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Is it considered bad form to point out errors

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stephenmatlock View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote stephenmatlock Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jul 2020 at 1:42pm
Originally posted by Nimhathuna Nimhathuna wrote:

Though I'm new to this forum, I'm mature enough to appreciate the value of constructive criticism. It's something I do myself. The sandwich method is effective. I think, however, and this is purely from reading feedback on other writers' work, there should be leeway and understanding concerning word usage. A word's connotation or meaning in a European sense may be quite different from its American usage. I have read feedback which was purely negative, no positives whatsoever. There was another with an almost token attempt at positivity. This is disappointing. I'm a firm believer that words carry a lot of weight. Therefore they should be used wisely. It behoves no one, particularly no writer, to point out imagined errors or problems with words when there are none. Caution, like a previous commenter, has recommended is needed. Further, if you've nothing positive to say then say nothing at all. I've read many stories here that use expressions/terminology/references that I was unfamiliar with myself. I looked them up. Moreover, it was quite apparent that the universal appeal of these stories obliterated this minor point. Okay, I've said my piece. Rant over! Best of luck to everyone in the competition!!


I agree with this. The forums can be a lively place, but sometimes we forget that at the other end of our keyboard is a living, breathing human being who is more than just what they type out as a story--and worth extraordinarily more than their creative attempt. Put people first. Reserve your stilettos and scalpels for your own work. When asked to beta something, and asked to give your all--go for it.

But these are published-for-us to review and critique, not to destroy. They are fixed at this point in time because they're submitted. No need to pile on, and no need to say "this story stinks." It might be the Worst Story Ever. Then move on.

I wrote this elsewhere, but I think it's useful here:
Quote I edit for a living. I edit (for free) for a magazine. In both cases I deal with writing that is sub-par, and in both cases my literal job as an editor is to make the piece better AND BUILD THE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE WRITER.

I've worked with toxic editors before, and toxic writers, and I can't say that they write or edit better than others. They certainly don't know how humans work.

It can be fun to slice and dice. I can do that, and I feel pretty good about myself when I do so--but you know what happens next? I lose the relationship, and the people around me lose a little more respect for me.

If you get someone like this, just--move on.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jul 2020 at 9:56pm
I like to give broad feedback about grammar issues if I see them coursing through the whole piece. Otherwise, I might point out something small and add, "This is really nitpicky, and the judges probably won't care," which I truly believe. But in the instance of one run-on sentence after another, or anything like that where it could improve the writing to be aware of a tendency to do something, I'd want to point it out for the other person's benefit. Like, "You have a tendency to repeat what was already said, and the story could be tighter if you trust the information to come across when it's originally given," or, "You tend to not use conjunctions, but fiction reads better when they're used more often than not," or, "I'd recommend reading some articles about proper comma use." I'd hope no one would be torn up over that, but we all want to get better here. My best friend, Sonya, is a brilliant beta reader, and she's taught me everything I know about how to beta read. She's also passed along a huge number of tips that I didn't know, like, put the dialogue in the same paragraph as the speaker's action. Like, Bob was jumping up and down. "Hey, what's up?" as a paragraph with Bob as the implied speaker. And I turn around and share her insights with the people here. I've learned so freakin' much since I started writing in October of 2013. A million little factoids about editing and writing that I never knew before, all stored in my massive cranium. We need to share all that info with each other!! Practice makes perfect. Another thing I've fully come to accept is that I can't write anything good without help from beta readers. My mind can only picture the story one way. I need feedback about how the story comes across, because with only my vantage point, I can't be certain that there aren't notable issues with the characters, plot, etc. That said, if someone wants specific feedback, why not say so? "I don't want to know about tiny errors at this point, so just tell me what you thought of the story," or whatever. I'd never want to give unwelcomed feedback, so I urge anyone and everyone to think about doing that. And in conclusion, it really has been my experience that the judges don't flip out over the occasional typo or mistake; they're seeing the big picture. So don't panic if someone finds a typo! We've all been there. Typos happen. 
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