Friday, October 29

What is good critiquing?

I'm venting, I'm bitching. So forgive me in advance.
I really should not do it, should have learned my lesson the first time. But I still follow a lot of LP members' blogs. Mainly to know what you guys are thinking, who you are in real life.

People say that a person who knows a little does more harm than good when giving opinion, right? That's why I don't critique poetry. At all. But I know short stories and novels. I know medical stuff. I know technological stuff. I know most of the current rules of writing. And I know Asian because I'm a bloody Asian living in an Asian country. And when I give suggestions and opinions, it's generally to help make a story better. Granted, I get it wrong sometimes (as evidenced with Ben's stories), but you guys know I'm not talking crap, right?

Maybe it's because I don't have an MFA.

But come December, I'm eligible to apply for Associate Membership with SFWA. I've sold, what, 15 stories? Most of them at the first attempt? That says something about my writing, right?

(Yes, I know I'm making you guys roll your eyes and vomit)

When I say a character seems vaguely Japanese, I mean it because I can tell how vague the whole setting is. Malaysia is not Japan, but I grow up watching Japanese shows and learning their culture just as much as my own, and the Westerners'. When I say that, I talk from my own experience writing stories vaguely American (I think the older stories are still in my port). Even I can tell they're not convincingly American.

So. If you dislike my reviewing methods, please tell me straight up, so I can add you to my list of people I don't review. Granted, I need the rest to post more stories so I can meet the quota of 1 review per week, but that's a technicality.

If knowing a little is dangerous, letting people know a little is dangerous too. Why not post the whole story, and let people decide, instead of leading them with a snippet, and let them make conclusions you want them to make.

So, what is good critiquing?

- I don't think this story works. Sorry.
*Some people insist that when a critique say such a thing, he's spot on. But when he elaborates, a writer should be wary.

- OMG, that is such a good story! I don't see why the publisher rejected it, it's so good! It's all right, 7th try is the charm!
*I don't believe in giving false hopes. In my line of work, it's the worst thing I can do (other than killing a patient).

- I want to like this story, but I don't.
* I can be like the editors who reject my stories. Fat load of help that does.

I haven't taken a formal creative writing course. I haven't been to workshops or conferences. But I don't mind spending hundreds on good books on writing, and I recommend the really good ones to my friends. And I don't find them to be self-help books. Those authors have become my teachers, across space and time. And proof that I have learned much from them is my writing. Heck, I know I've improved a lot.

And I want the same from the others. I want people to be published. I want you guys to be famous writers one day, so I can one day bring my children to a massive bookstore overlooking a park with an artificial lake that spews dancing fountains, and tell them, "Look at this shelf. All the different titles, but only one name. You know what? I know this author. We're friends."

No matter. What's done is done. I'll just not review further stories from said author.

Griping session over. Sorry for being a jackass, people.