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Etiquette> Critiques of critiques?

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Topic: Etiquette> Critiques of critiques?
Posted By: Ullanta
Subject: Etiquette> Critiques of critiques?
Date 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?


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Replies:
Posted By: allimax
Date 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
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Posted By: Crystal Highlands
Date Posted: 18 Jul 2020 at 8:37am
Critiquing critiques seems like controlling behavior to me and I would ignore it.



Posted By: nickofnight
Date 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. 


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Posted By: taaaylor
Date 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. http://https://forums.nycmidnight.com/c1-g90-wonders_topic35208_post366576.html#366576" rel="nofollow - (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. http://https://forums.nycmidnight.com/r1-g78-run-with-the-hunted-suspense_topic34948_post366024.html#366024" rel="nofollow - (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.


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Posted By: Ullanta
Date 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?

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Check out my C1, GR90: https://forums.nycmidnight.com/c1-g90-wonders_topic35208.html" rel="nofollow - Wonders, by Ullanta


Posted By: Ullanta
Date 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?

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Posted By: taaaylor
Date 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


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Posted By: Ullanta
Date 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.

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Posted By: taaaylor
Date 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.


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Posted By: stephenmatlock
Date Posted: 18 Jul 2020 at 5:25pm
Personally, I avoid critiquing a piece that's finished. That is, I don't go into detail about all the things I got tripped up on, or all the mistakes, or even that the story misses the mark.

That stuff is for beta.

What I critique in a posted piece are the things I like or was moved by, or the things that are witty or fun or that make me gasp.

I offer--sometimes!--responses of where I am puzzled or feel pulled out of the story as it is in this moment. For writers who think of the forums as a place to post their work for such a critique, I offer that. I'm not here to be your English teacher or your agent or publisher or editor. Besides, authors know their stories and they know their language, and I trust their judgment--even though I might point out where I got muddled.

Not everyone does it this way. That's fine, because we are not here to perform a professional service. We are here for the joy of reading the creativity of others, to lift up the things that are good and true and fun, and to give some feedback not on how it "should" be done, but on where we got lost or felt that there was a weaker point. We're here to celebrate creativity. The gods of NYCM can give us the score of how well we did. For them.

I get feedback that sometimes is rather harsh, and that's fine. I can take it--I've been writing for decades, and I'm not all that skilled. Go ahead and give it your best shot. You think you can say something I haven't heard before? I once got a review with a red lined slashed through page 2 of a long form story: "I stopped reading here." Beat that.

But I also realize that a lot of writers are here presenting us with their beloved child, someone they've worked on with all their efforts to bring beauty or joy or happiness. I'm not going to shoot them down, not here. They come with trembling anticipation of "is it good enough?" hoping that we'll say "Oh, this made me smile" or "this made me pause" or even "this got me, right in the place in my heart where I keep my private feelings."

I'm here to build that up, that desire of writers to say something and to do it well. I'll do whatever I can to help it along. I want every writer to develop their own voice & their own well of telling the story. And I want them to be completely full of joy about their writing, because it is, ultimately, 100% of what they wanted to create.

Why else are we writing?


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Posted By: Bridget
Date Posted: 18 Jul 2020 at 6:07pm
Thanks @stephenmatlock for the positive post :) 
"a lot of writers are here presenting us with their beloved child" I always keep that in mind too and I personally won't comment if I have nothing positive at all to say. 
I appreciate getting positive and/or negative critiques on my story as long as they are genuine. It's better for my ego if there's a bit of both in each critique as I won't trust a critique with only positives and I'll feel dispirited by a critique that is only negative. However I don't think there's a "one size fits all" type of critique, everyone is different (thankfully). Although I do agree choosing words carefully and not appropriating a writer's words/story are important.
If I get a critique I'm upset about I will read the author's story then decide what kind of value I attach to their critique. I might find it helpful once I get over being upset. Then I'll thank the author and move on.



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Posted By: Ullanta
Date Posted: 18 Jul 2020 at 6:31pm
Stephenmatlock - your last paragraph! That’s an important distinction, perhaps, between this and other critiquing settings? Maybe? The focus on people’s motivation to write, vs. their ability to write effectively?

When I critique, in settings where the participants have no choice (in school, etc.) or are true beginners, I handle things differently than when I’m in a Setting where people are dedicated writers eager to hone their craft. In those settings, we never worry about squashing someone’s desire to write; we all feel in it together to make sure everyone effectively conveys what they want to convey. No one expects their work to appeal to everyone; no one expects their criticisms to be taken by everyone.    What’s important is that people voice their reactions and suggestions; and the writer takes these to figure out if they’ve conveyed what they want to convey, and how and whether they want to change things to convey what they want more effectively.

In a big, online forum like this, it’s hard to know.   I try to evaluate the author a bit based on available information (“this is my first story ever!” or five-star long-term participant; sometimes the websites linked to for stories show one to be presenting oneself as a professional writer, etc.).

Is that OK, or should we assume everyone’s a beginner who needs to be encouraged to write?

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Posted By: scribingpenguin
Date Posted: 18 Jul 2020 at 7:00pm
I personally welcome critique (in fact, the more the merrier!) and yes while I love hearing what you liked about my writing I won’t get offended at all if you pile on the criticism or if you’re rather blunt in your delivery. The only way for me to get better is to find out where all the faults are and what to improve upon and in the end that’s my goal. And I try to look at critiques as a way the reviewer is trying to help me improve my writing. But I have been writing for a while and can generally pick out the constructive criticism from the ones that don’t work. 

That being said, this probably wouldn’t work for some people and if you’re a new writer criticism is an especially easy way to get discouraged. So I think for this type of contest/forum the sandwich format really works the best as several posters have already said.
Plus we poured all our sweat and tears into a piece for an entire weekend so it’s only natural to want to hear what people enjoyed about it. 

I find the judges feedback format works really well for me -several notes about what works well and several about what to improve upon. 


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Posted By: Ullanta
Date Posted: 18 Jul 2020 at 7:14pm
Does anyone think there would be any value to having a way for authors to identify the type of critique they’re looking for? Say, a range from “I’m just starting to explore my potential as a writer” to “I have great confidence in this story and really want to hear anything that will increase it’s chances of publication”?

And, also in response to stephenmatlock, whether the author considers the piece to be finished or beta?   My feeling, which may be wrong!, is that any quick-contest story is kind of beta, and likely to be revised if in the end the author thinks it’s promising. Do most folks wNt to just spend the contest time, then call it done?

Hmmm. Maybe that’s my mistake. Do most folks think of this as primarily as a competition, for a prize? And criticism reducing chances of said prize? I must admit, I’ve never really thought about the competitive aspect of this. Even with all the “good luck with the judges.” I have been working in the assumption that THIS FORUM, with more extensive feedback from fellow writers, was the main goal. Hmmm.


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Posted By: stephenmatlock
Date Posted: 18 Jul 2020 at 7:35pm
Mostly remember that there is a human being at the other end of the internet. You don't know them. If you don't know them, then it seems to me that you'd defer to kindness and care. As you build up your trust with them, you can build up the range of your responses.

It would indeed be helpful if people said "I'm a noob; please give me the high points and low points only," or "I'm Stephen King, and who cares what you think; fire away!"

I don't reject any criticism, and don't dimiss anything as "wrong." If you found something that made you go "wut" or that pulled you out of the story, then no matter my intent, I didn't do a good job. Feel free for me to put your phasers on blast.

If the writer didn't say "Go ahead and plow through my field," then just consider what you know about people and unsolicited negative criticism. I'm sure there are many a times in your pre-COVID days when you saw someone who was wearing the wrong outfit for them, but you probably didn't go up to them and say "Excuse me, but that's atrocious."

That's my opinion, and everyone can do it their own way. As far as I know, there's no wrong way. But there are ways that build trust and communication, and there are ways that tear down and close down.  I'd suggest we do the former and not the latter.


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Posted By: MuffinMom
Date Posted: 29 Jul 2020 at 6:10pm
I'd much rather have true, unfiltered, raw critiques, and I don't care one bit whether or not it's sandwiched. 

That said, whenever I do a critique, I do try to sandwich it. That's just kind of the way I am made. I actually belong to a writing critique group who's whole purpose it is is to point out all of the flaws of the piece, and if you can't handle it, you can leave. It's been the best experience I've had, and it's made me a better writer. However, when I do critiques on there, I always start with what I liked. Can't help it.

But a critique that is honest is really the best, in my opinion.


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Posted By: Oryx
Date Posted: 30 Jul 2020 at 1:15pm
Originally posted by stephenmatlock stephenmatlock wrote:

Personally, I avoid critiquing a piece that's finished. That is, I don't go into detail about all the things I got tripped up on, or all the mistakes, or even that the story misses the mark...

That stuff is for beta.

-snip-

... I'm not here to be your English teacher or your agent or publisher or editor...

-snip-

...But I also realize that a lot of writers are here presenting us with their beloved child, someone they've worked on with all their efforts to bring beauty or joy or happiness. I'm not going to shoot them down, not here. They come with trembling anticipation of "is it good enough?" hoping that we'll say "Oh, this made me smile" or "this made me pause" or even "this got me, right in the place in my heart where I keep my private feelings."

This reads to me a little bit out-of-touch . 

Please don't misunderstand me, Stephen. I'm not saying that you are out-of-touch, but this may read differently than you intend it. I read this comment weeks ago when you posted it and I didn't comment because I didn't want to be misunderstood but it still bothers me reading it again.

I selected a few of the parts that bothered me the most and used only them in my quote. I hope that's not poor format. It's not my intention to cherry-pick things that I dislike. I'm trying to communicate clearly which ideas I'm talking about. 

Ok, enough disclaimer. You say that "that stuff is for betas". Remember not everyone has betas.  I think you have a lot of experience writing and have a network of crit partners  that you share work with. But for people that haven't developed their crit network, these forum type places and the feedback from them are more valuable to them than it may be to you.

Second thing. The "not your English teacher.." thing, it sounds pretentious to me and I don't think that is your intent. Asking for your honest feedback is not asking for you to be my English teacher. 

And third thing. The whole "beloved child... not going to shoot it down..." You don't have to shoot it down but don't tell me useless positivity that you don't mean, or don't mean fully! That's harmful, especially for people who don't have crit partner networks yet. 

 


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Posted By: stephenmatlock
Date Posted: 30 Jul 2020 at 2:40pm
Originally posted by Oryx Oryx wrote:

Originally posted by stephenmatlock stephenmatlock wrote:

Personally, I avoid critiquing a piece that's finished. That is, I don't go into detail about all the things I got tripped up on, or all the mistakes, or even that the story misses the mark...

That stuff is for beta.

-snip-

... I'm not here to be your English teacher or your agent or publisher or editor...

-snip-

...But I also realize that a lot of writers are here presenting us with their beloved child, someone they've worked on with all their efforts to bring beauty or joy or happiness. I'm not going to shoot them down, not here. They come with trembling anticipation of "is it good enough?" hoping that we'll say "Oh, this made me smile" or "this made me pause" or even "this got me, right in the place in my heart where I keep my private feelings."

This reads to me a little bit out-of-touch . 

Please don't misunderstand me, Stephen. I'm not saying that you are out-of-touch, but this may read differently than you intend it. I read this comment weeks ago when you posted it and I didn't comment because I didn't want to be misunderstood but it still bothers me reading it again.

I selected a few of the parts that bothered me the most and used only them in my quote. I hope that's not poor format. It's not my intention to cherry-pick things that I dislike. I'm trying to communicate clearly which ideas I'm talking about. 

Ok, enough disclaimer. You say that "that stuff is for betas". Remember not everyone has betas.  I think you have a lot of experience writing and have a network of crit partners  that you share work with. But for people that haven't developed their crit network, these forum type places and the feedback from them are more valuable to them than it may be to you.

Second thing. The "not your English teacher.." thing, it sounds pretentious to me and I don't think that is your intent. Asking for your honest feedback is not asking for you to be my English teacher. 

And third thing. The whole "beloved child... not going to shoot it down..." You don't have to shoot it down but don't tell me useless positivity that you don't mean, or don't mean fully! That's harmful, especially for people who don't have crit partner networks yet.


Hey Oryx,

Thanks for the feedback! One of the things that's most important when communicating is to be sure that what is being said is being understood, so I am grateful for your careful attention to what I said. Feedback that is honest is important for me to learn to use my words better.


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Posted By: nikolaki
Date Posted: 30 Jul 2020 at 5:22pm
Originally posted by stephenmatlock stephenmatlock wrote:

Originally posted by Oryx Oryx wrote:

Originally posted by stephenmatlock stephenmatlock wrote:

Personally, I avoid critiquing a piece that's finished. That is, I don't go into detail about all the things I got tripped up on, or all the mistakes, or even that the story misses the mark...

That stuff is for beta.

-snip-

... I'm not here to be your English teacher or your agent or publisher or editor...

-snip-

...But I also realize that a lot of writers are here presenting us with their beloved child, someone they've worked on with all their efforts to bring beauty or joy or happiness. I'm not going to shoot them down, not here. They come with trembling anticipation of "is it good enough?" hoping that we'll say "Oh, this made me smile" or "this made me pause" or even "this got me, right in the place in my heart where I keep my private feelings."

This reads to me a little bit out-of-touch . 

Please don't misunderstand me, Stephen. I'm not saying that you are out-of-touch, but this may read differently than you intend it. I read this comment weeks ago when you posted it and I didn't comment because I didn't want to be misunderstood but it still bothers me reading it again.

I selected a few of the parts that bothered me the most and used only them in my quote. I hope that's not poor format. It's not my intention to cherry-pick things that I dislike. I'm trying to communicate clearly which ideas I'm talking about. 

Ok, enough disclaimer. You say that "that stuff is for betas". Remember not everyone has betas.  I think you have a lot of experience writing and have a network of crit partners  that you share work with. But for people that haven't developed their crit network, these forum type places and the feedback from them are more valuable to them than it may be to you.

Second thing. The "not your English teacher.." thing, it sounds pretentious to me and I don't think that is your intent. Asking for your honest feedback is not asking for you to be my English teacher. 

And third thing. The whole "beloved child... not going to shoot it down..." You don't have to shoot it down but don't tell me useless positivity that you don't mean, or don't mean fully! That's harmful, especially for people who don't have crit partner networks yet.


Hey Oryx,

Thanks for the feedback! One of the things that's most important when communicating is to be sure that what is being said is being understood, so I am grateful for your careful attention to what I said. Feedback that is honest is important for me to learn to use my words better.

This critique of a critique on a critique of critiquing is a nice exchange. Okay please don't hate me for adding that comment. lol


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Will return a


Posted By: Seselia
Date Posted: 31 Jul 2020 at 8:54pm
Is anyone familiar with Scribophile? It's a critique site, much more user friendly than the NYC forums imo, because it's specifically focused on writers giving each other critiques. 

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Posted By: tiptreejen
Date Posted: 06 Sep 2020 at 1:17pm
I wouldn't post my story on the forum, if I didn't WANT criticism and, yes, in parts, affirmation. But mainly, I don't expect to write a perfect story with someone else's prompts in 48hrs, so I WANT to know what works and what doesn't. In the same way a playwright or film-maker presents their first public draft in order to gauge audience opinion. Cos if 7 out of 10 people tell me they don't understand how there came to be an elephant in my story's room when there wasn't one five minutes ago, I want to be pulled up on that so I can make it better.

It seems to me that NYC Midnight has very little to do with winning, but a lot to do with personal (writing) development. ...And late nights, and agonising, and doing something outside of my comfort zone.

In terms of style of critiquing, I'm not THAT thick-skinned and I definitely prefer the sh*t-sandwich approach, but I want people to tell me if they see something that pulls them out of the story. I try to give feedback on every story I read but it's definitely harder if I see lots of things that someone could improve, because I don't want to discourage someone or look like a picky **s*hole. (I also feel bad if I can't find something to improve in someone's story.) I spend more time than is sensible (probably) agonizing over the best way to approach a critique, and I hope I give a balance of positives and negatives. 

Regarding a critique of a critique, I guess it depends what they've said. Feels a bit uncomfortable, but also I'm not good at confrontation! I've pulled someone up on their style of critique for another (art) site, but on there, people specifically choose if they want feedback and the person involved didn't ask for any. Overall, unless it's really thoughtless and rude, I guess I'd just take it on the chin - after all, the critic has gone to the trouble of writing something, presumably to be helpful. But I can only talk for myself.


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#1 story, titled: Across the Moonlit Sky a Bird


Posted By: fioOxf
Date Posted: 06 Sep 2020 at 1:49pm
I reckon if you want a particular kind of critique on your story, you should say so, up by the link to your work. Otherwise 'shut up and eat up', as they used to say.

That said, I also think reviewers should always aim to be constructive ('I like'; 'less successful', 'you could try...'), not destructive ('this doesn't work', 'you should', 'you should have') - word choices matter, even in reviews, and as writers, we really have no excuse.
I'd also say keep personal foibles out of reviews, as far as possible. "I don't like this because I don't like cats / cars / gay marriage / jelly doughnuts / the word 'moist'" is the reader's problem, not the writer's (unless the thing written is along the lines of gratuitous violence, sexual violence, racism etc). 

Just my opinion, of course. But I'm an editor 'in real life' (amongst other things, and not fiction), and editing and reviewing are about supporting without demotivating, as well as about getting the best possible end result.


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