About five months ago I joined an online writers' group, Critters Workshop. The way it works is very simple: Critique and be critiqued. As a member I am obligated to critique an average of one story per week, and I can get a story critiqued about once every four weeks.

I just got a batch of critiques for one of my stories, and well, one of them sent me into an uncontrollable fit of rage. Obviously, when you put your work out there to get reviewed, you're baring your soul. All naked and exposed, one reviewer proved himself adept at twisting a knife in my heart. [Summary: I'm an editor and I'm therefore harsh; Your characters are trite and unappealing (links to gargoyle personality test as evidence); You don't use the word 'father' correctly (huh?); Here's a couple of rewrites (neither worked); You obviously aren't well read and you just as obviously don't write well; You don't use words correctly in context (no evidence cited); You're copying others' writings (again, no evidence cited).]

For two days all I could think about was how this guy had gotten under my skin. I had nearly calmed down to the point where I could function again and feel somewhat good about myself, when I got a second one! [Summary: I quit reading after five paragraphs. Boring! There wasn't enough sex and violence, and combos of the two.] Getting kicked when you're down really sucks, and the second fellow picked a bad moment to hurt my feelings.

Up until that point, the rest of the reviews I had received weren't glowing (but not derisive). I had decided to quit the workshop last night before I finally drifted off to sleep, as I wasn't getting good feedback, and some of it was downright nasty.

So this morning I was very greatful to get more more reviews in my inbox that were very respectful and polite, even when they didn't like the story, and that some people seemed to have actually enjoyed the story. It seems that those two were the exception, not the norm. I might stay in the workshop afterall.


At 4/26/06, 3:18 PM, Blogger Crinis said...

Writing that was cathartic! I feel so much better! When I read the summaries, I was able to look past the harsh words and see these guys as just two lame no-nothings. Whew!

At 4/26/06, 4:10 PM, Blogger Les said...

Oh sex and violence, there's the key to what makes writing interesting. What's even better? violent sex! I bet that dude's fiction is a real joy to read.

At 4/26/06, 4:52 PM, Anonymous Alex said...

I usually hear good things about Critters. It's a shame you had to have two of the exceptions in the same critiquing batch.

Speaking of links to gargoyle personality tests... how about a link to this gargoyle personality test(s)? Sounds interesting.

At 4/26/06, 7:16 PM, Blogger Crinis said...

OK, here it is. Try not to laugh too much, especially if you are at work.

At 4/26/06, 9:03 PM, Anonymous Alex said...

Ah yes. The Mary Sue. I'm familiar with that term, but wasn't familiar with the Gargoyles thing. Thanks


At 4/27/06, 1:28 AM, Blogger Michael Stone said...

As both a member of Critters and a reader of the story in question, I can only offer my sympathies. The story was well written, have no fear of that. You may consider reporting the first critter to Andrew Burt. (The second critter is just demonstrating a preference for rubbish fiction.)

But that first guy needs booting out. Please, whatever you do, stick with us. Critters is a great workshop. There are morons in it, of course, like any public amenity. The trick is to remind yourself that you're smarter than them.

At 4/27/06, 11:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vince, it's interesting, when I first started writing I sent things to *everybody* and their grandmother. Seeking advise. I don't so much now.
I don't mean one shouldn't run their work by others, for one things writing we are in our own little heads and we *do* need reality checks. But it's sort of one phase of writing, now I have learned to trust my inner voice more, take comments with a grain of salt. Not seek approval. Etc.
Anyways, well you are growing up with all of this. You gotta suffer
sometimes if you really care about it.


At 4/27/06, 11:19 PM, Anonymous NJH said...

Yes, me science fiction writer, with not the faintest idea on how to contact anyone by blog.


Hi, I'm Nye and I'm going to Clarion with you in July.

(I've been a Critter for years and years -- there are some nerds out there, to be sure, but the majority have been wonderful to me.)


Post a Comment

<< Home

   Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)