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mark211What do you look for in critiques of your work?2017-07-09 01:51:58
mark211Thanks to everyone for their comments on Manga and Anime in last week's discussion - and especially to QM contributor Wesson, who explained the difference between Shonen and Shojo genres (which I hadn't been aware of previously).2017-07-09 01:55:37
mark211So this week I thought we could discuss critiques and what people look for. If you are reading this and are an active member of QM - very likely - you will know that we have a peer review system meaning that every story you submit is reviewed and commented on. But that of course raises the question of what we are looking for most when we receive a critique. Of course, we will have different needs at different times - some stories we know are unfinished or still at the draft stage and we want to test the waters, so to speak. Others are more complete or actually complete in our estimation and we really just want to know whether people like it or not. So let us know - what kind of critiques do you find most useful? What kind of critiques do you give?2017-07-09 01:59:48
r.tornellocritiques or editing? 2017-07-09 20:26:15
GordonRowlinsonI have found that I have tendency to like my own writing too much. To guard against this, I have my wife read stuff that is 95% done. If she likes it, I finish it. If she says there are a few problems, I immediately start tweaking it. If she says it sucks, I tell her it is too bad she lacks the capacity to recognize brilliance. 2017-07-10 07:27:40
mark211@r.tornello: In my view, these two are quite different functions. An editor should not pass judgment on the story itself, but only comment on the spelling, punctuation, layout, syntax etc. The nearest an editor should come to querying content is if they genuinely feel there appears to be a breakdown in the sense and meaning of the story (but even then, they cannot be sure that the writer - especially in genres like SFF - are deliberately playing with the language to produce a particular effect). A critique is much more of a personal response (but can also include comments about the spelling, syntax, layout etc.). So a critique can express how much they like/don't like part of the story, explain how it feels to read this or that part, make suggestions, recommendations, offer ideas for character or plot etc. What we do here in QM is critique. 2017-07-10 12:21:23
mark211@GordonRowlinson "I have tendency to like my own writing too much" Heh :-D! So do we all at some point or another. Your wife's critique style sounds excellent.2017-07-10 12:22:57
IronspiderWhat do I look for? An honest appraisal of what I've submitted. I'm not so convinced of my genius that I think everything I write is perfection. I'm an amateur scribe at best. Next to reading, putting pen-to-paper is my favoured creative outlet. I may have left school several decades ago, but I'm still learning how to write and so accept any constructive criticism as a major aspect of that learning process. I also hope that when I provide criticism, the recipient takes it in the same spirit.2017-07-10 23:53:55
RT@Mark. I totally disagree. An editor is just that, an edit..er. Hemmingway, Fitzgerald and all the others had their editor ( (I believe it was the same person) slash and burn sections of their MS. When Robert Moriyama was editor at Aphelion he'd insert an idea (sentence change), or move a paragraph about. He edited and suggested. That's an editor.

Your definition of an editor is what I would designate a proof reader.

Now, regarding QM, I do understand the role mentioned.

2017-07-11 07:33:42
mark211@Ironspider: No need to be so modest! ; - ). However, I do know what you mean and think that's likely a healthy attitude. But do you have any particular thoughts on what features make some criticisms constructive?2017-07-11 12:37:06
mark211@RT: I'm not sure what you are disagreeing with as I'm pretty sure I made the same point. The difference I referred to was between functions, rather than the name given to a particular kind of occupation, i.e. "these two are quite different functions ... An editor should not pass judgment ... A critique is much more of a personal response (but can also include comments about the spelling, syntax, layout etc.)" So for example, T.S. Eliot was by occupation an editor at Faber & Faber, but in terms of his function he was much more someone who gave critiques. He might well have commented on the copy, but his important contributions would have been in making the kind of comments you say were made by Hemingway's editors. Maybe I should have clarified by saying 'copy editor' or even 'proof reader', but in any case that's what I meant. Incidentally, unless the arrangement has been agreed beforehand between the 'editor' and the author, I think it would be absolutely reprehensible to do what Robert Moriyama did to Aphelion. That's not an editor - that's a frustrated writer (unless, as I say, Aphelion went into the relationship understanding that Moriyama would be something like a collaborator). 2017-07-11 12:48:16
RT@Mark. Robert Moriyama made changes to the work that he sent back to the writer, ME, to approve or disapprove. I did nothing wrong at all. He presented a fresh mature view of the pieces and made suggestions. I found his comments helpful. And He WAS the best editor I heve yet to run into.

To elaborate, he did what I think most people who edit today are afraid to do. In art school the teachers are afraid to hurt the feelings of the students. When I was at The Art Students League in NYC my teachers were not afraid to put their hand in your work, "like this" they would say. "Don't you see it?"

I would defend Robert's style any day against the snowflakes that can't take it and editors that are too afraid to suggest, illustrate and comment strongly. I'm sorry he left Aphelion.

BTW he didn't submit my work. He suggested by showing the changes. It was up to me to accept, modify or reject. So please, don't get him wrong. I submitted the finished pieces.

He has a great eye for this. And if anyone takes up against him because of what I said, I do apologize. RT

2017-07-11 15:32:47
RT@Mark. Robert Moriyama made changes to the work that he sent back to the writer, ME, to approve or disapprove. He did nothing wrong at all. He presented a fresh mature view of the pieces and made suggestions. I found his comments helpful. And He WAS the best editor I have yet to run into.

To elaborate, he did what I think most people who edit today are afraid to do. In art school the teachers are afraid to hurt the feelings of the students. When I was at The Art Students League in NYC my teachers were not afraid to put their hand in your work, "like this" they would say. "Don't you see it?"

I would defend Robert's style any day against the snowflakes that can't take it and editors that are too afraid to suggest, illustrate and comment strongly. I'm sorry he left Aphelion.

BTW he didn't submit my work. He suggested by showing the changes. It was up to me to accept, modify or reject. So please, don't get him wrong. I submitted the finished pieces.

He has a great eye for this. And if anyone takes up against him because of what I said, I do apologize. RT

2017-07-11 15:34:29
rt2nd comment has proper corrections. RT2017-07-11 15:35:19
IronspiderWhen I'm writing, I'm sometimes aware that what I'm producing may not be to the best of my limited abilities. Consequently, I have a habit of editing and re-editing as I go. This is often useful, in that I can spot and correct issues of detail, grammar and spelling. However, given that I can carry around story ideas for years (in some instances), I can edit myself into a corner without realising what I've done. So, to me, a useful critique is one which highlights where a story has veered from the rails or committed the grevious sin of defying its own logic, or left out some vital piece of information. I also know that sometimes my dialogue can come across as a tad stilted and unnatural, so comments on that are welcomed. And if a critic chooses to provide advice on spelling and grammar - well I won't turn down any good advice.2017-07-12 04:48:26
WessonI've always valued a reader's first reaction to my story more than their critique because I think a first reaction is more helpful in determining if your story is interesting or not. 2017-07-12 08:20:50
WessonFor what it's worth, I agree with Mark about editors, there's nothing I despise more than someone trying to 'fix' my story. For me, it's not about hurt feelings, it's about back-seat driving. If an editor is so determined to see a particular type of story, they need to write it themselves, not coerce someone else to do it with a gigantic "What I'm looking for" paragraph in the Submission section.2017-07-12 08:21:17
RTA real editor, one that works for a big publishing house, a major magazine will make suggestions, will cut sections out and present them to the author. They work hand in hand. You guys seem to be missing the point and taking it all so personally, to the point of what I believe is cutting your nose.

Go look up the history of GOOD editors throughout the 20th century.Research how they worked with their writers. It's not:"what I'm looking for" as opposed to "this needs to be taken out because" or "moved because". Editors, the good ones, are steeped in literature.They might see things the writer misses.

I welcome suggestions. The editor sees something I didn't and demonstrates it.

Two more things, 1, look up the definition in the OED; and 2, how do you respond to the cutting of a film by the Editor? How is that any different?

2017-07-12 09:08:53
r.tornello@mark 211, the topic is critique. To answer your original question, the manner in which you critique is excellent. People should look at your method and try to emulate it. 2017-07-12 17:11:04
Wesson@RT - Give me a chance to mitigate things. I agree with you, good editors have the necessary experience to improve a someone's work. I envy writers and editors who have forged that kind of mutual relationship. However, slash comma, I've seen editors say some pretty weird sh*t now and again. For example, I recently came across a magazine that suggested they'd be critical towards stories with less than two female characters. I fully understand editors have a right to publish what they want to publish but you can't convince me *that* kind of criticism is helpful. So, when I say I despise anyone trying to 'fix' my story, I'm referring those types of situations.2017-07-12 21:15:45
rt@wesson AGREED That's not criticism, that's total Bullshit.2017-07-13 03:48:15
dandrew72I read every critique looking for two things: - Did the reader enjoy my work? That for me is huge. If I write something and it appears it wasn't an enjoyable read then I've missed the mark. - In the critique I want to learn what I did poorly or incorrectly so that I can polish my skills and hopefully improve over time. 2017-07-15 08:45:44





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