Author Topic: Forum Crit Group --  (Read 25555 times)

therinth

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on: June 01, 2008, 06:17:10 AM
Hello there!

I'm Erin Cashier, a friend of Escape Pod, and I'm the moderator for the new writing/crit group that will begin here soon.

Here's my timeline for us:

For the next two weeks, we figure out who is in, and hammer out the details of how we want things to work. After that, everything goes into a passworded area to protect posted critted works from counting as publications.

Initially, depending on the amount of members, everyone will get to post 2-3 shorts (stories under 10k). Critting these can be a free for all, consisting of commenting in response to the posted stories. By critting these first stories, people will earn points that they can redeem in the future to post additional shorts. Thus, the more you crit, the more opportunity you'll have to post additional work. Once I know how many people are interested in participating, I can hammer out the final ratio of points for crits given vs points to post.

If short stories go well for 2-3 months, I'd like to branch out into novel chunks. I would prefer to see the introductions to novels (3 chaps, or up to 10k), and then not see the rest of the novel until it is complete. Participants can work out a trade system for novels, a book for a book, or a thorough crit of a novel can be worth a larger amount of points than normal shorts.

I'd like stories to be tagged up at the top with title, word count, genre, and rating. (I don't mind R stories, but they aren't everyone's cup of tea.)

For right now, anyone can join. Depending on interest and actual future participation, this may change. I believe crit groups work best with an expectation of participation -- at least one story critted and submitted by each member each six months, but hopefully many, many, more than that.

The passworded crit area will only be for crits and maybe market chat. Conversations about preferred pen types will have to be held elsewhere.

I hope I'm not coming off like a drill sergeant -- I'm quite nice in person. But I believe that people function best when guidelines are clear.

I attended Viable Paradise in 2001 and Clarion West in 2007. I've been a part of Clarion-style crit groups both online and in person for almost a decade now. I'm here to be level-headed and even-handed. While I've got a lot of experience critiquing (and in being critiqued), chances are I won't be the best critter here. Hopefully none of us will be the best critter here -- we'll each bring something special to the table, an ability to see and fix plot holes, a knack for characterization, a special sense for scenes or theme. I want this to be a safe place where we can explore our writing, stretch our limits, help each other to learn from failures, and have the opportunity to enjoy one another's successes.   

So -- who's in?





 



Nobilis

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Reply #1 on: June 01, 2008, 06:34:56 AM
I'm in.  I've been challenged twice now to write outside my genre, so I'm going to give it a go.



Windup

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Reply #2 on: June 01, 2008, 07:16:53 AM
Game on! 

Those all sound like expectations I can live with. Because of time restrictions, I'll probably participate mostly via short stories (both crits and submissions) but that doesn't look like it will be a problem.

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Anarkey

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Reply #3 on: June 01, 2008, 11:38:06 AM
I'm provisionally in.  IOW, I'm interested and I'd like to see this get off the ground, but have rl crit groups (that rock and have priority). 

I attended VP in 2005, and have participated in Critters (though that was mostly a failure for me, adding to my provisionality here), and actually have an undergrad degree in creative writing, so I've done academia style crits as well, fwiw. 

Thanks therinth, for being willing to organize and manage this.  I thought your post sounded straightforward and fair, and not at all militaristic.  I can imagine that it will be a lot more effort than reward, and respect your willingness to 'pay it forward', as they say.

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eytanz

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Reply #4 on: June 01, 2008, 01:09:24 PM
I'd be happy to join in and help critique/comment on stuff, but I don't think I'm very likely to contribute any stories (these days, if I have time/energy to write, it goes towards my academic writing). So I'm not sure I belong.



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Reply #5 on: June 01, 2008, 01:24:31 PM
I'm in, though this means I'll actually have to get something other-people-ready, and I have zero experience with critting outside of lit classes, so I probably will be of little utility until I figure out the ropes.

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Anarkey

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Reply #6 on: June 01, 2008, 01:45:31 PM
I'm in, though this means I'll actually have to get something other-people-ready, and I have zero experience with critting outside of lit classes, so I probably will be of little utility until I figure out the ropes.

I wouldn't worry about your utility.  You'll do fine.  Also, the beauty of this method is that you can see how other people compose their crits, and learn quickly from them (both in the to do and not to do categories).  Most people develop a basic template to follow.  Mine is usually: strengths, weaknesses or missteps, questions or stuff I wasn't sure about, nitpicks + line edits.  If there's a persistent line edit issue I bump it up to weaknesses where it will get noticed.  (Now that you know my sekrit formula, you'll see some of my story evaluations in the comment threads follow this same format).  Rachel's flash contest crits are well-composed, and that's a good place to look for guidance.

Looking forward to reading a story from you.

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Russell Nash

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Reply #7 on: June 01, 2008, 04:09:29 PM
I'm in although it will probably be in lurker mode for quite a while.  My writing classes were few and a long, long time ago.  I'll likely spend quite a while just going to school on everyone else.  Writing and critting.



therinth

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Reply #8 on: June 01, 2008, 05:22:00 PM
I'd be happy to join in and help critique/comment on stuff, but I don't think I'm very likely to contribute any stories (these days, if I have time/energy to write, it goes towards my academic writing). So I'm not sure I belong.

Come play along for six months -- maybe between now and then, you can set yourself the goal of writing a new short.




Anarkey

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Reply #9 on: June 01, 2008, 10:35:51 PM
I'd be happy to join in and help critique/comment on stuff, but I don't think I'm very likely to contribute any stories (these days, if I have time/energy to write, it goes towards my academic writing). So I'm not sure I belong.

What Therinth said!  Come play along.  Anyway, surely a 500 word flash piece in six months isn't much to ask?  I'd like to see what you could come up with.   :)

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AliceNred

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Reply #10 on: June 02, 2008, 02:37:03 AM
I want in, please.

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Tango Alpha Delta

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Reply #11 on: June 02, 2008, 03:28:28 AM
I'd be happy to join in and help critique/comment on stuff, but I don't think I'm very likely to contribute any stories (these days, if I have time/energy to write, it goes towards my academic writing). So I'm not sure I belong.


Can we team up?  I'll write, and he can crit?

Either way... count me in, please; and will there be help for those of us who really stink at cover letters?

(I'm happy writing just about anything BUT a "sales pitch".  :P )

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Heradel

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Reply #12 on: June 02, 2008, 03:50:30 AM
I'm in, though this means I'll actually have to get something other-people-ready, and I have zero experience with critting outside of lit classes, so I probably will be of little utility until I figure out the ropes.

I wouldn't worry about your utility.  You'll do fine.  Also, the beauty of this method is that you can see how other people compose their crits, and learn quickly from them (both in the to do and not to do categories).  Most people develop a basic template to follow.  Mine is usually: strengths, weaknesses or missteps, questions or stuff I wasn't sure about, nitpicks + line edits.  If there's a persistent line edit issue I bump it up to weaknesses where it will get noticed.  (Now that you know my sekrit formula, you'll see some of my story evaluations in the comment threads follow this same format).  Rachel's flash contest crits are well-composed, and that's a good place to look for guidance.

Looking forward to reading a story from you.

Thanks, but don't say I didn't warn you once you've read it.

Are we doing this as a subforum of this forum (as in an area like the PC/PP/EP subsections) or as a separate forum?

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qwints

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Reply #13 on: June 02, 2008, 04:11:23 AM
I'm in, though I'll probably go silent for a few weeks around finals. I've done some writing, but I've never felt good enough about any of them to try and develop them for publication.

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Reply #14 on: June 02, 2008, 06:39:45 AM
Alright, count me in. I've got a pretty good list of ideas for stories and a few chapters/sections lying around the place I'd like to work up. I'm the sort of guy who needs deadlines and drill-sergeants standing over him to get anything done, so feel free to ask me to drop and give you twenty if it looks like I'm slacking off.



Tango Alpha Delta

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Reply #15 on: June 02, 2008, 10:59:12 AM
Alright, count me in. I've got a pretty good list of ideas for stories and a few chapters/sections lying around the place I'd like to work up. I'm the sort of guy who needs deadlines and drill-sergeants standing over him to get anything done, so feel free to ask me to drop and give you twenty if it looks like I'm slacking off.

Ditto to that drill-sergeant bit... I need an off-the-wall suggestion and a kick in the arse to get anything "done", normally.

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Reply #16 on: June 02, 2008, 11:15:34 AM
I'm in.  I've been challenged twice now to write outside my genre, so I'm going to give it a go.

I'm up for this:)



jodymonster

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Reply #17 on: June 03, 2008, 02:36:29 AM
I'm in... I think I need the kick in the pants to get me to finish something. I am really excited to see everyone else's work too.

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therinth

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Reply #18 on: June 03, 2008, 02:47:31 AM
I'm in, though this means I'll actually have to get something other-people-ready, and I have zero experience with critting outside of lit classes, so I probably will be of little utility until I figure out the ropes.

I wouldn't worry about your utility.  You'll do fine.  Also, the beauty of this method is that you can see how other people compose their crits, and learn quickly from them (both in the to do and not to do categories).  Most people develop a basic template to follow.  Mine is usually: strengths, weaknesses or missteps, questions or stuff I wasn't sure about, nitpicks + line edits.  If there's a persistent line edit issue I bump it up to weaknesses where it will get noticed.  (Now that you know my sekrit formula, you'll see some of my story evaluations in the comment threads follow this same format).  Rachel's flash contest crits are well-composed, and that's a good place to look for guidance.

Looking forward to reading a story from you.

Thanks, but don't say I didn't warn you once you've read it.

Are we doing this as a subforum of this forum (as in an area like the PC/PP/EP subsections) or as a separate forum?

Subforum of this forum, AFAIK.



Liminal

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Reply #19 on: June 03, 2008, 03:43:54 PM
I feel like I'm at a very large poker table, with a large group of rather intimidating players, looking at my cards, fingering my chips, taking a sip of 18 year old scotch, then throwing my chips into the middle of the table with a practiced nonchalance that belies the fluttering nervousness in  my stomach as I say . . .

"I'm in."

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Russell Nash

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Reply #20 on: June 03, 2008, 03:47:34 PM
I feel like I'm at a very large poker table, with a large group of rather intimidating players, looking at my cards, fingering my chips, taking a sip of 18 year old scotch, then throwing my chips into the middle of the table with a practiced nonchalance that belies the fluttering nervousness in  my stomach as I say . . .

"I'm in."

I'll probably have something ready for months before I could get the guts to post it.



DKT

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Reply #21 on: June 03, 2008, 04:02:52 PM
I'd like to give this a shot, too.


BigNutter

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Reply #22 on: June 03, 2008, 11:57:02 PM
I don't exactly write? crits well.. I receive them well.. So far, the only ones I hated are "Good" and "Go away!" (Which I got For the same piece.)

Well, I've got something that I'm not happy to Submit to Pod Castle. Well, I'm not happy with it and but I'd send it otherwise.



therinth

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Reply #23 on: June 04, 2008, 07:39:43 AM
I feel like I'm at a very large poker table, with a large group of rather intimidating players, looking at my cards, fingering my chips, taking a sip of 18 year old scotch, then throwing my chips into the middle of the table with a practiced nonchalance that belies the fluttering nervousness in  my stomach as I say . . .

"I'm in."

I'll probably have something ready for months before I could get the guts to post it.

I swear i'll try to make this as unscary as possible. I know what pre-crit jitters are like.

(Also, i fully intend to submit broken pieces. If i knew what was wrong with 'em and how to fix 'em, i wouldn't be putting them in the kitty, as it were ;))



birdless

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Reply #24 on: June 04, 2008, 01:30:11 PM
I would love to be in this, too. I need writing experience and practice, as the only "training" I had was in high school. Hopefully this will help my self-discipline, too, giving me some motivation to write... if I actually get up the nerve to post something!

Would it be too out of line for the moderator-type-person to actually propose a topic or setting or theme every few months or so for which we could all submit a story on? Maybe that will be too scholastic for some, but it might help people feel they are entering something on a somewhat level playing field... does that make sense?



Listener

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Reply #25 on: June 04, 2008, 03:55:57 PM
I'll play.

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Russell Nash

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Reply #26 on: June 04, 2008, 03:57:06 PM
I feel like I'm at a very large poker table, with a large group of rather intimidating players, looking at my cards, fingering my chips, taking a sip of 18 year old scotch, then throwing my chips into the middle of the table with a practiced nonchalance that belies the fluttering nervousness in  my stomach as I say . . .

"I'm in."

I'll probably have something ready for months before I could get the guts to post it.

I swear i'll try to make this as unscary as possible. I know what pre-crit jitters are like.

(Also, i fully intend to submit broken pieces. If i knew what was wrong with 'em and how to fix 'em, i wouldn't be putting them in the kitty, as it were ;))

We had a writing exercise thread for a short while.  CammoBlammo said he could write a story based on all three suggestted topics.  I said if he did it, I'd write something.  He did it.  I did it.  I haven't posted it.  I don't wear a bulls-eye well.



Heradel

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Reply #27 on: June 04, 2008, 04:30:57 PM
I feel like I'm at a very large poker table, with a large group of rather intimidating players, looking at my cards, fingering my chips, taking a sip of 18 year old scotch, then throwing my chips into the middle of the table with a practiced nonchalance that belies the fluttering nervousness in  my stomach as I say . . .

"I'm in."

I'll probably have something ready for months before I could get the guts to post it.

I swear i'll try to make this as unscary as possible. I know what pre-crit jitters are like.

(Also, i fully intend to submit broken pieces. If i knew what was wrong with 'em and how to fix 'em, i wouldn't be putting them in the kitty, as it were ;))

We had a writing exercise thread for a short while.  CammoBlammo said he could write a story based on all three suggestted topics.  I said if he did it, I'd write something.  He did it.  I did it.  I haven't posted it.  I don't wear a bulls-eye well.

Post it, it couldn't have been worse than mine in that thread.

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birdless

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Reply #28 on: June 04, 2008, 05:02:59 PM
We had a writing exercise thread for a short while.  CammoBlammo said he could write a story based on all three suggestted topics.  I said if he did it, I'd write something.  He did it.  I did it.  I haven't posted it.  I don't wear a bulls-eye well.
Really? But those colors suit you so well. :P ;)



therinth

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Reply #29 on: June 04, 2008, 10:31:31 PM
I would love to be in this, too. I need writing experience and practice, as the only "training" I had was in high school. Hopefully this will help my self-discipline, too, giving me some motivation to write... if I actually get up the nerve to post something!

Would it be too out of line for the moderator-type-person to actually propose a topic or setting or theme every few months or so for which we could all submit a story on? Maybe that will be too scholastic for some, but it might help people feel they are entering something on a somewhat level playing field... does that make sense?

No problem! We can see about doing line trades, where everyone gives lines to someone else to start off with , or topic trades, or all try to write a story for a themed market. Whatever it takes :D.



wakela

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Reply #30 on: June 05, 2008, 12:23:58 AM
I'd like to play, too. 

Should someone post a link to crit writing tips or examples?  Or should we just see what comes out and smile ten years down the road with other workshops demand criticisms be written in the Escape Pod Format.



lieffeil

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Reply #31 on: June 05, 2008, 01:19:59 AM
Soon I'll be too busy to spend too much time on the computer, so hopefully this will keep me active in the forum. Plus, feedback on writing is always a good way to grow and learn.
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Reply #32 on: June 05, 2008, 07:00:19 AM
For critiques, I suggest writing in the following format when you're starting out. It's what I teach my students.

ABOUT

A summary of the story's events and the theme you draw from it. This makes clear to the author whether or not her points are coming across. (For instance: "Run of the Fiery Horse" chronicles a young woman's attempts to please her father and live an independent life, despite the interference of the dream snake Tsi Sha. For me, its most dominant theme is the idea that what's deadly or poisonous in one circumstance can be curative in another.)

GOOD

A few sentences of good stuff, as specific as possible. ("Run of the Fiery Horse" benefits from crisp imagery which helps the reader to picture unfamiliar scenes. The characters are painted very vividly, particularly Tsi Sha, which is an achievement because he's a reptile. I particularly like the characters of the main character's paramour and her father who are shown trying to help the main character struggle against the severe odds facing her. They add layrs of complication and ambiguity to a story which otherwise might be about too unidirectionally about a girl striving alone.)

SUGGESTIONS

Several paragraphs of suggestions, coming to at least twice the length of the "good" section. Again, criticisms should be specific. They should also be stated as I statements wherever possible, and addressed directly to the writer as "you." If/when you find yourself flipping into third person, it's probably because you want to say something nasty that you don't want to take responsibility for. (For instance I once received a critique that read "The author appears to believe the fancy writing compensates for the lack of plot. It doesn't." A line like "I think you're relying far too much on fancy writing here, and letting things like plot slip" would have been much more likely to be well-received. The first sentence would have been great in a review; it's a bit sketchy in the personal context of a critique.) It is possible to use third person in critiques to good effect, but it's something you have to come into.

Humor is always helpful in critiques, if you can project to the writer a sense of "we're all in this together, isn't writing kind of ludicrous?" In personal settings, I feel like the most successful critters are almost always the ones who can make the room crack up in a positive way.

There's danger in the other direction, though -- don't try to make jokes at the author's expense. Use humor to make other people comfortable, not to make yourself look clever. But y'all know that, I'm sure. ;-)

If people want ,I can make my critique handouts available in the private forum when it opens.



birdless

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Reply #33 on: June 05, 2008, 06:00:42 PM
For critiques, I suggest writing in the following format when you're starting out. It's what I teach my students.

ABOUT

A summary of the story's events and the theme you draw from it. This makes clear to the author whether or not her points are coming across. (For instance: "Run of the Fiery Horse" chronicles a young woman's attempts to please her father and live an independent life, despite the interference of the dream snake Tsi Sha. For me, its most dominant theme is the idea that what's deadly or poisonous in one circumstance can be curative in another.)

GOOD

A few sentences of good stuff, as specific as possible. ("Run of the Fiery Horse" benefits from crisp imagery which helps the reader to picture unfamiliar scenes. The characters are painted very vividly, particularly Tsi Sha, which is an achievement because he's a reptile. I particularly like the characters of the main character's paramour and her father who are shown trying to help the main character struggle against the severe odds facing her. They add layrs of complication and ambiguity to a story which otherwise might be about too unidirectionally about a girl striving alone.)

SUGGESTIONS

Several paragraphs of suggestions, coming to at least twice the length of the "good" section. Again, criticisms should be specific. They should also be stated as I statements wherever possible, and addressed directly to the writer as "you." If/when you find yourself flipping into third person, it's probably because you want to say something nasty that you don't want to take responsibility for. (For instance I once received a critique that read "The author appears to believe the fancy writing compensates for the lack of plot. It doesn't." A line like "I think you're relying far too much on fancy writing here, and letting things like plot slip" would have been much more likely to be well-received. The first sentence would have been great in a review; it's a bit sketchy in the personal context of a critique.) It is possible to use third person in critiques to good effect, but it's something you have to come into.

Humor is always helpful in critiques, if you can project to the writer a sense of "we're all in this together, isn't writing kind of ludicrous?" In personal settings, I feel like the most successful critters are almost always the ones who can make the room crack up in a positive way.

There's danger in the other direction, though -- don't try to make jokes at the author's expense. Use humor to make other people comfortable, not to make yourself look clever. But y'all know that, I'm sure. ;-)

If people want ,I can make my critique handouts available in the private forum when it opens.
If I may propose a nomination, I nominate that we make this structure the accepted form for critiquing within this group. I am not necessarily saying it should be required, but... strongly encouraged, maybe? This would, of course, require a second and a vote or counter-nomination.



eytanz

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Reply #34 on: June 05, 2008, 06:11:19 PM
If I may propose a nomination, I nominate that we make this structure the accepted form for critiquing within this group. I am not necessarily saying it should be required, but... strongly encouraged, maybe? This would, of course, require a second and a vote or counter-nomination.

May I propose we don't? I, for one, would feel more comfortable using a template closer to the one Anarkey proposed earlier in the thread. And in any case, one thing that my experience as an academic reviewer and marking essays taught me (and it's a similar process, though the material critiqued is different) is that different reviewers have different marking styles, and different authors have different reactions to different marking styles. So, forcing a template means that you're catering directly to one group of critics, and another group of writers, and being less effective for others. While allowing different critics to use their own templates mean that they tend to be more comfortabel and it's more likely that each writer will find at least one critic who uses the template that works best for them. Of course, that doesn't mean that anything goes - there are plenty of outright bad ways to critique - but there's no one good style that works for everyone, on either end of the process.

(btw, just to clarify, by "academic reviewer" I meant peer reviewing articles pre-publication, not writing post-hoc reviews)
« Last Edit: June 05, 2008, 06:15:52 PM by eytanz »



birdless

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Reply #35 on: June 05, 2008, 06:20:28 PM
May I propose we don't? I, for one, would feel more comfortable using a template closer to the one Anarkey proposed earlier in the thread. And in any case, one thing that my experience as an academic reviewer and marking essays taught me (and it's a similar process, though the material critiqued is different) is that different reviewers have different marking styles, and different authors have different reactions to different marking styles. So, forcing a template means that you're catering directly to one group of critics, and another group of writers, and being less effective for others. While allowing different critics to use their own templates mean that they tend to be more comfortabel and it's more likely that each writer will find at least one critic who uses the template that works best for them. Of course, that doesn't mean that anything goes - there are plenty of outright bad ways to critique - but there's no one good style that works for everyone, on either end of the process.

(btw, just to clarify, by "academic reviewer" I meant peer reviewing articles pre-publication, not writing post-hoc reviews)
That makes complete sense to me. I'm fine with withdrawing the nomination, especially if that's the majority opinion.



lieffeil

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Reply #36 on: June 05, 2008, 06:57:13 PM

May I propose we don't? I, for one, would feel more comfortable using a template closer to the one Anarkey proposed earlier in the thread. And in any case, one thing that my experience as an academic reviewer and marking essays taught me (and it's a similar process, though the material critiqued is different) is that different reviewers have different marking styles, and different authors have different reactions to different marking styles. So, forcing a template means that you're catering directly to one group of critics, and another group of writers, and being less effective for others. While allowing different critics to use their own templates mean that they tend to be more comfortable and it's more likely that each writer will find at least one critic who uses the template that works best for them. Of course, that doesn't mean that anything goes - there are plenty of outright bad ways to critique - but there's no one good style that works for everyone, on either end of the process.


Here here. I was recently part of a freelance theatre review team, and they proposed a set form of critique, "Plot, good points, rough points, overall impressions". They also suggested that, to prevent beating on the actors and crew, any negative comments should be counterpointed with positive ones.
The problem with that is that not everyone is good at being light or funny or friendly, especially if they feel strongly about a certain area. I'm not saying we should allow flaming, but a certain freedom to be yourself has to be assured. It's always the author's choice to listen, and it's the critic's choice to maybe come off as a tool, it's their risk. But personally, I've always been one who appreciates a straight-forward approach to reviewing, and I'd be sad if that was restricted just because people don't want to be offended.
(I also appreciate sunshine and rainbows and pillows and Earl Grey with too much sugar, if anyone cares. Note to self: Talk less about personal preference and more about the issues...)

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Reply #37 on: June 05, 2008, 09:36:14 PM
I prefer no critiquing form.  Especially as I start to get into things here, I'm more likely to just talk about one point.  If something was really brilliant or just felt akward, I'd probably focus a couple of comments just on that.  I'm far too inexperienced to go into a big huge review.



Windup

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Reply #38 on: June 05, 2008, 10:38:37 PM

Thanks to the people who suggested templates; I will probably start by following the one Rachel proposed. When you're new at this, it's good to have a model.  (Fiction reviews are new to me; my editing/critiquing experience is limited to technical writing and news.)

However, I agree that we should let people decide what they want to do rather than forcing a particular template on the whole group, at least to start.

"My whole job is in the space between 'should be' and 'is.' It's a big space."


Schreiber

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Reply #39 on: June 05, 2008, 10:42:41 PM
I'd like to participate as well.



deflective

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Reply #40 on: June 05, 2008, 11:52:54 PM
If/when you find yourself flipping into third person, it's probably because you want to say something nasty that you don't want to take responsibility for.

kinda why i've been slow making up my mind about the group (well, this and i didn't know about it until mentioned by cuddlebug). hashing out possibilities and interpretations can be fun but talking directly to the author means you gotta be productive 'n stuff. i've certainly gone and taken a wincing look at my comments after an author unexpectedly shows up.

ultimately though, i'm curious what sort of stories the voices from the forum will produce. DKT's story was surprising and i wonder what else is out there.

accessorize please
« Last Edit: June 06, 2008, 02:53:46 AM by deflective »



Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #41 on: June 06, 2008, 02:05:05 AM
My take on light & friendly versus straightforward -- it is always, in my opinion, possible to be straightforward while also avoiding being a jerk. Anne Lamott, in Bird by Bird, says "point with the sword of truth, don't slash with it" (paraphrased). That's my feeling.

Now, where the line is where people go from feeling "this is constructive" to "my lord, you're a dick" does vary. When I teach, I try to warn people as stongly against the danger of being wishy washy and refusing to say anything negative as about the danger of being a jerk.

In the two years I tuaght creative writing on the college level, I came across only two instances of critiques that required intervention. (1) When one student informed another that "The author of this story should be on antipsychotics," and (2) when one student informed another "You're not getting any better; why are you even still writing?" (One of these was intended to be a joke, and the situation was easily resolved. The other one was not a joke, and required a lot of reorganizing of the class to cope with.)

I *have* been in other critique situations as a participant where someone got nasty, and it's sad to say, but one really nasty person can poison a group which is otherwise excellent.

However, being nasty does not equal being straightforward. Straightforward, negative critiques can be totally awesome. Things only get problematic when one person stops treating the other person as a human being. People in a crit group are friends, peers, and to some extent  business contacts. It's useful to treat them as professionals. And as long as that gets done, things usually go swimmingly.

So, yeah, in sum, I don't think it's worth it for anyone to worry about not joining the group because you're worried you'll be a dick. Unless, you know, you actually are trying to hurt people to make yourself look better. In which case, one of my Clarion West classmates Heather Lindsley ("Mayfly," "Just Do It") has a solution... every time you think of something really clever and devastating to say, give yourself one cool point for how clever you are, and another cool point for your restraint in staying silent. ;-)



therinth

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Reply #42 on: June 06, 2008, 03:53:09 AM
There won't be a proscribed way to crit things, although people who want to follow a format are welcome to it.

It's difficult to rate "crit value" as people will have different strengths, and I believe it is OK for a crit to say, "This is it. Send it out."

I'll use my discretion though if someone's crits are all the same for everyone (not in format, but in text) or if I feel they are lacking effort. I'd do this off forum, and in private, and it would be something that we (that person and I could discuss). I don't want this to be a huge amount of effort for everyone, like onerous homework. All the same, i will expect some attempt at insight.

« Last Edit: June 06, 2008, 03:56:12 AM by therinth »



Heradel

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Reply #43 on: June 06, 2008, 05:10:38 AM
It seems like we're at the point where the basics have been figured out and we could keep debating the details or just be thrown bodily into the body of water and figure it out there. I'm in favor of the soaked approach.

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


Russell Nash

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Reply #44 on: June 06, 2008, 10:39:46 AM
It seems like we're at the point where the basics have been figured out and we could keep debating the details or just be thrown bodily into the body of water and figure it out there. I'm in favor of the soaked approach.

It's the only way to really learn how to swim.



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Reply #45 on: June 06, 2008, 11:45:18 AM
It seems like we're at the point where the basics have been figured out and we could keep debating the details or just be thrown bodily into the body of water and figure it out there. I'm in favor of the soaked approach.

It's the only way to really learn how to swim.

Or, you know, how to drown.

Was that too negative? That was too negative. Reminder to self, don't post to the forums before having your morning coffee.

Why is this thus? What is the reason for this thusness? - Artemus Ward


Anarkey

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Reply #46 on: June 06, 2008, 11:48:47 AM

Or, you know, how to drown.

Ha, ha, ha.  It only looks like I'm waving.

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Graham

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Reply #47 on: June 06, 2008, 03:13:38 PM
Hi there

Please count me in.



therinth

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Reply #48 on: June 07, 2008, 02:07:00 AM
It seems like we're at the point where the basics have been figured out and we could keep debating the details or just be thrown bodily into the body of water and figure it out there. I'm in favor of the soaked approach.

I'm the lifeguard. We're still getting stragglers and it hasn't been a week yet. Hang on just a bit more.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2008, 02:09:43 AM by therinth »



therinth

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Reply #49 on: June 09, 2008, 07:01:21 AM
Okay!

Everyone who indicated that they wanted in should have access to the Crit Group forum on this board now. Please check your access and make sure that you can see it/post there, and if you're interested and you haven't let me know yet, please give me a holler!



scottjanssens

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Reply #50 on: June 09, 2008, 07:03:54 PM
Okay!

Everyone who indicated that they wanted in should have access to the Crit Group forum on this board now. Please check your access and make sure that you can see it/post there, and if you're interested and you haven't let me know yet, please give me a holler!

Holler.  I'll check it out.



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Reply #51 on: June 11, 2008, 08:00:15 PM
I prefer no critiquing form.  Especially as I start to get into things here, I'm more likely to just talk about one point.  If something was really brilliant or just felt akward, I'd probably focus a couple of comments just on that.  I'm far too inexperienced to go into a big huge review.

I'm with his Nashness.  As long as you (vosotros) are not mean without reason, as long as you justify the reason for your criticism, I'm fine with it being formatless.  I tend to ramble when I critique anyway.  But I'll go with a rule if one is laid out.

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Listener

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Reply #52 on: June 11, 2008, 08:03:14 PM
So, yeah, in sum, I don't think it's worth it for anyone to worry about not joining the group because you're worried you'll be a dick. Unless, you know, you actually are trying to hurt people to make yourself look better. In which case, one of my Clarion West classmates Heather Lindsley ("Mayfly," "Just Do It") has a solution... every time you think of something really clever and devastating to say, give yourself one cool point for how clever you are, and another cool point for your restraint in staying silent. ;-)

We had this guy in my Advanced Fiction Writing Workshop in college who didn't do the latter.  In his defense, he was in a 4000-level course at 19 and started college at 17, so he missed out on a little emotional development, IMO.

The problem with cleverly-snarky-good-natured comments is that you can't communicate tone of voice online, and a smiley just doesn't cut it.  If I was in a room with you guys and you said something snarky, I'd totally get it.  But on here?  50-50.

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

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Simon

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Reply #53 on: June 13, 2008, 08:20:02 AM
Heyup,

This group passed me by, I've not had my head as buried in the Forum as usual recently...

I'm likely to hold off on posting my fiction for a while (I'm a bit of a stiff), but I'm an enthusiastic critter.  Any chance of a set of keys?

Simon



therinth

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Reply #54 on: June 14, 2008, 08:08:02 AM
Heyup,

This group passed me by, I've not had my head as buried in the Forum as usual recently...

I'm likely to hold off on posting my fiction for a while (I'm a bit of a stiff), but I'm an enthusiastic critter.  Any chance of a set of keys?

Simon

Done!



Anarkey

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Reply #55 on: June 14, 2008, 12:28:39 PM
If/when you find yourself flipping into third person, it's probably because you want to say something nasty that you don't want to take responsibility for.

I'd like to add that another construction to be wary of is "I don't mean to be a jerk but..."  If you need to disclaimer, then you know you're sounding like an ass.  Phrase it differently.  People generally have a hard time accepting criticism that seems like an insult, and the 'I don't mean to' preface doesn't take the sting away. 

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Chivalrybean

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Reply #56 on: June 18, 2008, 04:49:32 AM
I would like to join as well. I've got a couple stories written and loads more rolling inside my head. I also like to read other stories to give others my reactions. The same helps me, so I like to do the same for others.

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therinth

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Reply #57 on: June 18, 2008, 06:13:28 AM
I would like to join as well. I've got a couple stories written and loads more rolling inside my head. I also like to read other stories to give others my reactions. The same helps me, so I like to do the same for others.

Joined! :D