silveryscrape (silveryscrape) wrote,

Mas Wankos Rancheros, por favor.

Dearest Jessa,

You're a writer. C'mon, man, give us a picture of JC relaxing in a Karaoke bar. Mannerisms, the way he talks to other people, how he sits, how he drinks. I want it all.


So funny that half of us are begging for honest hardcore dirty public crit of our work, and not getting it, and others are repudiating the very idea, because it's unkind or discouraging or something. I admit it sucks (frequently) to think I'm a hack of a writer, but if nobody truthfully tells me why my stuff doesn't work, then how will I ever learn? Because, I do want to learn. Yes, this is a hobby, and good times are had, but that doesn't mean I don't want to grow in my craft or develop in my art or however silly way you want to put that.

But then, I have a pretty healthy sense of arrogance and plenty of workshopping classes under my belt, so I don't automatically assume a negative critique of my work is a cut against me, and I have a well-honed ability to listen to crit and say "mmm... nope" if I think it's warranted (Northern is rolling her eyes right now.). And I get that the differentiation is between "public" and "private." But, you know, "public" allows, at least theoretically, for discussion, with input from multiple POVs, which I value. I'm totally willing to beta someone's story and do the private thing, and I realize that most discussion of fanfic occurs on AIM, in that private sphere. But there's really something to be said for forums like twist_of_lemon (which is not a dead parrot after all, I understand) where authors and critics can both contribute to discussions, adding different perspectives to identified issues in the writing.

Again, I return to my wank about useful v. useless crit. But I've changed somewhat in my views since then. I've come to realize that my own beta/crit skills are lacking, many times. It's nice to know what doesn't work about a piece of writing, and to back it up in some plausible way. But the really helpful thing to do in critiquing a piece of writing, I've found, is to provide some idea, even the barest clue, about how the problem can be fixed. "This sucks" can be right on target, but no matter how carefully it's worded or how plausibly it's supported, how does that help? The best crit I've gotten has included ideas for improving the sucky parts. Then you can say "yeah!" or maybe "naw... but how about this" and you're at least jumpstarted and brainstormed into actually understanding how the story can be better.

But, yeah, not all crit is about workshopping, and it's hard not only to support your opinions but also to include some ideas for improvement, and sometimes people just want to be able to express an opinion. Not everyone's a lit and writing teacher. Certainly, yes. In which case I say "right on," because good crit or bad crit, niceness or meanness, I'd rather hear what people really think.

...Aww, who am I kidding. It would hurt hurt HURT to have someone savage my work like I've seen happen, like what happened in the Great Hate Meme From Hell of last summer. Easy to speculate that I'd sniff "well, THAT wasn't useful, now WAS IT" and turn away, but the reality is, I'd probably be sobbing like a little bitch. But I betcha I'd learn from it. Hmm.

Nevermind. I have to go grocery shopping now. rhyssj, this post was indeed inspired by yours, not in a "pfft, shah" kind of way, but in a "hmm, but what do I think about this" kind of way, because verily, it is All About Me.
Tags: beta, lost people

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