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  1. #1
    Jeanne Gassman
    Guest

    Some thoughts on critique netiquette

    First of all, I want to preface this by stating that I'm not the mod of this forum or the "mother." As a long-time member of WN, however, it seems to me that we've suffered from a recent influx of newbies who seem to have a limited understanding of the proper way to respond to critiques they receive from strangers in a public forum. If you sincerely want feedback that will help you improve your craft, then these are some things I think it's worth to consider:

    1. Please DO NOT post more than about 1000 words in the little box allowed for WN. The people who offer feedback here volunteer their time, sacrificing valuable time from their own writing to help you. Some of them are professionals in the field who charge for their services outside of this forum. Respect the privilege you have been given to receive professional feedback for free.

    2. Please DO NOT post something with a message that says, in effect: "I didn't have time to fix the grammar or spelling and stuff. I just want to know if the story is good (or if you'll keep reading or if you like it, etc.)." You're wasting your time and ours. If the grammar and spelling are a mess, we don't know if you need to work on that or if you're just sloppy, and it detracts from critiquing the finer points of the craft. We can't help you develop tension in a scene or fix your dialogue if you don't know where to put a comma.

    3. When you receive a critique, remember to say THANK YOU. You've imposed on a stranger's expertise and time. They didn't have to do this you, but they did because they wanted to help. If you don't like the feedback you received, don't argue. Don't talk back. Just say THANK YOU and move on.

    4. Remember, this is a public forum. If you use your real name and you spend your entire time insulting others here, it can and will come back to bite you. Agents and publishers do use Google.

    5. Please don't post a revision of the same piece two hours or even two days after you've received a slew of comments. I can't speak for others, but I have doubts that you've developed enough emotional distance from the work to revise it effectively. When I receive comments from my trusted beta readers, I read them and set them aside for at least a week. Then I go on to work on another section of the piece or a new work. A week or so later, I pick up those comments and read them carefully, highlighting the points that speak to me. Then I go back to the piece to see how I can make the feedback work for the story. Give yourself time to absorb the feedback and understand it.

    6. It's never about YOU. It's always about the work, the writing, and the craft. If you cannot distance yourself enough from your writing to separate your ego from your work, then you aren't ready for critiques. If you are serious about your craft and want to improve as a writer, you should know that it's a long process, requiring hours of dedication and effort. There are no magic fixes, no buttons to push that will instantly resolve problems with craft and structure. AND IT"S ALWAYS ABOUT THE WRITING. No one here cares if you're 18 or 80.

    Mother is finished now. You can resume your regularly scheduled programming. If anyone else would care to add his or her own thoughts about proper critique netiquette, I would love to hear them.

    Thanks for letting me vent.

    Jeanne



  2. #2
    Hillary W
    Guest

    Re: Some thoughts on critique netiquette

    Hi Jeanne,

    I'm a newbie. Sorry if I did anything to annoy you. And sorry I posted a twelve page story for my first post. It won't happen again I promise.

    Hillary

  3. #3
    Frank Baron
    Guest

    Re: Some thoughts on critique netiquette

    Ya' done good Jeanne. This should be a sticky.

    If the forum offered stickies....

  4. #4
    Jeanne Gassman
    Guest

    Re: Some thoughts on critique netiquette

    No worries, Hillary. You've been more than respectful here. I've never posted anything like this before, but in the past month or so, we've had a rash of people who have come on asking for help and have then proceeded to throw a tantrum for one reason or another. It gets old.

    If I can find it, there's a great quote from Mark Twain that you might find helpful. It has to do with regrets (thinking about your posts with Bea discussing the challenges of getting back into writing). I'll post it in that thread when I dig it up.

    If writing is a passion for you, then do whatever it takes to make it work.

    Best of luck to you.

    Jeanne

  5. #5
    Hillary W
    Guest

    Re: Some thoughts on critique netiquette

    Hi Jeanne,

    Writing is definitely a passion for me. You have no idea how excited I was to find this forum. I've felt lost trying to get back into writing because I don't have a lot of people to bounce ideas off of. I'll try to keep from annoying everybody and/or posting too frequently.

    Ahh, regrets. I hope that I don't end up old and regretful that I didn't follow my dreams (music and writing). Your point #6 above rings true with me- I have to remember that it is a long process and I can't get discouraged. I would appreciate any advice or quotes to keep me focused.

    Thanks again.

  6. #6
    Hillary W
    Guest

    Re: Some thoughts on critique netiquette

    Just saw your quote in the other thread. Thank you. Its something we all need to be reminded of every day (methinks).

  7. #7
    Smiling Curmudgeon
    Guest

    Re: Some thoughts on critique netiquette

    Jeanne,

    Your critiques are always thoughtful. Without fail.

    Sometimes, in the face of hurricane reactions, you remain so polite I wonder from whence your inner calm wells. Do you have access to an oasis the rest of us may sip from?

    There are good people here. More and more, it seems that posters asking for comment go ballistic when they receive same. (Hillary, this's not a reference to you.)

    Nearly everyone here offers comments with good with good intent. Few are snarky. In return, all too often, reactions are hostile. It gets tiresome.

    Hell, I guess I'm not offering thoughts about netiquette.

    Suspect I'm cranky.

    See, whut happined wuz I came out of my cave late afternoon. Huntin' a raggedy ol' pterodactyl I wounded four days ago.

    Few thaings is more savory than haunch of ptero. Well, the goldern critter got away from me. Again! If that don't beat all, I dunno whut does.

    Scant rations tonight, but we got by. Mrs. Cur prepared a hearty broth of dandelions and entrails of rabbit. A few slices of jerkied thigh of brontosaur on the side.

    Okay, 'nuffa my nonsense.

    Yer a peach, Jeanne! Most others here are too.

    Cur

  8. #8
    Mara
    Guest

    Re: Some thoughts on critique netiquette

    I don't think I violated any of those things, so I feel pretty good about myself now.

    I was kinda thinking that this site might REALLY be helped by having an official FAQ or rules beyond "don't post other people's IP, don't spam, don't be extremely rude or offensive." Right now, there's absolutely no way to figure out what all the unspoken rules are other than guess or dig through months of posts.

    Like, the 1000 words limit is something that a newbie can only find out about by looking at a thread where another newbie got criticized for violating it. I imagine that most of the time, there aren't any threads with that particular mistake for the past week worth of posts. It's always a good idea to check out a new forum before posting blindly, but there's a limit on how much anybody will want to lurk before posting; "months" is a bit much.

    I'm not trying to take over your site or anything. ("Your" refers to regulars.) I'm just used to sites where they have a stickied thread with guidelines. Even if some people won't bother to read it, it's there so they can't feign ignorance. Also, it helps newbies decide if the forum is a place they will feel comfortable before there are unpleasant experiences. (For example, a gaming forum I frequent makes it clear in the FAQ that homophobic/transphobic slurs will not be tolerated by the moderators. That policy has helped make LGBT people feel more welcome there. Another gaming forum I've seen specifically says that they encourage the users to self-police and say pretty much anything they want, and that appeals more to "unlimited free speech" folks.)

  9. #9
    Hillary W
    Guest

    Re: Some thoughts on critique netiquette

    Hi Mara,

    As a fellow newbie, I agree that a FAQ section would be helpful. My first two posts were board no-nos-- 12 page story, anyone?

    Hillary

  10. #10
    Jeanne Gassman
    Guest

    Re: Some thoughts on critique netiquette

    Cur,
    My patience comes from raising two teenagers. You either learn to be patient, or you die trying.

    Mara,
    I agree we desperately need an FAQ sticky. Alas, the primitive structure doesn't allow for that. I suppose this is my small effort to answer FAQ. Feel free to add your own suggestions.

    Jeanne

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