What's the default level of critique?

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What's the default level of critique?

Postby crit31345 » Wed May 27, 2015 8:54 pm

Hi! I'm new to the workshops and have a basic question that I couldn't find answered anywhere. If the author doesn't have any specific notes on a manuscript, what is the default level of critique to provide? In general is it better to be conceptual pointing out things that worked for me or confused me? Or should I also include notes about specific sentences or even words that jarred or captivated me? Basically what level of resolution should I operate at and does this differ depending on type of manuscript?
Name: Christopher Hawkins
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Re: What's the default level of critique?

Postby crit19292 » Thu May 28, 2015 11:04 am

The default level of a critique is honesty. Most people here have those who they can go to for pandering and praise. If you come upon a submission and find yourself blinded by mistakes, let them know. I believe this is for the best, as if the person does not have anyone who will openly demean them for writing poorly, they need someone who will honestly let them know what the tools of writing are.

I find that beyond mechanical mistakes, most of what I tell someone is my perspective. Again honesty is the rule. While I expect mechanical problems should be fixed, other notes I tell them is basically the decision of the writer. A lot of times my vision is different, but the author needs to hear what I say because one never knows how an audience will react. So just an alternate voice of damnation or praise should help get a feel for what might work or not work with a section of the public. I do what I can to support my comments, but that is just to assure the author that what I am saying is an honest response and not just what I think I should say.
I will not deny myself having my opinions.
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Name: Roby Ward
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Re: What's the default level of critique?

Postby aburt » Thu May 28, 2015 10:25 pm

Two thoughts on this...
1) Critique as in-depth as you can (the more in-depth, the more you help your own writing!); and
2) Give your honest personal reactions, phrased per the Diplomacy Phrasing Rules.

The Diplomacy Phrasing Rules are vital, which is why they're workshop Rules. :) Violations of the phrasing rules is the root cause of nearly all problems I've received over 20 years running the workshop. (By that, I don't mean people write in, "Hey, so&so violated the rules" but they write in about critiques that offended them, and the root cause of the offense turns out to be violations of diplomacy phrasing.)

Always good to refresh one's memory on those, no matter how long a member, since it's all about communicating effectively.


The main thing to remember is to give one's own personal reactions (not speak as an expert or on behalf of anyone else), and to remember the author had a good intent in mind, even if it didn't work for you personally. So do point out what didn't work for you, just phrased in a way that's clear it's only your personal reaction. (Because, indeed, you can't know how any other reader will react. Some people carp about Dune's POV shifts; some people think Dune is brilliant...)

And the more in-depth you analyze, the better for everyone, yourself included. I'd venture that fully half the benefit of Critters is in doing in-depth critiques.

So: Depth + Diplomacy...
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Name: Andrew Burt
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