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Old 01-26-2014, 02:54 AM View Post #1 (Link) How to get started on YWO
Isis (Offline)
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Join Date: Dec 2009
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Welcome to YWO! Hopefully you're excited to explore the forum and become a part of the community.

Here are a few things to read before you get started:

First, please read the rules before posting anything on the forum. It's all common sense stuff for the most part. Please pay close attention to the rules about posting writing and critiques on the forum.

If you're new to forums and aren't sure how stuff works, take a look at this guide to navigating the forum. It will help you post new threads, post replies, get and send messages, and update your profile. If you've been on tons of forums before, you probably won't need to read this thread in detail but it's there in case you have a navigation question.

You should probably also read the FAQ for new members, which will let you know a little more about the details of the site.

Once you get a rough idea of what the forum is like, we'd love it if you introduced yourself! You can start a thread in this forum (the Newbie Zone) to start getting to know everybody here. It's a good way to start meeting people who are interested in the same genres, styles, books, movies, etc. as you are.

How the writing side of the forum works

Next, now that you know the rules, I'm sure you're psyched to start posting writing and getting feedback from others. Before you try to post your stories or poems, here's how the writing side of the forum works. We use a points system to make the forum fair. You earn points by posting helpful critiques on other people's writing, and then you can spend those points to post your own writing. We ask that you do at least two critiques on average for every piece that you post, and all critiques after that are encouraged! We look down upon critiques that are posted quickly in order to just gain points, or critiques that didn't seem to take any time or effort.

Critiques need to be longer than 4 or 5 sentences at the barest minimum, and need to contain a few concrete criticisms, praises, or suggestions about the work being critiqued. Only correcting grammar or spelling doesn't count, though it is helpful in combination with other comments and suggestions. Read the critique guidelines to get a rough idea of what we're looking for.

If you post critiques that aren't long enough and don't contain helpful advice, a moderator will delete your critique. In this case, you will likely get a message (either in a thread of yours, via VM, or via PM) explaining that your critiques need to be improved, and linking you to guides that will help you improve them. In addition, if you post short or unhelpful critiques and then post your own work, that work will be locked so no one can comment on it. You can get your work unlocked by posting new, full critiques and then messaging a moderator with the links. They will unlock your thread if your critiques are helpful.

In order to know if your critique will earn you points and meet the forum standards, take a look at the examples of good and bad critiques below.

Here are some examples of critiques that have been deleted. Please don't post critiques like this, since a moderator will ask you to revise them and may delete them in a week.

The wind is a nice subject in my opinion, I like this.
This should be obviously unacceptable. It was on a poem about the wind. This comment says nothing concrete about the poem at all. It uses totally subjective measures - "a nice subject" and "I like this". Because the comment doesn't go into any more detail, the author can't know why the reader thought the wind is a nice subject. Is it just because of the reader's preferences? Or did the poet do a really good job of getting the main idea across? Nor can the poet know why the reader liked the poem, so it doesn't help the poet do the same good things again in the future.

I'm enjoying the rhyme scheme (ABCC). This poem sounds a little bit like something I would write. I like the descriptiveness and the detail and how at the end you finally revealed your narrator.
This critique goes a little bit further than the last one, but it is still too vague and general to be helpful. The reader has taken a good first step, which is noticing specific things about the poem: the rhyme, the detail, the end of the poem. But those are just first steps. The fault here is the reader did not say why they liked things about the poem. If I were the poet, I'd want to know: why did the reader like the rhyme scheme? What descriptive parts or detail did the reader like? Why does it sound familiar to the reader, and is that a good thing? Again, this critique is mostly opinion without justification and so it's not helpful.

your story is very creative but barely has any dialogue. i liked it but you can add more details so ill know how it looks where they are and what the people look like. i really think it could be better if you added dialogue.
You might notice that this critique has a few grammar and capitalization issues, which is unfortunate. You'll see that this critique is mostly opinion without justification. It contains two suggestions, which is a little more helpful than the last two critiques I've discussed. Still, those suggestions are not really justified (and one is of dubious quality). The reader here never explains why they think dialogue would improve the story. Is it because all stories "should" have dialogue? Because the reader wants to know that the characters would say to each other? Because it would introduce an element of showing rather than telling into the story? In addition, the suggestion to add details isn't very fleshed out. We know why the reader wanted more details - they wanted to know that the people look like. But is that really necessary for the story? Why did they want to know? What exact parts of the story are lacking detail? It's hard for a writer to implement the suggestion of "add details". It's a lot easier to implement the suggestion of "add details to X part of the story because of Y reasons".

It's so important to say why you think something or suggest something in a critique because that will help the writer implement your advice or use your opinions to figure out what to do with the piece.

Here are some examples of short but helpful critiques:

Originally Posted by Musafir View Post
After reading your poem I get some idea of a female who was reportedly "wronged". But this could have been achieved even by a simple sentence. A lot of things are unclear in this like: what do 'colors of angels and demons' mean, what promises were made, whose vanity and in what sense it offended her, and so on. The starting lines don't really capture the reader's attention and fail to portray the female's angst or contempt. This poem remains incomplete because of incomplete sentences and ideas cut short by enforced rhyme. I think it could become clearer if you describe the story behind this. You may try painting the circumstances in which she was wronged in a way which would be more vivid to the reader. Meanwhile, keep reading and writing more poems.
This critique pays attention to what the poem as a whole is trying to say and do. This reader summarized the idea they got from the poem, which can be helpful for the writer - this way, the writer knows how well their poem communicated. The reader also pointed out particular things that they found confusing. They also gave some suggestions at the end about how to start improving the poem and making it more clear.



Originally Posted by RockerBunny View Post
Well, I'm in two minds right now. The story line wasn't exactly bad, but until the very end, it was very confusing. If this is a short story, that's not a good thing, in my opinion. On the other hand, if this just a prologue or a chapter, then not bad.

The main problem I had is something I mentioned after the first paragraph itself - you had a lot of sentences that just didn't sound right and wasn't clear. These sentences could have been separated and made a bit more clearer.

You also asked specifically for opinions on the MC. For me, Papa Dean(He is the MC, right?) wasn't particularly engaging, if you know what I mean. For me, he lacked substance (I have problems with this as well). I couldn't exactly relate to him or even have a taste of his feelings. There was a point where he had a sudden urge to throw Emma into the back of the truck and this just made me wonder why he had that urge in the first place. That was just one example of not being able to relate to him.

Hope this helped. If you have anything to ask based on this crit, message me.

- RB
This critique is a little longer, but you'll see the same basic pattern as the one above. The reader summarized their opinion of the piece and included some justification of that opinion. This reader included more detail about that, talking about a particular part of the story that wasn't clear and that could be improved. One good thing that the reader did was respond to a specific request by the author. I think this reader did a really good job of describing a reaction to a character in the story, and using specific examples to explain why they had that reaction.


We think all new members, even if they've never really critiqued other people's work before, are capable of providing comments like this. All it takes is a little thought and time. And when you give helpful feedback on other people's work, they are more likely to come find your work and try to help you out.

If you're new to critiquing or want to brush up on your skills, you can learn about how to critique by reading these guides:
How to critique
How to critique fiction
How to critique poetry



For those members who are feeling ambitious or want to learn more, here are some examples of really good critiques:

As you look through these critiques, you'll see a few different approaches and styles represented. There are lots of ways to give helpful feedback.

A combination of line by line comments about writing as well as general responses to a novel chapter, by Infinity_Man
A critique using a similar approach but looking at a short story, by Dabs
A flash fiction critique by Rose

A very specific, line by line poetry critique by lalodragon
Another specific poetry critique that also focuses on some overall stuff, by Keladry
An overall poetry critique by Amour

These critiques were written by members who have been writing and critiquing for a while. We don't expect everybody to talk about other people's work in such depth right away - it takes time and practice! But if you want to get really good at critiquing and talking about other people's work in a helpful way, you can learn a lot from these examples.


How to post your own work
Now that you've done some good critiques and are ready to post your work, take a look at the rules for the forum you want to post in. Here are the rules for the short stories forum, which is representative of the rules everywhere. If you have questions about the rules or want to clear the content of your work with a moderator, send someone with a green name a VM or a PM with your question. Otherwise, post away!

How to get answers to questions

Maybe you've read this guide and the links above, but you're still not sure how things work, or you have a question about something on the forum. You can ask a new question in the FAQ for new members. Or you can contact a moderator - all members with green usernames are moderators. You can find a full list here, under the category "Global Moderators". Part of the moderators' job is to make sure people understand how the forum works, and they're happy to answer whatever questions you have.
  
						Last edited by Infinity_Man; 08-25-2014 at 11:08 AM.
					
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