"You sound like a second rate Shakespearian hack who doesn't understand his own lines"

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dickson

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Voice is a funny ol' thing. The farther an author's voice moves from the invisible, the more distinctive and unique their storytelling becomes. But such voice, in turn, seems to polarise readers: either they love it, or they hate it.
I just came across this thread, and find it illuminating. Wasn’t it Virginia Woolf who said of voice in writing something like “There is one voice you should never use: Your own.”?
 

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I just came across this thread, and find it illuminating. Wasn’t it Virginia Woolf who said of voice in writing something like “There is one voice you should never use: Your own.”?
Except for autobiographies :)
 
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Tazlima

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It's interesting that the criticisms of the "feedback sandwich" method all hinge on the compliments being insincere or tacked on.

Someone adding compliments for the sake of "completing the sandwich" is missing the whole point of the sandwich, and if those compliments are insincere, they they've missed the whole point of critiquing, period. Yes, the sandwich method can help spare feelings and keep from discouraging a budding artist, but those are just happy side effects. In any artistic critique, letting someone know what works is at least as important as letting them know what doesn't. It prevents the writer from throwing the baby out with the bathwater in rewrites. To me, THAT'S the point. It doesn't have to be a precise 2:1 ratio, but if someone can't find a single good thing to say about a work, then there's no point reviewing it. Why attempt to fix what is beyond repair?

I heard a quote recently that really stuck in my head: "The problem with brutal honesty is the brutality."
 

Carrie

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It's so hard, isn't it?

Years ago, I applied for a non-credited writing program. It was rather expensive but I thought it might be a good alternative to getting an MFA in creative nonfiction. I was still living in Nigeria, and they wanted a hardcopy submission, so I had a friend bring my application in, along with a writing sample. It was a scene, set in Lagos, in which I had been evicted in the middle of the night. I thought the scene worked pretty well. I was rejected almost immediately with a note that said I should, "become more familiar with the genre" before continuing to write.

I was crushed. I was so bad I didn't even know the genre well enough to know why I was bad!

It was not until many months later and several offers from fully-funded MFA programs that the penny finally dropped. They didn't believe I was actually living in Nigeria, being evicted by armed security guards. They thought the whole thing was some fantasy I had concocted and, of course they didn't want me to be a part of their little creative nonfiction program!

The book went on to sell and I've had many compliments on that particular scene. So now, when I get a critique that is just off-the-wall negative, I try to remember that, in many cases, it really is not me. It's some internal bias of the reader that I don't know and have zero control over. And, yeah. Now I think it's kind of funny.
 

CWNitz

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I heard a quote recently that really stuck in my head: "The problem with brutal honesty is the brutality."
Most people who are "brutally honest" are comfortable hurting others with their honesty, but never themselves. You'll never hear a "brutally honest" person say "I'm jealous of your talent, and I'm scared I'll never write anything I'm happy with," even though this is also "brutal" and "honest."
 

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