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Old Sep 27, 2005, 11:52 PM   #1
HMVNipper
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Exclamation Ground Rules for Posting Stories for Critique

Just a word of warning here...I have seen a lot of threads recently where people are posting their fics for critique, and that's fine. But I thought, as moderator, that maybe there should be some ground rules as well. (I'm going to make this a sticky topic so it's easy to find in future, btw...)

I tend to find, from vast experience in many writing groups over the years, both online and in person, that if you post your stories on a public board such as this one for feedback, it is highly unlikely that anyone is going to be TRULY honest. By that I mean, would YOU post "well, your story is weak and needs work in this area and this area and that area" on a forum such as this? It would crush the author to hear that, I think, and I personally would never embarrass anyone publicly by saying "your story sucks." (Not that I'd say that in those kind of words anyway!) Mind you, hearing nothing but praise is also not good for a writer's growth, so keep in mind where the critique is coming from and don't take anything personally. (Yes, easier said than done...but try to deal with it.)

Anyway...my point is this...if you guys want to post stories here on these forums and have people actually critique them honestly, then two things have to happen. One, you have to be prepared for someone to say something to you if they feel that the story needs work. (And NO writer is above critique -- if you can't bear to hear that your stories need work, then you aren't a writer. NOTHING comes out of even the most experienced writer's head in a perfect state that requires no revision. No matter what some people might think.) Two, I think it would be best if you have REALLY serious criticism of something that is posted here, to send the person a PM and not embarrass them on the forums. We do not want to hurt anyone's feelings or embarrass anyone, and I really don't want to have to step in and stop someone from crying because someone else didn't like their story.

I know it takes a lot of guts to post your work on a board like this one. After all, a story you've been working on for a long time is like your child -- you think it's perfect, you want everyone else to love it, and you want them to tell you that they do. But bear in mind -- putting stories out in the world for open criticism sometimes yields comments about your baby that you'd rather not hear...so be prepared for it.

Oh, and please do me and my co-mod a big favor. If your stories contain sexual content that is other than a PG-13/mild R sort of rating, please either warn us in the thread title, or don't post it here and give us a link. (By that I mean, if your story contains tastefully described sex, it's okay to post here -- but nothing graphic and nothing vulgar, please.)

Hope no one minds my saying something, but I wanted to nip any potential crises in the bud by suggesting these things.
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Old Sep 28, 2005, 12:00 AM   #2
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Fair enough. As I said before, I can take criticism and actually encourage it--as long as it's nicer than, "You suck!" I know I'm not Hemingway and if there's anything too wrong with something I've written, I want people to tell me about it so I can fix it. I hope that other writers feel the same way about their "babies."

Honestly, it's nice to see so many writers here at Beatlelinks and I've always liked reading and critiquing other people's work. I hope people will continue to share, and maybe we'll get to read some of these stories on RS.

Bottom line, people: be honest, but be nice!

(Aw, crap--now you're making me want to erase the thread I just posted. )
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Old Sep 28, 2005, 12:07 AM   #3
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Oh, I'm definitely with you, Mona, I like critique and prefer it to be honest. (And yes, criticism of the "you suck" variety isn't very helpful anyway...if it sucks, at least tell me WHY it does???)

Don't erase what you just posted!!! The above wasn't meant to discourage people from posting stories for critique, it was designed to nip any potential hysterics in the bud. I know that some writers, particularly young and/or inexperienced ones, only want to hear praise of their work, but the harsh reality is that no writer is perfect and no writer is above critique, regardless of age and experience level. I was just afraid that there might be issues if any comments were less than glowing -- and I don't want people to be afraid to post stories OR afraid to post honest comments.

I think as long as you're prepared to hear the bad with the good, by all means post stories here! (Though, one thing -- if anyone is posting the next part of a story that was already started
in another thread, it might not be necessary to start a new thread for every new bit you post -- just go back to the old one! I think you can change the thread title yourself if you were the one who started it originally, but if not, just PM me and I can go in and change it to reflect what chapter you just posted if you want. Otherwise we're going to be inundated with new threads every time someone posts a new chapter, and frankly, THAT is not necessary.)
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Old Sep 28, 2005, 01:59 AM   #4
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Critiquing is an important part of any writer's work. I appreciate it when people, particularly people who are professional writers themselves take the trouble to critique my work. It is only by knowing what my areas of strength and opportunity are that I can become a more effective writer.

Good point about accepting constructive criticism about one's work. In recent years, somebody sent me a story they had written. It was a fan fic about a political biography. The person billed themselves as a fiction writer and even has their own web page of work. It is very clear to those involved in that political board from whom this writer was influenced by and whose book shaped this person's writing style.

The story the person sent (and even put up on the political discussion board in its own thread) was, gently put far from good. In fact, I thought it was just plain dreadful. Since I felt the writer was as fragile as delicately blown glass at the time, I tried to be supportive and in effect lied by saying positive things about the story. In those days, I think I was a coward. In truth, I have seen better stories from young children and I have had preschoolers tell me better stories!

What I didn't like about this particular story was the way this writer just dropped a character into a setting with real people, but neglected to introduce the character. Readers were left nonplussed - who on earth was this character and how on earth did that character fit into a real story of real events involving real people? There were other things about the story I disliked, but that one was glaring enough to merit special mention.

In time, the more I thought about it, the more it irked me. Not so much the story, per se, but other things this person did that others generally found annoying. True, I didn't like the story and nobody else responded to that thread. Others were complaining about the person's behavior back channel and there were people who suggested I break it as kindly as I could to the person that what they were doing was upsetting others. I did and cc'd the webmasters so they would know exactly what I told that person without betraying any confidences.

With regard to the story, I waited until the time seemed right to tell the person that I didn't like it and why I didn't like it. In fact, I found the story so fraught with problems that I learned from having read it to identify what one likes and dislikes about a story; why and how to work around these challenges in writing one's own stories. Some good did come out of it. The person has long ceased to display the irritating behavior on the political board discussions and hopefully took my criticism in the spirit in which it was meant.
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Old Sep 28, 2005, 04:33 AM   #5
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I think most people would be open to a bit of critique. Sometimes there is a fine line between that and flaming... but thats all in tone and the way you phrase it. Anyway, I have been posting updates for a story I'm writing at the moment (Devil in her heart) and though I'm very greatful and somewhat relieved everyone seems to like it, anyone who has any ideas for improovements, or have any points in it that they think don't work or are weak, please let me know! It would help me out greatly. I know there are weak points in it... but there are probably more I haven't considered! ;)
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Old Sep 28, 2005, 08:54 AM   #6
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I would like to think that most people are open to a bit of honest critique, but you would be surprised how many people say that and then fall apart and start whining when someone actually offers it. I've belonged to far too many internet writing groups where at least some of the members would post their stuff, but heaven help you if you actually CRITICIZED it. That is why I posted the ground rules and caveats that I, as moderator here, would really like people to try and stick by -- don't flame anyone, certainly, but if you want to say that something needs work, go ahead and say it. If it's more than a gentle thing, though, do it off list. That is all I ask, don't embarrass anyone. It makes my life, and the life of Sleepy, my co-mod, a lot easier if we're not pulling people off each other and having to pat whiny whingers on the back all the time.

It's not a big deal, but I don't really want it to turn into one.
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Old Sep 28, 2005, 05:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HMVNipper
I know it takes a lot of guts to post your work on a board like this one. After all, a story you've been working on for a long time is like your child -- you think it's perfect, you want everyone else to love it, and you want them to tell you that they do. But bear in mind -- putting stories out in the world for open criticism sometimes yields comments about your baby that you'd rather not hear...so be prepared for it.
Exactly...Constructive criticism is a good thing. I liken it to school...if your teachers didn't give you honest feedback about how you were doing and what you could do to improve your test scores/written assignments/overall grades/etc., would you have learned anything or, in this case, grown as a writer? Probably not. I've had college professors who, yeah, they were nice and all, but I don't think they provided enough critique on everyone's work.

I'm not saying someone has to come on and flame another person's story, by any means...but, as was mentioned, putting your story out there for other people besides yourself to read opens the door for critique, whether it's good or bad.
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Old Sep 28, 2005, 05:30 PM   #8
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Well put, Susan & BG. Without HONEST feedback, one would not know how to improve or what to improve.

Flaming is destructive criticism, which is vastly different from critiquing or constructive criticism. I think of it this way - constructive criticism tends to be objective and offering ways to improve on something. Destructive criticism tends to be objective and has nothing to do with trying to help someone.
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Old Oct 06, 2005, 06:53 AM   #9
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Correction - I mean to say that destructive criticism tends to be subjective! That was a typo/error on my part. I meant subjective!

And another thing - I catch any date inaccuracies like a 1965 car in a story set in 1963 (this happened on "American Dreams") or any character that is just sicced onto the reading audience without some kind of introduction or explanation of that character or characters' place in the story, I will come after you with a red marking pen and edit!
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Old Oct 19, 2005, 06:28 PM   #10
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[quote=HMVNipper]Oh, I'm definitely with you, Mona, I like critique and prefer it to be honest. (And yes, criticism of the "you suck" variety isn't very helpful anyway...if it sucks, at least tell me WHY it does???)

[quote]

No criticism of the you suck variety is never good. Once I posted a fic (for a movie not beatles.......I just can't write them...) on fanfiction.net and I got a review somewhere along the lines of " I hope an anvil will drop on your head."

I mean I know we can't have everyone love us...... but that helps me grow as a writer how??
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Old Oct 20, 2005, 10:38 AM   #11
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I once heard somewhere that those who can't write...critique! Perhaps that's why their critques are so bad, they can't find anything constructive to say because they really are inept at writing themselves. That's the ones who make personal slams, I mean, not the ones who DO offer valid suggestions.
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Old Oct 20, 2005, 10:49 AM   #12
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Sorta like "those that can't do, teach," eh, Dr. D.?

Good point, Dr. D. -- sounds like the fox with sour grapes to me. Valid suggestions are one thing - that helps writers hone their skills. Bashing somebody's work on a personal count is negative, destructive and counterproductive!
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Old Jan 20, 2006, 10:05 AM   #13
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[quote=Loony_leo][quote=HMVNipper]Oh, I'm definitely with you, Mona, I like critique and prefer it to be honest. (And yes, criticism of the "you suck" variety isn't very helpful anyway...if it sucks, at least tell me WHY it does???)

Quote:

No criticism of the you suck variety is never good. Once I posted a fic (for a movie not beatles.......I just can't write them...) on fanfiction.net and I got a review somewhere along the lines of " I hope an anvil will drop on your head."

I mean I know we can't have everyone love us...... but that helps me grow as a writer how??
I had that happen to me too! This guy had some personnal issues towards me and decided to cut me to the quick by telling me my fanfiction sucked and that I should stop wasting people's time.
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Old Jul 24, 2006, 08:13 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MonaMe577
Fair enough. As I said before, I can take criticism and actually encourage it--as long as it's nicer than, "You suck!" I know I'm not Hemingway and if there's anything too wrong with something I've written, I want people to tell me about it so I can fix it. I hope that other writers feel the same way about their "babies."

Honestly, it's nice to see so many writers here at Beatlelinks and I've always liked reading and critiquing other people's work. I hope people will continue to share, and maybe we'll get to read some of these stories on RS.

Bottom line, people: be honest, but be nice!

(Aw, crap--now you're making me want to erase the thread I just posted. )
I have to agree. I just wrote an early draft for my first ever Beatles fic. I used to write stories a lot, then started, so it's kidn of like finding an old catcher's mit or something. I would appreciate your honest opinions, I can take criticism.
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Old Jul 24, 2006, 08:15 PM   #15
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[quote=VersusBatman][quote=Loony_leo]
Quote:
Originally Posted by HMVNipper
Oh, I'm definitely with you, Mona, I like critique and prefer it to be honest. (And yes, criticism of the "you suck" variety isn't very helpful anyway...if it sucks, at least tell me WHY it does???)


I had that happen to me too! This guy had some personnal issues towards me and decided to cut me to the quick by telling me my fanfiction sucked and that I should stop wasting people's time.
I'm sure your fanfiction is wonderful. Mine problem isn't too good, as I only wrote fiction of pre-existing people for fun before just now. But if you thought it was good, then it was. That person obviously had no sense of art.
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Old Aug 14, 2006, 04:30 PM   #16
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You're probably right.
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Old Apr 07, 2007, 05:15 AM   #17
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Is it alright to post stories that I've written, but also posted elsewhere? Or should I link to 'em?
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Old Apr 07, 2007, 10:48 AM   #18
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Is it alright to post stories that I've written, but also posted elsewhere? Or should I link to 'em?
If the story is short (if it will fit within a post or two), then I see no problem with posting it here. For longer stories, it might be easier just to post the link. It shouldn't matter if the story is already online elsewhere.
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Old Apr 29, 2007, 10:08 PM   #19
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Just wanted to say I think this is a really cool topic. Hopefully everyone here can take some friendly criticism offered in good spirits.

I know I always appreciate feedback on my poetry. I admit, that when someone rips a piece of mine to shreds, I cringe just a little, but I try to put the defensive feelings aside and really take a good look at, and even consider, suggestions they've offered.
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Old Mar 11, 2008, 07:11 PM   #20
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Default In Light of All this About Critiques

Now that I've read all of your blogs about taking criticism well, I shiver as I invited you to take a look at my new researched historical novel about John Lennon entitled Shoulda Been There. To view it, please go to ontherockbooks.com. You can read a sample chapter, read a story about Liverpool, see photos from my trips there...even take the trivia contest.

The book is really unique. It is written as a novel, but it was documented over 20 years with a 300 volume Lennon library in my home and 7 trips to Liverpool to conduct interviews. I talked to Allan Williams, Rod Murray, Bob Wooler, etc. Many, many interveiws allowed me to tell John's stories factually although housed in a fiction format.

I'd truly appreciate you guys taking a look at the book. I'll be at The Fest for BeatleFans in the Meadowlands in two weeks, so I'd enjoy chatting with you about the book. I'd appreciate any advice about marketing (festivals in your area, Beatle radio shows).

I'm working 24/7 to promote it...speaking to all sorts of groups, doing radio and tv, going to all sorts of fairs and festivals...I'm working my little buns off to get the word out there.

Any help, advice, ideas that you could give me would be tremendously appreciated. And hey, buying the book is GREAT, too!

Look forward to hearing from you. Thank YOU!
Jude Kessler
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