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Hey, Newbies: Don't be afraid to critique(or post)

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LaissezFaire View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (15) Thanks(15)   Quote LaissezFaire Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Hey, Newbies: Don't be afraid to critique(or post)
    Posted: 03 Feb 2019 at 7:36pm
Welcome to you.
I know it can feel intimidating to comment on stories and posts.  Remember, that you are a reader and you have written. You understand more than you give yourself credit for.  Even the most seasoned writer likes to know what hits people and what might have missed the mark.

Remember:

* Everyone was new once and feels the same way you do.
* You have something to offer.
* If you want reviews, you have to give reviews.

I employ a GOLDEN RULE  If I can't find three things I like about the story, I shut my pie hole.
                        Having a post full of "10 things I hate about your story" isn't the way to go. Confused    

Other than that, I have a simple RULE OF THREE

1. I open with a greeting/wow statement, at least three sentences of my impression of the story, and close with a well wish.

    As a reader you have valuable insight to your own impressions.  What worked? What didn't work for you (why)? Was there an area of confusion? Did you notice something interesting about the setting or characters?  Did they use the prompts well?  Anything beyond "read it liked it"  or  "read it hated it"  is important information.   If a genre or POV or style isn't your cup of tea, you can say so -- just focus on constructive feedback not negativity.

2. I pick three favorite lines that stuck out to me (I sometimes elaborate on why, not always)

I know I like to see what phrases and passages stuck out to readers.  I like to know if my intentions are coming across.  If I can't find three things to say for this, I don't post on that story at all. Maybe I am having an off day, or can't be objective, or the story is rubbing me the wrong way.  Whatever the reason, I move on.

3. I limit suggestions (areas of improvement) to three (not including typos that I think the author might not have seen). This includes things like wrong words, tense problem, possible plot hole, super long sentences, a line you stubbed your toe on, uncharacteristic character actions... etc.  This is a two way street. In pointing out (nicely) what I thought was an error, I learned that the line is actually "just deserts" and not "just desserts".  They sound identical! Who knew!?

Play to your strengths as a writer but remember to see the author's vision. What were they trying to convey? Can you help clarify it?

You don't have to have a suggestion at all, but I personally limit the number to three because there might be a lot of people offering their impressions.  Everyone has something valuable to add.  Maybe you are good with commas, or dialogue punctuation, or awkward phrasing, or maybe you are good at spotting word repeats. Perhaps you just have questions about plot or character. That is important, too.

It is polite to return reviews that were given when/if you can. After a while, if you don't give a any reviews back or beyond "yay, good work" people are less inclined to give detailed feedback in return (if that is what you are looking for).  •If you aren't looking for that, no worries, "yay, good work" is still much appreciated. Beer


The most valuable experience I have had using the forums is from giving critiques even though it gave me a heart attack the first time. Shocked   

Good luck!
Now get out there and post, read, and respond.




Edited by LaissezFaire - 07 Feb 2019 at 4:51pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (4) Thanks(4)   Quote Smith Corona Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Feb 2019 at 8:18pm
Well said! I would add:

- If you aren't getting reads/comments and wish you were, try leaving reviews. If you have a link to your story in your signature, you will often get a return read, as many of forum members will make a point of returning reviews.

- If you don't know where to start, you can organize the posts in Short Story Challenge 2019 by clicking the Replies column, and it will show you which ones have few or no replies yet. It's always nice to start by giving some love to those who are still waiting for feedback.

Enjoy the forums!


Edited by Smith Corona - 03 Feb 2019 at 8:20pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (3) Thanks(3)   Quote Suave Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Feb 2019 at 9:17pm
I will add, "DON'T BE SHY ABOUT POSTING"  it was all of ours first time once.  I have way too many heats with no stories, and way more with only one story!  This is unusual and will be the first time there were empty heats!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (6) Thanks(6)   Quote Alex Grey Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Feb 2019 at 5:58am
I think this is a great thread. I am a newbie, but in my other life I design and deliver training/coaching so giving feedback is an integral part of my work. When the review page came up I dived in, though it took a deep breath to expose my story to goodness knows what!

I have read a lot of stories on the forum, not only to reciprocate feedback but also to get a feel for the other genres and for the craft of writing short stories (my natural medium is poetry). So far I have enjoyed the stories simply as a good read rather than a chore.

As a reader I am entitled to my views, but when I'm adding comments I think of these lines by W.B Yeats':

"I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams"

Everyone here has spread their dreams under our feet, it takes courage, not every author will do it. I an mindful that ONE negative comment carries as much weight as FIVE positive ones in the human mind - I tread softly...



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (3) Thanks(3)   Quote Tim G Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Feb 2019 at 6:16am
Good post!

I always always return reads even if the story is hard to find praise for, which sometimes lands me in a tricky spot; in those instances I just get in and out as fast as possible, usually saying that I think there's room for development and drawing attention to the characters or themes that were most interesting. 

On the flipside of that I sometimes fall into a trap of absolutely adoring a story, saying so in one or two sentences at the top, and then dwelling on the one nit I have to pick for 3-4 times that much space.

It's an easy trap to fall into when I want to help a writer deal with the one thing that's holding them back from literary perfection (in my eyes!). But I always say something along the lines of 'to be clear, I freakin' loved this!' at the end so hopefully it's clear.

Oh and when I love something I just gush. Did that this morning with 'Spark', strongly recommended :)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (7) Thanks(7)   Quote nod1v1ng Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Feb 2019 at 7:40am
I might add that tact and respect for your fellow forumites will always be well received. It is just as easy to say (if a tiny bit wordier) "try brushing up on punctuation rules for a more polished piece" over "Gee, your punctuation is a hot mess."

There are a few folks who believe that tough love is industry standard, but I've had a lot of professional feedback from editors and it has always been delivered in respectful and constructive way. We're not here to crush the soul of some poor newbie. It's not our job to "toughen them up," but we can encourage everyone to grow in the craft. I published 14 shorts last year, and in the process had many more rejections. I have thick skin, but even I am more receptive to kindly delivered, constructive criticism.  


Edited by nod1v1ng - 04 Feb 2019 at 7:42am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote Suave Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Feb 2019 at 7:45am
Originally posted by nod1v1ng nod1v1ng wrote:

I might add that tact and respect for your fellow forumites will always be well received. It is just as easy to say (if a tiny bit wordier) "try brushing up on punctuation rules for a more polished piece" over "Gee, your punctuation is a hot mess."

There are a few folks who believe that tough love is industry standard, but I've had a lot of professional feedback from editors and it has always been delivered in respectful and constructive way. We're not here to crush the soul of some poor newbie. It's not our job to "toughen them up," but we can encourage everyone to grow in the craft. I published 14 shorts last year, and in the process had many more rejections. I have thick skin, but even I am more receptive to kindly delivered, constructive criticism.  


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote chrissie0707 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Feb 2019 at 8:15am
I think the thing that stands out most to me from the thread heading is the "critique." Don't be afraid to do that. (I might have a slight fever this morning and so might not make much sense or run on or repeat what someone has said - apologies in advance. Also, if I directly contradict what someone has said, because this is all fantastic advice.)

I personally get so much more from the feedback that is more than "I loved this!" when I know what I posted isn't a perfect, finished product. I know there are some fantastic, long-participating writers here who leave very structured FB, and that's great. I can't say that I leave such structured FB, or that I try to balance positive with constructive (though I know how important that is.) I feel like we had a thread going during FFC about a similar topic, and all sort of came to a conclusion that no one should feel obligated to leave positive FB on a story that really didn't stand out to them, or bring out that reaction in them. If a story didn't work for you, it might benefit a writer who's trying to grow to know that, rather than have constructive crit buried under a pile of requisite praise for a story you had issues with. (While being respectful, of course. "This sucked" is not noncrit, but I think we all know that :P )

I've posted stories before that I was REALLY happy with, but I gotta say, the concrit is more helpful in tweaking and editing. Those are the comments I highlight for further review, and they've helped me turn some of these stories into pieces I'm even MORE happy with.

I guess what I'm saying is - positive reinforcement is great, and this is a great place to get and give it. But we need that concrit, too, so we can all grow as writers together. Also, again, I blame the cold I caught from my husband if I'm rambly and nonsensical.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote J-HardyCarroll Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Feb 2019 at 8:24am
I had problems getting my password to work, so I started afresh with a new identity (thereby becoming an honorary newbie).

 
I try to be impersonal in my critiques, commenting on things I liked as well as things I didn’t. I firmly believe that a successful story makes us care about the protagonist enough to stick with them through whatever change takes place within them during the course of 2500 words. That is a hard length indeed, since it is long enough to be boring yet not long enough spool out the pace.

Every word counts, and the reader’s time must be respected. As much as I appreciate a fine turn of phrase, I care more about the inner emotional track of the characters. I especially appreciate when the writer makes everything do double duty.


Remember we’re all in this to get better, so critiquing is a requirement. I try to be polite, but not to hedge. For me the first rule of courtesy is quid pro quo. If you review my story, I will absolutely read and critique yours in return.

Cheers, and good luck to all.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Lisa_Who Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Feb 2019 at 8:32am
This is great--I think about half my reviews (maybe more) haven't been all that useful, because I am never sure what to say--!  I'm usually prey to multiple conflicting impulses and what wins, errs too much on the side of brevity...I think I'll copy-and-paste your list and use it as a template going forward. :)  Thanks so much!
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