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Davis Ashura
July 30th, 2007, 06:34 AM
When you critique someone's work, do you offer your thoughts/emotions line-by-line, or do you give a broad overview of your impressions and pick out specific examples?
I've noticed at the Online Science Fiction/Fantasy workshop, they tend to do the former. The crits don't seem very helpful when written that way because the words never seem to be given a chance to build on themselves.
Opionions?

Dawnstorm
July 30th, 2007, 08:09 AM
I prefer to critique stuff for people who have specific questions.

Else, I tend to do general stuff in front-stage critiques (forum interface), or more detailled line-edits in e-mails. Line-edits are more helpful for work beyond draft#1, though.

I'm bad at reading and writing action scenes, so I don't do them (apart from grammar, flow, etc.).


The crits don't seem very helpful when written that way because the words never seem to be given a chance to build on themselves.

Could you expand on that? (You need to know what a line is doing in the text, to critique it. Is that the general direction, that line-edits often lose the context and focus too much on detail?)

James Carmack
July 30th, 2007, 10:19 AM
I have two styles. One is the critiques I do here in the forums. I paid with broad strokes, touch on overarching themes, and pick out some choice quibbles. Then there is the workshop. That requires a manuscript submission directly to me. I then go line by line, not only looking for grammatical errors but also stylistic sticking points. As the latter is so time-intensive, I only do it at special request. (Though technically I spend plenty of time on my so-called quick critiques, too. Seriously. I usually spend at least two hours on those things.)

TheEarCollector
July 30th, 2007, 10:45 AM
I would say my critiques are the overall impression, but I like to throw in specific examples of why that impression was given. Sometimes there is something specific that I feel I need to address, or a recurring problem, but as mentioned, it is incredibly time consuming to do a line by line.

Not to mention that I only line by line in handwriting (with a red pen muwahahahahaha) and I can't really hand that back to an online author...

Davis Ashura
July 30th, 2007, 01:16 PM
Could you expand on that? (You need to know what a line is doing in the text, to critique it. Is that the general direction, that line-edits often lose the context and focus too much on detail?)

The crits I have in mind are almost literally line-by-line. Every single line, or at most, paragraph has a comment. I've seen some crits where the critiquer would explain how they did or didn't like a single line in a paragraph, but when that line is read as part of the paragraph, it works fine. I've also seen where impressions are made about the lack of clarity in a work, but when the entire piece is read, it is obvious that the author wanted there to be confusion. I've also seen impressions written of a character based on single chapter with the statement that such a main character is so dislikeable that they wouldn't read further. Maybe I'm just conflating the crits of the few I've seen to the majority.
I keep coming back to Gene Wolfe's writings and his lack of a reliable narrator. Confusing? Yes. Or Bakker's unforgotable cast of mostly amoral psychopaths. I have a tough time believing you can crit their work line-by-line, but only as an entire work. I guess, I'm just of the 'gestalt' class of reader. I take in impressions, but I'm not interested in line-by-lining someone else's work. If I did that, I might as well ask to be the co-author.

KatG
July 31st, 2007, 09:57 AM
You wouldn't be the co-author, you'd be the line editor. There are three types of editing, not counting proof-reading: developmental editing, line-by-line or line editing and copy-editing. Developmental editing looks at the overall story, at issues of plot structure, point-of-view narrative, character development, logic contradictions, information presentation, style and tone, setting, etc. It may sometimes include pointing out an awkward line or missing text or a bit of narrative that is too confusing. Usually when you are asked for a critique, you are being asked for developmental editing.

Line editing is done in the final stages of a work, when it has been fully revised as much as the author intends to revise it. Line editing goes over the text line by line, looking for typing errors, unintended repetitions, awkward phrases, grammer problems that are not deliberate, logic contradictions and so on. Copy-editing, which is done last, looks for errors in the copy such as typoes, missing punctuation and text, spelling errors that are unintentional, and that sort of thing.

Having a stranger who has never read your story before doing line-editing tends to be not quite as much use as someone who has developmentally edited it previously, but still, the person might catch something you missed. Any type of editing suggestion may or may not be helpful to you, they may not understand what style or approach you are using, but it gives you an idea how an individual reader might react. While you aren't going to tailor the story for such readers -- that way, madness lies -- and there are no rules that you have to follow, even feedback you don't agree with can help you clarify for yourself what you want to do with a story.

But if you aren't finding the sort of critiques given at a site all that useful overall, then logically, you'd want to find another group.

And Eddie, you write great action scenes, so there.

Dawnstorm
July 31st, 2007, 10:36 AM
The crits I have in mind are almost literally line-by-line. Every single line, or at most, paragraph has a comment. I've seen some crits where the critiquer would explain how they did or didn't like a single line in a paragraph, but when that line is read as part of the paragraph, it works fine. I've also seen where impressions are made about the lack of clarity in a work, but when the entire piece is read, it is obvious that the author wanted there to be confusion. I've also seen impressions written of a character based on single chapter with the statement that such a main character is so dislikeable that they wouldn't read further. Maybe I'm just conflating the crits of the few I've seen to the majority.
I keep coming back to Gene Wolfe's writings and his lack of a reliable narrator. Confusing? Yes. Or Bakker's unforgotable cast of mostly amoral psychopaths. I have a tough time believing you can crit their work line-by-line, but only as an entire work. I guess, I'm just of the 'gestalt' class of reader. I take in impressions, but I'm not interested in line-by-lining someone else's work. If I did that, I might as well ask to be the co-author.

Thanks.

People tend to notice what breaks the flow of their reading. Since not only writers but also readers are individuals, different things confuse different readers. Line-edits are hard. Often changing one word gets rid of a problem but introduces another. It's why my explanations of why I would edit something are often longer than the paragraph the word is in.

(Actually, I occasionally comment on stuff that doesn't need correcting, but confuses the editor in me... Hehe.)

You'll always have to take context into considerations. Some of the sillier "grammar rules" exist, because grammar takes the sentence as the biggest units, and you get nonsense like "Don't start a sentence with a conjunction."


And Eddie, you write great action scenes, so there.

Thanks. Although I'm still uncomfortable writing them. I wouldn't put them at the core of a story...

Davis Ashura
July 31st, 2007, 01:09 PM
Thanks Kat and Dawn. That cleared things up.
...Looks around for Rob to say to "Question answered. Thread closed."