Barely any crits; what to do?

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Barely any crits; what to do?

Postby crit33603 » Thu Aug 31, 2017 5:55 am

I've been a member of Critters for a couple months now, and just had the first chapter of my novel go through critique. It only got two crits, and one of those was a not-for-credit one-liner. It's open as an RFDR also, but no one has requested the manuscript.

I'm not trying to blame anybody for not reading it ... maybe it's just not that interesting. But those who don't critique it don't tell me why it failed to catch their fancy, so I have no idea what to fix.

Now that I'm in this position, what ought I to do next? Should I ...

A) Revise the first chapter and submit it to the queue again? This wouldn't be a very extensive revision, since I didn't get a lot of feedback, and I'm not sure whether it's good form to submit almost the same thing twice. But the opening of a novel is important, and I'd really like more crits on it. In particular, I want to see whether the opinions I *did* get are shared by others, or are just individual blips that don't reflect what most readers are going to think.

B) Just keep sending subsequent chapters through and desperately hope somebody reads them? Chapters that aren't the first have an even harder time getting critiques, for obvious reasons.

I saw some older threads discussing deliberate RFDR trades. I'd be interested, if there's anyone around who still wants to do one of those. I can offer a clean second-draft manuscript, and I put good effort into my crits.
crit33603
Name: Jennifer Hane
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Re: Barely any crits; what to do?

Postby crit19292 » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:15 am

Aburt does not want us writing harsh critiques. He wants us to be nice. That means if we have something really needing to be said, it probably won't be said.

I however do understand that most will only focus on the bad. What you are saying, and I would agree with, is that positive critiques are often not helpful. Harsh critiques really are not either, but clear, rational critiques of a negative nature can be very helpful. Those however will be frowned upon.

The problem is not in the critique, but in the one receiving the critique. Some have really thin skins. Others only want praise. Aburt has to put up with them all, and I am certain his policies are to reduce his misery.

If you post further chapters, I will probably reply. I do the zero list. When a submission has zero in the weekend update, I try to give a critique. Mine will sometimes be a little harsh, as I will tell you why no one else has posted (although there are submissions where even I decide not to say what I think). Yes, I get reprimands from Aburt occasionally, but I feel you need to know.

What you should do is look over your manuscript and figure out why YOU like it or do not like it. In the end it is is YOUR manuscript. YOU either get fame or simply another dated file on your computer. The best advice is to become your biggest fan. If YOU feel you have done something good, if YOU really like reading the story, then be happy with yourself even is no one else is. If YOU are not pleased with your manuscript then YOU need to sit down and figure out why YOU do not like it. Whatever we say, whether praise or harsh words, in the end it is YOUR decision on YOUR manuscript that will decide what is to be done.

I wish you well.
I will not deny myself having my opinions.
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Re: Barely any crits; what to do?

Postby crit33321 » Fri Sep 01, 2017 4:11 pm

Hi Jennifer,

Sorry you didn't get many useful critiques on your submission. I know for me personally, RFDR submissions -- especially those for chapters in a novel -- are tough, and here's why: 1) when someone signs on to be a dedicated reader, they are committing themselves to stick with you for the long-haul. That's a big commitment, and I suspect few are willing to do it. 2) Novel chapters themselves are tough to read and critique simply because they are so large. I didn't get a chance to open your manuscript and browse it (last week's manuscripts probably won't be available for viewing again until Monday), but I've found over the last several months that there's an inverse relationship between the size of the manuscript and the number of critiques you get back: the larger the story, the fewer the critiques.

I can't speak for everyone in the Critter Community, but many of us are balancing work life, home life, community life, and our writing life. Time is very limited. Personally, I don't critique anything much beyond four or five thousand words simply because I don't have time for it.

So maybe you received so few critiques simply because of the size of the chapter you submitted, or because it was a RFDR request, and not necessarily due to anything negative about the story itself.

Hope that helps.

Write on,
Morgan
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Re: Barely any crits; what to do?

Postby crit33603 » Sat Sep 02, 2017 6:59 pm

@Roby: Oh, *I* think my manuscript is great. Sometimes I get distracted and start just reading it when I'm supposed to be editing or whatever, so clearly I've created something that I like. But I have no way of knowing whether I would feel the same way if I were thumbing through it in a bookstore, without the intimate familiarity that comes from being the author. I also know it can be all too easy to become besotted with one's own work and blind to its flaws. I realize that the final shape of the manuscript is MY decision, but I'd like that to be an informed and unbiased decision, to the extent possible.

@Morgan: I do understand, and like I said I'm not blaming anyone. It's still frustrating though, because I too struggle with my schedule -- the time I spend critiquing other people's work here is precious, and I'd like to get a decent return-on-investment. My chapter was only 6500 words, which is in the range for a decent short story, right? I was trying to keep it manageable. It also doesn't have any other obvious issues (like being choked with typos).

Anyway thanks for the replies ... I suppose I will send the following chapters through and hope for the best.
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Name: Jennifer Hane
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Re: Barely any crits; what to do?

Postby crit19292 » Sun Sep 03, 2017 11:26 am

You are fighting money. Worse, you are fighting those who want to make money without taking any risk with their money. They can think your story is good, but publish something else that is not good simply because they believe they can make money with it (known author, redo of known story that did make money, etc.). Honestly, I will buy a book when my drive to write declines, and reading the mistakes (in a professionally edited manuscript), finding two-dimensional characters, and plodding through clearly obvious plot points gets me back to writing and reading my own stuff.

No, I am not rich and famous, but I have my outlets. It is enough for me. At the end of the day I can read my own stuff and find happiness. I comfort myself by saying that I wrote good stuff while those who are in the bookstores are writing crap.

I also look at Samuel Donaldson and J.K.Rowlings and realize that I am not isolated. Both can only write one thing (White Gold Wielder and Harry Potter). While they tried writing other things, the market won't let them. They must be more frustrated than you or me, as they have tasted fame and are now sealed from it.

Maybe one day you or I will find fame. I do still write, and I have a manuscript in the system right now. Who knows? I am worried that I will regret the day my manuscript gets accepted. Still, I am a writer, so I play the game. While the hope for money continues, the joy of a good manuscript that pleases me long after the thrill of the inspiration passes keeps me proud of what I do. That is actually what I wish for all who take up this hobby, pasttime, profession.
I will not deny myself having my opinions.
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Name: Roby Ward
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Re: Barely any crits; what to do?

Postby crit33321 » Mon Sep 04, 2017 5:37 pm

Hi Jennifer,

I found your submission back on the site this morning and gave it a read-through. Sent my critique to you via your email address. Hope you find it useful.


Regards,

Morgan
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Name: Morgan Broadhead
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Re: Barely any crits; what to do?

Postby crit33524 » Fri Sep 15, 2017 7:50 pm

Here's one partial answer: Being relatively new as a critiquer, I've not yet attempted to critique any subsections of long works - e.g. a few chapters out of a novel - because it's harder.

Not because of length. Length doesn't bother me. Among the few critiques I've done, some were of short works and some were of long. Actually I prefer somewhat longer works - it's easier to get a feel for the writer.

Because the whole story isn't there.

If the submission is not the beginning, then reading it may leave me with a lot of questions that were in earlier parts. If it isn't the end, stuff that apparently got left just hanging might be properly resolved later.

I'm still working in my head on how to critique a fragment of a story.
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Name: Don Edwards
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Re: Barely any crits; what to do?

Postby crit33427 » Sat Sep 23, 2017 3:54 pm

The blurb on the website talks about an average number of critiques being in the 15-20 range. I think this is a fantasy, or at least statistically outdated. The critiques of my own submissions mostly never got into double digits. It peaked at about 10 on my fourth submission after I ran an email campaign reminding all previous submitters about the latest piece AND wrote so many critiques myself (that included a closing hint to critique my own piece) that I got the most productive critique award that week! As I said, the result of this was 10 critiques. So an average of 15-20 just doesn't seem reasonable.

The other side of this story is that shameless self promotion does work. In addition to my tactics from above I also try and reply to people who send my critiques. I'm not talking the standard 'Cheers for the crit' type one liners. I mean a real REPLY to THEM. I read through their critique and try and pick at least two points that I agree with / feel I must accept and address them directly in my response and thanking them for pointing them out to me. I try and build a rapport with the other critters.

Occasionally, I do get the most severe and destructive critiques. I never complain. I pick two points that they have made and write them a civil and personalised thank you email. Even if I can't find anything at all in their critique that I agree with I still do this. I try and word things from a possible perspective that may have induced them to write these things as honest open critique. At the end of the day I am a creative writer. If I can't do this then what am I doing here in the first place? Then I include them in the reminder email list when my next piece comes up for critique. Either they don't ever critique me again (in which case they probably were just trying to be mean the first time) or they critique the second piece in a far more balanced manner (everybody is allowed to have an off day occasionally). Either way, I have never received bad critiques from the same person twice.


On the matter of harshness in my own critiques, I can honestly say this. I have, on occasion, torn certain submissions to shreds. Everything from demolishing the basic premise of the story to picking out every single typo, spelling and grammar error until there was barely a word not struck through. Significantly, I have never ever been pulled up for being too harsh. Not even the writers themselves have complained. I do this by writing my critiques so that they can appreciate my mental state as I read their work. Again, I am a creative writer. If I can't induce particular mental states in my readers at will, what am I doing here in the first place?

So in summary, obtaining critiques is excellent practice for marketing and selling your work later and giving critiques is an excellent way to improve your writers tool box so that your next manuscript is irresistible to potential future readers, critters among them.
Charles Gull
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