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How do tell someone the story is

PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 9:49 pm
by crit19124
OK, we all have read them; stories that are average or unimaginative or just plain bad. When reviewing do you skip them, or do you try and tell them. If you tell, how do do you say such a thing in a respectful manner? I personally don't feel the truth is disrespectful. I think telling them they are good, or implying it is worse.

Re: How do tell someone the story is

PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 10:06 pm
by crit19292
If I can find something positive, I use it to subdue my derision. If not, I skip it. Note that I once did get mean, and Aburt fussed at me. I thus don't say anything if I cannot find anything good to say.

Re: How do tell someone the story is

PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:22 pm
by aburt
Since doing in-depth critiques is fully half of the benefit to your own writing :) I definitely encourage you to share your reactions. Phrased diplomatically, of course, as in "What didn't work well for me was _____" and try to explain why it didn't get you interested. See the articles on the site about diplomatic phrasing (starting at and following). But you definitely, for your own benefit, want to get to the bottom of why that piece didn't work well for you. Doing so will likely help illuminate aspects of your own writing, and help guide you in the future. The more you study other people's writing -- in-depth -- the more you help your own. (But always report bad news to the author phrased as your own reaction; never resort to "the reader" or "editors don't like" or any other kind of speaking as an authority, speaking for anyone but yourself, statements of fact, etc. It's all about how you reacted as yourself.)

Re: How do tell someone the story is

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:33 am
by crit22441
Almost every story has something that's at least on the right track. Comment on that one positive thing, then select the most significant of your complaints and offer them in the most positive light possible. Avoid spending ten pages telling the author how badly the story fails--most people can only focus on improving one or two areas of their writing at a time, and ripping them to shreds will only overwhelm them.

Even if it's the worst story you've ever read in your life, keep in mind that someone's put time and effort into it, and they won't improve without well-intentioned guidance.

And if you can't handle the idea of offering well-intentioned guidance to a struggling writer, then why bother critiquing at all?

Re: How do tell someone the story is

PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 9:24 am
by crit27411
I always write a critiques for the stories I read, and never skip them, because I think they are not very good . Part of the learning process is story analysis, and trying to understand the differenced between good and bad writing. I offer my personal opinions , to be taken or ignored and I am grateful to receive the opinion of others.

Re: How do tell someone the story is

PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 12:18 pm
by crit4889
If I can think of something that would improve the story, I review it. Otherwise I skip bad stories. Sometimes I read stories that are marvellous and can think of nothing to improve them. With those, I focus on what worked for me and rave about the story. (Those are the most fun to write.)

Re: How do tell someone the story is

PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2012 1:44 am
by crit24063
What if the story is 300 words long, and utter and complete drivel? No room for error: bad.

Is it really beneficial to me to spend time critiquing this?

I came across one of these and found I was forced to skip it, otherwise spend 600 words asking the author what the point was...

Re: How do tell someone the story is

PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2012 3:53 am
by crit14135
1) If there's nothing there that works for you, then don't crit it. If you
feel like starting your crit with "I don't read/like this kind of story..."
then don't crit it.

2) If the story isn't working for you, then first apply your writing
skills to determining what exact factor is missing, for you. If you find
an answer, then that author can use your (polite) help.

3) Before you write the crit saying what you think is missing, though, see
if you can determine what the writer was trying to accomplish. If the writer
was doing a hard scifi idea story, then the lack of detail on the characters
may be a genre expectation, as opposed to a flub. When you correctly
identify the subgenre, it allows you to focus on what's important to
the effectiveness of that particular story.

4) Unless you are doing a line by line crit, restrict your crit to the top 1-3
themes that will help that author improve that story, or his/her
writing in general, with specific details and examples of each. By
targetting one to three specific skills, you can help that author more
than just giving him/her a laundry list of everything that's wrong with
the story. (That's a technique used in Toastmasters to evaluate a
person's speech.)

Those are my suggestions.


Re: How do tell someone the story is

PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 9:07 pm
by crit30303
This is all very informative as I was just pondering this myself. I think I'll take another look at all the information for critiques :)

Re: How do tell someone the story is

PostPosted: Thu Sep 11, 2014 5:42 pm
by crit30338
I tend to look at a few to find one that has some interest or promise. I feel that these are my peers and are more likely to give helpful feedback when it comes back to me. Also, these works tend to be more enjoyable (obviously). Finally, "there is something to work with." It may take more experience and knowledge than I possess to help bring someone up from zero, but something with at least some strong qualities usually has flaws which I might have ideas on how to correct.

However, there is something to be said for analyzing exactly why the story does not in any way work for you. Often it comes down to--this has all been done before, and far better. The writer needs to read in the genre and go much deeper.