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

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SEHBicycle View Drop Down
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    Posted: 05 Feb 2019 at 7:02pm
As you read the critique a peer writer left for you, don't be hurt if you see a harsh critique. Don't question if you're a writer. Don't give up. Above all, don't hold back your work.

I've already IMd the reviewer; and it was not a person who reviewed me, but rather others. I'm posting here so that those who feel the sting of harsh reviews might not throw in the towel on sharing their work.

It takes trust to share your work with others. It's a huge step. It can be the missing piece in developing your own writing. We each need to find the writers who inspire us to dig into our creativity, who collaborate with us on our writing and push us to new depths as a writer, who beta read our competition story when THEY are in the competition. In my experience, there are many writers who critique in this category. They call out the good, the bad, the "meh," in our writing. They ask questions, they offer suggestions; they try to put their finger on why they had a reaction they had. You'll have mixed feelings after this review, but don't let doubt weigh you down. You ARE a writer. You had the COURAGE to enter this competition.

The next category are the quick positive reviewers, pumping us up and telling us how great the story is, how much they loved it. They don't tell us why, they speak in generalities. We all like that kind of review, but it doesn't help us push the story to its next level. Let yourself be buoyed by this review, but keep pushing yourself to grow as a writer.

Then we hit the dangerous reviewer. After we finish their critique, we feel like the victim of a nasty drive-by-reviewing. We're injured; we're bewildered; we're angry; and so many emotions. When we ask questions of that reviewer, we often get excuses that show this is a bully. It's a writer pretending to be helpful when discord and disheartenment is what they desire to sow.

Be wary of, and leery of, the writers who gave us this fully negative review. They love to use easy words, like "dumb" or "stupid" for decisions we made in our writing; they bash us for using a trope, when so much writing LIVES on tropes--it's the story we TELL that makes it a story. They may couch their harsh review as:
  • "This is the real world."

  • "I don't have time to call out the good stuff when there's bad stuff to fix."

  • "Look at amazon reviews. You don't see people calling out the bad and the good."

  • "I'm not the type to blow sunshine up your butt."

  • "If you can't take it, you don't belong here."

  • They tell you how many books they've published, or all the short stories they've had purchased, or their experiences with editors, as if their way of reviewing must be right, because look how far they've come.

Great for them, that they're in the stage where they're submitting. This FORUM critique is not for a story you sent to an editor. It's for a story you trusted your peer writers with, to critique with what we think works, what we think doesn't. We had 8 days, or 3, or 1, to write it. We can critique without being embittered A-holes.

When you're the victim of that drive-by-reviewer, please don't let the experience make you question whether you're meant to be a writer. Don't pull your story from the forum.

We are all at different stages when we enter this competition, and there's nothing wrong with that. If you love writing, of you've wondered what it would like to write your stories and have others read them, PUT them on the forum. It's supposed to be a safe first step. Often, it is.

Try your hardest to TRUST again, if you're a victim of that drive-by-reviewer. We're not all like that. Many of us have made our share of mistakes in critiquing, and we learn from them. We become better critiquers. This drive-by-reviewer type, however, doesn't desire to change. One PM exchange is all you need to confirm, it's best to back away slowly. Find a different reviewer.

Good luck to everyone in this competition; good luck as you continue to grow as a writer. And don't throw in the towel because of that bully reviewer. I'm starting this thread not so that we can bash reviewers. I'm doing it for affirmation. I would not be where I am in my own journey if not for the wonderful writer friends I made on this very forum.

You are a writer. And thank GOODNESS you are not that bully writer!


Edited by SEHBicycle - 05 Feb 2019 at 9:14pm
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Edited by chrissie0707 - 05 Feb 2019 at 7:20pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote Random Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Feb 2019 at 8:11pm
Some people say much more about themselves than the subject of conversation.  It's just a fact of life, and applies to more circumstances than just writing competitions.   This is where I do tell people to grow skin and consider the source rather than the content, because life is too short to dive into the mud after them.

Or, as my favorite half-arsed American once said, "You never reach your destination if you stop to throw stones at every dog that barks along the way"


Edited by Random - 05 Feb 2019 at 8:11pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote OnyxLily Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Feb 2019 at 8:20pm
Well said! I haven’t had the misfortune to encounter one of these yet, and thus far have found the forum to be a safe and supportive place. 

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.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CathyM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Feb 2019 at 8:23pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lisa_Who Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Feb 2019 at 8:24pm
Originally posted by OnyxLily OnyxLily wrote:

Well said! I haven’t had the misfortune to encounter one of these yet, and thus far have found the forum to be a safe and supportive place. 

Me neither, and this is might be the most public (well, semi-public) safe and supportive space I think I've ever posted on...the most negative review I've gotten to date, I think I could only even classify as "lukewarm." :)  hmm...now I feel like I've painted a target on my poor little story.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote nixie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Feb 2019 at 8:31pm
Originally posted by OnyxLily OnyxLily wrote:

Well said! I haven’t had the misfortune to encounter one of these yet, and thus far have found the forum to be a safe and supportive place. 

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.

One of the terrific things about this forum is that the vast majority of people value the opportunity to share with other writers without having to feel "in competition" with the people around them. 

Every now and again, someone comes along who feels the need to try to dominate, to make themselves feel important, special, or competent by showing *themselves how much better they are than the people around them.  

It's my experience that such people don't enjoy this place for long.  

The open, supportive nature of the folks here (like the OP's note above) also tends to result in that kind of BS being called out.  Politely, privately - maybe both - and then with less patience or indulgence - til it reaches a point where they aren't getting the rewards for it any more and they move along to make themselves feel important at the expense of a new group of people. 

While the cozy feel of this forum has given way a bit with the last few years' massive growth, I still see folks working to keep the integrity and security of it intact.  Keep doing that, y'all. Make this place as safe and welcoming for every new participant as it has been for us over the years. <3

~Nix
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (4) Thanks(4)   Quote LaurieH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Feb 2019 at 8:40pm
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.

Now, I do know that there are some people who have nothing better to do than to be mean to random people for kicks. They thrive on it. But they do it for the reaction and, frankly, the reactions to perceived nastiness on this forum aren't worth it for a professional troll.  I've belonged to forums where the trolling is rampant, nasty, and have people virtually frothing at the keyboard.

I haven't seen that here.

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?

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!!!"

Oh, there are a lot of people out there who could stand to learn a bit of tact. But, remember this, also:

The written word does not take into account facial expressions or tone of voice.

When a reviewer writes a review, it's highly possible that the tone of their mind voice, and their facial expression as they are writing the review, would make the written review a lot less harsh. But that cannot be conveyed in words.

I had someone report me to my boss because I 'disrespected' her in an email.  My boss said that my email could have been worded differently. But, at the time, in my mind's voice, it sounded fine.

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.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (4) Thanks(4)   Quote Zelda Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Feb 2019 at 8:50pm
If anyone has a problem with anything I've said in a review, then let me know! Don't be all passive-aggressive and start threads about it. I'm easy to reach, and you know where to find me! Geez. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Random Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Feb 2019 at 8:53pm
Originally posted by Zelda Zelda wrote:

If anyone has a problem with anything I've said in a review, then let me know! Don't be all passive-aggressive and start threads about it. I'm easy to reach, and you know where to find me! Geez. 


Calling me a festering malignant gobutit on a fornicating old sow might have been a little much, but honestly I had to agree with the really harsh comments.

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