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Old 04-24-2015, 01:18 AM View Post #1 (Link) What's the best criticism you've ever received as a writer?
monthlymuser (Offline)
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Let's suppose we could learn something from each other's experiences, yes?

I like to think my most helpful criticism was being told to write in the active voice. The power of knowing how to be direct is undeniable, and writing in the active voice comes almost naturally now.

Contrary to what the thread title may imply, don't feel obligated to limit yourself to one criticism...
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Old 04-24-2015, 01:27 AM View Post #2 (Link)
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this advice wasn't to me but it resonated with me when i read it. it was from calum/hippo on poetry:

"you can't make me cry until you make yourself cry and you can't make yourself cry while trying to make me cry"

also once when i was very very sad he said this to me:

"I love you
and I'd spend hour with you, although I'm not a cute girl or any thing
make all the evil fucking mantra of buzz words in your head into the song it is
something palpable
wait a few weeks
and muah
good as new"

i'm sure he'd be alright with me making that public. formatting is weird because i copied that from facebook also this is getting weird and fanboyesque. but yeah those are the two things that have stuck with me the most throughout all of my writing and musical endeavors.
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Old 04-24-2015, 02:41 AM View Post #3 (Link)
owl (Offline)
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hippo is boss.

I've gotten some pretty A plus writing advice (though "you can't make me cry until you make yourself cry" is getting filed away for later). Infinity_man once told me (and this was back in KWC days, so this was almost nine or ten years ago) that other readers did not have access to my thoughts. This is so important to remember: readers do not see what you see, and do not think with your particular brand of logic, so you have to show up and make things clear to them. I have kept this bit of wisdom/realtalk with me whenever I Make Things Weird in prose.*

The other bit of advice I have gotten that I keep with me -- and I think it is a corollary to Infinity_man's -- came from Jenny Zhang, who was my writing teacher at a workshop for high schoolers at the University of Iowa. She told me to be emotionally honest. When revising my work, make sure it is emotionally honest. She wanted me to not try to make a story something it wasn't, and, when revising, to follow up on what actually was going on with the story on an emotional level. She was right.


*it's a bit easier to get away with this in poetry.
  
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Old 04-24-2015, 02:58 AM View Post #4 (Link)
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This is tough. I don't really recall one central piece of criticism--like one quote or line or whatever--but when I was 19, about two weeks after joining this site, I met a professor who had a rather profound impact on how I write. I often think back on his advice and criticisms when I find myself in some kind of rut. He was probably the first person to expose me to the very thorough, I-hurt-you-for-your-own-good kind of critiques that I'm fond of. He was completely unapologetic in how he approached our pieces, but he saw and articulated our strengths better than anyone else I've encountered, probably because he had a knack for seeing the bigger picture. He struck me as someone who genuinely wanted us to be good writers.

If I had to find one piece of criticism he gave me that really stuck with me, it probably relates to my prose. I used to have a very dry writing style, and though it took me a while to kick that nasty habit (like, well over a year), he was probably the first person to approach me about it and talk about what needed improving. Like a lot of things he said, the advice didn't immediately click. Like, I knew what he was saying, but I didn't know how to do it (I learn through experience, so I had to see the problem for myself before I could use his advice). Infinity_Man also helped me with this.
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Old 04-24-2015, 03:21 AM View Post #5 (Link)
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Not to be so robotic in everything.

I never once thought that the way I thought, reflected in my story writing, would sound so much like that. I thought it sounded mature, informational, and educated, but these are better off in formal academic writing, which I also didn't think was possible until the above criticism was brought up. It definitely enlightened me on how to look at story writing in a whole new window. If it wasn't for this, I'd still be writing Shakespeare era novels with four syllable words, compound-complex sentences in majority, and weighty descriptions of everything.
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Old 04-24-2015, 06:23 AM View Post #6 (Link)
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It's been over a year, more or less, since I last shared any of my own writing for criticism, so nothing really sticks out in my memory, but I will make a case in general for positive criticism. I don't mean I love it when people gush over my writing. I mean when I was a self-conscious young writer who was just finding his legs, up until now when I'm still a self-conscious young writer who is just finding my legs, what stuck out among the heavy red-penned criticism was the one or two "I liked this part" hidden in the line-by-lines. And, as I improved, friends and people on the internet coming up to me and telling me "this was actually really well written" and "I really liked this" and meaning it. It was those comments that broke through to someone who was/is unsure of trying to make it as a writer and made me think "yes, I can do this. It'll take more work, but I can do this."
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Old 04-24-2015, 01:15 PM View Post #7 (Link)
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I don't recall a specific bout of great criticism, but it was probably from Dabs or Infinity_Man. Or Isis too. Or lostbookworm. Mostly just had to do with the storyline and understanding it from their POV.
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Old 04-26-2015, 12:33 AM View Post #8 (Link)
monthlymuser (Offline)
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Originally Posted by Infinity_Man View Post
It's been over a year, more or less, since I last shared any of my own writing for criticism, so nothing really sticks out in my memory, but I will make a case in general for positive criticism. I don't mean I love it when people gush over my writing. I mean when I was a self-conscious young writer who was just finding his legs, up until now when I'm still a self-conscious young writer who is just finding my legs, what stuck out among the heavy red-penned criticism was the one or two "I liked this part" hidden in the line-by-lines. And, as I improved, friends and people on the internet coming up to me and telling me "this was actually really well written" and "I really liked this" and meaning it. It was those comments that broke through to someone who was/is unsure of trying to make it as a writer and made me think "yes, I can do this. It'll take more work, but I can do this."
I've been meaning to respond to this... and I 100% agree. Used appropriately, positive feedback can be both encouragement and soothing treatment for the burns administered throughout the rest of the critique. Compliments in excess, however, can lead to the psychophysical disorder known as bigheadedness or, even worse, a phobia that the person speaking is not sincere.
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Old 04-27-2015, 05:58 PM View Post #9 (Link)
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I just realized this should be in literary discussion. Moving.
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Old 04-28-2015, 03:34 AM View Post #10 (Link)
monthlymuser (Offline)
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So. Many. Subcategories.
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