NYC Midnight : Creative Writing & Screenwriting Homepage
Forum Home Forum Home > GENERAL DISCUSSION > Questions & Answers
  New Posts New Posts RSS Feed - Etiquette> Critiques of critiques?
  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Events   Register Register  Login Login

Etiquette> Critiques of critiques?

 Post Reply Post Reply Page  123>
Author
Message
Ullanta View Drop Down
NYC Midnight Newbie
NYC Midnight Newbie
Avatar

Joined: 15 Jul 2020
Location: CA
Status: Offline
Points: 60
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ullanta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Etiquette> Critiques of critiques?
    Posted: 18 Jul 2020 at 5:06am
Greetings!

I'm seeing a number of critiques of critiques, that are all kinda similar to:

"I think it's awesome that you put so much time and effort and thought into this review, but I'd like to suggest that you try to keep your feedback balanced (pro-con-pro is a good pattern to try to follow) and try to keep your comments focused on the elements of the story as it is (plot, character, setting, adherence to the prompts, organization, tone and style, etc). Commentary that says "you should have done this" or "I would have done it this way" is a form of appropriation that many writers find discouraging."

or

"I feel like you might be new to critiquing in general. In this critique, I'd like to model for you how to give critique in a way that supports the writer and employs what we call the sandwich method: positive, then negative, then positive again. You'll also notice that I will not say what I personally would have done stylistically, but rather remark on what is effective within the story and what isn't, while respecting the voice and perspective that you selected for this particular story. You seem to spend a lot of time digging into negatives (and in one critique I saw, listed absolutely no positives). I think that this approach can, at best, make a writer dismiss your perspective as not coming from a place of good faith. At worst, it can make a new writer want to stop writing."

Note that these are posted by third parties; not the authors being critiqued.

What do you all think of this? I should add that these are not in response to anything that seems rude, or even very negative; only thoughtful criticism that shows that someone has read the story deeply and has some ideas to share about it.


This is sort of a survey:

1) Would you rather not have criticism at all if it's not "sandwiched"?

2) Do you think this sandwiching should be a requirement for critiques?

3) Do you think this is different in this forum than it would be in, say, a small group of familiar writers? In a seminar of experienced writers?


Edited by Ullanta - 18 Jul 2020 at 5:09am
Check out my C1, GR90:Wonders, by Ullanta
Back to Top
allimax View Drop Down
NYC Midnight Groupie
NYC Midnight Groupie
Avatar

Joined: 12 Jul 2020
Status: Offline
Points: 145
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote allimax Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jul 2020 at 6:03am
Interesting questions! I've been wondering about the content of my critiques, as I am new to this whole scene.

I think that everybody is going to have a different approach to critiques- and I think that is a great thing. 

I, personally, use the sandwich method and give very specific text-based feedback. I can't help it- I'm a teacher. It's part of the fabric of my soul. Even though I think this is the most helpful and meaningful method, I don't expect that everybody on the forums will do this all the time. 

Even if a reviewer were to return purely "negative" feedback (which, admittedly, would be a little tone deaf) we have the option to try their perspective on for size, evaluate it, glean valuable bits, and leave the rest behind. Or it could be spot on AND be the very honest kick in the pants that prompts major growth in our writing.

I have grappled with whether to sprinkle in alternate word choice possibilities in some critiques. I think that I do this because word choice is one of my personal focus areas. In the end, I've listened to my heart and trusted that my intention to always leave as helpful and meaningful a review as possible is the best choice.

I think that best intentions are all we can ask for. And then everybody's own background, interests, and personality will fill in the gaps! This is a peer community, not a professional one. As long as we are critiquing the work and not the author, we can likely learn at least a little bit from everybody's review.

- Allison



Edited by allimax - 18 Jul 2020 at 6:07am
Back to Top
Crystal Highlands View Drop Down
NYC Midnight Newbie
NYC Midnight Newbie


Joined: 13 Jul 2020
Status: Offline
Points: 56
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote Crystal Highlands Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jul 2020 at 8:37am
Critiquing critiques seems like controlling behavior to me and I would ignore it.

Back to Top
nickofnight View Drop Down
NYC Midnight Addict
NYC Midnight Addict
Avatar

Joined: 17 Jul 2017
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Points: 953
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote nickofnight Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jul 2020 at 12:42pm
I think it's a great idea to at least listen to people who crit your crit - even if you don't agree with what they say. Like writing, it's a skill that we can work on and improve, and that we need feedback on. 

I also think you're getting some of these responses because you are giving (at times) vague, unactionable feedback, while other times saying how you'd write (how they should write) portions of their story - which a lot of people don't like and consider bad etiquette, especially if you don't know the person.

For the survey, I'm definitely with the sandwich crit. There is a lot of value for a writer in knowing what worked for a reader, plus it builds trust with them for the more negative portion of the critique. I would not want crit without any positives from a stranger. 


Edited by nickofnight - 18 Jul 2020 at 12:48pm
Back to Top
taaaylor View Drop Down
NYC Midnight Black Belt
NYC Midnight Black Belt
Avatar

Joined: 14 Jul 2018
Location: Idaho
Status: Online
Points: 1585
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote taaaylor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jul 2020 at 1:19pm
Hey again. I see that you're trying to figure out the critique culture in this space. Since you quoted me, I feel obliged to respond. I hope these thoughts help.

Originally posted by Ullanta Ullanta wrote:

Note that these are posted by third parties; not the authors being critiqued.

That's inaccurate. The second paragraph you quoted was a direct response from me (hi!) the author who received your critique and felt it was inappropriately framed. You also conveniently cut out the part where I said:

Originally posted by taaaylor taaaylor wrote:

Hi Ulla, thanks for taking the time to read my story. I have been reading through your post history after seeing your crit on my work, and I feel like you might be new to critiquing in general. (source)

I've been writing for over thirteen years and have thick skin, but this forum is filled with people who don't have my same experience and confidence. I made that comment with them in mind.

The sandwich method is extremely important in this kind of setting, where we are all anonymous users who know very little about each other. The only way to determine a critiquer's intent is through the language they use. Even if I don't like a story, there are still parts within it worth highlighting as effective. An all-negative or primarily-negative critique from a total stranger feels more spiteful than helpful, even to the most seasoned writer.

In my opinion, "thoughtful criticism" is balanced and considerate of the writer. As someone who received your critique, I found your language unnecessarily abrasive. You engaged in imperatives and demanded changes in stylistic content without any further qualification than that you would have preferred to have written it that way:

Quote I feel like the pace gets interrupted a number of times when you throw in the colon- and comma-separated phrases like: "his hideout - [explanation]", "His lover's face flashes in his mind: [images]", "a rec center: [explanation of why it's familiar]", etc. It breaks the flow, and it weakens the imagery. You have so much poetic language, and I think you should go more with that, not qualify it. trust the reader. Flash us the images and let us figure them out. Cut the words down, cut the narrator down, let us experience theis with Flint. His mind's a panic you say - let the writing be the panic. Don't leave things like "clouds hold the moon in their fists" just for weather... give us his direct freaky scattered thoughts in resonating imagery. (source)

This was the inappropriately framed portion of your critique on my story. You simultaneously tell me to use more language, but also cut down on language. You state things like "Don't leave things like 'clouds hold the moon in their fists' just for weather" right after saying I should go further with poetic language. Demanding the writer do things is condescending and unnecessary, even moreso when your own feedback is contradictory.

When your choice of words is unkind and inconsistent and the critique lacks a balanced framing, it makes the critiquer's purpose questionable at best. I think you were trying to help, which is why I think you've made this thread. But pause to consider: perhaps the people (like me) who made those comments are attempting to show other writers how their critiques inadvertently come off. Critique is the only way we all learn and grow, right?

Critiquing is about recognizing what the writer is doing, what works and what doesn't. Not trying to change the story to match our own stylistic preferences. I appreciate that you're trying to help others and it's difficult learning the culture of a new writing community, but I think that working on your framing will accomplish that goal much more effectively.


Edited by taaaylor - 18 Jul 2020 at 3:05pm
Back to Top
Ullanta View Drop Down
NYC Midnight Newbie
NYC Midnight Newbie
Avatar

Joined: 15 Jul 2020
Location: CA
Status: Offline
Points: 60
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ullanta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jul 2020 at 3:45pm
taaaylor, sorry if I misconstrued; you seemed to me to be saying you were judging my critiques of others‘ work (“I have been reading through your post history after seeing your crit on my work“), and you write this not as a response to my critique, but as part of your critique of my story. And in private messages which I don’t feel it’s right to share, you wrote specifics about critiques of others work.

Maybe I was unclear - I was citing the cloudy moon fists as an example of great imagery that there could be more of; I don’t think contradictory with calling for more poetic imagery.

In any case, that’s fine. I may not have stated things well. But I’m genuinely confused by “unkind.” What’s unkind?

Edited by Ullanta - 18 Jul 2020 at 3:59pm
Check out my C1, GR90:Wonders, by Ullanta
Back to Top
Ullanta View Drop Down
NYC Midnight Newbie
NYC Midnight Newbie
Avatar

Joined: 15 Jul 2020
Location: CA
Status: Offline
Points: 60
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Ullanta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jul 2020 at 4:17pm
Also... I’m hoping for this not to be personal, but a general discussion of critiquing. Criticism?

We are not required (as we might be in other situations) to respond to stories. And there are a LOT of stories here. We have to pick and choose where we dedicate our time to give feedback. To me, the worst thing would be to get no feedback.   So, again maybe just to me, any feedback at all shows that we believe in that story; we’ve read the whole thing closely and have a strong enough desire for its success that we spend time saying what we think will help.

I don’t give feedback (here) when I don’t like a story, or when I can’t see anything constructive to say. That’s easiest, and best. And sometimes I just give a note of affirmation if I like a story, or aspects of a story, but can’t at the moment suggest anything potentially useful. And sometimes I make suggestions of things that I do think are potentially useful and constructive, even if I can’t at the moment find things to overtly praise. I truly believe all of these are better and “kinder” than no response at all.

The time and effort figures in, of course... I can write more helpful (in my imperfect opinion) critiques for more people if I don’t strain to provide sandwich material. That is often the most time-consuming thing.

I think that’s the crux of it... I assuming nothing is cruel or dismissive, and all is a genuine attempt to be constructive, should one provide more critiques without straining to be “balanced,” or not critique stories that one can’t provide “balanced” critiques for?

And if there are already a bunch of critiques that hammer home the positives, is it OK to say “Great story as has been said, but ...” rather than spending the time to balance ones critique?

Edited by Ullanta - 18 Jul 2020 at 4:39pm
Check out my C1, GR90:Wonders, by Ullanta
Back to Top
taaaylor View Drop Down
NYC Midnight Black Belt
NYC Midnight Black Belt
Avatar

Joined: 14 Jul 2018
Location: Idaho
Status: Online
Points: 1585
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote taaaylor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jul 2020 at 4:18pm
Originally posted by Ullanta Ullanta wrote:

taaaylor, sorry if I misconstrued; you seemed to me to be saying you were judging my critiques of others‘ work (“I have been reading through your post history after seeing your crit on my work“), and you write this not as a response to my critique, but as part of your critique of my story. And in private messages which I don’t feel it’s right to share, you wrote specifics about critiques of others work.

Maybe I was unclear - I was citing the cloudy moon fists as an example of great imagery that there could be more of; I don’t think contradictory with calling for more poetic imagery.

In any case, that’s fine. I may not have stated things well. But I’m genuinely confused by “unkind.” What’s unkind?


I wrote absolutely no specifics in DMs. In fact, after you sent me an unsolicited DM, I made it pretty clear I wasn't going to spend my time discussing it with you there. Please don't misrepesent what I said. And yes, I was specifically discussing how your critique came across to me and that I read other critiques to see if it was just my story that received similar treatment. I mentioned it in my critique because I felt you wouldn't be writing this way if you understood how your language could be perceived by others.

That was extremely unclear; thanks for clarifying.

I told you already: speaking in imperatives ("do this; don't do that" vs "I think X would have been more effective than Y because Z") and dictating to other writers what stylistic choices to make isn't very kind. Overly-focusing on negatives without balancing it with things that came across as effective is also unkind. I'm confused by your continued confusion, as I've said this a few times.

ETA:

Originally posted by Ullanta Ullanta wrote:

Also... I’m hoping for this not to be personal, but a general discussion of critiquing. Criticism?


It would be best to avoid quoting people and dragging them into this conversation, then


Edited by taaaylor - 18 Jul 2020 at 4:24pm
Back to Top
Ullanta View Drop Down
NYC Midnight Newbie
NYC Midnight Newbie
Avatar

Joined: 15 Jul 2020
Location: CA
Status: Offline
Points: 60
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ullanta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jul 2020 at 4:41pm
Yes, I’m sorry for that. If you’d like, I’ll replace your quote above with another example. I just liked the sandwich metaphor.
Check out my C1, GR90:Wonders, by Ullanta
Back to Top
taaaylor View Drop Down
NYC Midnight Black Belt
NYC Midnight Black Belt
Avatar

Joined: 14 Jul 2018
Location: Idaho
Status: Online
Points: 1585
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote taaaylor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jul 2020 at 5:19pm
Originally posted by Ullanta Ullanta wrote:

Yes, I’m sorry for that. If you’d like, I’ll replace your quote above with another example. I just liked the sandwich metaphor.

I appreciate the apology and the offer, but it's fine. I stand by what I said. In fact, I don't mind that you took issue with my statement and felt the need to quote it. I just found the choice to quote other users to be completely contradictory to your request to keep it impersonal, as I feel you opened the conversation by making it rather personal. Imo, there should be no quotes from other users here if you wanted this to be a purely hypothetical discussion.

I feel like I've said my piece pretty clearly, so I'm out on this one. Crit however you want to crit. Just know no one can understand anyone else's intent except by the words that they use -- so it's worth being careful with those.
Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply Page  123>
  Share Topic   

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down

Forum Software by Web Wiz Forums® version 12.03
Copyright ©2001-2019 Web Wiz Ltd.

This page was generated in 0.094 seconds.