When it comes to writing, many authors are anxious for feedback. The Muse has visited and struck, leaving them with her inspiration. They've scribbled weeks and weeks of notes; They've written and typed their fingers to the bone. Finally, they hit that submit button (without the computer crashing) and bite their bottom lip out of anticipation. What sort of feedback will they get? Where will the general DA verdict fall? The following is a rough guide for submitting writers and would-be critics alike, to assist in the receiving and giving of critique.
DUTIES OF THE SUBMITTING WRITER:
1) Edit your prose before submission
Before submitting any form of writing for public viewing, it is generally a good idea to do some editing yourself. Please check for common errors such as spelling, grammar & formatting. These are issues you can generally fix yourself, rather than wait for others to point them out. Your readers/critics often have limited time and instead of wasting words on common English misuse, they can devote more effort into providing valuable insight. Not only will it help to polish your submission but your readers/critics will appreciate the courtesy. It shows that you have pride and dedication towards your work. ProsePlease strongly suggests you read this article: http://proseplease.deviantart.com/art/The-Art-of-Refining-Prose-74755122
2) Know the value of your own work
It is also important to nurture our own ability in analysing our personal work. While feedback has its obvious benefits, you as the author, should have a general sense of your writings merit. That way, if you receive feedback which isnt particularly helpful or happens to be way out of line, you know this doesnt truly reflect your work. By that same token, if someone points out flaws in your writing, please do not take this personally. Most Deviants are purely trying to give constructive criticism so that you can improve.
3) Set aside your ego
At the end of the day, were all in the same boat. Were all trying to improve our writing. Our first instinct, when someone points out a fault in our writing or prose, is to defend that piece and argue the point. Before you do however, stop and reconsider: Are you here to defend your prose or to listen to other ideas about how your writing could be improved? Why not open your mind, push aside your ego and be receptive? Someone might see exactly where youre going wrong and be able to point this out. By paying some attention, you could greatly improve your prose and avoid the embarrassment of having many people view the fault.
4) When you disagree with a critique
In this, is the greatest lesson of all: Someone, somewhere will always dislike something about your writing. Why? Because it is unlikely (if not impossible) for all people to agree exactly. Just as every writer is an individual, so too is the reader and the critic! So when you receive comments that you feel don't work for your piece, restrain yourself from drawing all your guns and starting a slag-off. Simply respond courteously with something along the lines of, "Why thank you for that. I didn't see it that way and while I'm not sure if it'll work for this piece, I will definitely think about it." This way, you show that you're mature enough to consider another's view, even if you don't necessarily take it on board. Remember, even though you don't have to use every critique given to you, the other person has still taken the time to make a comment so you should at the very least, thank them.
5) Avoid the following excuses
(i) "Oh, I know that reads poorly but I was trying for this writing effect..." Okay, fair enough, writers are free to experiment with various writing styles and effects but when someone highlights something that isn't working, then you need to pay attention. They wouldn't have pointed it out, if it wasn't working. Defending the mistake with your "current writing style" isn't helpful, because if the writing didn't communicate well in the first place, then clearly the writing style needs to either change or adapt. So take note and eliminate this excuse from your vocabulary.
(ii) "But this famous Author did it and got away with it!" It's very easy to fall into the trap of comparing our work against an author we're trying to emanate. And while there is no harm in learning from our peers and superiors, be very wary about defending a certain writing technique simply because it worked for someone else. Firstly, what worked for one writer may not work for another, just as what works in one novel may not work in another. Every prose is a completely different arrangement of words and therefore, may require its own unique brand of style. And besides, we're trying to think outside the square. Don't forget this word either - Originality.
A NOTE TO THE WOULD-BE CRITIC:
Time is a precious commodity but always remember to be kind. Your words of insight have the potential to impact another growing writer. When critiquing, you are in the unique position of being both a reader and a writer. Naturally, you can quickly identify what is and isn't working for the reader. More importantly, you'll have the experience to fix inconsistencies. Perhaps more challenging is when you identify a problem or writing style you haven't come across before - in fact, you may be in a position to learn something. Since you are effectively impartial to the prose and not emotionally attached, you might spot mistakes the author's overlooked - especially if those same errors are the ones you usually make. So in this way, taking the time to critique and comment can prove quite beneficial to your own development. Let's not forget that it's in the spirit of community - everything DeviantArt is about. And never underestimate the power of karma. More likely than not, most deviants are polite enough to leave a 'Thank You' or offer some feedback you may badly need.
What is a Positive Critique?
A critique by definition is a review or an analytical evaluation. In the context of literature, critique is a highlight of the good or bad qualities of a particular prose. The point of critique is not to defame a writer; it is to carefully analyse the merits of prose.
Here are some qualities a positive critique contains:
Is written in courteous language.
Is more than just a one-liner ie "This was a great read." While somewhat encouraging, these brief comments don't provide great feedback so please take the time to elaborate and pick specific examples for improvement or praise.
Provides a careful analysis of the writings strengths and weakness
Praises both the writings good qualities as well as pointing out possible areas of improvement
Doesnt just state that something is wrong. They also include an explanation of why something is wrong or inappropriate.
The Critic also provides some tips or ideas to fix any specific problem. Example: To fix this problem, I would have done this
Doesnt just focus on one aspect of the prose but looks at the overall qualities of the prose
Basically, before giving a comment or critique, please be courteous and place yourself in the writers position. What kind of feedback do you appreciate? What comments or lessons do you find most useful? Please be thoughtful about your comments to ensure they provide valuable feedback to the proses author. As for the author, if you have received some encouraging tips and thoughts, make sure you're polite and at the very least, return a 'Thank You'. For even better karma, return some feedback to some of the Critic's work.
ProsePlease wishes you success in your writings.