understand and forgive.

Mr Flibble
03-06-2008, 11:06 PM
Well put in your grovelling apology what you put there - that you've seen her deal with her writing issues and overcome them on her own, and that you admire how much she's come on - but this one you thought she needed a little help with.

writer friend
03-06-2008, 11:40 PM
This is hard for both of you! Critiquing, however gently done, can hurt, especially the more honest the one doing the critique tries to be. As a writer, I've asked a few very trusted friends to look at a first chapter because I know they'll be brutal! That said, I think every writer asking for a critique is still asking for validation of some kind. "Here is my creation, please like it!" It takes lots of diplomacy, doesn't it, to be honest and yet not wound the writer. I like the advice given so far, esp. about saying 'sorry if it was too" blatant or if I "hurt" you in some way. Then perhaps mention the positives of the work once more. Let them know many great works have had "false" or difficult starts. But the friendship is most important, so it's good to heal that first!
Best wishes,
Writer Friend

Angelinity
03-06-2008, 11:48 PM
if and when one is asked to read and crit, the one favor one can do for a writer is to read and crit.

as a critter, you must stay true to yourself -- you could be right and you could be wrong, but you don't really know that, nor can you really know it. ever.

in the scheme of things your input/opinion as a critter is what you have to offer as input/opinion as a critter. if the receiver is not able to fully process -- that is not your responsibility: you were asked to CRIT. not to endorse.

so get over it. whether your friend will get over it and eventually process -- not your responsibility.

next time you're asked to crit a friend's work -- think twice. friendship is based on standards other than writer/critter standards.

CasualObserver
03-06-2008, 11:57 PM
ack. that's a little different.

See, whenever I do a crit I strive above all else to be honest. Although I do make allowances for younger writers to a point, I still consider it my obligation to make my critique as helpful and to the point as possible. It's never helpful to anyone to try to soften the blow--ever. It leads to hurt feelings and situations like this.

I understand your dilemma, I really do. It's a tough place to be in. But, before you rip off that humble apology ask yourself this: in the long run, will the crit be more beneficial to my friend or will my apology? Apologise, if you must, for not being more straightforward from the beginning and explain your reasons for it. Hope that your friend will understand and forgive.
Well, I genuinely thought at the time I first saw the problem that she hadn't yet progressed to the point where she could resolve it. Asking her to fix something beyond her skills wouldn't be helpful, I reasoned. And at one point she pulled out quite a long novella where the problem disappeared, only to come back in her next work. (The problem is her style. It doesn't exist. She writes as if she's pulling together a thesis for her doctorate; every sentence is perfectly constructed English, grammatically superb and as cold and lifeless as day-old fish. Imagine an exciting tale being narrated to you in Ben Stein's monotone. On the other hand, she's got mad skills with a plot and if I had half her talent in that area, I'd be rich. Or still unpublished, but you know what I mean.) She's an excellent writer and has made such a lot of progress over the last few years, it honestly never occurred to me that this late in the game she would still have not worked out a good sense of style.

I didn't plan to apologise for the crit; she can't sell her novel and I'm positive she's sitting on a bestseller if she can work out the style problem. If it was a choice between hurting her but getting her baby into print or sparing her feelings, I'd prefer to see her get that author credit. Absolutely. I should have told her long ago, though. Now she's got an entire manuscript that's essentially worthless and I could have spared her a ton of wasted effort that will now have to go into the rewrite. This is one of those moments where I would kill for more foresight.

Toothpaste
03-07-2008, 12:01 AM
Um . . . I don't think the MS is worthless. Just in need of some editing. Don't think that you've ruined all her hopes and dreams for this MS, that's putting a bit much on your shoulders don't you think? And I do hope you didn't tell her her MS was worthless because she doesn't have any style.

Things can be salvaged, rewritten. Don't go to the extremes right now, that's not going to be helpful at all.

CasualObserver
03-07-2008, 12:22 AM
Sorry. I didn't realise until this thread that she's probably upset because I never told her, I merely assumed she was upset because I gave the opinion that her ms needed a lot of work yet. Now I feel awful and I'm wallowing. I'll stop, sorry. I certainly didn't call her ms worthless; I told her it was an exciting story, very tightly written plot, but it made for bland reading because the style was just this side of milquetoast. I used the word "robotic" at one point. My final recommendations were to ditch the overly strong adjectives and instead allow her characters to emote, and to inject some life into the narrative voice. I meant "worthless" in the sense that 90k-odd words and two years of work later, and she still doesn't have a manuscript ready for submission.

Shadow_Ferret
03-07-2008, 12:33 AM
How does that help the writer improve? You SHOULD point out the positives. But you also need to give the negatives as well.

Um, I said I'm not very good at analyzing fiction. I'm not going to say, "I hate this." "This sucks." I need to have a reason WHY I don't like something, and since I don't know how to analyze fiction, I can't give that reason. What's the point of criticism if it isn't constructive? That's just being mean.

DonnaDuck
03-07-2008, 01:37 AM
I good friend will tell you when you suck. A bad friend will lie and say you'r great when you really suck. Personally, I would have nipped the robotic monotone in the bud when I first saw it instead of leaving her to work it out on her own. Recommended that she read more, get a sense of style and voice instead of textbook grammar. But, it looks like you have backed yourself into a little conundrum. You should explain to her that you gave her the benefit of the doubt and hoped that she would improve to the point of eliminating the robot, which she had in everything else she was grapling with. But this just didn't work out. Granted she could still twist it and continue to say, "you knew and didn't tell me, thanks" type of thing.

I think the best thing would be to give it a few days and then, walking on eggshells, try to approach her and see what she's thinking. She might just need some time to cool.

Ferret, if you don't know how to analyze fiction, how do you write it?

Star
03-07-2008, 01:56 AM
Hmmm, I feel for you. Friendships are hard. But this may be a sign that your friendship needs work as well! For example, I have one friend who will ask me, "Do I look fat?" and I'll nod slowly, give her a nervous smile, and we'll laugh. She knows I always want her to look her best, so if her stomach is hanging over those jeans, I'm gonna tell her!

Then I have another friend who says, "Does my hair look okay?" And I quietly pat down "her" hair, which is a weave, then I'll stare at it helplessly because i know in my heart it looks a hot mess. She never reacts in a good way to the truth, so she's shown me we don't have the same relationship as my aforementioned friend. I know this comment may be off base. I'm just showing that some friends you can keep it real with, and some ya' can't.

That's why I try not to critique anymore. I'm too damn honest, to a fault because I want the same done for my work. Not everybody is like that, and I need to respect that.

Alas. Update us on your friend situation. I hope you guys make up.:Hug2:

Appalachian Writer
03-07-2008, 04:32 AM
I always send my work to a friend I made here on the boards. She's brutal; never retreats, never backs down. Does it hurt? Yeah, sometimes more than others, but she's helping me become better at the game. I still love her to bits, and when she recently announced she had an agent, it felt like I got one. If your friend is a true friend, she'll lick her wounds, take a look at the piece, decide whether what you've had to say will help, and thank you for your honesty. Otherwise....send flowers! : )!

Birol
03-07-2008, 04:42 AM
I've had people completely slam me over crits I've given them. Doesn't matter. The crit wasn't personal when I gave it, therefore it's not personal when they fire back at me.

To be fair, this has happened very, very rarely, but it's still happened.

However, I think the key to any crit group is honesty. You have to be honest with one another and you have to trust one another. The trust must go two ways. First, they have to know that they can trust you to be honest and second, you have to trust them to take what they can use and leave the rest.

KTC
03-07-2008, 04:47 AM
Honesty is the key. If you were being honest with your critique, and fair, don't back done. Writers shouldn't look for people to say, "It's wonderful. Way to go." A good critiquer is going to tell them how to improve their work. If they don't like to hear criticisms, maybe they shouldn't be sharing their work. This is a point of contention for me. There are writers out there who are only looking for, "Oh, how wonderful!" I do not have time for those writers. They can blow smoke up their own asses...I'm going to look at the piece and tell them what works and what, IMHO, needs work to make it better. Honesty and fairness. If you feel you have provided this in your critique, don't back down. You will not be doing your friend any favours.

Maybe show your friend this thread so they will see different points of view on this discussion and see that you were not on a witch hunt but out to make them a better writer.

KTC
03-07-2008, 04:49 AM
She's a writer, she understands thick skin and crit is never personal and all that.


PS...this statement does not go with the rest of what you said AT ALL. A thick skinned friend does not stop speaking to you when you criticize their work.

Chumplet
03-07-2008, 04:54 AM
I learned a lot of things in the past couple of years, especially how to give and receive a critique. I blogged (http://chumpletwrites.blogspot.com/2007/06/critique-or-criticism.html) about it a while back (Omigod, was it in June?), and it was helpful to some authors.

The thing is, you can read something that just doesn't sing for you, and try to convey to the author that it isn't making the cut for you. But, you never know, it might be okay to other readers. The most important thing about critiquing is not to mess with the author's voice. If you see a sentence, a phrase, or a scene that can be improved, sprinkle your suggestions in. Not all at once, just enough to let the writer see that perhaps the segment could be written with the reader in mind.

Don't forget to bring attention to a segment that seemed particularly clever. It makes them feel as if the whole thing isn't a waste of time.

I've been there. I cried when a critter said my plot was going nowhere. I also smiled inside when she cheered a lovely and original phrase.

When I crit, the author always thanks me. Maybe I'm doing it right, or maybe I just managed to NOT offend them.

Edited to add: Hey! I just cracked a thousand posts! Party in the Office Party room later...

reigningcatsndogs
03-07-2008, 05:10 AM
When I ask for a crit, I want a crit. I may not be thrilled with what they have to say about the work, and my ego may scream at what is said, but logic always takes over and I can see the logic of the comments. Each time it gets easier, because I know that the crit is useless if it isn't honest.

I don't do many crits, especially if I don't know the writer well. A crit can be a hard thing to do, because I feel I am impossing my tastes on someone else's work, or I might be 'damaging their writing spirit'. I have only benefited from them, but that takes time to readily accept. I do know that I value and appreciate everyone who does a crit for me, because of the time, because of the talent and wisdom, because it takes some guts to want to do a crit properly.

You could give her some time, you could send her a message telling about the first painful crit you received, you could just send her a funny ecard to say you're thinking about her and want to make sure the friendship is still intact. I personally don't think you should apologize for a crit you gave in good faith to a friend.

Ken
03-07-2008, 05:26 AM
If they could write you off just like that they probably weren't a real friend to begin with. Time to get new one.
Wink, wink...
:)

Keyboard Hound
03-07-2008, 05:58 AM
A crit is not a crit unless it points out areas where work is needed. I have a few writing friends who can only say positive things about other people's work. After a while it just becomes fluff. It'll never help others improve writing skills. Sometimes, I wish they'd just shut up and let someone who has something constructive to say have the floor.

Often I don't see the flaws in my own writing. Having someone else point it out gives me an opportunity to improve. For that I'm always grateful. And I try to remember that when I crit someone else's work.

Here's hoping you friend thinks things over and realizes the value of what you've said.

Sonneillon
03-07-2008, 06:26 AM
I've ticked a lot of people off with crits, actually (I know, this is really hard for you guys to believe :tongue) but most of them were fanficcers who took umbrage with my assertion that writing is a MEDIUM and in order to tell a good story, you must be able to properly use the medium. That means spelling, grammar, sentence structure, paragraphs, and not inserting author's notes every other sentence. I got a lot of this:

OMG, liek, who cars if theirs all that stuff if teh story iz good? U shuld just read teh story n not bitch abuot that stuff. Ur just jelous cuz u cant rite abuot Mrs. Super Sparkly-poo n u dont have nething as kool as a half-unicorn half-foenix half-fairy.

Serious critiques? I've had a couple people say "ohhh, harsh" but since I'm usually polite about it and I dish out whatever encouragement I can work up, I don't think anyone's been truly offended. And I always try to point out that my suggestions are just that - suggestions. Ultimately, it's up to the author to decide whether they really believe the changes are good or necessary. So I try to phrase critiques as "you might try... you might consider... perhaps you might prefer..."

Danger Jane
03-07-2008, 07:51 AM
If one of my best friends told me my style was totally nonexistent, I'd be pretty upset. Not at them, at myself, for never developing one. I would probably need a few days to figure things out before I talked to that friend again, at least talked to them seriously. After all...style is no minor component of a story.

It doesn't mean she's a bad friend and it doesn't mean you gave a nasty critique. It just means she probably has a lot of thinking to do before she's comfortable talking to you again.

An email about something else is probably fine, but I wouldn't jump to apologize...you might not need to.

dreamsofnever
03-07-2008, 11:11 AM
I just recently joined critters.org and I read a lot of the articles they have about critiquing the 'diplomatic' way on there and those were really helpful. The trick is really to phrase a lot of things as your opinion. (i.e. "I didn't get a feel for the style in your piece", etc.) I've tried that approach out both in my crits over there and in my new critiquing group and it seems to work well.

That said, what's done is done as far as the crit goes. It's possible, like everyone said, that your friend is processing it. It's always tough to get your first really harsh critique. I remember that when I got my first one, I had to take a step back and I was like "um, ouch." Then I revisited it and realized that the critique opened up new doors to make so many improvements. Since then, I relish the brutally honest critiques.

I would say that you just talk to her. Tell her how much you believe in her work. You've said here that she's a genius at plotting and you think she's sitting on a bestseller, if she can improve. Tell HER that. That type of flattery helps ease the sting of the critique.

As for her figuring out her style, that's a really tough thing to do. You can't teach style, and the only way to learn style is by trial and error. So it might be that she's really upset about the fact that she doesn't know how to fix the issue you presented.

Anyways, I would really just try to sit down and talk with her and remind her how much you believe in her. It sounds like you really do and you genuinely want to help-she's lucky to have a friend who is that interested. I would also give her some suggestions to work out the style so she can feel like she's moving forward in tackling the problems presented in the crit.

Good luck with this!

Devil Ledbetter
03-07-2008, 03:48 PM
Has your crit ever ticked someone off?
Many, many times. It's frustrating, especially when you've put a lot of work into a crit. But sometimes a growing writer needs a little time to think over what you've said. Give your friend time to digest your crit.

I'll bet she'll come around and thank you for it eventually. If not, she wasn't much of a friend.

onlyhere
03-07-2008, 04:59 PM
I came to AW with the prospect of getting harsher crits for my writing. While I love the other forum I frequent and need the positive reviews to build me up, I also need a critical reviews to help me improve.
Gotta take the sour with the sweet.

Lauri B
03-07-2008, 05:27 PM
I feel for you, CasualObserver, and for your friend. I try always to be honest when I crit, and I also try to do all the "sandwich" things: talk about the good stuff first, then go to the stuff that needs work, then finish up with more positive suggestions for making the potential a reality. But I completely understand both how you and likely how your friend feels. I agree with Ice Cream Empress and Redzilla far upthread (and others who mentioned this, too): give your friend a couple of days and then check in with her. i don't think you need to move from an honest critique (however delayed) to abject apology--she asked you for a critique and you gave it, so while you feel like crap, you shouldn't apologize for the critique itself--and then offer to talk the whole thing through with her. No one likes to hear bad things about their writing, especially from friends, but if someone asks you to critique, I think it's important to do the best job possible. And I'm feeling guilty, too, because I did the same thing this week--a woman I know, but not well, asked for my feedback on her self-published book. And I gave her a solid, professional critique. After I hit "send," I realized it probably wasn't at all what she wanted from me. I haven't heard from her since, and she's the kind of person who responds to emails in minutes. So I'm right there with you, Cas.

jclarkdawe
03-07-2008, 06:54 PM
Me? Tick off someone with my critique? Never, ever happened and never will. I leave the writer doing the Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy dance, smiling at my kind and gentle comments, excited at the prospect of taking advantage of my brilliant advice.

AND TO THE PERSON WHO JUST SENT ME THE DEATH AND DISMEMBERMENT THREAT ABOUT THE CRITIQUE I DID ON THEIR WORK, WELL, YOU, SIR, CAN BLOW IT OUT YOUR EAR!

Seriously, if you do enough critiques and are any good at it, you'll tick off people. With manuscripts I do try to limit my damages, though.

I won't do anything other than a query where the person has not seen my work.

I want to see how they react to criticism.

If I'm unsure, I'll just do a short section and hold back a bit.

If you're a close friend who is not a professional writer, I won't do it at all. I'm concerned bias will enter my work.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Red-Green
03-07-2008, 07:05 PM
Of course, over in Query Hell Jim's crits have to be brutal--he's just channeling the scarifying reality that is What Agents Think When They Read Your Query Letter.

BlueLucario
03-07-2008, 07:08 PM
I'm blue.

ME TOO:Hug2:.

Well, who knows, she could be busy. I've heard even the nicest critique can be brutal. When some take them, they are probably hiding in their little turtle shell.

All you need to do is give her some time.

ishtar'sgate
03-07-2008, 09:10 PM
Sorry, I'm a writer, been a writer for many, many years, I still don't understand thick skin, and I take every crit personal. It's why I hardly ever put work into SYW or offer anything to a "Beta" reader.

And when I give crits, I usually point out all the positives. But that might just because I'm not very good at analyzing fiction.
I've had my share of critiques and it takes time to build up, not so much a thick skin, as a slippery one - let it slide off, emotionally speaking. When I first began showing my work I was easily hurt and bristled at even the least bit of negative feedback. But it doesn't do a writer any good at all for a critiquer to ignore negatives. That's not how a writer improves. A writer needs to identify her shortcomings and work on them and sometimes that takes a second pair of eyes. Hopefully your friend will come around. As long as you have let your care for your friend guide HOW you told her, which you probably have, I'm sure she'll thank you down the road.
Linnea

CasualObserver
03-09-2008, 06:14 PM
I got a response to my apology. I was wrong about being wrong about her being understandably hurt that I hadn't informed her earlier; no, she actually does seem to have been ticked at the crit. Her response, condensed:

We all have opinions and I don't plan to make any edits solely because of your opinion. Besides, someone else thought my book was awesome. Doesn't matter if I never sell, I only write for myself anyway - not some editor or audience.


I'm going to be pissed off about that response tonight, but at the moment I'm merely befuddled at the pod person who harvested my bud's brain.

Ziljon
03-09-2008, 07:00 PM
Hi, CasualObserver.

Don't be angry at her, that's a defense mechanism. She needs to believe in her writing. It is possible, isn't it, that you could be wrong?;)

I'm curious about your criticism; was it all commentary, or did you give suggestions on how to fix the problems you saw? Did you try to re-write, or edit any particularly offending passage to show her exactly what you meant?

It's one thing to say 'this reads dry,' and quite another to show how you would 'fix' it.:)

CasualObserver
03-09-2008, 08:16 PM
It's not only possible that I'm wrong, unless she gets two more crits independently putting forth the common issue of a style deficiency I'd wager that it's more likely wrong than not. Or at least personal preference rather than error. Once is a fluke, twice is a coincidence, three times is a pattern. She has one other crit saying there's a style problem, I have no idea if she's also had a third. It isn't about being right or wrong though. She submitted her ms and didn't get any bites, so she made some extensive edits (sensible), asked if she ought to go vanity press (I said no, this deserves commercial publishing) and passed the edited ms around to ask for opinions. I think it would have been more fair to forewarn me that the opinion she was looking for was that she's wonderful, the publishers who turned it down are stupid and don't change a thing - I only gave her two out of three of those.

In re: the crit itself. Commentary plus examples plus pointing out where she'd done it differently to good effect (IMO) plus asking where she thought Work A of hers differed from Work B (the one done to good effect, IMO) plus fanatical gushing about her abilities and ms because she's my friend. Then I added that I know of a website where there are tons of writers - professional, published writers - and she might get some great advice there, or have it confirmed that I don't know what I'm talking about and her style is great but there's some other fixable thing those who have experience can help her with, to get her book published. (She isn't interested in what "my friends" might think about her work. I think she'd get a lot more quality advice here than restricting herself to friends and family who have also never managed to get published, but that's up to her.)

DWSTXS
03-09-2008, 08:22 PM
I have had one crit that was negative, and two that were very, very helpful. The helpful crits have dozens of changes suggested, and no, I was not upset. The harsher the crit, the better it is for you, within limits.
The really 'negative' crit I received was from someone who admitted that they did not like the genre I write in, and suggested changes that would have amounted to making me change my genre from mainstream fiction to fantasy. In other words, since I didn't write in their preferred genre, then my writing was bad.

I've done 4 crits myself, and I had some serious problems with one that I read. The mss was a big mess and the author needed some serious instruction in sentence construction, POV and spelling. More help than I could have felt qualified to give. This person was offended, but, I know that she is still writing, still hanging in there and trying to improve, and that's all that matters.

Polenth
03-09-2008, 10:51 PM
Then I added that I know of a website where there are tons of writers - professional, published writers - and she might get some great advice there, or have it confirmed that I don't know what I'm talking about and her style is great but there's some other fixable thing those who have experience can help her with, to get her book published. (She isn't interested in what "my friends" might think about her work. I think she'd get a lot more quality advice here than restricting herself to friends and family who have also never managed to get published, but that's up to her.)

If she does follow your advice and want to come here, this thread could be a problem. I know I'd feel really bad if I found out a friend was discussing a disagreement with me in public.

SpookyWriter
03-10-2008, 12:08 AM
Me? Tick off someone with my critique?
Jim Clark-DaweLOL! I am a fan of your style. I can't say enough how I believe a good critique is meant to help the writer improve their craft. I understand where Casual is coming from and it's a difficult position. I can only think that her friend will come around and thank Casual for the constructive criticism.

Riley
03-10-2008, 02:47 AM
Sometimes, when I get a critique, I have to stay far, far away from the critiquer for awhile. I just get so mad. I understand that it's not a personal thing, but, I'm sensitive. What can I say?

The one that hurt my feelings the most was a critique I received from a retired editor. I do not know why that critique hurt my feelings. A lot of it was praise, but the guy told me that I didn't explore the conflicts between characters enough. That bit of advice has stuck with me for a long, long time. I'm pretty sure it will always stay with me. I have to say I'm more attentive to character conflicts now.

My critiques have angered a lot of people. This is because I used to devote a lot of time to what I call Cutting Down the Weeds. I used to frequent a board where people would post samples of their writing. Most of the writing was dismally bad. A six-year-old could do a better job than some of these people.

Many of the people I critiqued got angry. They called me names, always left bad reviews on my work, the whole spiel. Some of them threatened to quit writing completely if I wasn't "nicer". But there were a rare few who were obviously upset, but willing to work with me. Those were the people who improved and eventually left the board for a more advanced atmosphere. I think the board died about a year ago.

Matera the Mad
03-10-2008, 03:42 AM
lol @ Sonneillon - yeah, I've peed off a few fan-fickers too. Don't care if they don't speak to me, because if they don't want to learn, I don't want to speak to them. I sure can't enjoy reading what they slotch down.

I think -- I hope -- I have learned how to hold back a heavy hand, and I try to point out positives. That can be...challenging.

It is hard to know how someone will take things. I know what pain is. I find all crits helpful, but sometimes they ache a while. It is sometimes very important to back off and lick wounds before responding to something that hurts.

But how can anyone submit to an agent or publisher if they are not willing to take that risk of pain?

Right now I am procrastinating about seeing what has happened to my last burnt offering. :e2thud:

heyjude
03-10-2008, 05:34 PM
I got a response to my apology. I was wrong about being wrong about her being understandably hurt that I hadn't informed her earlier; no, she actually does seem to have been ticked at the crit. Her response, condensed:

We all have opinions and I don't plan to make any edits solely because of your opinion. Besides, someone else thought my book was awesome. Doesn't matter if I never sell, I only write for myself anyway - not some editor or audience.


I'm going to be pissed off about that response tonight, but at the moment I'm merely befuddled at the pod person who harvested my bud's brain.

Poor Casual! Try and do something nice, huh?

If she doesn't care about the work, if it's only for her, why's she going after crits anyway?

She'll come to her senses.

DonnaDuck
03-10-2008, 06:40 PM
I've never apologized for a crit. Usually when someone asks for one from me, they know my style, they know I can be blunt and they know it might sting but they're ready for it. I had one fanficcer that turned after I told her her character was becoming unreasonable and was acting outrageous without consequences and, essentially, was on the path to being a Sue. Her fangirls jumped on the "bash" me bandwagon saying "writers have feelings too." Do we? Another one expressly asked me to crit, I did and she brushed everything off my providing half-assed reasons for plot holes and inconsistent characters. She was nice about it but I stopped bothering. No point in critiquing someone that obviously doesn't want it.

One of my close friends now asked me when I first met to critique a fair portion of her novel (we had just met and she knew I had the English degree and wanted an unbiased, "professional" input because she's already gotten stuff from her friends). Essentially, I chopped it up (aside from the basic grammar stuff, she had some issues with character consistency and glaring unanswered questions). Later on in the friendship she told me when she first got it back she was like, "What the fuck? That bitch!" but then she read what I wrote and realized that I was helping her, not shitting on her. She has a good story (vampire erotica which isn't my thing but I overlooked it to help her, needless to say I didn't offer much on style in that respect) but it needed work. She asked for my help and if I did nothing but offer gratuitous praise, it wouldn't do her any good. It would have been a disservice not to help to the full extent ot my ability.

If your friend is of the ilk that, "I'm writing for myself, not for any editor or audience," it doesn't seem like she's ready to move on with her work. Unfortunately writers write for an audience. If she wants her work read by others, she can't just write for herself because no one's going to want to read abotu her tooting her own horn. It sounds like she's really attached to the work and was only looking for something to further goad her ego than anything constructive. Hopefully she'll come around and realize that you were offering some good advice and that it wouldn't benefit her for you to do nothing but fangirl her. On the other side, I agree with thread would be mightly awkward should she come to the board.

Sonneillon
03-10-2008, 08:26 PM
I got a response to my apology. I was wrong about being wrong about her being understandably hurt that I hadn't informed her earlier; no, she actually does seem to have been ticked at the crit. Her response, condensed:

We all have opinions and I don't plan to make any edits solely because of your opinion. Besides, someone else thought my book was awesome. Doesn't matter if I never sell, I only write for myself anyway - not some editor or audience.


Casual, I agree with DonnaDuck. This person isn't serious about writing as a craft yet. It might happen in the future, but at the moment, she wants you and everyone else to gush over her macaroni and glue picture and put it up on the fridge. Quality is taking a back seat to "look what I did!" That's okay... it's a stage every artist goes through when they pick up a craft. Eventually, the praise will start to ring hollow (unless she's a truly conceited person by nature) and she'll start pursuing quality and excellence. At that point, your critiques will be more welcome. Don't sweat it... if she truly cares about writing, if she loves it, then it's only a matter of time!

What you've done (and believe me, I know your intentions were good) is you've knocked her off her happy pedestal. She was floating along in a haze of good feeling until you said "Actually, this isn't perfect". Now all her pride, all her sense of accomplishment, has been demolished. So, understandably, she makes excuses - "I'm not writing for some editor or audience, this is just for me!" But you and I know that doesn't hold any water; if she was just writing for herself, without care for an audience, she wouldn't have shown it to you. Take heart - your critique will stick in her mind. She'll agonize over it, work herself up into a frenzy, be angry, hurt, and offended. But when she goes back to read her work again, it's likely she'll hear your words in her head, and it's possible that with eyes unclouded she'll see what you're talking about and concede that you had several good points. I don't know if she'll forgive you or not because I don't know her, but it's obvious that she couldn't just let the criticism roll off her back, so whether she likes it or not, you've likely done her some good. ;)

She's probably not ready to be here. Hell, I don't know if I'M ready to be here... I get panicky at the thought of the SYW forum. But it could happen. In the meantime, you've learned something too - you've learned that the truth has to be wrapped in sugar coating to be palatable to those who aren't ready for it. My guess is the next time you're asked for a critique, you'll be more successful at getting through to the person because of this, and that's pretty valuable too.

WildScribe
03-10-2008, 08:39 PM
I quit a writing crit circle because one woman, who wrote terribly, took offense at EVERY small comment, even if I was going super-easy on her MS. I finally gave up on talking to her to avoid the fights, and stopped going.

WildScribe
03-10-2008, 08:41 PM
That's okay... it's a stage every artist goes through when they pick up a craft.

Nu-uh... I was ALWAYS annoyed when all I got was a "Hey, good job!" I wanted to know what they liked, what they didn't like, and where things were weak... This was back when I was, like, 10...

Momento Mori
03-10-2008, 09:21 PM
CasualObserver:
We all have opinions and I don't plan to make any edits solely because of your opinion. Besides, someone else thought my book was awesome. Doesn't matter if I never sell, I only write for myself anyway - not some editor or audience.

Whilst she's right to take the approach that she shouldn't edit just because one person tells her to change something (on the basis that the author is in the best position to work out whether a suggested change helps or hinders), it's bullshit to claim that she's only writing for herself/himself. If that was true, they wouldn't be asking anyone to read it.

Personally, Casual, I'd chalk this one down to experience and move on to help someone prepared to hear the bad from the good. You clearly gave her your honest opinion without being a git about it and s/he's not ready to hear it. It's a shame, but that's the way it goes. Don't let it put you off from giving someone your honest opinion though - other people will be more than grateful for considered feedback!

MM

Sonneillon
03-10-2008, 09:45 PM
Nu-uh... I was ALWAYS annoyed when all I got was a "Hey, good job!" I wanted to know what they liked, what they didn't like, and where things were weak... This was back when I was, like, 10...

I was the same way when I was ten. But when I was three, I 'wrote' a booklet for my mom. It was basically squiggly lines on a folded piece of paper, but I could read the story to her. She was very proud of me. I didn't say how early someone would go through the stage. ;)

Saint Fool
03-11-2008, 12:08 AM
Yep. Just recently. I think it was because I was encouraging every time she'd talk about the book - although I never saw any of it. She sent it to me to read and, I think, love up on. IMHO, it needed a lot of work. Line critted the first chapter - printed it out, red pencil, many notes. Her response was "everyone else loved it and I'm sending it out to agents/publishers as it stands." I wrote back and said that my crits were sincere and wished her good luck.

Currently, I'm training a beta to be a bit harsher. Her reason for not critting hard was that she didn't want to hurt my feelings. I told her that I'd rather hear that my book had problems from her rather than hearing it from agents/publishers after spending time and money sending out queries and manuscripts. She said "oh, that makes sense." I got my second-draft chapter 6 back from her today.

I think I've created a monster.

WerenCole
03-11-2008, 08:04 AM
When it comes to crits I just have one statement: Writers are a bunch of wussies who whine and pout and then end up doing it there way regardless. I know, I know, some of you may not think you are whining wussies, but deep down you really are. I know I am. Write (right)?

Chumplet
07-18-2008, 06:24 AM
I don't think I ever angered anyone I critted. At the beginning of my writing -- uh -- career if you can call it that, I was miffed at comments like "I thought that joke was in bad taste" or " I don't like hockey". Pointless stuff like that. Eventually, I learned to ignore the chaff and take the suggestions that worked for me.

On the other hand, stroking a new author's ego without offering any help isn't going to do them any favours. They'll submit to an agent or editor thinking they're the bee's knees until they get their umpteenth form letter. Compare this to a parent who lets a kid win every board game until he tries it with a friend and gets a rude awakening.

If you can't find anything to 'nitpick', you can always offer minor suggestions. I for one don't feel confident enough to pick apart an established author's work, but they always thank me because I offer something.

Sometimes I focus on geography. Say, someone is speaking from one end of the room and they're suddenly behind the protagonist.

I also try to point out passages where showing is better than telling - something I'm always grateful for when someone points it out to me.

It's okay to be sensitive. We're all sensitive. But don't give up because someone who doesn't know how to crit ruins it for you. Take what works for you, and leave the rest.

Alpha Echo
07-18-2008, 06:48 AM
She's a writer, she understands thick skin and crit is never personal and all that.

There's a difference between understanding thick skin - why it's necessary and why you should have it - and actually having thick skin.

I totally understand that as a writer, you have to be able to take critiques as they are given and not read into them as though they are a slam against me as a person. But when someone is critiquing something you spend months pouring your heart and soul into, knowing how you should react is often different than how you do react.

That being said, I'm sorry if she is making this affect your friendship. Perhaps you should talk to her. As others have suggested, maybe she's just processing. But you'll never know unless you talk to her.

Ageless Stranger
07-18-2008, 02:57 PM
To be honest, I feel wholeheartedly in debt to anyone who crits my work. It's a tiring job and can often be thankless. Heres to all you crits and beta readers out there! You rock!