The Reader's Guide to Reading
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Author:  Crimson [ Sat Jun 30, 2007 7:10 pm ]
Post subject:  The Reader's Guide to Reading

We have some lovely guides for writing stories, what makes good stories and what doesn't. And we have a fairly active Discussion thread, but I thought of something that some people may appreciate. Galar and Charly can do what they see fit with this little thread, I have no problem with that. I was on Gaia just now and I came across a nice little thread. The people in Gaia's writing forum tend to be incredibly smart, and can be intimidating when they're cranky. But, all irritability aside they usually make very good comments and points.

What does the reader need to know how to do? They need to know how to do two things, read, and critique. I can't explain how to read on the internet but I can work on the latter issue. None of what comes after are my words, except for one word that had to be changed because of censoring. The thread is here. A discussion is more than welcome.

Racheling wrote:
How to Critique

How to Critique: Honestly and brutally.

Critique--and this will sound terrible--as though the writer has no feelings. As though there is no writer, just this story, and you have to tell it how it needs to be fixed.

Only, you know, try to be kinda nice about it. XD

Seriously though, the purpose of a critique is to improve the other person's writing. It is not to make them feel good about themselves or their writing. Nor is it to make them feel like crap. But let's be honest, most of us, even those of us who've been doing this very seriously for a long time, still feel like **** when we're told a story isn't working. Of course we do, we put days and months into something. But if you improve, it's worth a bit of post-critique blues. A good writer gets over it. A bad writer doesn't deserve any more critiques.

So, when critiquing, you need to tell the person what is and isn't working in the story. You should also try to explain why you think it isn't working. If possible, suggest ways to fix this. The last is the most difficult and least important--it's not your job to fix the story, just do what you can to help.

It is quite likely that you see nothing redeeming in a story. In that case, say so. It sounds harsh, I know, but people need to hear this. What often happens is that people, unable to find anything they actually like in a story, will over-compensate and compliment anything they can just to have something nice to say. All this does is further encourage bad writing.

This is not only bad for you, the critiquer--you'll have to read more drek, after all--but it's completely unfair to the person being critiqued.

When you're asked to critique, you're being trusted to tell it to the writer straight. Making things up to spare feelings is a betrayal of that trust.

Many writers, on Gaia and off, don't realize this. They can't take a harsh critique. These folks will either learn to, or they will write badly for all eternity.

Also, when you read a story, read it as you would something in the store. People are sometimes more forgiving of things they read in workshops and things by people they know. They say they like stories that they'd put down in a second if they were reading it at Barnes & Noble. Remember, you're not critiquing the writer, just the story. Forget about the writer.

Don't get upset if some of your suggestions aren't taken. This is a good thing, because it means the writer is thinking, not following you blindly. (Yes, of course you know better, but sometimes it's better to think for yourself and screw up than to do the right thing without understanding why. In writing, anyway.) If you really think it's a problem, mention it and then let the story go. Remember--not your job to fix it. Only the writer can do that.

If none of your suggestions are ever taken, well, maybe you aren't the right critiquer for this person. No need to spend another moment worrying about it, and no need to crit any more of their work. X3

I bet some of you are wonder then why don't I just leave it to the writer. Well, I'm obsessive and I'd rather have my blood pressure raised temporarily until they get my point than have them be a thorn in my side. Anywho, discuss the quote and preferablly not how I'm obsessive about some things.

This is going to be stickified. I'd also like to add something, mainly about replying to a story:

"this is great", "keep it up", "i giv it a 9.9/10" and similar replies can't even be considered poor complimenting. If you think the story is awesome and can't really find the bad aspects to point out, at least do compliment with a reply that is more meaningful and less SPAMmish than that.

If you want to compliment the writer for their good work you're more than allowed to do so; story writers don't have to live on nothing but critiques (which can also be positive), but it's a giant pain in the neck for the writer to check their topic and find something like "i liek it". Honestly, is that the farthest your inteligence goes? Can't you point out what you liked about the story and why? Can't you add anything else to your comment, something constructive, that actually shows that you really read the story?

If you can't, and the mods are in a bad mood, they might as well delete your reply if they feel like. Yes, we're that mean.



Anyone wrote:
Apparanetly my story[s] bites and I've been told to stop writing them.

No, this is not a direct quote, it's the principle of it that matters. I can't tell you how mad this makes me. People aren't good at the beginning, get over it. Sorry we can't always live up to your God forsaken expectations. This is not to happen, plain and simple. For one thing it's incredibly rude. For another, as long as they're trying to improve and are working hard you never, and I mean never, have the right to say that they should stop writing. Even if that's what you honestly think, don't say it. You're not being forced to comment. If you can't bring yourself to say anything constructive [ways for them to improve] then don't post at all. It's as simple as that. The mods can edit this as always.

Author:  Treeckomaster [ Sun Jul 01, 2007 7:51 am ]
Post subject: 

This is useful.

Author:  sparky the wonder monkey [ Sun Jul 01, 2007 2:22 pm ]
Post subject:  fDgFyhmm

Hmm this will be tough i like everything i read ive never read anything i didn't like i even like the mistakes people make it reminds me eveybody here is human instead of machine hmmm :?

Author:  Crimson [ Tue Jul 03, 2007 10:21 am ]
Post subject: 

Yay I've been stickified! Anywho, you are far more forgiving than I am Sparky, or perhaps my fuse has just dwindled to nothingness. It's true that mistakes are normal, I make them all the time. My stories probably have tons of grammatical mistakes I could never see because I don't know what they are [that's why I'm getting tutoring].

The point is, that even if you like everything in the story, mistakes included, point them out. This forum is to encourage writers of all skill levels but at the same time to push them to improve. Sometimes being a complete jerk about it is necessary, sometimes it's not.

I honestly find it hard that you don't dislike anything you've read in this forum...But, stranger things have happened I suppose. I understand how hard it can be to think of something in some cases where the story does not have obvious flaws and you just enjoyed all of it. Trust me, I understand, it can be very intimidating. However, that is not the situation this forum is in.

Author:  Galar [ Tue Jul 03, 2007 12:11 pm ]
Post subject: 

sparky the wonder monkey wrote:
i even like the mistakes people make it reminds me eveybody here is human instead of machine hmmm :?

No one here is an automatic grammar-correction writing machine indeed. But some stories here have so many mistakes and are so poorly structured it's inhuman. Even the most forgiving critic can easily spot the grotesque and tell them apart from the average-to-good works. You simply can't like everything, because the amount of trash here is way too great to even pass off as "almost good".

I could make you a list of writers who should be considered "role-models" and have their stories checked out, but I don't want to start any kind of drama; however, spotting them isn't really that difficult. You can easily notice how their works are well posted and structured; compare and contrast those to the crap stories that you can also easily find around here, and you'll see the major differences between them. It's also a piece of cake to notice the differences between good and bad readers/commentators.

I already made another point that you can see in the first post of this thread, which is about how to decently reply to a story even if you don't want to point out mistakes: three-words replies like "omg tis awesome" are annoying, and they just show how unprepared some members are to comment, and that they shouldn't be replying to a story in the first place. Readers should have in mind that by replying with "pls keep it up" helps the writer develop their skills in no way.

I know I'm sounding harsh here (and I should definetly be more acting than talking >.>). It's just that we have at least three threads containing hell lots of tips for writing and structuring better that it's almost insulting the amount of real crap that pop out in this section. Either people purposely ignore those, which is a great way to show appreciation for our efforts, or are just plain stupid, and thus should be miles away from this place. Not that ignoring what the staff/good members have to say is exclusive to this section anyway.

Author:  Crimson [ Tue Jul 03, 2007 12:26 pm ]
Post subject: 

Galar wrote:
sparky the wonder monkey wrote:
i even like the mistakes people make it reminds me eveybody here is human instead of machine hmmm :?

No one here is an automatic grammar-correction writing machine indeed. But some stories here have so many mistakes and are so poorly structured it's inhuman. Even the most forgiving critic can easily spot the grotesque and tell them apart from the average-to-good works. You simply can't like everything, because the amount of trash here is way too great to even pass off as "almost good".

Whoops, forgot about that. There is a lot of trash in the forum, it's frustrating. It is ridiculously easy to tell the trash apart from the decent to the great pieces. It's actually insulting that people accept the trash just as easily as the other kinds of compositions. It's really insulting that people [not just you Sparky] think that the mistakes are fine and even good. It makes the people who do take the time feel like they could've slacked off and would've gotten the same response. It makes them feel like all the practice and effort to improve was in vain and they should've just taken the easy way out. Think about it, if more people had that kind of mentality, what would the purpose of these forums and sites be? Why would anyone bother to try to improve? Yes, we're human and as such we're imperfect. That is no excuse for slap-shod work. No one's expecting perfection, necessarily, we're expecting effort and the desire to improve.

Author:  sparky the wonder monkey [ Wed Jul 04, 2007 12:19 am ]
Post subject:  hmmmmm

I see well put I guess but as unbelievable as it may seem I just can't stop likeing everything I read (though its very true that some are better than others) i like them all. I just can't hate anything. But you all raise valuable points. for I am sparky, and i will allow this.

(Edit)Okay i know i said i like everything but i was just reading the fantastick umbreon and no offence but i was just diagnosed with braindamage and I'm blind in my left eye. You can expect a call from my lawar no offence

Author:  Crimson [ Sun Jul 08, 2007 9:11 pm ]
Post subject: 

Edit to the first post.

Author:  Kacho [ Sat Apr 05, 2008 8:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: The Reader's Guide to Reading

Off topic: what is your Gaia account? :P

On topic: I guess this thread could apply to any type of reading then. Perhaps not Fanfic, but maybe something like a novel, an article in the newspaper, or even reading other things. (Biography and Autobiography not included as you should not rate another person's life.)

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