pheeweed wrote: I quit for a while because my attitude was wrong and I needed to get that right before I could come back.
But I do want to add this. I was not nearly as good a writer as I thought I was. I learned that from entering the challenge and reading the other entries. Once I accepted that, I was able to learn.
I also read every post in Jan's column and did the assignments. I learned a lot from that too. The yellow boxes are nice feedback from my peers, but I've learned not to expect most of them to offer a real learning experience.
I think maybe the most important thing I've learned from FW is what "show don't tell" actually means. I majored in creative writing in college, so I thought I knew all about it. I didn't.
After three years, I finally got an EC. Now I'm getting them fairly regularly. I always get a thrill, but I've come to the point where it's not the point anymore. I enter for the pleasure of writing and because I still need the structured challenge. So please stay with it and with FW because it will help you grow as a writer.
Great points! You beat me to it when you mentioned Jan's Writing Basics. I've referenced it many times. It's the best "free" course for any Faithwriter looking to improve his craft. I also suggest the library...another "free" source. Of course, there's nothing like professional feedback as a progress report to measure your improvements.
I, too, have no desire to beat the drums incessantly, but there needs to be another way to critique a Challenge article without having the comments attached to the article. Deb has articulated the why, but I can't get past the fact that my opinion is up against professional judges who may disagree.
As I stated before, I do not want to write permanently affixed, negative comments/suggestions on a "First Place" article. Call it pride, embarrassment, or a reluctance to accept, "See, you were wrong."
This also impacts the likeability factor for other non-Faithwriter readers.
To Graham's point, more constructive feedback might be forthcoming if comments were reviewed solely by the author rather than the internet population.
I totally understand what you are saying. It has definitely happened to me where I have left suggestions on pieces that later won. But this doesn't mean my suggestion was incorrect for a couple of reasons. First, it's my opinion that the story was off topic or for me when you ask the reader questions it comes off as feeling preachy which for me is a turn-off.
Because those type of critiques are just my opinion, even if the story wins the Pulitzer or the Newberry Award, I'm still not wrong as I am sharing an opinion of my thoughts.
The second reason is even the EC stories will be edited and tweaked and polished before being published in the anthologies. The comments like this sentence felt awkward to me and might flow better like this: could be one of the suggested edits. Or, you wrote you're instead of your. is a comment that is true and will definitely be tweaked before going to the final draft.
Also, I think many people are aware that there have been times when I accidentally hurt someone's feelings. It breaks my heart and literally makes me sick. Usually though I send an apology and tell the person I didn't mean to hurt their feelings. After some time has passed, most people graciously accept my apology and realize my comment might have had some merit (or it might not have but if they can feel the motivator is love it's easier to accept)
The worst thing is when someone blames me for ruining writing which used to be fun, or someone said that the reason FW is going downhill is because of me(Shann not me the person tweaking), and another person said when someone like me is such a terrible writer so I don't want to bug anyone with my horrible writing and they thanked me(Shsnn) for showing them they were bad writers and would never write again and said thank you for that Shann. Those times are unbearable. I sob until I vomit, I can't sleep for days because I hurt or discouraged someone that much. it puts me on a dark and dangerous path.
I try to always pray before I leave a comment. Sometimes I can hear God say quite clearly, let that go on this one Shann. I've wondered why God didn't stop me on those three people who quit because of me. I have to believe it's for his glory. It hurts so much I want to crawl in a hole and never come out, but if God can use that pain for something good, who am I to question it. He must have known I would survive the heartache (with the help from family and friends)
Lastly, I always start with something good about a story, then try to give a constructive critique and examples. Instead of just saying some sentences didn't flow well, I try to say I stumbled over this sentence perhaps if you tried something like this it might flow better.
By giving an exact example and an exact solution to the problem, I pray that people see it as constructive and not mean critiquing. There are people who can be mean (mainly on other sites, rarely here) but as long as I know my motivation (which is to help others become the best writer they can be)comes from a place of love, I feel God is calling me to leave feedback.
Lastly, I always end on another positive notes. Often my constructive paragraph is the longest because I do try to explain and offer examples, but almost always my positive comments outweigh the constructive ones three to one.
I noticed several people mention sending PM. That used to be great, but now with the Silver Members entering up to 4 times, it's quite possible the person may never see the comment. Also I have had people tell me they have learned as much from my comments on other pieces as they do on their own/
If anyone wants a more thorough critique, please send me a note and give me the link to the story and I will do the best I can to give some positive feedback.
This may sound silly, but some of my happiest memories of FW are when I see a newbie move up the levels, yes, even when they reach Masters before I did or even if they ranked higher than I did. That fills my heart with joy and pride. (it sounds cheesy but it is really true)
Last, even if I didn't enter a story for the week, I stay up until the highest rankings are in so I can go through and tell everyone who didn't win the levels or EC but did rank in the top half of their level or if they ranked overall. I get so much joy from that. I can't explain it but knowing I might encourage someone does my heart good.