nonny: (Default)
[personal profile] nonny
So, there's a particular article about what differentiates a hobbyist from a pro writer, that is full of BS that has been talked about by various people like Brian Keene and John Scalzi.

One thing, though, I haven't seen addressed is this:

"4. Would you rather receive useful criticism than praise?"

Okay, I really fucking loathe this dichotomy. I have seen it a lot in crit and writing groups. This idea that either you take criticism like a masochist, or you are an idiot who wants people to pander with praise, is fucking stupid.

It's not a one or the other deal. You can want useful criticism for the things that you did wrong, or that you almost got right, or that could be better if you did this... and still want to be praised for the things you did well. There is an attitude in writer's groups that I find fucking harmful, which is that if you're a true pro, then you shouldn't care about praise.

It's fucking human to want praise. It's normal, and healthy, and for gods' sakes, I have seen so many crit groups where a badge of honor is taking sometimes downright abusive shit about your work, and not complaining. It's a toxic attitude. It's important for writers to hear both criticism and praise -- but too often, writers are told that if they even want praise, they obviously aren't serious.

Not to mention that praise is also an important part of a crit, because it helps you figure out what you're doing right. If all you have is a crit full of complaints, well, you can still work on improving, but it doesn't give you a very clear idea of your strengths.

You can want both. You should have both. And I am really annoyed at this all-or-nothing, one-or-the-other thinking. The world doesn't work that way.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-06 06:20 pm (UTC)
inoru_no_hoshi: A Dreamwidth Dreamsheep with Tengwar (Elvish script) for its fleece. (Tengwar)
From: [personal profile] inoru_no_hoshi
Yep. I think this sort of attitude is why a depressing number of fanfic writers don't like the idea of concrit, because concrit=crit=only saying you and your work suck, which is not the point at all. And this is such a pervasive thing that unless an author actually puts "Concrit welcome!" in their notes somewhere, I don't feel comfortable offering any, because I don't know if they'll take it the wrong way - and the very last thing I want to do with concrit is leave someone with the impression that I hated their fic, it sucks, and they should stop writing.

Because, no. Usually it means I'm enjoying it enough that the jarring note is all the more jarring, and I'd like to point it out so maybe they can fix it - or at least acknowledge that it's a thing to keep in mind for further writing if it's actually plot-essential but jarringly wrong. (Like, I read this fic a couple days ago that is absolutely glorious and had me on tenterhooks and clutching at my blanket for comfort - and it's predicated on a thing that makes absolutely no sense and I can't decide if I should point it out or just accept it and move on.)

I, personally, welcome concrit, and it was a hard, hard thing to get from, "You didn't like [aspect/the whole thing]? WAHH YOU HATE ME I SUCK." to "You didn't like [aspect/the whole thing]? Can I fix [aspect]? Did I write the whole thing wrongheadedly? Did I do either on purpose? *puzzle out best response*" and just being kind of facepalmingly embarrassed over typos (because they always sneak through. ALWAYS).

I love praise, too, and the thing is... I am possibly more likely to consider concrit without a moment of "D: I suck" if there's also praise. Tell me what you don't like, by all means! But please also tell me what you did like.

(It is... not necessarily an easy mentality to gain. But it does make you more sanguine about your writing.)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-06 08:46 pm (UTC)
chordatesrock: TP Link riding Epona, sword drawn (Default)
From: [personal profile] chordatesrock
Yes. This. It's normal to want praise and it's reasonable to worry that your work is worthless if you never hear anything good about it. If feedback is meant to help you, it needs to tell you how you're doing already and what not to change, as well as what to change.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-06 10:11 pm (UTC)
fallconsmate: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fallconsmate
when i was in school (dinosaur ages ago) we sometimes critiqued other's work in the classroom.

we were instructed to find errors in grammar/spelling and point them out graciously, AND find something that we LIKED about the work and point *that* out enthusiastically.

i remember saying that while the subject wasn't one that i had ever thought of writing about (some robot battling thing), that he had written the scenes with very good details, and i could see them in my mind as i read them. amidst the mis-spelling, forgotten commas, and sentence fragments. (although i put the crit nicer than that, hee!)

but no. there SHOULD be both. i need to hear what i did RIGHT to spark the interest to write! if all i hear is "you missed on this one", that spark is going to get stamped out and fast.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-07 01:02 pm (UTC)
stormerider: (Fred - Knowledge is power)
From: [personal profile] stormerider
"And I am really annoyed at this all-or-nothing, one-or-the-other thinking. The world doesn't work that way."

Well, the world often does. But when it does, it's because it's fucked in the head. It shouldn't work that way.

My father certainly was one or the other in his criticism (or lack of praise).

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-11 03:13 pm (UTC)
sidheblessed: (pic#681888)
From: [personal profile] sidheblessed
The author of that list seems to be taking a very black and white view of praise vs concrit. Praise isn't just saying "ZOMG loved it!!1!" and concrit isn't just saying "This is what didn't work." Useful concrit includes praise. Knowing your skills is just as important as knowing where your writing needs work. And praise can be just as detailed and helpful, i.e. "I loved your characterisation of X because..."

I remember being taught the sandwich method of concrit. That is, begin with something you liked or some praise, then offer some suggestions for things that could be changed, then finish with something positive, possibly a summary of everything you liked. Basically, you sandwich any concrit between praise. Since then, it's become my favourite method of concrit. There's something very powerful of beginning and ending with something positive.

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Nonny Blackthorne

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