Forum: The Art of Declining

Discussing: What others are saying on the WWW

What others are saying on the WWW

Greetings, people ~

What I’m starting here is a list of URLs (as you might have noticed), that relate to the subject of constructive criticism and the giving/receiving thereof. (For the sake of saving downloading time, and being cautious of others’ copyrights, I’m posting links instead of the text itself.)

These first additions I rounded up in just about an hour of filtering through only one avenue. So I’m sure there are multitudes of other such links out there (and feel free to add any that you know of, as I’ll be doing myself over time). But what I’ve already gathered here should get those of us interested in a little research started.

Though some of these pages are more or less precisely to the point at hand, they all relate in some way to the subject in general. Another thing to note is that they do not all address fanfiction specifically, and not the genre of LOTR at all (AFAIK). Which is a good thing as I see it, since some of the info is coming from or relating to a more professional side of the issue, and not just the ‘free-for-fun’ world of fanfiction.

All right then; have fun reading, discuss anything of particular interest, and freely list other references happened across in the future! :-)

10 ways to request/receive constructive criticism

Rhi's guide to sending constructive criticism

Constructive Criticism, Negativity or Feud?

"My Critic-Sense is Tingling!"

Constructive + Criticism = Critique

Pertinent Feedback




Re: What others are saying on the WWW

Thanks for the links, AE.

I'm going to check out the one marked Diplomacy.

As I am sadly lacking, I've nowhere to go but up!

Still picking the crow from my teeth.




Re: What others are saying on the WWW

Unfortunately the links I've gathered so far don't include much in the way of tips on etiquette (or would that be netiquette?).

Anyway, here's another batch of links along the lines of constructive criticism, for anyone interested, and now I'm going to start searching through different venues.

Constructive Criticism

The Art of Constructive Criticism

Article: Everyone's a critic

Self-help Tools - Constructive Criticism

Five guidelines for delivering constructive criticism

(Don't, by the way, let the number of links daunt you. These are single page articles; very light reading.)



Re: What others are saying on the WWW

I've looked at the links in your first group, I haven't yet hit the second

I'm posting a link to the entire article, but I'm going to quote some particularly helpful parts (for me, anyway.)

The link is Guidelines for Writing a Critique
by Janet Kent

"Your critique should include information about the following points.
1. Characterization: Did the people seem real? What did the writer do to make them come alive? If the characters appeared shallow, what might the writer do to more fully develop a character? Is too much time spent inside the character's head? Excessive internalization slows the story. If the character is thinking or wondering about every action, the writer foreshadows the plot and alienates the readers desire to continue reading.

2. Continuity: When you finished reading, were there loose ends that were left unresolved? Was there anything that needed further explanation? Were there any inconsistencies? Did the writer intrude himself into the story?
Do the characters plod through the story? It's not necessary to record each step a character takes. Can some details be deleted allowing the reader to take an active role through imagination and inference? Example:
-- John went to the refrigerator, opened the door, and took out the milk carton. Closing the door, he went to the cupboard, reopened the cabinet to search for a clean glass. Finally after finding one, he carried the carton and clean glass to the table where he pulled out a chair and sat down. It had been a long, hot, tiring day, and, eager to quench his thirst, John poured drank the milk.--
By the time a reader finished this paragraph he would be screaming, "For Pete's sake, John, get on with it." Unless the glass of milk is poisoned and will play an important part in the story, the reader will be justifiably dissatisfied. The reader will be equally as aware of all that went before if he reads: After finishing a glass of milk, John….

3. Techniques: Was the English readable? Were there typos, grammatical errors, misuse of punctuation, run-on sentences, or any other errors that need correction? You should indicate the kind of errors you found and give the writer credit for sufficient intelligence to make the appropriate corrections.
While there is no need to point out every error, some should be noted. Be careful of eyes. Does the writer have a character’s eyes dance around the room or fall to the floor? Does he mean "gaze"? Watch for pet words and phrases such as: began to; sort of; kind of; very; just; only; that; there;it; a little; some; laying; I guess; I think; I began; I started. Most of these are qualifying or non-descriptive words.

4. Format of the Text: Was it easy to read or too difficult to follow? Were the paragraphs too long or too choppy? Did the author use too many long sentences making it difficult to follow? Were transitions used skillfully to move from one point to another or did you have to play catch up to find out where it was going? Was the point of view (POV) clearly established and maintained, or was a scorecard needed to keep track of the POV shifts?
One of the common problem areas many writers have is falling in love with their words. They lose sight of the clutter caused by their verbosity. Regardless of whether you write short fiction, novels, or nonfiction contemporary publishers will not accept obese work. It must be lean, trim, and tight. Emerging writers often feel the need for a prologue or introduction. The critiquer's job is to help the writer whittle away the excess until the story emerges as a finished sculpture.

5. Dialogue: Did the words seem natural to the characters and fit their personality? Was there too much or not enough dialogue? It's okay to tell the reader some of the thoughts of the main character, but we should only know the thoughts of other characters through their words and actions, i.e. did the writer show us the story or did he tell it to us? Whose story is it? If dialect is used, is it used effectively and appropriately? Were there enough/too many beats in the dialogue. Was the dialogue used to move the plot forward or as a weak way of cramming in backstory?

6. Plots: Was the main plot clear and believable? If it is a short story, were there too many subplots? If it is part of a novel, could it be improved by more attention to the subplots? Or should it have more subplots? If nonfiction, was the work organized clearly and succinctly? Did it end where it should?

7. Pacing: Did the plot/subplots move fast enough to keep your attention? Did it skip around too much to keep track of the characters and plots? If nonfiction, can it be tightened? Are there enough examples? If so, where and how does the writer need to improve the pacing?
Are action and dialogue balanced? Characters should be somewhere doing something while they speak; actions alone will keep the reader at a distance—outside looking in. Pages of description can make your reader lose contact with the characters. Static dialogue is no better than empty space. Speech that neither defines character nor moves plot can be deleted. In general no more than four lines of dialogue should be written without a break: some action, even a gesture.

8. Conflict: Did the conflict and tension in the fictional plot(s) and subplot(s) come to a reasonable conclusion? Were you left hanging still unsure of how or what happened? Was the resolution appropriate for the character development? Did the writer use an appropriate denouement?

-- Before you post your critique, read it carefully and ask yourself "Is this the way I want my work treated? How would I feel if this was addressed to me? Am I critiquing the writing or the writer? Can I say this another way to convey my meaning and avoid possible ego bruising? Have I avoided overquoting the original work? Can I edit out more of the original and still make the specific points clear to the author?"




Re: What others are saying on the WWW

Well, off topic, but I found this in a search for netiquette.

The Core Rules of Netiquette

And Lyllyn, that article is swell. Better than anything else I found.
I was also looking at this site:

Writing tips

It's listed in the URL library of Resources, but it's relevant to the subject of analyzing and critiquing literature, and I found it so informative and insightful that I thought I'd post it here for anyone who hasn't seen it elsewhere.

(Lyllyn, where do you find these...?)

P.S. would someone be kind enough to post the code for making a URL a link? I tried the usual < a href="_" > < /a > tags (with closed spaces), but it didn't work. Looked in the HTML tutorial and it didn't say either.

-AE, whose HTML guide is probably veeeery outdated.



Re: What others are saying on the WWW

P.S. would someone be kind enough to post the code for making a URL a link? I tried the usual < a href="_" > < /a > tags (with closed spaces), but it didn't work. Looked in the HTML tutorial and it didn't say either.

Your code looks right to me. Let me give it a try:



It works fine. BTW to open a new window I could have pasted in the code:


That would go between the end quote for the url - after a space - and the closing angle bracket. But my son says all you need do to open a new window is right click on the link and it will open a box, with the choice to open a new window listed. Am I the only one who didn't know this?

PS - I've been browsing through some of these, in between doing research for the prose patterns. There's some good observations in these. Thanks for sharing.



Re: What others are saying on the WWW

Nessime, thank you.
And yeah, I did know about the right-click trick.
I also right-clicked and went to 'view source', which brings up a text copy of the HTML page, so I could see what the tags actually were. I don't know why it didn't work when I tried the same code, but I'll go try again.
However, the target="newwindow" command is news to me, and I'm happy to learn it.




Re: What others are saying on the WWW

I don't know why it didn't work when I tried the same code, but I'll go try again.
However, the target="newwindow" command is news to me, and I'm happy to learn it.

You got the links to work - with the "new window" too! Yay! *applause* Did you ever figure out why you couldn't get the code to work before?


PS - Over at Patterns in Prose Cel had posted a link to a site called The Scriptorium. In browsing through the site I found this critique form which might be of use. The only question that doesn't really apply to HASA is the last one, since we don't have to "pay" to read the stories here. But the basic outline works IMO. The only variables would have to do with the form used (ie. poetry, vignette, short story, novella/novelette, etc.) and the specifics for each of those could be added on under "Other comments."

There are also links on the side bar of that page for more on critiques.



Re: What others are saying on the WWW

That's rather a good site, isn't it? I've just had a quick poke around and found a fair bit of useful stuff.




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