Posted by: codecalla | June 20, 2013

Critical Feedback


  1. During my first creative writing class last fall students were required to provide critical feedback after reviewing each others work. I guess the meaning of this phrase was lost on my peers, because all I received was rude comments on EVERYTHING I was doing incorrectly. I was new (still am!) to creative writing and this was incredibly disappointing and caused me to feel intimidating. I think teaching students how to respond to others writing is just as important as teaching students how to write!

    • It takes a tremendous amount of courage to present anything before others for discussion and input. Some of creative workshop rules are to let the readers discuss the work and then let the writer weigh in, after the discussion. It’s important to reinforce what is working as well as point out areas that can be tweaked, if the author agrees with the assessment. I’m often my own worst critic. Recently I sent a few chapters of my new book to a colleague and was tremendously excited when they gave me honest feedback about what worked and what didn’t. The attitude was respectful, which is of high importance, and most importantly, she knew what I was concerned about and gave focused feedback on those areas in addition to others. If you think the work is as polished and perfect as it can be, and you won’t change anything, it may not be suitable for workshop. On the other hand, if you have something that you are open to reviewing and possibly changing if the ideas have merit, it can be tremendously helpful. There has to be a balance of positive and negative insights. We’re not trying to destroy writers; we’re trying to open up their eyes to possibilities.

  2. “I find it disheartening to see so many naysayers for anyone who tries to create anything, just for the sake of tearing them down. In creative endeavors, the creator will not please every single person who interacts with it.”
    I see what you’re saying here, but I must admit I like to toss my opinions especially if I do not agree. But are you meaning to say here -if you cannot say something constructive or helpful to the artists/author/creators purpose,then say nothing at all? Or do you mean we should go easier with our criticisms and respect the creators initial ideas?

    • I’m referring to people who are only out to always criticize everything for the sake of (as I mentioned) tearing down others’ attempts and to somehow bolster their own egos. It’s not about saying “yes”, or saying “no”. I mean “naysayers” in the aspect of everything is “nay” and nothing will ever please them. They derive enjoyment from giving voice to their contempt. It’s a completely different exercise to work for the goal of improvement, allowing the author to make their decisions about what feedback they will use and not use according to their intended message or work. I feel that often people get carried away with the deluge of hateful speech or attacks on something. They may have good points, but they have lost the benefit of supporting those who endeavor to create, even if some aspects of their work fail. There’s a careful balance in a classroom. The “naysayers” I refer to are usually those who are expecting to get a reaction out of people. Their intent is to create discord or fan the flames. That’s entirely different than constructive criticism.

      • Yes you are correct. I definitely see myself writing criticisms in the future, so I will be sure to show it is for the reason of improvement rather than bombarding their imagination and creativity with my disagreements. For example, a new TV show “Hemlock Grove” has had great reviews, and is deemed worthy for a new season. I personally hate the show merely because the writers/creators left out vital information pertaining to the characters and plot, leaving everyone on edge and rightly confused. I -unlike my peers- was outwardly displeased at the fact that so much of this vital information, facts, story-line or what-have-you…was left out of the season and it seemed thrown together. I wasted no time blowing up on my blog about it, and raged as if I had lost my mind. Honestly, I can not tell if I was right about this merely because vital information WAS left out of the show (Which gives me good reason to be angry). But it was also the imaginative thinking of the writers/creators of the show to play their story line that way. I believe what your saying is, I should not judge their show by its content and creativity, instead tell them perhaps on the second season “answer these vital questions so I don’t swim in confusion…” rather than saying “Yeah your show totally sucks.” Would I be correct as that being your meaning? Thanks for responding before. 🙂

      • It’s better to have specific comments that can further aid the creative endeavors of the writers or give voice to your concerns. I’ve only watched two episodes or so of Hemlock Grove, so I cannot comment on it extensively. I think it may aspire to Twin Peaks in its narrative style. Some stories are meant to be gobbled up and straightforward, and others may take a circuitous route. The pacing of the story and the release of information is something that only the creators can determine. If the writer can get the audience to wait impatiently for the next part or wonder about the story, that can be considered a success, especially in a ratings driven system. Also, when it comes to answering questions, there are times it is best to hold off, if you are building a suspenseful narrative or trying to create mystery you don’t reveal all your cards. Ultimately the questions must be answered for the satisfaction of the audience, but there are always exceptions, especially if you want to keep people wondering. But writers have to be careful, because too many facts left out can be infuriating (this bodes true for any mystery and the perpetrator is unfairly determined because the clues were missing).

      • SPOILER ALERT- Hemlock Grove Season 1. I have to share this merely because it is the root of my issue, and if you plan to watch the show undisturbed don’t read this :D…
        “But writers have to be careful, because too many facts left out can be infuriating…”
        This is exactly how I feel in this situation, it was vital information that the show “expected” everyone to guess and make their own interpretation—and they left it just like that.
        What was really annoying is how the creators made their own interpretations of how “normal” people would react in particular situations. Perhaps in “Hemlock Grove” everyone is just strange? But why would the authors claim everyone outside of the strict cast is normal as regular people are…but they ALL seem to enjoy the fact that a teenage girl was impregnated by an Angel? She is hardly Mary Magdalene…
        My question is…why would the creators say “Yes, normal people legitimately believe that teenage virgins can get pregnant by Angel’s and ignore the fact that it is insane and in the least -questionable.” The really strange fact was that this girls father…a respected Psychiatrist…had no interest in even investigating this matter further!
        I watched this show and was more lost and confused than before. Some say that the next season will clarify these things…but honestly I do not believe the creators will say “Yes every person in Hemlock Grove has an ignorance disease.” I just doubt it. So I raged about this specifically. Would you say this is all because of the creators imagination and I shouldn’t judge them? Or is this -population ignorance (as I am beginning to call it)- something that the creators should have explained better in the show. Truth is, after the child was born everyone cried, screamed and practically went insane…but why? She had a virgin pregnancy, they should have expected something not to be right. I could see the creators imagination at work, and overall the show was entertaining…but this clash with the real world seemed as if the creators were saying that this is actually how normal humans would react. I don’t believe that entirely is their creativity, but because of the point you have made, I will try to see it from the mind of the creator rather than bashing it. So the creators interpretation of how “normal” people would react to this situation is also a part of their creativity? And should it be respected as creativity? Honestly if your daughter/sister/close family member was a pregnant virgin wouldn’t you think something was wrong? No one did anything in this show…absolutely nothing about it except cause a scene when she died.

      • I did watch this episode, where she explained it was an “angel”. The father didn’t want to press her, because he felt it was likely traumatic. He believed that she or her mind made up the story in order to replace the darker memory to protect her. Personally, I think that it’s more likely it was some kind of hallucination with either a gas or drugs and she was raped, unless it was some kind of being that could manipulate minds (which is possible). I haven’t watched beyond, but personally I prefer to enjoy the full show and ask questions after I’ve watched the entire season. I’m not a big fan of spoilers as a rule. I like to make up my own mind.

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