Be a Better Writer--DEALING WITH NEGATIVE CRITIQUE

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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Re: Be a Better Writer--DEALING WITH NEGATIVE CRITIQUE

Post by glorybee » Tue Jul 29, 2014 7:32 pm

It's still here:

http://www.faithwriters.com/Boards/phpB ... 67&t=38177

and I get notifications when people comment, so that I can respond in a timely manner. Also, any comments will bump it up to the top of this forum. Feel free to start the conversation up again!

j
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Re: Be a Better Writer--DEALING WITH NEGATIVE CRITIQUE

Post by Allison » Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:52 pm

Come forth wrote:I think the status quo is changing as far as giving and receiving critiques is concerned.

I received an email from a friend regarding the comments made on one of my entries and this is a quote "I don't think it was the usual sugar and spice and all things nice".

I've noticed that more people are giving constructive comments on entries than used to be the case. Of course, this increases the risk of inappropriate comments, but sadly that is a fact of life. But, and it's a big but, even this lesson came out of a desire to deal with constructive comments rather than ignore them or just live in the hurt they can bring. And well done, Diane Bowman, for bringing it up.

I think, and of course that also means I can be wrong, that the intensive discussion that was generated for awhile on these forums has changed our expectations slightly. We now know we will probably receive a constructive comment or two and that they will help us grow.

The critique group didn't keep going, but it did achieve its purpose and things are improving. Maybe this time, such a lesson would get more traction. At least three or four people have they'd join in, and so would I. This is one lesson I would be compelled to make time for.

Blessings, Graham.
Actually, I think this changed with the option to select whether or not you want your entry to be critiqued. Before, people were afraid they might offend. But with the option to select if you want it critiqued, people feel much more open to critique, because... well, they asked for it.
Isaiah 40:30-31 (NIV)

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Re: Be a Better Writer--DEALING WITH NEGATIVE CRITIQUE

Post by Come forth » Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:28 pm

You are absolutely right Alison, and I wasn't trying to give all the credit to any one group or action. It all happened around the same time. I'm just saying things have changed for the better, thanks to everyone here and all that happened around that time.

Blessings, Graham.
May we all get eyes to see and ears to hear,
A Revelation of His Word, crystal clear.
Admitting our need to be drawn in,
Less of self, more of Him.

My prayer for us all.
God bless us with the Revelation of His Word, Graham
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Re: Be a Better Writer--DEALING WITH NEGATIVE CRITIQUE

Post by dmbowman » Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:54 am

Jan, thank you for this lesson (and all of you who responded). I've learned a lot. It was fun to read some of the negative critiques the rest of you have received. :)

I've only had one or two here at FaithWriters that I didn't feel very good about and even those, once I waited awhile and read them again, weren't meant the way I first took them.

Outside of FaithWriters, one of the hardest reactions to my writing is when someone says 'Oh.' and changes the subject. Guess I can't expect everyone to understand.

I do think one of the valuable aspects of FaithWriters is the honest critique of other writers. Getting reviews that say 'This is absolutely wonderful.' when it obviously isn't, doesn't help improve my writing anymore than ones that say, 'Your writing stinks.'

:thankssign again!

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Re: Be a Better Writer--DEALING WITH NEGATIVE CRITIQUE

Post by CatLin » Thu Jul 31, 2014 6:51 pm

I don't remember ever receiving hurtful "criticism" as some of you have, but I've had some negative critiques, as in - this didn't make sense, I don't understand this part, it would be stronger if you did this or that -- and I've at times been stung and at times thankful for the improvement pointers.

One of my challenge piece in particular had a main theme to the comments - I don't see how it fits the topic. Wow. To me it was clear as day and I just didn't understand how they didn't see it. So I had a friend read it, then asked her if she saw the topic. Since it was face to face and not a one-sentence comment, I was able to conversate with her, and she helped me "see the light" in a loving, but honest, way.

I have another entry that was one of my favorites, and I spent a LOT of time and effort on it, and the commentors raved. Alas, it fell off the FW charts somewhere into oblivion. I was devastated because no one could (or would) tell me why. I read it a couple of years later and it didn't seem near as strong but I still like it. :) Perhaps I'll put it in the critique circle and see what feedback I get.

Great lesson, Jan. I'm sure there was more I wanted to say, but after reading all of the comments, it's probably already been said.
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Re: Be a Better Writer--DEALING WITH NEGATIVE CRITIQUE

Post by violin4jesus » Fri Aug 01, 2014 11:47 am

glorybee wrote:It's still here:

http://www.faithwriters.com/Boards/phpB ... 67&t=38177

and I get notifications when people comment, so that I can respond in a timely manner. Also, any comments will bump it up to the top of this forum. Feel free to start the conversation up again!

j
Done! :roll:

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Re: Be a Better Writer--DEALING WITH NEGATIVE CRITIQUE

Post by Anja » Fri Aug 29, 2014 1:16 pm

glorybee wrote:
That's the big question, isn't it? I have a piece here that's not only my favorite piece I've ever written for FW, it's the best thing I've ever written (in my opinion) and probably the best thing I ever WILL write. But it didn't register with the judges that week--not only did it not get an EC, it wasn't even in the top 40 (they were doing 40 back in those days). Big shrug--who knows?
I know exactly which piece this is, and for what it's worth, it stands out above all Jan's other entries. I remember being totally blown away when it did not place, and even believed the judges had not even read it at all.

I am enormously thin-skinned, and criticism and critique wound me far more than it ought. Critique, because I often see, yes, the commenter is correct in what they pointed out. I feel humiliation and shame that I submitted such an atrocious piece of drivel. Like the mistake is tattooed on my forehead forever.

Criticism leaves me defensive. Especially unwarranted criticism, in which my Canadian spelling of a word is bashed. Or a foreign word I've used, entirely understandable in its context, or so I think, based on the positive comments.

I read once that a writer should not "dumb down" their writing for the readers. Trust readers, that they will figure out the subtleties, the setting, etc. But that does leave the writer open to criticism from those who don't 'get it.' Not all readers will Google something they have never heard of, crack a dictionary for new words, and so on. So, sometimes, I have to consider the source .... and realise some folks want a fluffy story all wrapped up in bow. Sometimes, I do that, most often I don't. *I* read to learn, be challenged, to think, to be engaged. Not all readers do.

Two of my worst criticisms were on BoB winners. My heart hurt for days. I read those same criticisms a few days ago, and Jan is correct, distance does lessen the pangs, especially in light of the other gold boxes. However, after reading those comments a few days ago, and since I just started writing for FW again after a three year hiatus, when I get a 'Feedback Notification" in my inbox, I feel trepidation.
Ann Grover Stocking

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Re: Be a Better Writer--DEALING WITH NEGATIVE CRITIQUE

Post by glorybee » Fri Aug 29, 2014 1:43 pm

Anja wrote:
Especially unwarranted criticism, in which my Canadian spelling of a word is bashed.
I'm to blame for one of those. And even after many years, I'm sorry I did it.
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Re: Be a Better Writer--DEALING WITH NEGATIVE CRITIQUE

Post by Anja » Fri Aug 29, 2014 2:27 pm

No worries, Jan. It must be in the delivery, because it wasn't you I thought of at all.

On the other side of the fence, I am SO reluctant to comment, because I afraid of bruising another thin-skinned writer. So it's always a hard spot, seeing glaring grammatical errors, faulty continuity, and not knowing how to red ink without totally shattering the writer. I have no diplomancy when it comes to delivery.
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Re: Be a Better Writer--DEALING WITH NEGATIVE CRITIQUE

Post by glorybee » Fri Aug 29, 2014 2:33 pm

Anja wrote:No worries, Jan. It must be in the delivery, because it wasn't you I thought of at all.

On the other side of the fence, I am SO reluctant to comment, because I afraid of bruising another thin-skinned writer. So it's always a hard spot, seeing glaring grammatical errors, faulty continuity, and not knowing how to red ink without totally shattering the writer. I have no diplomancy when it comes to delivery.
I think the new check-boxes should help a bit with that. If a writer says they want red-ink critique, I'd be quite inclined to take them at their word (although I rarely comment on WC entries any more. Too busy).
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Re: Be a Better Writer--DEALING WITH NEGATIVE CRITIQUE

Post by Cinnamon Bear » Sat Aug 30, 2014 11:45 am

Anja wrote:
glorybee wrote:...Criticism leaves me defensive. Especially unwarranted criticism, in which my Canadian spelling of a word is bashed. Or a foreign word I've used, entirely understandable in its context, or so I think, based on the positive comments.

I read once that a writer should not "dumb down" their writing for the readers. Trust readers, that they will figure out the subtleties, the setting, etc. But that does leave the writer open to criticism from those who don't 'get it.' Not all readers will Google something they have never heard of, crack a dictionary for new words, and so on. So, sometimes, I have to consider the source .... and realise some folks want a fluffy story all wrapped up in bow. Sometimes, I do that, most often I don't. *I* read to learn, be challenged, to think, to be engaged. Not all readers do...
Ann, thanks so much for your post. :)

When I asked Jan to do a lesson on the final judging criterion (How publishable is an article for its intended audience?), I wanted to mention the concerns that you raise. However, the thread didn't seem to be going in that direction so I chickened out. As I mentioned on the thread, since I have reached Masters, I feel much more confidant that the judges are judging each entry on its own merits, even if the entry is not especially popular with readers:
http://www.faithwriters.com/Boards/phpB ... 67&t=38478
(My post is the sixth one down.)

That said, I feel that commenters should carefully read an entry before commenting to make sure that their criticisms are on target. Most of the commenters are writers, and as writers, I think we should be open to learning unfamiliar words, unfamiliar expressions, different usage of the English language (American, British, Canadian, etc.), and unfamiliar subject matter.

It is also difficult for me to understand why a commenter would leave a comment to the effect that they hate history (or romance, or poetry, or current events, or whatever). :( I just don't feel that an individual's dislike of a particular genre needs to be posted on an entry.

Cinnamon Bear

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Re: Be a Better Writer--DEALING WITH NEGATIVE CRITIQUE

Post by DustBSH » Tue Sep 02, 2014 4:05 am

Reading an entry carefully before commenting is good advice. I try to read some new entries every week, but I cannot possibly read them all. There is so much to read that it would become a fulltime job. I feel once I read an entry, I have to at least give my assesment, which is usually very positive as I am deeply impressed with the high standard and quality of pretty much every article.
However most of my real training doesn't come from the much appreciated little yellow boxes, but from my individual interaction with my challenge buddies. To me, this is where the real stuff is happening as I get much needed feedback and tons of red ink. When I first started with the buddy system I was shocked to get my first article back, as it appeared more red than black and for good reason. Thankfully through the buddy system there is a necessary cushion of mutual respect which makes the sharing easier.
In my little yellow boxes I have had a few negative comments and yes, they do hurt, but it's true, the pain only lasts for a season and I possibly learned something new.

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Re: Be a Better Writer--DEALING WITH NEGATIVE CRITIQUE

Post by oursilverstrands » Tue Sep 02, 2014 10:12 am

DustBsh wrote:To me, this is where the real stuff is happening as I get much needed feedback and tons of red ink. When I first started with the buddy system I was shocked to get my first article back, as it appeared more red than black and for good reason.
I suggest a bit of caution here. :D You really want the article to be your baby and not "authored" by a well-meaning buddy. To keep the integrity of The Challenge intact, constructive, comprehensive feedback after the article is submitted would probably be more preferable. My buddies were invaluable, but I never felt we crossed the line when it came to fine-tuning our articles.

Lillian

* Edited by author because those pesky commas keep popping up in the wrong place. :lol:
Last edited by oursilverstrands on Tue Sep 02, 2014 1:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Be a Better Writer--DEALING WITH NEGATIVE CRITIQUE

Post by glorybee » Tue Sep 02, 2014 10:20 am

I agree with Lillian here. There's no way to police this, of course, but the intent of having a Challenge buddy has always been to have someone who will proofread your entry for typos, spelling errors, and grammatical errors. Anything beyond that--relating to content, effect, etc.--is really not allowed.

Dust, it's not clear from your post about "more red than black" if your buddy was correcting just mechanical errors, or more than that. It's possible that what you and your buddy are doing is entirely kosher, so please don't worry if that's the case. But this is a good opportunity to remind everyone not to take the idea of "buddy" too far.
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Re: Be a Better Writer--DEALING WITH NEGATIVE CRITIQUE

Post by oursilverstrands » Tue Sep 02, 2014 2:31 pm

I hope I'm not "stepping in it," but in the spirit of full disclosure :D, I don't want to leave the impression that there was never an occasion where a comment was not made about content. But it always sent me back to the drawing board to do my thing, rather than copying from someone else's board. Options were always left open to agree or disagree, and the submitted copy was never reviewed.

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"Let words bewitch you. Scrutinze them, mull them, savor them, and in combination, until you see their subtle differences and the ways they tint each other." Francis Flaherty

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