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    is obsessed with Noivern! Zekurom's Avatar
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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    Quote Originally Posted by NoirGrimoir View Post
    I agree with Zekurom that "a writer needs to learn to deal with harsh criticism" isn't an excuse to flame someone. Whoever, I have met all to many people who even handled very carefully and with encouragement, give up without really trying at the first sign that the utter crap they've come up with wasn't brilliant and someone might not think it was the best idea ever. Not out of pride, just out of fear.
    Well, perhaps you calling it "utter crap" is part of the problem. "A writer needs to learn to deal with harsh criticism" isn't an excuse to give harsh criticism either. There is always a way to point out problems wihtout being harsh.

    I've been a beta many times and people have asked for my honest opinions and assistance on their stories and ideas. I certainly don't pull my punches, but I like to think that even if my criticism is very harsh, that I give very good suggestions, explanations, encouragement and the promise that I would give all the help the author asked for to make the story better, as well as always telling the writer that what they say goes, and not to just take my word for things but follow their instincts if they have strong feelings about something.
    Sometimes, you need to know when to pull your punches. It takes patience to guide a new writer through the process, something most people don't seem to have. Trying to make yourself come off as tough and uncompromising by presenting the writer with harsh criticism will not always send your message the right way, or even make you come across as more helpful than a wishy-washy reviewer who never asserts anything.

    And even with all this, I've had people give up on something after I've critiqued their first chapter. Sometimes after I've just given my opinion on their premise. If the reviewer/critic/beta has genuinely tried their best to be evenhanded and encouraging, if the writer still quits/cries/whatever, its not their fault. It could be that the writer simply doesn't have the objectivity needed to really examine themselves, or the right story idea hasn't come along to make them want to.
    Now, while I'll agree that it's not the reviewer's fault, it's certainly a problem that they might need to deal with. If all else fails, you can simply say nothing at all, and move on, if you know that anything you do will help the author even less than simply leaving them be.
    The word "quadragonal" is the only word with "dragon" in it where "dragon" is not a root word. That makes it awesome.

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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    It seems like you're kind of taking the stance that what anyone says is going to be said in a mean way automatically, and addressing me specifically. By not pulling punches, I meant I didn't tell them something was good when it wasn't. I was thorough and extensive, everything incorrect or that could be made better, was addressed. I did not mean, that I didn't hold back in telling them how awful I thought their story was. I apologize if that seems like what I meant. Also, I don't really think anyone should straight up come out and say that someone's story is crap to them (me using the term 'utter crap' was exaggeration because I'm over-dramatic), even in a review, even if they feel strongly about it, even if the author asked for honest opinions, it shouldn't be done. It's not helpful, its just mean.

    But really, you can't know for certain how an author will react to what you say. You can be as nice as humanly possible but even one comment that something could use revision might cause someone to quite. It's not inevitable, but there really are those people out there. While it is a reviewer's responsibility to be honest, courteous, helpful and encouraging, it is NOT their responsibility to build up an author's ego, or be an emotional crutch. Every reviewer has things they could work on, me especially. I know that if all I can think to say are negative things about a story I won't bother to review it, both because I wouldn't be happy with myself for being so awful to someone, and because I know how damaging it can be to receive a review like that. Still, if a reviewer does everything in their power to uphold their responsibilities as a reviewer, then the author's reaction isn't something they should beat themselves up over. An author deserves to be treated kindly and courteously and respected for the effort, creativity and ideas in their work, but they do have to know that the reviewer is entitled their opinions, and while the author doesn't deserved to be flamed and shouldn't be, they do have to be aware that everyone isn't going to have the same reaction to their story as they are. Inevitably even the most well-written stories are going to be disliked by some fraction of the population, on the basis of taste alone.
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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    Quote Originally Posted by NoirGrimoir View Post
    I agree with Zekurom that "a writer needs to learn to deal with harsh criticism" isn't an excuse to flame someone.
    And the authors who get all uptight and sensitive to any and all criticism don't help. If you know what I mean.
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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    Quote Originally Posted by NoirGrimoir View Post
    By not pulling punches, I meant I didn't tell them something was good when it wasn't.
    Oh, that's perfectly fine. I assumed you meant that [see below]

    I did not mean, that I didn't hold back in telling them how awful I thought their story was. I apologize if that seems like what I meant.
    Apology accepted. But just keep in mind that usually "not pulling your punches" means "not holding back in doing something intentionally hurtful or offensive". The rest I'm okay with.

    Also, I don't really think anyone should straight up come out and say that someone's story is crap to them (me using the term 'utter crap' was exaggeration because I'm over-dramatic), even in a review, even if they feel strongly about it, even if the author asked for honest opinions, it shouldn't be done. It's not helpful, its just mean.
    Yeah, that's true.

    Still, if a reviewer does everything in their power to uphold their responsibilities as a reviewer, then the author's reaction isn't something they should beat themselves up over.
    Of course. But it's always good to review what you've said to make sure that you haven't done anything wrong, instead of just blaming everything on the writer up front.

    An author deserves to be treated kindly and courteously and respected for the effort, creativity and ideas in their work, but they do have to know that the reviewer is entitled their opinions, and while the author doesn't deserved to be flamed and shouldn't be, they do have to be aware that everyone isn't going to have the same reaction to their story as they are. Inevitably even the most well-written stories are going to be disliked by some fraction of the population, on the basis of taste alone.
    Of course. And in that case, the writer can safely ignore the people who dislike their stories based on taste alone (and shame on the reviewers who mistake taste for quality).


    Quote Originally Posted by matt0044 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by NoirGrimoir View Post
    I agree with Zekurom that "a writer needs to learn to deal with harsh criticism" isn't an excuse to flame someone.
    And the authors who get all uptight and sensitive to any and all criticism don't help. If you know what I mean.
    There are also those reviewers who get all uptight and sensitive when anyone challenges their criticisms.
    The word "quadragonal" is the only word with "dragon" in it where "dragon" is not a root word. That makes it awesome.

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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    Quote Originally Posted by Zekurom View Post
    There are also those reviewers who get all uptight and sensitive when anyone challenges their criticisms.
    I think this is a good boundary that reviewers should avoid crossing if they don't want to upset the author. Personally, I put as much detail and reasoning into my criticisms as possible. If the author asks for an explanation, I give it, but if the author challenges it head on then I back off. I try to write my reviews such that if the author doesn't agree with my criticism the first time, then I shouldn't bother to press the issue because either they're sensitive about the subject and probably won't ever accept the criticism or I made a mistake or misinterpretation. Half of the time those kind of arguments just degenerate into the reviewer and author stubbornly saying the exact same thing over and over again anyways.

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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    One thing I want to address: humor in reviews.

    This is something I'm not really keen on because humor is extremely subjective. What may come off as playful to the reviewer may be seen as incredibly insulting by the author.
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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    Most humor in my reviews is self deprecating. Or puns. I have yet to meet anyone who found a pun offensive. You bring up a good point though, playful teasing can sometimes be hurtful.

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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    Quote Originally Posted by AetherX View Post
    Most humor in my reviews is self deprecating. Or puns. I have yet to meet anyone who found a pun offensive. You bring up a good point though, playful teasing can sometimes be hurtful.
    Not to point fingers or call names, but I think a good example is Italics' review of my story, For Want of Spirit. Although I didn't find it much offensive, I could see how somebody could be offended by some of the jabs she took.
    The word "quadragonal" is the only word with "dragon" in it where "dragon" is not a root word. That makes it awesome.

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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    You know how some will call "Mary Sue" on a character who starts out as smart and pretty badass? Or on a character they just plain don't like even if he/she isn't technically a "sue?"

    Also, whatever happened to @Italics?

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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    Calling a character a Sue is kind of a useless observation nowadays. I've seen what you mean, a lot of people just refer to characters they don't like as Sues. It's much more helpful to state specifically why you think the character is weak or poorly done.

    Italics probably moved on to become a professional editor :P She hasn't been around in a while, but given the current trend of returning faces...

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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    Quote Originally Posted by AetherX View Post
    Calling a character a Sue is kind of a useless observation nowadays. I've seen what you mean, a lot of people just refer to characters they don't like as Sues. It's much more helpful to state specifically why you think the character is weak or poorly done.
    Man, if I had a Zimbabwean dollar for every time I thought this.

    Italics probably moved on to become a professional editor :P She hasn't been around in a while, but given the current trend of returning faces...
    Hey, I'm a returning face, aren't I? D:
    The word "quadragonal" is the only word with "dragon" in it where "dragon" is not a root word. That makes it awesome.

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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    Quote Originally Posted by AetherX View Post
    Calling a character a Sue is kind of a useless observation nowadays. I've seen what you mean, a lot of people just refer to characters they don't like as Sues. It's much more helpful to state specifically why you think the character is weak or poorly done.
    I agree.

    The problem is that people focus on the traits of a Mary Sue when they should be focusing on the interactions said Sue has with the characters and story.
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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    Quote Originally Posted by matt0044 View Post
    You know how some will call "Mary Sue" on a character who starts out as smart and pretty badass? Or on a character they just plain don't like even if he/she isn't technically a "sue?"

    Also, whatever happened to @Italics?
    I wouldn't worry about sues, it's pretty much a term without meaning and only really means "character who I do not like" or "who I don't like the way they are written." It's an attempt at objectively stating a character as the bane of all writers and shouldn't be taken seriously imo. Plus the term has a negative connotation is often is used to incite rage in most fandoms I've interacted with.

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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    Quote Originally Posted by Gotpika View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by matt0044 View Post
    You know how some will call "Mary Sue" on a character who starts out as smart and pretty badass? Or on a character they just plain don't like even if he/she isn't technically a "sue?"

    Also, whatever happened to @Italics?
    I wouldn't worry about sues, it's pretty much a term without meaning and only really means "character who I do not like" or "who I don't like the way they are written." It's an attempt at objectively stating a character as the bane of all writers and shouldn't be taken seriously imo. Plus the term has a negative connotation is often is used to incite rage in most fandoms I've interacted with.
    Yes, but for those starting to write fics and naive to certain things in fandom and the internet, it can be very harmful to their self-esteem. I speak from experience, of course.

    This says what I have to say better: http://sparklinburgndy.deviantart.com/art/Mary-Sue-Rebuttal-200938337
    Last edited by matt0044; 7th February 2013 at 12:20 PM.

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    Default Re: Constructive criticism v. flaming

    Quote Originally Posted by zakisrage View Post
    Here's the difference as I would see it.

    This is constructive criticism: "It's a good fanfic, but I noticed that you have quite a few typographical errors. There are also some words you got confused, like "than" and "then". Also, I think Lyra's reaction to her stolen Jigglypuff was unrealistic. I don't think she would just shrug it off. Personally, I didn't like that you portrayed Morty as a jerk, but I guess we can agree to disagree."

    This is flaming: "BOO! U SUCK! DIS IS THE WORST FANFIC OF ALL TIEM! U CANT WRITE WORTH SHIT! HOW COULD YOU PORTRAY MORTY AS AN ASSHOLE? WHY IS LYRA NOT CARING ABOUT HER STOLEN JIGGLYPUFF? BOO!"

    (Not a real fanfic, but I'm using a hypothetical example.)
    I know this is a necroquote, but here's a more realistic example from a blog post I wrote a while back about reviewing:

    Constructive comments (albeit just a little on the tough side):
    You had too many things that differed from canon.

    For example, Spectrum Town and Sienna City. They don't seem necessary to the story in any way, and you seemed to add them in there just to have something to set yourself apart from other fics. Setting yourself apart this kind of way isn't necessarily a good thing.

    Also, you seem to like the spelling of "Buoysel". But that's wrong - you really should change it to "Buizel".

    You might also want to reconsider "Professor Maple" - there are too many name-of-tree professors out there already, and Maple is one of the common ones. Using this makes your fic seem naive and clichéd.

    Fourthly, Rachel and Ken seem to be finding Pokémon in the strangest of places - there's never been a Skarmory in the Kanto region or a Pikachu on Route 1, and especially a Lapras in Viridian Forest. If you keep doing things like this, it makes your characters seem more like Mary Sues, because they're getting into the strangest situations for no reason at all but the author's whim.

    Last of all, you renamed all the route numbers. Why? What was so wrong with the original route numbers that you just had to change them?

    In conclusion, you should consider making your story closer to canon. The way it is right now is more like original fiction than a real Pokémon fic.
    Flaming criticism (except it's not even flaming, it's just unacceptably harsh):

    No, no, no, no, no. This is not how you write a Pokémon story.

    Don't insert random towns into the mix of a region just because you feel like it. The city and town layout of the Kanto region is just fine the way it is - why do you feel the need to throw in regions like Spectrum Town and Sienna City? They add nothing.

    Also, "Buizel" is spelled as such. Stop misspelling it as "Buoysel". It makes you look like you have no knowledge of the world.

    Moreover... "Professor Maple"? Really? What is with people and trying to insert random professor names into their fics? You even have Professor Oak later on in the second chapter.

    Fourthly, you will never find a Skarmory in the Kanto region - they're just not native there. Nor will you find a Pikachu on Route 1. Or a freaking Lapras.

    And last of all, what was wrong with the original route numbers? You seem to have a need to rename everything. Route 1 is now known as Route 49. It's just not needed.

    You need to seriously reconsider writing fanfiction if you're going to disgrace canon like this. Your efforts would be much better geared towards writing original fiction.
    You can be unacceptably harsh without even flaming. Both types of reviews are equally bad, and I'd say the non-flaming one might even be worse because the author feels justified in posting it.
    Last edited by Zekurom; 27th February 2013 at 08:26 AM.
    The word "quadragonal" is the only word with "dragon" in it where "dragon" is not a root word. That makes it awesome.

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