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Author Topic: [Sep 2018] - Meetings - Critique Thread  (Read 1835 times)

Offline xiagan

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[Sep 2018] - Meetings - Critique Thread
« on: November 02, 2018, 07:52:59 PM »
Here is the possibility to get critiques for your stories entered in our writing contest - and to give critique as well.

So what we're doing is this:
1. Everybody who wants critique for his story posts in here.*
2. Everybody who wants to do a critique for a specific story (whose writer has asked for critique) posts it in here.

IF this thread is overrun fast, I'm splitting it so that every story has it's own one to avoid confusion.

* I know that critique isn't always easy to handle, especially if you are not used to it. So if you feel more comfortable receiving it in private, people can send it via pm. They can post here that they sent a critique via pm so that others know about it.

At the moment I don't think it necessary that we create a system balancing given/received critiques. However, if it turns out to be unfair and some people are giving critiques without receiving some (or the other way round) we have to add one.

Basic rules for critiquing:

This is just a small guideline for those that haven't done critiques before, stolen from this forum's writing section.
   
       
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Critiquing Other’s Work

            1. Please read what the poster is asking for before you post your critique.
            2. Critique the writing, not the writer.  Never, “You are...” or “You should...” but rather, “The writing is...” or “The story should...”
            3. We all have different levels of writing ability here, keep that in mind when critiquing.
            4. Find what is right in each piece as well as what is wrong.
            5. Remember that subject matter is personal. You don't have to like a story to give it a fair critique.
            6. Remember what your biases are and critique around them.
            7. Remember that real people wrote this stuff, and real people have real feelings. Things you may not say while critiquing: “That’s awful.” “That’s stupid.” “You couldn’t write your way out of a paper bag.”
"Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis." (Laplace)

Offline Slaykomimi

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Re: [Sep 2018] - Meetings - Critique Thread
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2018, 01:04:57 PM »
I want critique please, I know the meetings entry of me was rushed out but I still need to get critiqued to develop my skills.
Truly, if there is evil in this world, it lies within the heart of mankind.

-Edward d. Morrison

Offline JMack

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Re: [Sep 2018] - Meetings - Critique Thread
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2018, 01:41:13 PM »
@ShadowKnight:

I just went back and re-read “Meetstery” and here are some thoughts. These are just my opinion. Please ignore anything that doesn’t work for you.

The frame of the story is excellent. A bunch of no-nothings criticizing good work they couldn’t have done themselves, and the discovery that the CEO has snuck in under cover. I love that the story is driven by dialogue, which makes the present tense approach work really well. And your writing is solid (that’s not a back-handed compliment; it’s a real one) - grammar, clarity, few adverbs, etc.

Here are the things that I felt needed to be stronger. Like many of our submissions (and almost always this a-plies to mine), the 1,500 word limit is exasperating for some of this.

  • I can’t follow who is who. I think it was all clear to you, but I end up going, who? I can’t quite remember the MC’s actual name. I think we need fewer named speakers and those that speak have to have more clearly defined roles in the story. (I know if I went back I could figure it out, but that’s sort of my point.) Similarly, “Sis” doesn’t make sense to me, since I thought we were at a company meeting. Even though this is later, how did the MC’s sister get into it? I also know you were putting in famous avatars, but the only one I think I got was Jack Sparrow?
  • Along those lines, I’d like to see the core story put in more focus. There need’s to be a personal conflict (maybe one no-nothing antagonist who leads the bullying) that is resolved by the action of the MC (the MC invited the CEO, but never thought he’d come? This allows both the twist and avoids a complete Deus ex machine when the CEO resolves the conflict). As it is, I actually can’t tell what happens to the Meetstery idea when the CEO speaks up. Is it rejected? Accepted? And what happens to the MC’s career and the no-nothings?
  • Related to all this is a final thought about emotional reaction and beats. I want to care more about the MC, and I get there by feeling what he’s feeling and by there being something personally important at stake (is this his very last shot Nd if it fails he’s fired?). So we need to be in his head, or if we’re a very limited narrator (not in anyone’s head), then emotional response has to flagged through physical actions and states. Similarly, by choosing a chief antagonist/ bully / torturer, you can focus on his reactions and let all the others be a sort of collective mob.

I don’t know if any of this makes sense or is helpful.

But I still want to emphasize the thing about clarity with a few examples:

  • The view plummets before settling on a pair of hands intertwined just above the wooden surface of the desk. why does this happen? Is it an error in the camera programming? What is the point, if no one reacts? 
  • The old man flinches, his mouth closing instantly. Who is the old man? I guess it’s Rick, based on the silvery hair from earlier/ but it’s too hard to figure out (for me).

sSorry, have to run and come back. Posting this almost complete version.
[/list]
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
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Offline ShadowKnight

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Re: [Sep 2018] - Meetings - Critique Thread
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2018, 08:57:30 AM »
Thank you for creating this thread @xiagan.

@JMack, my deepest gratitude for your comments. You made me understand the importance of reader feedback.
Rereading the story in light of your critique, I realize how some things that seemed obvious to me while writing could easily be confusing for the reader. I agree with you that the story should have been simpler and more straightforward (fewer speakers, focus on the main plot, etc.), especially given the constraints of the exercise and my limited experience as a writer.
I'll try to apply all of that in my future works.  :)

I don't know if I'm supposed to react to your remarks point by point.  If you want me to, I'll gladly to so (in this thread or in private).

Offline ShadowKnight

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Re: [Sep 2018] - Meetings - Critique Thread
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2018, 10:33:11 AM »
I want critique please, I know the meetings entry of me was rushed out but I still need to get critiqued to develop my skills.

Here are my thoughts on your story @Slaykomimi. This is the first time I'm doing a critique; I apologize in advance if some of my comments are presented in a way that goes against the guidelines.
I hope at least some of my feedback will be useful to you.

Grammar, spelling, punctuation

One of the things that bothered me the most is the disrespect of some grammar and punctuation rules.
Taken separately, most errors don't get in the way of understanding the meaning; but overall they gave me the impression that the writing was rushed (as you yourself confirmed) and they drew me out of the story.

Some examples below.
  • Switching between past and present tense:
    "Markus replied and started [...]" (§1) versus "They climb through the hatch and arrive [...]" (§2)
    Sometimes in the same sentence: "They end up in a small circle room made of Stone with a metal ladder inside, „please follow me up to the dome“ the man said."
  • Spelling:
    "allready" (§1) --> "already"
    "glas" (§2) --> "glass"
    "forniture" (§2) --> "furniture"
  • Sentence length:
    In some cases I found the sentences too long. I think that splitting them in multiple shorter sentences would make the text easier to read.
    Examples:
    "'Thank you for inviting me, I am allready excited' Markus replied and started by taking off his bag and lay it to the corner where the other bags were stored and started to follow the man through the narrow rooms stuffed with bookshelfs." (§1)
    "They climb through the hatch and arrive in a dome made mostly of glas, the night sky mostly illuminated the room, together with many different candles and fireflies, floating through the room."
  • Dialogue punctuation:
    For a single line with dialogue tag (attribution) following, a comma should follow the dialogue and come before the closing quotation mark.
    "'Thank you for inviting me, I am allready excited' Markus replied" (§1) --> "'Thank you for inviting me, I am allready excited,' Markus replied"
I make similar mistakes in first drafts. I find that proofreading my work (or asking someone else to proofread it) helps eradicate most of them.

Characters

The setting is described at length but I thought that there was too little about the characters. When Markus arrives and sees the others for the first time (the man who lets him in and then the other attendees), providing a physical description of the characters - even a brief one - would have helped me visualize each one of them and get a glimpse of who they are.

I liked how each participant had their own reason for being there, but I was disappointed the characters' motivations didn't play a more important role in the story.
Also, I would have found more effective for the motivation of at least some characters to be shown through their actions and reactions rather than having them state it right away.

Also, I didn't get enough conflict from the main character. Sure he's excited to be there, but what is at stake for him? Is he afraid of the others because he doesn't know what they are doing exactly at those meetings? Does he want to impress them so that he can join their ranks? Is he bothered that his experience is magic is no match to that of the others?

"The mages reach out for the little bowls in their middle" (§6)
The mages - who are they? Does that refer to all the other characters except for Markus? In any case it wasn't clear to me.

Plot

I liked how the first paragraph made me curious about the nature of the gathering. I also appreciated that the description of the setting hints at the identity of the attendees and the potential subject of the meeting.
This is reinforced in subsequent paragraphs, which reveal more information while preserving that sense of mystery.

Markus trying the pipe takes a large portion of the story. While I found it interesting and funny in its own right, I was disappointed that by the end I still didn't know what the gathering was really about.
In my opinion the pipe episode would make a fine introduction to the gathering, but using it as the sole focus of the story left me wanting more. I think it may have worked in a longer piece, but since this is a short story I would have focused on the meeting itself and tried to show conflict between the characters.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2018, 11:39:13 AM by ShadowKnight »

Offline JMack

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Re: [Sep 2018] - Meetings - Critique Thread
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2018, 12:00:21 PM »
@ShadowKnight, there’s no need to reply to particular points, but it can be fun, interesting, and useful if everyone keeps cool. I’ve seen these threads get heated with argument, which ain’t the point of course. Meanwhile, as you just did, it’s considered good form to thank the reviewer. There’s a line of thinking that says “Thank you” is the only correct response to a critique, but I think this is a pretty safe zone for digging deeper to better understand and to have more fun.
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
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Offline Eclipse

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Re: [Sep 2018] - Meetings - Critique Thread
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2018, 12:52:02 PM »
I just want to say I think the  non-native English speaking posters Are amazing I couldn’t write a story in a foreign language, I know the English written words can be confusing.



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* Generally those who don't have to do it.Politicians and writers spring to mind

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Offline Slaykomimi

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Re: [Sep 2018] - Meetings - Critique Thread
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2018, 10:45:18 PM »
I want critique please, I know the meetings entry of me was rushed out but I still need to get critiqued to develop my skills.

Here are my thoughts on your story @Slaykomimi. This is the first time I'm doing a critique; I apologize in advance if some of my comments are presented in a way that goes against the guidelines.
I hope at least some of my feedback will be useful to you.

Grammar, spelling, punctuation

One of the things that bothered me the most is the disrespect of some grammar and punctuation rules.
Taken separately, most errors don't get in the way of understanding the meaning; but overall they gave me the impression that the writing was rushed (as you yourself confirmed) and they drew me out of the story.

Some examples below.
  • Switching between past and present tense:
    "Markus replied and started [...]" (§1) versus "They climb through the hatch and arrive [...]" (§2)
    Sometimes in the same sentence: "They end up in a small circle room made of Stone with a metal ladder inside, „please follow me up to the dome“ the man said."
  • Spelling:
    "allready" (§1) --> "already"
    "glas" (§2) --> "glass"
    "forniture" (§2) --> "furniture"
  • Sentence length:
    In some cases I found the sentences too long. I think that splitting them in multiple shorter sentences would make the text easier to read.
    Examples:
    "'Thank you for inviting me, I am allready excited' Markus replied and started by taking off his bag and lay it to the corner where the other bags were stored and started to follow the man through the narrow rooms stuffed with bookshelfs." (§1)
    "They climb through the hatch and arrive in a dome made mostly of glas, the night sky mostly illuminated the room, together with many different candles and fireflies, floating through the room."
  • Dialogue punctuation:
    For a single line with dialogue tag (attribution) following, a comma should follow the dialogue and come before the closing quotation mark.
    "'Thank you for inviting me, I am allready excited' Markus replied" (§1) --> "'Thank you for inviting me, I am allready excited,' Markus replied"
I make similar mistakes in first drafts. I find that proofreading my work (or asking someone else to proofread it) helps eradicate most of them.

Characters

The setting is described at length but I thought that there was too little about the characters. When Markus arrives and sees the others for the first time (the man who lets him in and then the other attendees), providing a physical description of the characters - even a brief one - would have helped me visualize each one of them and get a glimpse of who they are.

I liked how each participant had their own reason for being there, but I was disappointed the characters' motivations didn't play a more important role in the story.
Also, I would have found more effective for the motivation of at least some characters to be shown through their actions and reactions rather than having them state it right away.

Also, I didn't get enough conflict from the main character. Sure he's excited to be there, but what is at stake for him? Is he afraid of the others because he doesn't know what they are doing exactly at those meetings? Does he want to impress them so that he can join their ranks? Is he bothered that his experience is magic is no match to that of the others?

"The mages reach out for the little bowls in their middle" (§6)
The mages - who are they? Does that refer to all the other characters except for Markus? In any case it wasn't clear to me.

Plot

I liked how the first paragraph made me curious about the nature of the gathering. I also appreciated that the description of the setting hints at the identity of the attendees and the potential subject of the meeting.
This is reinforced in subsequent paragraphs, which reveal more information while preserving that sense of mystery.

Markus trying the pipe takes a large portion of the story. While I found it interesting and funny in its own right, I was disappointed that by the end I still didn't know what the gathering was really about.
In my opinion the pipe episode would make a fine introduction to the gathering, but using it as the sole focus of the story left me wanting more. I think it may have worked in a longer piece, but since this is a short story I would have focused on the meeting itself and tried to show conflict between the characters.

@ShadowKnight thank you very much for the critique. I felt very pressured by the word limit and probably came up with something that should be explained longer, especially since I put much thought into the construct and not in how to write it down. I do wanted to explain the characters and motivations much more, but it was rushed and I sadly had not much time the last weeks (and I hope some stress in my life will finally go away so I can focus more on my private life like reading and writing).

I also want to thank @Eclipse for pointing out that it´s hard to write on a non native language, which is no excuse since my writings in my native language is way worse in grammar and punctuation.

I want to thank You for your feedback and I am welcome to all constructive feedback in any form, no matter how negative it is. The main reason I joined this forum was writing, so I can develop this skill since I wrote no real text before. I know I will make many mistakes and that I have much to learn, but also that developing a skill requires much patience and practice. So I am glad for any feedback and wish for it at every text I post.

I just thought about asking for a recomendation to learn punctuation and grammar better, but than I would probably get standard school stuff  ;D
This is just something I need to learn in order to write better and someday finally write incredible stuff.

I also need to spend much more time and focus on editing, I totally overlooked the viewpoint of someone outside my mind who needs to learn about the characters and the plot by the text. Readers who won´t haveall the information that is stored inside my head.

Thanks for the feedback and I hope for more feedback on every text in the future  :D
Truly, if there is evil in this world, it lies within the heart of mankind.

-Edward d. Morrison

Offline JMack

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Re: [Sep 2018] - Meetings - Critique Thread
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2018, 12:14:45 AM »
@Slaykomimi, I hope you will continue to write and continue to share with us. We would like nothing more than to see you enjoy and learn. Your most recent story (small magics) shows progress in giving us a character and situation I really cared about.
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline ShadowKnight

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Re: [Sep 2018] - Meetings - Critique Thread
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2018, 07:53:30 PM »
@ShadowKnight thank you very much for the critique. I felt very pressured by the word limit and probably came up with something that should be explained longer, especially since I put much thought into the construct and not in how to write it down. I do wanted to explain the characters and motivations much more, but it was rushed and I sadly had not much time the last weeks (and I hope some stress in my life will finally go away so I can focus more on my private life like reading and writing).

You're welcome. I hope it was helpful.
I felt the same for my story concerning character motivation; short stories are challenging in that regard.

I also want to thank @Eclipse for pointing out that it´s hard to write on a non native language, which is no excuse since my writings in my native language is way worse in grammar and punctuation.

I didn't know English wasn't your native language. As a non-native English speaker myself, I can confirm that it's no easy task to write in a foreign language. But I think practice is the best way to improve.

I want to thank You for your feedback and I am welcome to all constructive feedback in any form, no matter how negative it is. The main reason I joined this forum was writing, so I can develop this skill since I wrote no real text before. I know I will make many mistakes and that I have much to learn, but also that developing a skill requires much patience and practice. So I am glad for any feedback and wish for it at every text I post.

That's the spirit! I wholeheartedly agree. :)

I just thought about asking for a recomendation to learn punctuation and grammar better, but than I would probably get standard school stuff  ;D

I'd say that reading in English is the most effective way to improve one's grammar. You can also try having someone more experienced proofread your work and point out mistakes.