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Victimized by a Nasty Drive-by Review? Take Heart.

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thesaura73 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote thesaura73 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Feb 2019 at 1:24pm
Originally posted by nickofnight nickofnight wrote:

Those defending harsh feedback, the kind that contains no positives, seem to be failing to account for how it impacts budding writers (or ignoring how it does) and saying 'well I'm ok with it'. But as a community we shouldn't be ok with it. It can damage new writers or put them off completely. At least pick some positives to cushion the blow and to encourage them to keep writing. Not only that, it's a very ineffectual form of feedback as people don't respond well to it, in general.
 
It's kind of hard to say what is being defended when "nasty" or "harsh" is a matter of opinion. I don't think refraining from compliments is nasty or harsh, and sometimes I don't want any praise, but these are my issues (not any single reviewer's). I say that as a budding writer.
 
At the same time I also definitely feel every piece has something to praise. Maybe some people do not give (many or any) compliments because they can see the story already got lots of compliments, maybe on the same thing they would have commented on....But it would be boring if we were all the same.
 
 
No one can control how another person gives reviews but everyone individually can control how they accept or perceive the feedback they are getting. Which I think was the original intent of this whole thread but I got distracted by the individual reviewer being (kind of) called out. Sorry!


Edited by thesaura73 - 06 Feb 2019 at 1:25pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote nod1v1ng Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Feb 2019 at 1:23pm
Originally posted by Lisa_Who Lisa_Who wrote:

Originally posted by nickofnight nickofnight wrote:


As for the comments that just throw shallow praise: I'm not a fan because I think they can inflate the writer's ego to a point they feel they can brush actual critique aside as it's a minority voice. But the truth is most of us don't know how to critique well. And that's understandable -- it's not an easy thing to do. It requires learning and practice and takes time to do. I'm still practicing and feel I've got miles to go. New writers aren't all going to know what to look for, or be able to analyse why a story works (or not). These comments are mostly to let the writer know the person read and enjoyed it, and we (me) should cut them some slack.  


Yep, more of my reviews are stinky by this standard, than not...I think I'm going to be a better and better reviewer as I go on though!  

Like anything, reviewing is a skill and any skill must be honed. All we can do is keep practicing!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Random Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Feb 2019 at 1:23pm
Originally posted by nod1v1ng nod1v1ng wrote:


It is an important distinction - a story with no reviews is by no means a measure of quality. However, it is likely an indication of forum activity....


I've had 4 tabs on my browser occupied with posts and stories that, as of the time I created the tab, had no reviews.  There are a number of reasons my comments haven't been posted yet, but its more about time than willingness to comment, or ability to find something admirable about the story.  I haven't met one yet that didn't have room for improvement in my tiny little world.  There are things about Heinlein and Asimov I would do differently. 


Edited by Random - 06 Feb 2019 at 1:24pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Lisa_Who Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Feb 2019 at 1:20pm
Originally posted by nickofnight nickofnight wrote:


As for the comments that just throw shallow praise: I'm not a fan because I think they can inflate the writer's ego to a point they feel they can brush actual critique aside as it's a minority voice. But the truth is most of us don't know how to critique well. And that's understandable -- it's not an easy thing to do. It requires learning and practice and takes time to do. I'm still practicing and feel I've got miles to go. New writers aren't all going to know what to look for, or be able to analyse why a story works (or not). These comments are mostly to let the writer know the person read and enjoyed it, and we (me) should cut them some slack.  


Yep, more of my reviews are stinky by this standard, than not...I think I'm going to be a better and better reviewer as I go on though!  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (7) Thanks(7)   Quote nickofnight Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Feb 2019 at 1:04pm
Those defending harsh feedback, the kind that contains no positives, seem to be failing to account for how it impacts budding writers (or ignoring how it does) and saying 'well I'm ok with it'. But as a community we shouldn't be ok with it. It can damage new writers or put them off completely. At least pick some positives to cushion the blow and to encourage them to keep writing. Not only that, it's a very ineffectual form of feedback as people don't respond well to it, in general.

As for the comments that just throw shallow praise: I'm not a fan because I think they can inflate the writer's ego to a point they feel they can brush actual critique aside as it's a minority voice. But the truth is most of us don't know how to critique well. And that's understandable -- it's not an easy thing to do. It requires learning and practice and takes time to do. I'm still practicing and feel I've got miles to go. New writers aren't all going to know what to look for, or be able to analyse why a story works (or not). These comments are mostly to let the writer know the person read and enjoyed it, and we (me) should cut them some slack.  



Edited by nickofnight - 06 Feb 2019 at 1:12pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (7) Thanks(7)   Quote nod1v1ng Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Feb 2019 at 12:42pm
Originally posted by LoboGal26 LoboGal26 wrote:


And maybe could someone explain the compulsion to read and comment on a story that already has over thirty comments? Is it a matter of wanting to be part of the "cool kids"? Doesn't a story with less than five comments deserve the same consideration...and respect? Maybe one of those stories could be just as fascinating as the one that's on fire, but it's buried on page 40 of the forum, and all the writer can hope is that the beleagured judges can offer helpful critique because their peers can't be bothered.

While I get what you are saying, I would also gently remind new folks that you get what you put into this forum. The best way to encourage people to read your story is to review others. A high percentage of folks around here prioritize return reviews and that "cool kid" with a lot of comments might just be an active user. 

Of course I'll admit, it's sort of human nature to be curious as to what all the fuss is about when you see one of those threads with lots of comments... Our silly friend TimG didn't need one more review on his outrageous poem, but I HAD to read it to satisfy my curiosity, then felt it was only polite to drop him my thoughts afterward.

That being said, I spent my reviewing time yesterday sorting through and reading stories that hadn't had any comments on them yet. Most of them were writers that were new to the forums, but in varying skill levels, from novice (self described) to clearly more practiced. Regardless, I very much enjoyed reading all of their work. 

It is an important distinction - a story with no reviews is by no means a measure of quality. However, it is likely an indication of forum activity....


Edited by nod1v1ng - 06 Feb 2019 at 12:43pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote LoboGal26 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Feb 2019 at 12:14pm
Originally posted by LaurieH LaurieH wrote:

In the contest being held now, there are over 4000 entries. Of those 4000, probably 1/10 - 1/4 will be posted. That's 400-800 stories. (Probably closer to 400, but I'm optimistic.)

That's a lot of stories.

Therefore, isn't it more likely that what you have perceived as a 'nasty drive-by reviewer' is actually someone who is trying to help?
  • They took the time to read the story.
  • They took the time to review the story.
With 400-800 stories to choose from, why would this person single you out?
-----
So, before you take a 'nasty drive-by review' the wrong way, remember that it takes time to write these reviews. And if this person took the time to tell you what you may have done wrong, they are trying to help.
Agree
Originally posted by OnyxLily OnyxLily wrote:

It’s amazing though, how one “this sux” can stay in your head way longer than three “I love this”s, even though neither is backed up with specifics.
I don't trust glowing, gushing reviews that don't offer critique...because writing something on a compressed schedule is bound to have some rough spots...and a gusher usual hasn't taken the time to really think about the story.

Originally posted by SEHBicycle SEHBicycle wrote:

Victimized by a Nasty Drive-By Review? Take Heart.
"Victimized"...interesting word choice...(?)

To me, an even bigger 'nasty' move is to look at a story and not take the time to review it. Is the synopsis not exciting enough? Is it a matter of 'judging the book by the cover'? Is the subject matter too controversial, too trite, too cliche, too uncomfortable, too not-your-style to even want to read and comment?
And maybe could someone explain the compulsion to read and comment on a story that already has over thirty comments? Is it a matter of wanting to be part of the "cool kids"? Doesn't a story with less than five comments deserve the same consideration...and respect? Maybe one of those stories could be just as fascinating as the one that's on fire, but it's buried on page 40 of the forum, and all the writer can hope is that the beleagured judges can offer helpful critique because their peers can't be bothered.

We're only days into the first round, with many weeks to go, so there's the chance these stories will be read and reviewed but as past challenges have proven that's probably not going to happen ...reviews are bound to drop off significantly this week, then ramp up again in late March as we all start thinking about the results of the judging, so...

Yeah, a 'nasty review' is hard to take; any kind of criticism is tough, but like many people here, I'd much rather have honest, tough critique than get no reviews and wonder what I'm doing wrong or why my story has been ignored.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (7) Thanks(7)   Quote Eggcorn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Feb 2019 at 11:30am
Originally posted by LaurieH LaurieH wrote:

Originally posted by SEHBicycle SEHBicycle wrote:

Originally posted by LaurieH LaurieH wrote:

<snip>Isn't it better to know that what you have written needs work, even if the wording of the critique is not gentle?  I'd much rather get this type of review than the rejection letters from magazines saying, "Sorry, but your story isn't what we're looking for."  Because what does that tell me? Diddly squat. But if Nasty Reviewer, Esq. says, "Sorry, your story doesn't work for me because this, this, and this didn't make sense to me," well, that's actually helpful. Much better than the overly gushing "OMG ur story is so gud!!11!!!"


Thanks for your thoughts, LaurieH. In reality, I'm not the victim on this one. A friend was. When I looked into the posts this person puts out, it's clear this is a reviewer with a chip on the shoulder. I can't imagine how I would have reacted in my first contest here if I got some of the "crits" this person is putting out.

I get, exactly what you're saying, that they took time to read. When I IMd this person, I heard that person's views--points I paraphrased above. I can't know what's going on in their life; but I will call out bullying behavior when I perceive it.

Thanks, again, for making your points, all valid.

And yet you didn't get what I was saying.

Everyone reviews differently. Everyone. I think I found the reviewer you are talking about, and honestly, I see nothing wrong with the reviews except for the fact that they aren't coddling the reviewee. Either that or I have the wrong person, I dunno.  

Even all the bullet points you listed as excuses for why a person reviews the way they do are fully valid bullet points. I didn't realize it until you pointed them out that in any review I get where I don't like the criticism, I go through many of those points in my head. And if I care to go back to my story, I adjust it accordingly, while mentally thanking the person(s) who pointed out the flaws.

What you seem to be saying, at least in what my little brain is comprehending, is that any review that points out the flaws in a story is a "nasty drive-by review" whether the comments are helpful or not.

So, someone posting, "Your story sux," is a nasty drive-by review.  

Someone posting, "I read your story, and I didn't understand this, this, or this, and couldn't figure out what the character's motivation was, so you may want to make it clearer. But the worldbuilding was nice," is a nasty drive-by review.

Someone posting, "Oooh, I loved your story, great job!" is a good review.

Color me strange, but I'd much rather have the second nasty drive-by review.



Hi LaurieH,
I've been following this thread from the start, but it seems  you've misunderstood what the OP was saying, and thus there is no argument here.

You both seem to feel negative criticism is necessary. You both seem to feel the more info you have about why something didn't work, the better. And you both seem to appreciate where a reader may be coming from.
And, you both seem to feel that "hey this was great" is nice but not very useful.

All SheBicycle was saying -- and we had a serious problem with this last year -- is when a reviewer comes into a story simply to say "this sucks, I don't get it, I could have done it better because I've published X stories so  clearly I could have," and chooses to use derogatory language while leaving out much if not all constructive advice AND also leaving out anything they liked about the story to boot -- The original author may feel hurt.

Actually, and this is really more toward everyone (not LaurieH specifically) what a few people seemed to have missed about the OP is that this ISN'T ABOUT THE REVIEWER.  It was about the author and how they should feel and respond to such a review.

There was no advice given on how to write a good review, no chiding for reviewing in this manner (at least not directly). It was about "Hey, if you're a new writer and this happens to you -- it's okay. You're still a good writer. Take Heart."

I mean, the title of the post literally says that.

However -- I do appreciate that people who are already worried if they're leaving good reviews or fretting over how others may react to any negative advice may freak out and think -- oh no was this me!? That's normal. However, I think with the exception of having said that the reviewer in question had already been contacted, the very specific examples given should have helped put that off.

And I also appreciate it may seem passive aggressive if don't know SheBicycle and the reviewer have already talked or that it wasn't even SheBicyle's story in question. But she's clarified that.

Hope this makes sense.

In short, while some may take issue with the unintended side effects of this post, it doesn't seem like anyone really disagrees here. We'd rather know something doesn't work than be told simply "it's good" and generally we would like to know why without being needlessly insulted or patronized.

Where we may differ is that some of us aren't bothered by overly negative language or being patronized, but that some authors, especially new ones to the forums, may remove their stories and never post again because of something like that. And this post is all about trying to make them realize they shouldn't let that get to them.

You can certainly infer that you should try not to leave that type of review. That's an obvious subtext.
But no one is saying they don't want to know why their story didn't work.





Edited by Eggcorn - 06 Feb 2019 at 11:35am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Smith Corona Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Feb 2019 at 10:05am
Originally posted by Drib Drib wrote:

When I present my crit, I try not to claim any more authority other than that of being a reader. 


Very much agree. I have had to learn to let go of my, "Oooh, you're my project! I'm going to fix you!" attitude that flares up when I beta or review. It's easy to engage that side of my brain, because it's fun to let my creative side start making connections and building ideas off of someone else's raw material, and I'll be honest, it feels good to feel like an authority.

I try to replace the "I'm going to help this writer fix their writing" impulse with "I'm going to be honest but gentle about what didn't work for me so that they can take or leave it." If the writer keeps getting the same feedback on a piece, I trust them to figure out that it's an area to revisit; but then, I could very well be the only one who reacted to a piece the way I did, in which case, listening to my opinion probably wouldn't help the writer in edits. 

For example, in a recent review, I let the writer know that I had anticipated their twist and had an idea on how they might want to edit to make it harder to guess; yet the next person to review commented on how they never saw the twist coming. If the writer gets more feedback about the plot twist being too apparent, I"ll have helped make the case to revisit it; but if they get more feedback that that wasn't the case, then my advice really isn't that useful, so I think it's best that I present it humbly - after all, it's not an objective "flaw" of the piece, just my perception. No need for me to present it as wisdom from on high.

If you're newer and feeling overwhelmed by reviewer opinions, just know that if you keep writing (and especially if you join an online writers group and get used to betaing and being beta'd), you'll develop more confidence, and future critiques will be easier to take. I can honestly say that, while it does still sting when I get negative feedback, that feeling passes much faster than it used to, and i"m able to consider the suggestion more objectively. Keep at it, and you'll find your confidence!

Write on!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote thesaura73 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Feb 2019 at 10:00am
I feel uncomfortable reading a thread that is focused on one person's style of critique without knowing what actually happened (as I agree with Random, offense is more taken than given). In FFC someone gave my story a very thoughtful review that in my hypersensitivity I could barely stomach reading when it came through my inbox. I gave it a couple days and read it through again and realized that it was entirely complimentary! So even the nicest, well-meant and constructive reviews can be taken the wrong way if you are feeling sensitive enough at the time it's reviewed. 

Maybe this person feels it is respectful to give honest criticism on par with what you would get in the "real world." It seems more respectful to trust others' intent than accuse them of bullying (can also be a matter of perception). If it's who I think you are talking about, I don't see that person as bullying at all (not because of their critiques on my stuff, but because I see it throughout the forum and I look forward to reading those reviews). 
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