Author Topic: need help on how to criticize  (Read 2982 times)

Moritz

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on: August 01, 2013, 05:41:17 PM
I recently finished reading a fantasy novel a friend wrote. I send him back my print out with all notes (mostly vocabulary - he tends to use modern term where something more old fashioned but still used makes more sense, spelling, and grammar) and now want to skype with him over the general structure, style etc.

I am a bit afraid that an honest criticism will be too depressing for him. Now, in our old writing group of which we both were members, we used to be really harsh in our criticism. The guy is already a bit self conscious about his writing and I fear telling him the straight out truth will stop him from ever working on his novel again.

I am aware of the sandwich method in criticism, but I am not sure it will help here.
Any advice?



Whiskerwing

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Reply #1 on: August 02, 2013, 12:55:08 PM
Ask your friend how deeply they want to be critiqued. IMO, a true critique (rather than just idle commentary) should be a two-way street and it's much more dangerous when dealing with friends.

Whenever I ask a friend for a crit, I specify what level I want. If they're seeing a first draft as I'm writing it, I ask only for GOOD comments, to keep my motivation up.

Once I've made my own first edit/revision pass, I ask for what I call LION comments -- big picture plot holes and motivation problems. The kinds of things that will require I cut and revise entire scenes or even sections of the work.

After I'm pretty sure it's structurally sound, I do my own MOUSE (line-by-line polish) pass. After that, I get help from an editor friend to help me learn the details of grammar that I'm missing.

I always specify what kind of crit I want, because then? I can't be upset when they give it to me. If I ask for LION stuff and someone tells me they think my MC is weak and weepy in the middle section, I fix it instead of getting my feelings hurt.

Then again, my writing group is old hat at giving and receiving crits, so we've worked out a lot of the kinks.

Not sure if that'll help YOU, but it's definitely the way I consider it my job as a writer when it comes to requesting crits. I respect my critters too much to ask them to hold my ego at the same time.


Moritz

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Reply #2 on: August 10, 2013, 05:44:54 PM
OK, thanks for the advice.

The talk went well, I started with a compliment, clearly stated my criticism (while not being ethnic Germans, we are both brought up there, so we are really frank with our criticism. OTOH, once its over, its over), and he had even prepared a number of questions. I seem to be the only one who got the main story twist, so I told him to foreshadow it more clearly even if that seems dumb to him.



SonofSpermcube

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Reply #3 on: November 07, 2013, 12:29:18 PM
I recently finished reading a fantasy novel a friend wrote. I send him back my print out with all notes (mostly vocabulary - he tends to use modern term where something more old fashioned but still used makes more sense, spelling, and grammar)

If he's gonna do this he should go whole hog.  I think a straight-faced high fantasy novel with cyberpunk diction would be awesome.