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Some Encouragement on Critiquing

A good critique is an invaluable tool for improving your work.

You can now use the Critique Circle at the this link: http://www.faithwriters.com/critique-circle.php

For REGULAR ARTICLE SUBMISSIONS, leave a request for an article review from other FaithWriters members on this forum. Be sure to leave the url to your posted article. Or post your article on this forum for review by other members.

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Shann
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Re: Some Encouragement on Critiquing

Postby Shann » Fri Jun 12, 2015 3:03 pm

You could do either in the general submissions or in the Critique Circle. If you're looking for more feedback in the Circle, I'd say put it as a new piece. As someone who tries to peruse the Circle often, I'll admit if I see it has a critique already, I'll skip over it for one that has not been critiqued. If it has only one, and there are no new ones who have zero feedback, I will read it because my Circle articles didn't receive helpful critiques just nice comments. I suspect the persons did it that way just so they could submit another article (you receive a credit to submit every time you critique.) This was several years ago, now Mike has asked some editors to routinely check out the Circle so it's not as likely to get just fluff like before.

AL that to say either way would be fine, depending on what you're looking for. :mrgreen:
Shann

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Re: Some Encouragement on Critiquing

Postby Deb Porter » Fri Jun 12, 2015 6:12 pm

As Shann said, Dave. If you want critique on the reworked piece, remove the old one and post this as a new piece.

Love, Deb
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Breath of Fresh Air Press - a little publisher with a lot of heart

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Re: Some Encouragement on Critiquing

Postby Prato » Tue Sep 29, 2015 11:37 pm

I thought some of you might like this poem (Christian, Biblical) and may also like to 'critique' it. The passage on which it is based is 2 Kings 13.20,21. (Few know about this 'incident'. But I would like you to go through the poem, to know your understanding of the subject.) I am thinking of publishing a book of spiritual and Biblical poems - in an unconventional style!

THE MIRACLE OF ELISHA'S BONES

Elisha died, and they buried him in a grave.
In those days the Moabites would invade the land
Every year in spring.
And the Israelites were burying a man,
When they saw a marauding band
Of Moabites, and threw the body into Elisha's grave.

Why Elisha's grave was open we do not know.
It was certainly not a tomb protected by a massive stone;
No rich man's grave, but the burial plot of the poor;
Neglected, like the graves of God's prophets are.
(The shrines of false prophets are visited by thousands every year,
While the faithful servants of the Lord lie forgotten
In some remote place.
God in His infinite wisdom ensured
That Moses' grave could not be traced;
And He translated Elijah to heaven,
Or else syncretic Jews with mercenary minds,
Would have erected monuments over their graves,
And revenue from the pockets of the devoutly blind
Would be rolling still into the treasuries in modern Palestine.)

Whatever the case may be, the great man of God lay
Slighted in an open grave,
His bones exposed to sun and rain, and frost at night;
And the burial party flung the corpse into Elisha's grave
And fled to escape the ravaging Moabite.

Imagine their surprise when they heard a sound
And turning back, they saw the dead man
Come up from the open ground.
His body had touched Elisha's bones, and he revived,
Springing to his feet, (and then he ran!)
Just like Jairus' daughter whom our Lord took by the hand.

The Holy Spirit took special care to mention
The resurrection power flowing through the bones
Of the prophet who had seen Elijah's ascension -
And it was flowing still, even after he was dead and gone.

What we gather from this little story
(And may the Lord grant us revelation to see it!)
Is that resurrection power and resurrection glory
Is given to those baptized in that sunken river,
Determined to have a double portion of the Spirit.

*******
(Note: 'Sunken river' > the river Jordan, the lowest river in the world. Elisha, with Elijah, passed through the river Jordan before Elijah's translation to heaven. 2 Kings 2. )

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Re: Some Encouragement on Critiquing

Postby Prato » Wed Sep 30, 2015 10:40 pm

I don't mind any of my writings being critiqued. But I have one question - What happens when you fall into the hands of a wrong 'critic'?

Suppose you have written a devotional. And it is critiqued by someone who really hasn't meditated on the Bible.

Suppose you have written a poem, let's say, a children's poem. And it is critiqued by someone who knows very little about children's poetry - though he or she may be a good writer in other areas.

Suppose you have written a short story, but it is reviewed by someone who is good in writing scientific stuff but knows very little about the art or craft of short-story writing.

Suppose you are from the British Commonwealth and you have a style of writing that is more 'British' than American, and you are reviewed by someone who knows only about the 'American market' and doesn't know much about British or Commonwealth literature.

While many here are helpful and encouraging, there are some who 'rush in where angels fear to tread'.

Critics on FW should go about their task with caution. Very bad writing must be suppressed. Faulty writing can be corrected. Ignorant writing must be rebuked. But if you are not familiar with someone's style of writing (and it is very good in many other ways), then just don't critique. You would be acting like a bull in a china shop.

The Bible talks about 'working out' things with 'fear and trembling'.

JK

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Re: Some Encouragement on Critiquing

Postby Shann » Thu Oct 01, 2015 9:56 am

What I would encourage for you to do if you receive a critique that feels wrong, is first give it time. As writers, we pour our hearts and most intimate thoughts into our work. At first, it can feel like someone called your baby ugly. You may feel hurt, stupid, or angry. If you let that settle, later you may be able to see where they are coming from and either agree with the Critique or if not, just let it go realizing not everyone has the same opinion and that's okay.

The UK vs US differences happen a lot. In that case, it might be worth it to explain that in the UK colour is spelled with a u. However, it isn't necessary. You don't want to be overly defensive because that could decrease your chances of getting helpful critiques in the future. Another thing I would suggest is look at the entire critique. Most people try to use the sandwich method where first a positive is mentioned, then a constructive critique, and then end on another positive. It's easy to overlook the positives and focus on what you consider negative. No where does it state that you have to accept the advice given. The best thing to do is just let it go.

If it is something that the person doesn't understand because it's not his or her strongest suit, you could send a note thanking for the time the person spent and give a short explanation if you really feel led to do so. However, know your audienceaudience. If you're writing for young kids, your audience is really two-fold, the child and the adult reading to the child. So consider that before you want to confront the person.

I often will give examples of what I mean. Instead of just saying do more showing and less telling, I'll take a line from the piece and show how I might edit it. I mean it only as an example of what I'm talking about, not a suggestion to change your words with mine. I hope it will help the author think of ways to make it unique to his character.

I disagree about not offering critiques if you're not an expert. Of course, if you feel totally out of your element, you shouldn't give advice you don't know. I'm tone-deaf and cannot hear meter so rarely will you see me say your meter is off. I might say, it might be my tone deaf ears, but I stumbled over some lines. Then I'll suggest the author asks someone to read aloudaloud, if that person stumbles then the chances are the line needs tweaked. If someone doesn't point out things, you will never grow as a writer.

The important thing to remember is a critique is just one person's opinion. Opinions are subjective, so it's okay if someone disagrees with you. Most people here avoid giving constructive feedback because it can come back on you. I think the most important thing to remember is the intention behind the critic. I only want to help the authors become the best writers possible. My critiques are given out of love. As a writer, you will have people who will rip your work apart. FW is one of the extremely rare places where 99% of the critiques are given in love.

Early on, someone told me that almost all of my paragraphs began with a name or pronoun. I remember feeling defensive. I rolled my eyes and thought he was exaggerating. After it stopped stinging, I went back and discovered not only did every paragraph begin that way, but almost every sentence did. That was my first lesson in varying sentence structure to make the read more interesting. When driving across the flats, the view can quickly become monotonous, but Hills and valleys make for a more interesting and engaging ride. Sentences are the same way.

I've been challenge buddies to dozens of people. Often, I'll give advice and then see them move up the rankings ahead of me. Many people would prefer to stay on the top, but FW do get joy from seeing hard work pay off. I think I often get more excited when someone I helped does well than when I do well (or at least the same amount of joy).

It seems to me you are contradicting yourself. Your first line says you don't mind being critiqued, but by the end, you say: But if you are not familiar with someone's style of writing (and it is very good in many other ways), then just don't critique. You would be acting like a bull in a china shop.

Remember to take feedback for what it is--someone's opinion. It takes time to read a story and leave feedback. The people here are not going to invest that time unless they truly care. So if you receive a critique you don't agree with, that's okay. The person still took valuable time and energy. Focus on that--wow that person cares about my writing and wants me to do better. How coolcool! I don't necessarily agree, but boy it was nice that she tried to help.

Therean article about how to receive a critique. It's filled with great advice. I'll try to find it for you and leave the link to it.
Shann

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Re: Some Encouragement on Critiquing

Postby Shann » Thu Oct 01, 2015 10:10 am

I couldn't find what I was looking for, but this is copied from the Critique Circle. I don't think silver members can access the Critique Circle, so I copied it instead of leaving a link. I'll keep looking for the other article.

Critique Tips
BEING A GOOD CRITIQUE GROUP PARTNER

Here are some general rules to being a good critique group partner. You will get out of this experience what you put in, so do your best to follow the rules below.

1. BE HONEST
Now is not the time to lie. Be gentle, but tell the truth. If the submitter's story doesn't have enough plot, or the characterization needs work, tell them so! Editors don't have time to tell you what they think--critique partners do.

2. BE THICK-SKINNED
The first time you have a story critiqued by a group of writers might be difficult for you. If some critiques are somewhat negative to your material, it doesn't mean you're a bad writer. It's sometimes hard to separate our writing from ourselves, but it is absolutely necessary that you learn to do so. Nothing is personal in a group such as ours, comments are made on the words that are submitted only. Even after you're published, editors will want to change things. And you may well gather a heap of rejections before that time. Buck up and get used to it.

3. CONSIDER COMMENTS CAREFULLY
Not every comment a critique partner makes will apply to your story. It could be just a personal preference. You are the final judge of what to change and what to keep. However, don't blow off a comment because it hurts your feelings. If possible, let it be for a while, and look at it again later. Often you'll find at least a shred of wisdom in the critique.

4. BE KIND
This is important, treat others as you have them treat unto you. Honesty doesn't mean brutality. A writer's story is his/her baby--and you don't want to tell someone their baby is ugly!!! Word your critiques carefully, as you would have others critique your work.

5. BE ENCOURAGING
One of the biggest benefits to having critique partners is having others who understand what you are going through as you sweat blood trying to get work published. Encourage one another to your best writing, and help one another when you face a nasty case of writer's block or rejection. Hang in there together!

6. BE FRIENDLY
Get to know each other. Become friends. Writing a story in today's market is a harrowing experience, best shared with others. The more you know about each other, the more you'll be able to help.

7. BE PROMPT
When you send something out to be critiqued, you are probably on pins and needles to know what others think. Remember, your partners feel the same way about their material!!! Do your best to get back to them within a reasonable amount of time.

8. LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE
Often the first thing you'll be tempted to do as a critique partner (especially if you have strong grammar skills) is to start nit-picking commas, etc. While this is helpful on a FINAL DRAFT, what you should be looking for in the early stages is the overall picture. Is the plot sound? Do the characters do and say things that are out of character for them? Do they depend too much on adverbs, rather than choosing strong verbs?

On the final draft, of course, you'll want to make sure what they are sending to the publishers is picture perfect. Now you get to edit out all those commas!

More than likely, your critique partners will be the ones who laugh with you when you get the go-ahead to send a manuscript, cry with you when you face rejection, and rejoice with you when you sell that story. Best of luck!!!
Shann

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Re: Some Encouragement on Critiquing

Postby Shann » Thu Oct 01, 2015 10:32 am

I found another one that answers most of your questions Jonathon. It's in Jan's Writing Basics, which is a great tool.
viewtopic.php?f=67&t=38450&hilit=How+to+receive+a+critique
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