View Full Version : Lots of critique requests these days...
March 10th, 2006, 10:39 AM
Is it just me, or has this turned into a submission forum? I don't post around here enough for my opinion to matter that much, but I've noticed this direction in the past couple weeks, and I wonder what the powers that be think of it.
Sometime last summer a few people put together a critique group through Yahoo, I think Jacquin started it, but the enterprise fell apart due to lack of membership and involvement. Not sure why, but I got the feeling from that experience that criticism is a very difficult thing for some to accept and for some to properly give.
As to the many stories / links being posted into this forum, I can't help but notice that most of them are for first chapters. (Also, a lot of them begin with fighting, which makes me wonder: are there no peaceful worlds even in SFF?) In my experience as a critic, it's extremely difficult to critique a first chapter, and even a bit unfair to the writer. The full story just isn't there for a reader to contemplate, and a writer that keeps working on chapter one will never get to chapter two. What I'd rather critique is a full-length manuscript or completed story.
Anyway, just some random thoughts floating through my head.
March 10th, 2006, 11:34 AM
Hey ghost. I understand what you mean, but there are some quite interesting projects out there.
I can't imagine how annoying that must have been for jaquin and others.
I've also noticed it seem to get a bit quiter around the writing forum lately. But what can you do?
I put up a first part for critique because from what i have learned through the experienced people of this forum is that sometimes your manuscript can be through out after the first three chapters (or less).
I also am of the opinion that the first part of a story has to grab the reader in some way and i was anxious to see if i could do that.
I'd love to see this critiquing group start up again. Maybe they could come and go every once in a while rather than stick around until the interest gets low.
What do you think? Have you read any of the critiques in this space? From what i've reade some are really worth a look.
March 10th, 2006, 01:09 PM
Most critique things fall apart because too many post their works and then never look at their fellow writer's works. At one of the sites I post on it says that for every 10 posts I recieve, I give 127. A 1:13 ratio, pretty bad.
Not all worlds are violent, mind you, mine starts off peacefully enough. Though, stuff starts erupting pretty fast, I guess we always like "Good guys and Bad guys and explosions, as far as the eye can see"
Some of us, me included, like to know what others think early on so we can learn and grow while we are writing the manuscript. We don't like having to go back AFTER we're done and re-writing our noobie first half of the book. But those who are stuck on the first chapter do need to move on, get the whole thing down before you seriously start rewriting things.
Anyhow, I'm new to this forum and I joined because this looked like a read and review submission forum. I'm guessing from this post that it wasn't origninally that way.
March 10th, 2006, 01:20 PM
It is a read and review forum, as well a one for talking about writing.
The only thing I will say is that I think the mods pefer you place your work on the community stories section, and place a link on a thread asking for reviews.
Personally I have tried out ideas and half written first chapters on various writing forums. One "idea" won the Editor's choice for March 2004 on hhtp://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com and was reviewed there by Janni Smith-Gaynor. former editor Del-Rey Books. So some good does come from critiques ;)
The idea grew into a book, which at present I am pimping round agents....;)
March 10th, 2006, 01:30 PM
Where is this community stories section you speak of?
March 10th, 2006, 01:32 PM
As you are a forum member you hit the first link, I think, just remember to alter the drop down box to "published" when you want to place your work up...
March 10th, 2006, 02:58 PM
In trying to better define the feeling that prompted my initial post, I suppose that it's because I'm doubtful of the benefit to the writers. Some regulars here are very good at responding with critiques, but I'm not one of them. I think criticism needs to be a private process, one-to-one, but the system here encourages a more public critique. (Or I suppose some are sent via PM.) That can be uncomfortable for the writer and the critic.
If I don't offer criticism, why am I posting stupid comments? I guess it's because I feel an inclination to submit critiques. I have years of practice at it and know I can help some authors with their writing and stories. But for some reason -- laziness? too busy with my own projects? -- I'm not doing it.
Well, I'll put my money where my mouth is. If someone would like to send me some work to critique, I'll do it. Just PM me. I'll do a completed short story or even a novel-length manuscript (if you do the same in return, contingent on acceptable writing samples). I will be fair but merciless, and I expect the same.
March 10th, 2006, 03:09 PM
Nevermind, fixed it
March 11th, 2006, 05:02 AM
Also, a lot of them begin with fighting, which makes me wonder: are there no peaceful worlds even in SFF?
There are some peaceful (ish) worlds, welll mine is to begin with.... But surely the reaoson for that is that all fantasy/sci-fi worlds are based on the reality that we are all subject to? This world. It is violent, painful and brutal but still beautiful and magnificent. SFF involves the portrayal of world similar but dissimilar to our own and as such what we produce porbably reflects the things that our attention is most drawn to. As the media harps on about all the bad things in the world, it is much easier to include these in our works than to have a perfectly peaceful world. No-one would believe it, because it simply does not exist.
March 11th, 2006, 10:29 AM
This thread seems to have two lines of thought. I'd like to respond to each.
As far as critiquing writing samples goes, I think Ghost has a point, but I would argue that there's still a lot a beginning writer can get out of a critique of just a small sample of writing. The mechanics of the writing will usually show through right away. Many beginning writers just need help with the basics. Then there's fundamental presentation - learning how to begin a story rather than dump information. There's also pace, and learning how to hook a reader. Often too, what a beginning writer gains from a critique of an opening chapter is that they DON'T SUCK. This provides motivation to continue with a project that requires a lot of effort for very little payback.
That being said, the biggest obstacles small writing samples face is that they don't give the reader the broader context of the story. As a critiquer, I can't read and comment on how characters evolve or how the plot unfolds. It's like judging a movie based on a promotional poster.
Now with respect to violence in SFF...
There's lots of reasons for it. After all, fiction is all about conflict. In speculative fiction we speculate as to how certain conditions such as new technologies, magic, supernatural forces, new races, etc. will affect the outcomes of given conflicts. Naturally many of these conflicts take physical form.
Another reason has to do with escapism. Rather than worrying about the mundane problems of real life, such as bills, work projects, school assignements, etc. readers and writers like to imagine scenarios with more dire consequences - the heat of battle, the intrique of international conspiracy, the mystery of a murder. And with these are coupled characters who have the power to do something about them in an immediate sense.
I would also argue that ultimately the psychological reasoning of why violence in speculative fiction is popular takes a back seat to the simple fact that it is - and therefore it sells.
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