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 critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?

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emilycross
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PostSubject: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Sun Jun 28, 2009 4:37 am

What are your thoughts on criticism? is it constructive or destructive?

I've just posted a short story on the SYW forum here and on absolutewrite. I know that the critiques here will be constructive and useful. My worry though is by posting on absolutewrite, have i walked myself into getting slaughtered over my writing? I've heard about absolute's reputation that some people won't hold back with their criticism. My hope its constructive as i've experienced 'destructive' criticism in other places on the internet where your left questionning whether your wasting your time being a writer.

This happened to me on a blog site, where i posted the beginning of my piece, and it got lambasted by the readers. I have to say i took quite a knock from it, and although i see their point and i changed it for the better - i think the method was particularly 'harsh' way of delivering criticism - like the simon cowel version!

So i guess i just wanted to post and air my fears over taking the plunge and posting this piece, which didn't even win in a competition with only 3 entrants Laughing ooooohhh i'm going to die hahahaha

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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Sun Jun 28, 2009 4:49 am

Emily, I have put my work up for crit on several sites (not AW) but one thing I have learned is to take every crit with a pinch of salt. Not every reviewer knows what they are talking about for one thing, and remember all opinions are subjective anyway. As a writer you can't please everyone. If you check out the Amazon reviews of any best seller you will find some people love it, others hate it. So who is right? ALL of them! Rolling Eyes

Don't rush to change things in your work on the strength of one crit, always wait and get a few to see what the consensus is. And it's best to leave it a while anyway - give yourself a bit of distance from it and you'll see it more objectively.
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emilycross
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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Sun Jun 28, 2009 5:00 am

Thanks potart Smile your comment makes me feel better. I always seem to have a minor freak out when i post work (i think we all do) - i'll definitely keep the 'pinch of salt' in mind when i'm getting the feedback. thank you Smile

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Akurei_Enzeru
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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Sun Jun 28, 2009 8:35 am

Criticism is both constructive and destructive trust me! If you love your work, it will always hurt to change it even if for the better. It's like your baby, you don't want it to change because it's yours!

But in the world of edit and publish, these things have to change. Never listen though if someone says you are waisting time writing because even if the worst writer in the world wrote something, it wouldn't be waisting. Take every insult or destructive criticism as helpfulness, even if it's cruel.

It'll be hard, and your feeling might get hurt but you just have to show those people that you know what your doing and you can be the best!

As Poptart said, half of the people that criticise don't know what their talking about, so just pace yourself and calm yourself down before you look at it!

We're all here for you and I'll yell at anyone that is a meanie ><

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emilycross
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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Sun Jun 28, 2009 9:00 am

hahah thanks!! your both really kind. i appreciate the comments

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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Sun Jun 28, 2009 9:08 am

Not a problem ^^ it's the truth

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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Sun Jun 28, 2009 10:24 am

I think critiques are absolutely essential in learning to write (unless you're one of an exceptional few - but never count on that) so... my opinion is that you have to do it and be willing to accept both weak critiques and the harsh critiques and simply take away what you agree with and/or makes sense to you. Especially if more than one person is touching on a particular area or aspect of the piece. Their opinions might be vastly different from each other, and even more different from yours, but the thing to take away is that something needs to be done about that area or aspect of your writing if more than one person is bringing it up. It's always going to be a bit of an interpretation game, but there is a lot to be gained and learned from it.
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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Sun Jun 28, 2009 10:34 am

Lapillus is right, and also, we might not be able to please everyone but we can try to please as many as we can and we need to listen to Criticism to do that!

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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Sun Jun 28, 2009 10:55 am

Emily, I have a friend whose MS I love (historical psycho-thriller, I call it) and she heard some nasty things on AW. For no fault of hers, I must say, because people simply didn't bother to read that the POV had changed halfway, and criticised her for not making sense!

So I'd say, it's not as trustworthy as it is here, because you've made the SYW area exclusive and only those who WANT to read it will get access. AW is free for all and sundry and most people aren't interested enough to read, let alone give an honest opinion.

Just my 2c.
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Akurei_Enzeru
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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Sun Jun 28, 2009 11:11 am

That's true, here we're all here to help each other! other places might get jealous and want to bring you down in order to feel better about themselves also .... that's so mean v.v

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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Sun Jun 28, 2009 5:34 pm

Criticism to me is just something we all can learn from. Be it constructive or even destructive. Other authors get stormed on with destructive criticism--biggest one lately most of us here know about is Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. She didn't realize she'd get the kind of criticism with that story as she thought she would--probably because she was so used to the story being that particular way for a while with no real constructive criticism--who knows? I can't say that is certain because I don't know what kind of criticism she got before publishing that book anyway.

And of course we all love constructive criticism. Always love it. We welcome it with a warm heart and greet it with a happy hug and hold it to us so tight sometimes that we forget what is really the point in the criticism we get. I do this--way too often. I also shrug a lot of the constructive criticism down because when I post something, if it isn't a finished product, no one really understands it.

My favorite criticisms go in this order. It really helps me when I edit anyway. First round of editing--I always ask for constructive criticism on grammar, how are my descriptions, does it flow well, etc. The next step--which I haven't gotten to yet, is--does it make sense? Now that if you have one reader critique it for you once, have them read it again to see if the new edits answer all your questions from before plus add on...does it make sense? Does the voice sound right? Do I as an author meet my audience expectation within this piece? I like to get ever deeper each time I edit. I have only done this mostly for my short stories and poetry since I haven't entered round 2 of editing yet on my first story.

But even though, destructive criticism does hurt. It is like someone throwing your work into a wet gutter and then a truck runs over it and everything is ruined. But, something I learned from some destructive criticism is that you can turn it around for your benefit. If someone says, "I hate this. This is crap." Don't ever think your work is crap. Just take it from a different angle...read through it and answer all those questions earlier from your point of view. It's hard I know because everything makes sense to the author on what is happening in their own stories but you have to step back and look at it as if you were that person with the destructive criticism. See why someone wouldn't like it.

And remember this, you can't always please everyone. No matter what, people will love your style of writing and people will hate your style of writing. Just do what is best feeling for you. (Wink Then worry about those nit-pickers later.)
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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Sun Jun 28, 2009 5:48 pm

GobbleGobble is right, if you really are worried about it, try writing something else for a while and then going back to your work and reading it like you never wrote it. See what you would do if this was a book you bought, would you love it, hate it, understand it?

Figure that out, and you become your own critic XD

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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Sun Jun 28, 2009 7:40 pm

I feel like critisism is very important since, as the author, you will be able to understand your own writing since you are in your own state of mind. I think it's a good way to gauge how others will react--if they can understand it and enjoy it as you do. When a reader reviews, they might catch something you never did because in your head, it flowed smoothly. You might realize, "Hey, wait a minute! Their relationship is moving too fast for the story!" I think it's extremely helpful at times.

However, sometimes you get people who are practically flaming you for your writing. It's inevitable that not everyone will like your novel, some even hate it (especially as it becomes more popular), but if a person is commenting on things that are simply matters of opinion or genre, not about technical or plot details, then you really can't say "Hmm, maybe there's too much romance in my action novel" because maybe hat particular person just doesn't like romance. I would go with a majority and not just one or two votes, unless its something that you realize has to be fixed, because not everyone knows what they're talking about.
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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Mon Jun 29, 2009 2:38 am

So i got some feedback and overall it was positive. No One said i should give up writing or anything Laughing

Basically the piece i posted (in syw) was too cliched, confusing, and they both really thought the concept was strange but good but i needed to lengthen, build up the story into a few chapters.

I thought that was actually brilliant - in my mind it was only a little SS but maybe i should lenghten and see what happens?

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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:40 am

By the sound of it, i believe their right. Add a little more detail, describe more, stuff like that and then post it again and see what happens ^^

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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Mon Jun 29, 2009 11:56 pm

I think criticism is not only positive but absolutely essential. Once you are lucky enough to be published, you have to get used to first your agent and then your editor, and finally a copy editor, taking a hatchet to your work - and painful though it might be, it always comes out much better as a result. When you are at the pre-submission stage, it is of course difficult to get professional input without paying hundreds of pounds for an editorial report. But posting work on writing websites like AbsoluteWrite, WriteWords, Litopia, etc., or swapping crits in a real life creative writing group, or even just with one trusted beta-reading writer friend, are (I believe) essential steps to getting your manuscript ready for submissions. There are very few new authors who are able to get a book into acceptable shape completely on their own - just finding the critical perspective is so difficult.

The tricky thing is that at this stage, when the crits are from other (usually also unpublished) writers and not from people in the trade, it is hard to know how much notice to take of individual views. You have to go with your instinct, I think. If something that someone says strikes a chord, you'll know it's right. Or if lots of people all have the same critical reaction to something you've written, then they are probably a good representation of what potential readers will think. Donlt take every crit as gospel - but don't dismiss it out of hand, either. Listen to it and think about it and see if you agree.

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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Tue Jun 30, 2009 9:47 am

Agree with every word. Remember there are people out there (such as in AW) who want to say nasty things JUST to bring your morale down. BUT having said that, there are genuine people who read every word and let you have their honest opinions.

It's weird how the copy editor is the final stop in book publishing, but in all journalistic writing, the copy ed is the first stop and the chief/news ed is the last stop.
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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Fri Jul 03, 2009 12:07 am

I didn't know that about journalism, ReNu - interesting.

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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Sun Oct 25, 2009 7:18 am

Just wondering guys if any of you do critique as ye seem to know what ye're talking about? Exclamation I've written a chick lit novel and at the moment I'm doing my first edit. I don't want to give it to my friends or family to read because I want some honest feedback and I know they'll only be too kind to me! I'd rather bite the bullet and be told it's crap if it is as long as I'm told how I can improve it. I know myself it's not perfect by any means but I think (hope!) that I have a good story & just want someone elses opinion on it, even if it's just the synopsis.
Anyone interested?! Laughing
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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Sun Oct 25, 2009 8:46 am

I wish I had time (and I love chick lit), but I don't. D: However, you can post a request in the Beta Box and see if anyone accepts your offer there, just to get the word out. :]
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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Tue Jan 05, 2010 3:39 am

I think possible worse than no critiques is the dreaded 'silence' of no replys/comments on a forum (not this one) - it makes me think that my stuff must be so awful that no one wants to touch it & i don't learn anything!

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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:45 am

I can definitely relate to that dreaded silence, Emily. The few people I've asked to read my WIP (mostly family members) usually say they'd be happy to, but then they never get around to giving me feedback because they haven't taken the time to read it. So, either they're really ridiculously busy or they started it and were so under-inspired that they couldn't be bothered to finish it. I did have some feedback when I was about half as far as I am now from my daughter and a good friend, who both gave it some really positive feedback, but I worry because: 1) They're probably not objective and worried about hurting my feelings and 2) That was so far back in the stages of my WIP it really doesn't help me with where I'm at now. My style has changed immensely since I started this process, which means I have a lot of work going back and editing the earlier garbage, and it means I really need some input on how my current writing style impacts the reader.

Sigh.
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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:55 am

Well MM, if you'd like (and i don't know if you have access) you should post maybe a chapter or section on the SYW section here? Maybe get a few opinions?

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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:15 am

I don't think I have access, Emily.
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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:38 am

Granted Smile

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