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 critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?

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The Sesquipedalian
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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:51 pm

Thanks!! Smile
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Jon Paul
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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Thu Jan 07, 2010 12:52 pm

On criticism, something one of my professors said in college has always stuck with me. She explained that criticism is a skill, just like writing, and some people are very good at it and some people are not so good at it at all.

I think this is a very useful construct to maintain. When someone gives you poor quality criticism, it is not necessarily related to the quality of your work, but may instead be due to a lack of skill on their part. This is an important distinction that is not often made IMHO. In the past, this approach has also been helpful in allowing me to excuse the really offensive thing that was just said and try to focus on what the person was attempting to say.

Anyway, just some food for thought. Feel free to tell me I'm completely and utterly wrong and I don't have a clue. Smile

(Yes. That was humor.)
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Tracy
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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Wed Apr 14, 2010 3:43 am

I actually offer professional criticism and people are good enough to say it's very useful. So, theoretically, I know what makes a story good and not. But even so, I like to get my own work critiqued too - because we can NEVER be objective about our own work. We know what we mean to say, so that's the meaning we take out of the text ... but it might not be the meaning that's there Sad.

And all sorts of mistakes can creep in - novel mistakes I call them, like movie mistakes but in a novel! I've done it so many times. Had character A hand character B a glass of wine when he had already done so. Or refilling the glass before she had taken a sip. Or continuity problems, e.g. colour of eyes etc.

And in my experience you'll NEVER catch them yourself.

Criticism hurts, it really does. But I'm realising that the essential trait for a writer is thick skin!
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emilycross
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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Wed Apr 14, 2010 3:57 am

I think your absolutely right Tracy, we can never catch our own mistakes because we get way too close to our own work. I think when giving criticism it's really important to be constructive and explain to writers where you see issues - so many times I've seen writers get slated with a 'this sucks' sort of mentality which is no help to anyone.

I think we have to have a thick skin in writing (I don't) or have the ability to step back and think objectively (after counting to 100 lol) about what has been mentioned.

My issue with my writing is I always think what the other person has said is completely right - I think balance is key. take on board what has been said and look for the weaknesses but don't go overboard and throw the baby out with the bath water Smile

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Tracy
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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Wed Apr 14, 2010 4:07 am

emilycross wrote:
I think when giving criticism it's really important to be constructive and explain to writers where you see issues - so many times I've seen writers get slated with a 'this sucks' sort of mentality which is no help to anyone.

I totally agree - sucks is right Sad. If it doesn't guide the writer on how to correct it/move forward, then it's just pointless bashing IMO.

emilycross wrote:
I think balance is key. take on board what has been said and look for the weaknesses but don't go overboard and throw the baby out with the bath water Smile

Again, totally true. At the end of the day it's the writer's story and she has to make the final decision. Anybody else's comments are only guidelines.
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TepidDreams
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PostSubject: Re: critques/criticism: Constructive or destructive?   Sun Jul 04, 2010 9:34 am

Criticism always serves a purpose and it goes beyond tough/easy/positive/negative, the purpose is to revise and grow. After writing (not professionally) for several years I know that my writing has improved but it goes through leaps and bounds of improvement when I get something that is more than "Whoa, that was great, just fix the grammar and you're good to go." We all love those types of critiques, we do because they make us smile and hold to the belief that we can do this crazy thing called writing. But it's not always the best for our writing.

There's a lot to critiquing as other's have said and doing it well. It is a learned process, just like writing. However, if you are going to post things on the world wide web, then I have to say be prepared for people to comment who think they are writers and give good critiques. May be they are just being jerks, and want to tear you down, but perhaps they haven't been taught what they should say. I know it hurts, for a moment. Just remember, they took the time to read it, AND to comment. That says something. That's what I told myself with every negative review I received in fanfiction (I know not my original stuff, but I put work into those projects). I pushed someone so far, that they had to tell me personally how much it angered them. Sure I wanted to know what I could have done better but hey they read and told me their opinion, lucky me. I knew great writers who never even got that.

It is a little odd to think of it like that, but they read it, some agents and editors won't ever read what you wrote. They'll just reject you before they even see page one.

I will also say that editing/critiquing online is difficult. I prefer to have the document sent to me so that I can mark it up and make comments directly on the page. So I have co-opted several friends/acquaintances to read/tear-apart-like-a-rabid-dog my work and it's been the best and worst thing in my life. I love getting them, I am sometimes fearful to read them. But afterwards I write for like ten hours and the story comes out beautiful.

After two writing classes, one taught by and editor, I've come to love the editing process more than the writing process. Because most authors will tell you, books are made in the editing process, not in draft one. Editing gives you critiques, I got one from my friend that said I made her biology heart SOB, and not in a good way. That I was failing on a huge part of my mythology/science, and it was so bad she ranted for a few comments and then just put 'see me in person.' That scared me. I read every line she wrote me, and it hurt. A lot of a it hurt because I loved what I wrote. But I took what she said, and we had an entire discussion about genetics. In the end, I grew more and the story itself became better, my writing was tighter and it was all because she was brutal. And I asked her to be. I ask all my critique people to be. For me, it's the only way I see to grow significantly as a writer.

It may be hard, but my belief as an artist is you have to be able to take criticism. Period. End of Sentence. If you don't have skin as thick as a dragon's hide, you might as well throw in the towel right now. There are rejection letters from agents, editors, and a million other places all ready to tell you how you fail. Trust yourself, trust your characters, and be prepared with a sharp sword to defend yourself against the onslaught of the publishing world.
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