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Some Judges... (Flash)

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Twerteen View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Twerteen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jan 2020 at 5:29am
In micro I had a judge rewrite my protagonist as male, and then in the feedback suggested I should write out more clearly whether or not my two underage characters “just kiss, or had sex?”

My story was about a teenage girls first love...with another girl. Everyone who read it knew they were both girls, except that judge. Also, I wrote it in such a way that the reader could fill in what was comfortable and appropriate for them, as I don’t write kiddie porn.

I mean...eww. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (4) Thanks(4)   Quote Debby1979 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jan 2020 at 6:36am
Someone once told me (Re: critique, feedback or notes): "when someone points out something that doesn't work in your piece, they are almost always right. But when they give you suggestions of how to fix it, they are almost always wrong." 
I keep that in the back of my head when I read my feedback. I check what issues they point out, and whether there are similarities from one judge to the other (if more than one gives the same remark, I know it's truly an issue, and not a subjective opinion). 
Don't take the feedback you get too personal. Stick with your story, but take note of what you could improve to get the message across better. 


Edited by Debby1979 - 26 Jan 2020 at 6:37am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote nickofnight Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jan 2020 at 9:10am
Originally posted by Debby1979 Debby1979 wrote:

Someone once told me (Re: critique, feedback or notes): "when someone points out something that doesn't work in your piece, they are almost always right. But when they give you suggestions of how to fix it, they are almost always wrong." 

 
It's a Gaiman quote, I believe! 

The judges here definitely value specificity. "They" is naturally ambiguous if it's not clarified, and even when gender isn't relevant it can sometimes feel like you're withholding information. Whether we like it or not, knowing what gender (or not) a character is "tells" us a lot about them through our assumptions.  Not knowing creates a distance.  It's up to the judge how they feel about it, not how we want them  to feel about it.   But that judge (op's) is out of line to assume between male/female.  

Sorry to everyone that had a judge skim and miss the point (been there) - it is the kind of thing that makes you wonder what you're paying for and come away a little bitter about it. But imo these are the (unfortunate) exceptions to the rule - a bad apple of a judge. 



Edited by nickofnight - 26 Jan 2020 at 9:19am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote ruagray Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jan 2020 at 12:59pm
While the Gaiman quote is pretty good, I think I prefer the saying:

"If one person gives you a note, it's a personal preference. If five people give you a note, it's a problem."

That's one thing I notice when I feel like I get some bad judging. Their feedback is almost never in line with any of the other feedback.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote taaaylor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jan 2020 at 1:18pm
Originally posted by nickofnight nickofnight wrote:

Originally posted by Debby1979 Debby1979 wrote:

Someone once told me (Re: critique, feedback or notes): "when someone points out something that doesn't work in your piece, they are almost always right. But when they give you suggestions of how to fix it, they are almost always wrong." 

 
It's a Gaiman quote, I believe! 

The judges here definitely value specificity. "They" is naturally ambiguous if it's not clarified, and even when gender isn't relevant it can sometimes feel like you're withholding information. Whether we like it or not, knowing what gender (or not) a character is "tells" us a lot about them through our assumptions.  Not knowing creates a distance.  It's up to the judge how they feel about it, not how we want them  to feel about it.   But that judge (op's) is out of line to assume between male/female.  

Sorry to everyone that had a judge skim and miss the point (been there) - it is the kind of thing that makes you wonder what you're paying for and come away a little bitter about it. But imo these are the (unfortunate) exceptions to the rule - a bad apple of a judge. 


To your last paragraph: The entire group of flash fic judges was a rotten bunch then. I've genuinely never encountered such a group of bad readers. I feel like they only wanted obvious stories that fit familiar easy genres.

I don't know. I'm usually in that camp, Nick. And every other round I've been in, I would have fully agreed. But this cut deeply. And I KNOW my story is better than my feedback reflects. :/ And receiving feedback that so clearly indicates they didn't actually grasp the emotional crux of my plot or the whole concept of the world building unless I scream it at them is really heartbreaking. Unfair. Based on their bad reading, not my writing.

I don't know. But I do know this kind of thing shouldn't be happening in the final round of all places.

ETA: I do agree with your first point, though


Edited by taaaylor - 26 Jan 2020 at 10:13pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (3) Thanks(3)   Quote wbarr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jan 2020 at 1:55pm
It's hard to find someone who can give you the feedback you need in a way that you can hear it. And then it's irritating when someone offers a personal preference in the guise of constructive criticism. And then it's infuriating when someone has read in a lazy, uncharitable way and is talking right past your story and right past you.

FWIW, this is my third year doing this contest. Here's how I approached years 1 and 2 when it came to criticism.

YEAR 1: I participated moderately in the forums. The judges were okay, and a lot of the forum participants were ... nice, encouraging, well-intentioned, and pleasant, but also not helpful in the sense of showing me something I couldn't see myself. However, there were two people who responded to my stories in ways that did helped me understand how the story affected someone like my "ideal reader." That alone was worth the price of admission.

YEAR 2: I did not participate in the forums at all. What a missed opportunity for me. My story didn't survive the first heat, and I had gotten very little out of the experience. The judges were nice. They did identify things that the story lacked, and I could agree with their suggestions. Meanwhile, here on the forums, nobody in my heat posted stories either, and I think we all missed out because of it.

So here I am at YEAR 3: I plan to participate actively. I am sure I'll receive some feedback that fails to connect with the kind of writing I want to produce and the ideal reader I imagine. But if even one or two people can help me see my story more clearly than I could, it will be worth the effort of participation. And I'll try to leave the most helpful responses I can when I read other participants' stories, hoping to make good connections.

As for the judges, well, it's a lottery. Sorry you got a dud, the kind that talks right past you. The forums are a good place to work out your frustration.

(Sorry for the long response here. It's all part of my YEAR 3 goal of being active rather than passive.)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ophelialit74 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jan 2020 at 2:14pm
I empathize with those of you receiving feedback from judges who just don't get your stories....like almost comically don't get it. For the last round of Micro, the narrator of my story kills someone and literally says, "I can't say why I did it except for the fevered pleasure it gave me." One of the judges gave this helpful feedback, "Why did she kill the man? Was he mean to her in some way?" Dude. Unhappy
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RebaSky Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jan 2020 at 5:12pm
Is it definitely the same judge? New this year, not sure how the judging really works....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Debby1979 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jan 2020 at 6:00pm
There are A LOT of judges (you can find them on the home page of the challenge), and each heat gets three. I guess they read the works of several heats, but no heat will have exactly the same combo of judges - if that makes sense.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote ursanz Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jan 2020 at 8:13pm
I'm on page 14 of Agatha Christie's "The Mysterious Affair at Styles" and I believe the MC  has just been gendered for the first time, when introduced as Mr Hastings.

I reread the whole opening,  looking at what assumptions I was making,  compared with what the reader of the time would make.

Fascinating comparison.
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MF R1 G3 Who’s the Angel Now? #9
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