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Thread: Where to get constructive, helpful critique?

  1. #1
    Samittaja's Avatar Libertus
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    Icon5 Where to get constructive, helpful critique?

    This is in part inspired by relatively recent videos from Youtuber Shadiversity:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBixZY0NMMw
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XF6yysxS5z8

    Despite only scratching the surface, these kept me thinking on writing, and most importantly, how to get constructive and helping criticism.


    Let's assume that I would, for any reason, decide try my hand on writing fiction. I would write my story, or more likely a pilot, and because I'm fully aware I don't have any experience at pro-level writing, I would want to present it for critique. If I ask my relatives or friends an honest opinion - no, really, honest, I want to improve and I need you to be serious - I would probably get one. I can perhaps even point myself the parts that I have suspicions over.

    But chances are, neither of us really have the knowledge to focus on what really matters. The style, the prose, formatting, and such. We can spot some issues, like leaps in inner logic, clumsy words, overuse of certain words or phrases and so forth. But since our eyes are not sharpened ones, we will most likely miss something. We may even fail to notice something so obvious in hindsight as the said formatting. Despite reading hundreds of books and tens of thousands of newspapers and magazines, my eyes weren't opened on indentation until those videos. I did know indentation is used, but it didn't really stuck my head how vital they are.

    It is obvious that one improves by constantly practising the wanted skill. The 10 000 hours rule is too simple and can not be taken literally, but it's purpose anyways is to remind us of the amount of effort it takes to master a skill. However, I believe getting skilled help will greatly boost the learning speed, since the creator is always slightly blind to his work. The starting writer will already try his best, and as such he may not realize until much later what needs to be done.

    My first thought was the fellow in a publishing house in charge of selecting the material for publishing, who possibly is also the editor. But his job is to select publishable or the very least highly promising material, not to help writer wannabes grow their wings. A good-willed person might help anyways, but that is something one should not put their trust on.


    Does any of you have suggestions on how to get that knowing critique? Are writers generally speaking happy to help newbies? Are there some kind of online communities for starting writers? Does even this site, TWCenter, have enough helpful and experienced writers?
    I'm not really looking for tips currently - those have been easy to find even by shallow googling. But knowing that somebody I present the text would know what is wrong whatever form I decide, would make the gargantuan road less intimidating.
    Last edited by Samittaja; August 02, 2017 at 05:05 AM.

  2. #2
    Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar to rede I me delyte
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    Default Re: Where to get constructive, helpful critique?

    Hi, Samittaja.

    I'm not sure I've seen you in these parts before, so welcome to the Writers' Study.

    I'm totally stealing Tigellinus's thunder here, but I know he has previously recommended My Writers Circle for this. I haven't used them myself, so Tigellinus might be able to give you more information than I can.

    I think it's a good idea to get comments and feedback from several different people in different places, though. Different people have different preferences, and I might criticise your writing for the same thing that someone else would like about it. Which means that I don't think anybody can say that they're qualified to tell you everything that's wrong with something you've written. Once you get past the more straightforward things, like spelling, grammar, avoiding ambiguity and so on, 'wrong' gets more difficult to identify with any certainty, because of variation in personal preference, the different things that are expected of different genres, and the fact that very often, 'wrong' is a matter of degree. ('Two-dimensional characters' would be a fault in most pieces of fiction - but minor characters are probably fairly two-dimensional in most fiction, and there are types of fiction where 'two-dimensional characters' are pretty much expected. Or, of course, you might be a great genius, playing with style and expectation, and just somehow make it work brilliantly...)

    And I think you've spotted another obvious thing to do: don't just read things because you want to read them, read them and ask yourself why you like them/dislike them, why you think they work (or don't), what they have in common with other pieces of writing.

    I'm sure other people will have much more (and probably better ) advice to offer than I do, but I hope that's a little bit of help.
    Under the patronage of Shankbot de Bodemloze

  3. #3
    Tigellinus's Avatar Citizen
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    Default Re: Where to get constructive, helpful critique?

    Hello to you both!

    @Samittaja: As Caillagh said My Writers Circle is a fantastic place to receive criticism. I really do mean criticism.It isn't one of those places where it is all about "Say something nice, or don't say anything at all." They are not going to hold back when blasting your work, so if you're easily offended or sensitive, don't go there.
    Oh, and this isn't to say that any of them are rude or cruel, I'm meaning that they go to MWC for advice on how to improve, and none of them see any reason to pull punches, they will give you blunt, but invaluable, advice.

    On the other hand, if you want valuable advice that can help you spot issues in your writing you never even knew about, it's amazingly useful. They often give massive amounts of advice, and there is always a large amount of people who will answer your queries.

    @Caillagh: Thank you for the PM! I will reply to it when I have a free moment! It was immensely helpful, so thanks my friend!

    Kind regards,

    Tigellinus




    Proudly under the patronage of McScottish

  4. #4
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: Where to get constructive, helpful critique?

    Quote Originally Posted by Samittaja View Post
    Does any of you have suggestions on how to get that knowing critique? Are writers generally speaking happy to help newbies? Are there some kind of online communities for starting writers? Does even this site, TWCenter, have enough helpful and experienced writers?
    As Caillagh said, welcome Samittaja (and hi, Tigellinus!)

    As I see it, the Writers' Study is an online community for starting writers. If you post your writing here and if you encourage other writers, then you're a member. Some writers here have gone on to have their work published in various forms. There are some very good writers here, so I would not be surprised if some people posting in the Study will write popular books or TV shows in future. Others, like me, will remain amateur writers, doing this because we enjoy it.

    You asked whether TWC has enough helpful and experienced writers. That depends on what level of critique you are looking for. When writing my After Action Reports (AARs), I find comments by other writers here in the Writers' Study helpful. You would be welcome to post some of your writing in Creative Writing (or the appropriate AAR sub-forum, if it is an AAR). If you would like some feedback from others on your writing, it's best to:-

    - Indicate in the opening post of your thread the kind of feedback you are looking for. As you can see from looking at writing posted in the Study, comments here tend to be encouraging and positive.
    - Give feedback to others on their writing.
    - Thank anyone who posts feedback (either private message/visitor message on their TWC profile or by thanking them in your post the next time you post an update on your story).

    I also suggest not expecting too much; people are usually in the Writers' Study because they want to enjoy reading stories and to post their own writing. I cannot guarantee that anyone will "know" what is wrong with your writing; they should be able to tell you something about what interested them, what they enjoyed or what drew their attention. Their comments might help you to identify the area of your writing which need more work. There is no guarantee that anyone will comment, particularly if you do not comment on other people's work. If you want detailed critique (paragraphs, not a few sentences) then I suggest teaming up with one or two other writers, to exchange detailed feedback.

    If you want help with a particular aspect of writing, then you would be welcome to ask for advice in the Writers' Lounge, as you have done here.
    Last edited by Alwyn; August 03, 2017 at 03:17 AM.


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  5. #5
    Samittaja's Avatar Libertus
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    Default Re: Where to get constructive, helpful critique?

    Thanks for the answers. I didn't expect even this many replies so soon

    Quote Originally Posted by Caillagh de Bodemloze View Post
    I'm not sure I've seen you in these parts before, so welcome to the Writers' Study.
    I have eyeballed what TWCenter has to provide, but this was indeed the first time I replied outside of Total War or history matters. I am slightly surprised there's so varied action in a site supposedly dedicated to TW games.


    Quote Originally Posted by Tigellinus View Post
    @Samittaja: As Caillagh said My Writers Circle is a fantastic place to receive criticism. I really do mean criticism.It isn't one of those places where it is all about "Say something nice, or don't say anything at all." They are not going to hold back when blasting your work, so if you're easily offended or sensitive, don't go there.
    Oh, and this isn't to say that any of them are rude or cruel, I'm meaning that they go to MWC for advice on how to improve, and none of them see any reason to pull punches, they will give you blunt, but invaluable, advice.

    On the other hand, if you want valuable advice that can help you spot issues in your writing you never even knew about, it's amazingly useful. They often give massive amounts of advice, and there is always a large amount of people who will answer your queries.
    If I ever have The Inspiration to write fiction, I shall start my practise there, then. I'm not afraid of brutal honesty, as long as it is not mean in a personal way. I do believe openness to constructive and polite but honest criticism is the best way to improve oneself. Though if the critiquing end can actually tell what is wrong and what is a better way to write something, all the better.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    You asked whether TWC has enough helpful and experienced writers.
    Perhaps a little poor choice of words from my part.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alwyn View Post
    When writing my After Action Reports (AARs), I find comments by other writers here in the Writers' Study helpful. You would be welcome to post some of your writing in Creative Writing (or the appropriate AAR sub-forum, if it is an AAR). If you would like some feedback from others on your writing, it's best to:-

    - Indicate in the opening post of your thread the kind of feedback you are looking for. As you can see from looking at writing posted in the Study, comments here tend to be encouraging and positive.
    - Give feedback to others on their writing.
    - Thank anyone who posts feedback (either private message/visitor message on their TWC profile or by thanking them in your post the next time you post an update on your story).

    I also suggest not expecting too much; people are usually in the Writers' Study because they want to enjoy reading stories and to post their own writing. I cannot guarantee that anyone will "know" what is wrong with your writing; they should be able to tell you something about what interested them, what they enjoyed or what drew their attention. Their comments might help you to identify the area of your writing which need more work. There is no guarantee that anyone will comment, particularly if you do not comment on other people's work. If you want detailed critique (paragraphs, not a few sentences) then I suggest teaming up with one or two other writers, to exchange detailed feedback.

    If you want help with a particular aspect of writing, then you would be welcome to ask for advice in the Writers' Lounge, as you have done here.
    Quote Originally Posted by Caillagh de Bodemloze View Post
    I think it's a good idea to get comments and feedback from several different people in different places, though. Different people have different preferences, and I might criticise your writing for the same thing that someone else would like about it. Which means that I don't think anybody can say that they're qualified to tell you everything that's wrong with something you've written. Once you get past the more straightforward things, like spelling, grammar, avoiding ambiguity and so on, 'wrong' gets more difficult to identify with any certainty, because of variation in personal preference, the different things that are expected of different genres, and the fact that very often, 'wrong' is a matter of degree. ('Two-dimensional characters' would be a fault in most pieces of fiction - but minor characters are probably fairly two-dimensional in most fiction, and there are types of fiction where 'two-dimensional characters' are pretty much expected. Or, of course, you might be a great genius, playing with style and expectation, and just somehow make it work brilliantly...)

    And I think you've spotted another obvious thing to do: don't just read things because you want to read them, read them and ask yourself why you like them/dislike them, why you think they work (or don't), what they have in common with other pieces of writing.
    Thank you for the advise. I don't know any better places anyway, which is why I asked here for it.

  6. #6
    Caillagh de Bodemloze's Avatar to rede I me delyte
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    Default Re: Where to get constructive, helpful critique?

    You're very welcome. And you're always very welcome to ask for honest opinions and advice here.

    You might not always get brutal honesty here, at least in posts made publicly - I think there's a balance to be found between being honest enough to be helpful and being so honest that we scare away people who just wanted to post their writing without having it dissected. But if you find you're not getting the sort of brutal honesty you wanted, and there's someone around who you think might be able to offer you a helpful comment or two, it's worth PMing them to ask if they'd do that by PM. I know from experience that providing that kind of comment is very time-consuming to do properly, so not everyone will be able to help. Still, it's flattering if someone thinks your opinion is worth having, so I think most people wouldn't mind you asking.
    Under the patronage of Shankbot de Bodemloze

  7. #7

    Default Re: Where to get constructive, helpful critique?

    But i am ready to review your writing.When i didnt get the help i wanted i decided,in the future i will help others .http://www.twcenter.net/forums/showt...g-finger-at-me
    If you liked this writing also check out my other aars and stories on CW .((http://(http://www.twcenter.net/foru...ative-Writing))
    http://www.twcenter.net/forums/showthread.php?746028-How-the-world-changed-1890-1990 white collar crime story from mad orc .
    http://www.twcenter.net/forums/showt...story-with-eu4-My own alt history with eu4.

    Join my 'call back' scheme,one day of the week scout out old members who left their emails behind and contact and persuade them to come back,an ocean is made of drops,make TWC great again'

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