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How to give Feedback and Critiques?


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17 replies to this topic

#1
Jsc

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It’s an old question. How do you give feedback to somebody you’ve never written with?

You see their feedback thread. They’ve requested public opinion. They say they’re open to being roasted. Maybe you even want to help them too. Except... You’ve never even seen their stuff. You’ve never written with them and your relationship can best be described as “I’ve seen you around.”

What do you do? What do you say? What is appropriate? Is “sick avatar bro” enough? Is “girl, you good” too easy? Or, is maybe three paragraphs on their literary shortcomings and horrible spelling habits too much?

Val made a great status update today. Are we just asking for feedback to hear good things? Or, maybe. Just maybe. Nobody on this website knows how to GIVE feedback.

So I’ll ask again. How do you, give feedback. Especially to people you’ve never worked with?

Teach me. Teach us. :D

#2
Shelbeth

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As a teacher, I've learned the importance (and the power) of tone. Let's say I read a character who I consider pretty one-dimensional. Rather than simply saying "your character is boring/lacking/etc.," I can structure my critique in a way that is more easily digested. I make sure to point out at least one genuine element that is well done (and I have yet to find a character that is so bad I am unable to do so). Then, rather than saying "do this," or "you don't do this," I use questions. "How would your character feel if this happened? What would your character do in this scenario? What would your character be willing to die for?" By answering these questions, the creator can actually begin to flesh their character out without being smacked with "this sucks."

 

I don't consider it sugar coating, though others might. It's more guidance than straight criticism. And while this can grow more difficult when you're examining incredibly talented writers and well-developed characters, I think we can all benefit from digging a little deeper.

 

I hope that makes sense!

 

Edit: In regards to spelling and other mechanical errors, I think that depends on whether or not the writer wants help in that area. If the writer doesn't know his their/they're/theres, but he is telling a phenomenal story, I find myself more inclined to focus on the latter. Or, perhaps simply note that the spelling/grammar could use a little work. No need to nit-pick every missed comma unless it is specifically asked for!


Edited by Shelbeth, 18 June 2018 - 09:20 PM.

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#3
Jsc

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Shelbeth your remark is outstanding! Keep it positive. I love that. Nice! You’ve obviously done this before. :)

Now, since your brave, maybe I can ask ya? How long could my critique be? I’m not sure what’s too small and what’s too big.

#4
Shelbeth

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Jay Scott Clark, thank you for the kind words! I do this for a living, but I also held a position on another site where all I did was give writing help. I picked up a thing or two!

As long as you’re paying attention to that tone, I don’t think there’s such thing as too short or too long. I think even a quick “hey, I think you’re doing great, keep it up!” can be really appreciated if it is genuine. Don’t just post to give someone a free pat on the back! As for too long, I suppose if you spend too much time on one element, that could do more harm than good. For example, dedicating three paragraphs to examples of misspelled words (unless that’s what the writer asked for). I typically try to provide only a couple of examples for mechanical stuff. For example, “I noticed that you misused the comma here and here. Remember, you use commas for....” That’s more effective than listing every misuse!

I also find myself adjusting length based on the level the writer is at. If the character has absolutely no weaknesses, and needs a basic reminder regarding development, I may skip the finer details I would discuss with a more advanced writer.


Edited by Shelbeth, 18 June 2018 - 09:49 PM.

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#5
Jsc

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Shelbeth outstanding! :D

#6
Barrien Siegfried

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The best feedback is criticism, to be honest. Constructive criticism. Telling people the things you don't like, or that you feel don't work isn't meant to harm them, but to provide an opposing opinion for them to take into consideration. Often we are blind to the problems in our writing until someone tells us they are there.

Then again there are times people just need a pick me up. I have periods where I hate my writing and nearly give up until someone tells me that they enjoy what I write and then I feel like I am not wasting my time. Most of us tell stories only in part for ourselves. We also want others to enjoy them.

So a proper review includes both criticism and encouragement.

#7
Jsc

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Barrien Siegfried A little good. A little bad. Very nice. I think all of us would love such a review from time to time. :)

Here’s a question for you then. What if nobody is replying to my feedback thread at all? Does that mean I’m a bad writer?

#8
Shelbeth

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One piece of advice that's always stuck with me is this - how do you want writers to feel when they've finished reading your feedback? Content in their abilities? Warm and fluffy? Angry enough to try harder? Your answer to that will determine what kind of feedback you give.

 

I aim for motivated. That balance of "you're doing good" and "but you could do better." It isn't always easy!


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#9
Barrien Siegfried

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Jay Scott Clark
Whether we like it, or agree with it, or not, this website plays favorites. If you aren't in with people they are unlikely to critique you. Also, I think most people tend to avoid that forum unless they're friends with the poster in order to avoid potentially creating animosity.
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#10
Jsc

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Barrien Siegfried I agree that most people avoid that forum. Especially for the reason you mention. And I’m okay with that, as long as people realize that it’s normal and perfectly okay to not get replies there. And not because we don’t trust you. Nah. But because so many of us don’t want to risk being impolite or revealing our own inconsistencies too.

Great comment.

#11
The Major

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Eh.

 

Ain't gonna bother offering it unless somebody does the same for me first.

 

Think that's the biggest hold up to these things not being more widespread. Suspect that most people on the site barely read things that don't directly involve their character or is at least is within their faction. So how can you be motivated to offer feedback when you aren't even aware of what your fellow writers are up to? Maybe feedback in this format isn't really feasible. At this point I'm just happy with someone taking the time to actually read my post. Can't ask for much more than that. Would appreciate it of course, but it's an uphill battle.


Edited by The Major, 20 June 2018 - 05:23 PM.

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#12
Jsc

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The Major Interesting. Never thought of it that way before. Makes sense though. Nice!

#13
Alaric

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What The Major said is why I tend to link a handful of threads or posts in any feedback thread I do. 

 

But as for critique? I don't provide it very often unless asked. Primarily because I don't really do warm and fluffy encouragement, and most people don't handle blunt criticism well. And no, blunt is not a synonym for 'rude' in my linguistics. To me, if you put up for critique you should welcome and want both. But 90% of people want affirmation. Hence I avoid that forum unless I know the person or am asked personally.


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#14
Jsc

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Njiod Shysa I mostly 90% bluntly agree. :P

#15
Dhakarta

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Tell everyone they're terrible.

 

If you say nice things about people or give them encouragement, they'll think what they're doing is good enough, and stop making any effort to improve, they may even get worse!

 

On the other hand, if you instill a deep feeling of inadequacy, they'll try much harder and throw themselves into their writing trying to prove themselves.

 

Or they'll curl up in a corner and cry, but we won't have to see or deal with that so whatever.



#16
Darth Metus

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The best feedback in the world comes from people that don't like you.

If you (the author) really want to improve, tag someone don't get along with. They will tell you, in exorbitant detail, everything you are doing wrong.

And while it may sting the pride, there will always be nuggets of truth to it. Why? They don't care how you feel, after all. Their feedback is thereforr the most honest.

Best feedback I've received about this character came from Preliat Mantis, and he hates every fiber of this Toon's being. But when I read between the lines, he was spot on in a lot of areas. So, if you've got thick enough skin and you're brave, tag that special someone who you just can't stand.

You'll improve because of it.

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#17
Preliat Mantis

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Darth Metus

 

thanks

 

I think

 

I do it cuz I luv u bby


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"I was once many things. Now- now I'm just angry."


#18
Jsc

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Dhakarta Tough love. Very sexy. I like it. :)

 

Darth Metus Even tougher love. Roar. Very nice. :D

 

Preliat Mantis I luv u bby..? Whoa! Slow down there killer. Let's not overdo it now. ...Sheesh. :P