Wednesday, February 24, 2010

To crit or not to crit: chapter 2 of 4

As I get into a crit, when I see things that could use improvement, I use phrases like ‘I think’, ‘in my opinion’ or ‘IMHO’, ‘maybe’. I use smiley faces too. This reiterates that I’m giving my opinions and cushions the hard news. Even people who say they have thick skin don’t deserve to be whacked upside the head. Writing is often personal and it can feel risky to put yourself out there for strangers to dissect.

How would you feel if somebody said "you shouldn’t be writing, you obviously don’t know how to do it." That’s what tends to come through when you turn into a shark.

I try to describe why I think a word or phrase could be improved. I include a suggestion when I can think of one. Most writers seem to appreciate a concrete example of something better.

Please don’t pad a crit with praise just to increase your word count and get full credit. The writer will probably see through that and may get pissed off enough to report you to the site administrator. If the story only calls for a short, good quality crit, be gracious enough to accept half-credit. The writer may ask you for a crit later because you were honest, and you could pick up credits then. Don’t let getting credits become your primary reason to crit. And that’s a whole ‘nother post ;)

When I feel something works exceptionally well, I usually say ‘Yay for you!’ or ‘great job here’. I include the exact phrase I liked and try to describe why I think it’s great. That way, the writer is better able to do it again, and that’s half the reason to crit: to help the other person. I try to keep my crits balanced. There is almost always something good to say in addition to pointing out what’s not so good.

Some people say to give the kind of crit that you’d like to receive. That’s fine as long as you’re not genuinely hoping for a pile of praise without any criticism at all.

I want to stress that: there is almost always something good to say.

If you can’t bring yourself to say that you liked the dialog for example, or even just the writer’s enthusiasm for the subject, maybe you shouldn’t send a crit. Or come back to it tomorrow after a rest. If you shape shift into a shark, the writer may report you to the moderator/administrator, you may get a warning or be kicked off the site, and writers may tell each other that you are really nasty.

If people talk about me, I’d rather they say ‘Owlie’s not bad, she gave me some options for the weak parts and let me know what I did right.’

The next chapter will be shorter!

No comments:

Post a Comment