anime - amatsuki - smile - summer

On the topic of concrit

Rambling and totally not organized...(yes, do ignore)

I was wondering about what y’all think about concrit – as a reader, or author or artist.

LJ feedback seems to consist primarily of short comments – even one-liners – that are all about the squee. Criticism doesn’t occur too often and usually if people don’t like something, the idea seems to be “don’t like, don’t read, don’t comment”

And then we have this idea of concrit. I don’t know why but that word seems to automatically include a drum roll and fanfare in my mind. Offering critique to improve a fic in such a way that the author is willing to take the comments into consideration. It's easy for people to deliver or take criticism the wrong way, where one party is misunderstood or feels slighted as a result. And my biggest issue personally is trying to figure out how much is objective criticism and how much is just your own personal opinion about the fanwork. What you might hate about a fic may be the exact reason other people adore it.

That brings me to another question. If a fic is a huge hit, does that make your criticisms of it any less valid?

Are we less willing to criticize stuff with a big fan following? And do you just not bother with even partial criticism because of lack of time or inability to word your opinions properly? Are you afraid that it would be misinterpreted by the author/artist and just discourage them from doing fanworks instead of actually helping them? Are you afraid of seeming too opinionated and unable to just celebrate in the fandom love?

There’s the idea that by posting publicly, authors and artists should be prepared to receive all kinds of feedback. But I wanted to know…if you do produce fanworks, do you like receiving critique or concrit? Or do you just wish people were more verbose and personal with their comments rather that leaving generic comments that could be applied to any other fanwork?

How do you give concrit? Do you tell the author what was off about their fic or the artist what was weird about their drawing? Do you tell them what you wish they had included? Do you point out the strengths of the fanwork so maybe they can focus on their strengths in future instead?

How does concrit work for you?
  • Current Mood: confused
Well, if people respond with 'Cute' to a 5000 fic and the same to a 200 ficlet, I get a tad weary. Good concrit takes time and effort and skill, not everybody has all of them.

Personally I tend to point about the details that I liked. Sometimes it can be one line, others a whole paragraph. It depends on the fic.
Yeah, the reason I lurk so much is 'cause I don't want to leave generic comments and I usually procrastinate till I don't have the time to do justice to stuff I really like. So I just pimp them out here instead *sigh* Ultimate escapism probably.

Some fics just lend themselves to long rambling comments but others, while entertaining, don't have much content one can talk about. Yeah, it really depends.
Sometimes I find it difficult to voice out my opinions. It's not due to not knowing how but more in the case of unable to find the right words to express what I feel. When I don't leave a feedback, it's due to that and it makes me feel guilty about because the person worked so hard on it, expects/anticipates feedback and receives none or maybe a few.

For me, I do like to receive feedback, be it critique or squee but I prefer it if it's critique. I have received both types of feedback over time for my fics. Mostly a lot of squee but there are a handful who took the time to critique, tell me what I did right/wrong and those are the ones that I appreciate most because it makes me strive to improve and do better.

I am guilty of giving squee feedback sometimes. *sweats* Sometimes, I don't know what to say and then there's the whole whether will they receive my con crit or not. I've come across some who got so defensive that it's not worth the effort since they're not going to appreciate what you say.

Haha, just because a stuff has a huge following doesn't mean I will like it. I'm not one to follow everyone's opinions like a sheep.

Aaaand, I'll stop now before I write as long as your post.
Yes! And the more I love something, the harder it is to express my love for a fanwork. And then when I rec, I just flail and spazz and don't say WHY the work is awesome *sigh* I've gotten used to running away from commenting directly.

I forgot about that - peeps who love the writing but also really want to improve too. Thanks for pointing it out!

We're all guilty of it, I think. It's so easy to just drop a one liner to send the love over and when you see everyone else is pretty much the same in length and type of feedback, you feel satisfied that that's enough.

I find that some less well known authors feel threatened when critiqued and some big authors tend to disregard critique from people who are friends (trusted sources etc.). Concrit in that sense is always difficult.

Oh definitely - crowd pleasers sometimes just don't work and more often that not there are fics that make me go o__O and wonder what's wrong with fandom.

Haha, always feel free to ramble *hugs*
- (Anonymous)
I was going to ask what a respected source would be, but then you explained it XD

I hate the readers that sit back and say nothing for months and months and months, then pop up for the first time to rip some niggling little detail apart.

When I see something like that, I just start thinking peeps have entitlement issues. We haven't been placed on this earth to entertain them. They're free to sit back and enjoy it but I hate it when the only reason for feedback is when something doesn't work for them. Argh.

true crit vs personal taste - the issue make me wibble :(

Haha, I've noticed and I actually like that. Until you ranted on certain topics, I never noticed I actually had issues with them too. So crit brought awareness?
I don't like to give concrit unless I'm specifically asked for it. Even then, I'd probably do it in a private email. A lot depends on who the author is, and my relationship with them. I'm much more likely to give concrit to someone I know.
I think that strategy minimises the risks involved with the reception of concrit - the peeps its directed to are more likely to consider it than in other cases, I think.

It also makes me wonder if crit or concrit occurs behind the scenes or privately, so all that's left is the squee (which gives the general public a skewed idea of the fanwork's feedback)
I try to be positive in my comments, but if I feel that I have spotted an area that I would have had a serious word with the author over were I beta-ing the story, then I will go and check out rest of the lj if it's the fic of someone I don't really know, or have a little think about temperament if it is one of my flist, or make a considered judgement about how I would feel to receive such a comment myself if it's an anonymous fest. Sometimes I decide that I'm more likely to just offend than help with future work, but other times I decide that it might help.

My concrit comes coupled with the things that I really enjoyed about the story, and is offered as an opening on a discussion, which is the same way that I work with young writers in my RL job as an editor. So I might say: "I really loved your characterisation, and thought you did a particularly wonderful job with your main characters. One thing that gave me pause was the fact that your minor characters seemed to appear and disappear only when they were useful. I know that you were trying to create a taut story, but I wonder if some of your minor characters might have been able to make just a few more appearances in the day-to-day life of the story, particularly given how well-drawn they are."

I like receiving concrit like this. Earlier in the year I had a few people point out the same thing in a fest story that they did not like. I think they're right, and when I repost it I will tweak that bit. They were uniformly productive in the way they phrased it, which made my failure much easier to bear!

I don't leave concrit on stories that I thought were just rubbish. What's the point? Nor do I leave criticism on things that are my opinion. In receiving concrit, rampant criticism based on opinion drives me a bit crazy.

But the concrit that drives me really crazy is the criticism that is based on opinion and is just plain wrong. Inevitably it's because the critic has taken a look at their own life and generalised it. Very often they are doing this about aspects of English life, which makes me crazy in a very clipped tone and with an urge to write a letter to an editor.

There are some I just want to rant at. The reviewer who criticised one story because the characters (late teenagers) talked about sex and swore ... um, maybe not in your house, but everywhere else that's what they do.

The one who corrected my English idiom to American standard. I have no words. Did the spelling not give things away?

The ones that have vehemently criticised gap years, sarcasm, non-contemporary use of slang (well, yes, all my stories have been set 10 years in the past or 10 years in the future ...), English culture and geography ... I could go on.

I end up throwing my hands up in the air and shouting "BLOODY AMERICANS!!!!!!" which is wholly unfair, because the vast majority of Americans give brilliant and thoughtful concrit when they do it, and leave supportive squee when they do not.

What I should really do, were I more evil and more organised, is keep track of all the names and go to their next stories and Britpick them mercilessly. But the real fuckers always comment anonymously.
Thanks so much for an example of your concrit. It matches the idea in my head too - delivering strengths along with pointing out issues in the hopes of strengthening the work overall. And yeah, we kinda get discouraged from doing concrit if the person isn't receptive to it.

I can't help thinking that when critique is given, sure its to improve the fanwork...but it also shows how the author/artist failed to deliver on the fanwork. Pointing it out without finesse will not just hurt the person but also make it that much more likely that they won't consider the crit either.

Critique that is ultimately personal opinion - especialy when it's not that obvious's one of the hardest things to deal with probably - since they ahve a valid point put its also just one POV.

What I should really do, were I more evil and more organised, is keep track of all the names and go to their next stories and Britpick them mercilessly.
Hahaha, it would probably be an eye opener for them XD

But the real fuckers always comment anonymously.
LJ seems to have much less of that in other forums and archives though, thank god.
Hoo boy. There have been a lot of discussions on metafandom on this, if you go take a look through their tags. And this is all re: fic, because I suck at drawing and don't really know how crit works in the fanart world.

Personally, given how I've been burned, I don't believe in giving concrit unless it is solicited. And by concrit, I mean stuff a good beta would do for you, not just typos and missed punctuation (that I will point out, especially if it is one or two things in a fic that is otherwise great, and clearly just one of those things people miss because they've read over their own work so many times). I don't have any desire to be Author X's beta, and often, the kind of concrit I would end up giving would end up a suggesting a major overhaul of the story (or part of the story), which is okay in the draft and beta stage, but not so much when the story should be past those stages and is already published.

I tend to think it the author's responsibility to improve themselves, regardless of whether or not they get concrit on a work. There are plenty of essays out there about how to improve your writing, and you should be able to apply them to what you've written. That also goes back to the question of personal taste: ultimately, you have to decide what you like to write, and how you like to write, because you can't please everyone. Essays on writing will give you a better foundation (especially about how to plan your story so the climax is satisfying, character arcs, etc.) than any unsolicited concrit I've ever seen. And essays are not personal, and I think it is easier to take the advice into account when it's not directed at/"attacking" you (and your writing).

I think something with a large fan following is more likely to get concrit, just not on the piece itself. You get people bitching on their own journals about how they DON'T think it's the best thing since sliced bread, and here's why. It's more akin to a review than concrit, but a lot of the time, it's the closest thing you'll get.
I was going to ask more specific questions about fanart but then that's a whole other set of issues on its own too and I'm confused enough as it is, lol. Will check out metafandom, thanks!

Solicited!concrit does seem to be the safest. But I guess I'm trying to find a good middle ground between the everyday squee and more intense concrit - especially since not everyone is receptive to the later and a lot of peeps seem tired of the former.

Concrit during beta stage vs final version is a good point. Because who wants to know what did NOT work in a fanwork when they have no intention of changing it? Though perhaps it may help with future work at least.

The sad thing about fanworks is that creators do claim to do it simply as a hobby - with no professional aspirations they don't see the need to really improve themselves or more likely, are comfortable with where they are at the moment. So they don't do the self improvement thing.

I think the big fanworks get people who don't get the hype and rant about certain issues with the piece - but I don't think I've seen actual concrit in comments to them...
I don't leave concrit unless I know the author welcomes it. As a fandom writer, I realize there's an actual person behind the fic who may be hurt or upset by negative feedback, especially if they feel it may cause other readers not to read the fic.

As a beta, I am very harsh. I tell the writer everything that seems to be wrong or could be improved. That's the role of a beta, and that's the kind of beta that I appreciate myself. I don't trust most of my reviewers to give my fic the scrutiny that a beta will. Usually, I find concrit is based on opinion ("I love that character, why did you make her so mean?") and not on specific ways that the writing could be improved (structure, language, pacing, etc) or other suggestions that could help the author.

In light of the inflexible deadlines, I did think it was bad form for anyone to comment on typos in the hd_worldcup fics. The mods would not accept any revisions after the deadline, even clerical corrections, and they did not make these changes themselves, as far as I know. If I see a few typos or consistent grammatical errors in a fic and I know the author cares about it, I will sometimes email the writer. I like to know about typos myself- but I don't think that sort of comment suffices as a true review.

I don't think I've ever left feedback like "Cute!" I usually focus on favorite quotes or the aspects of the fic I enjoyed most.

As for receiving feedback, I enjoy detailed reviews more than one-word comments, but I appreciate that even the one-word reviewer bothered to leave a review at all. I would prefer that anyone with extreme negative criticism email me instead of posting it as feedback, but I'm not going to stop anyone or censor them, unless it's an obvious flame.

EDIT: One thing I liked about Worldcup was the ability to preview fics in the team locker room and get real concrit from teammates. I made a number of changes based on those comments and I think it improved my fic. But after posting, writers are unlikely to make significant revisions (I have at times, but I know most people don't), so this sort of feedback is much more useful prior to posting.

Edited at 2008-05-05 11:14 am (UTC)
I did think it was bad form for anyone to comment on typos in the hd_worldcup fics.

Oh my god WORD. What on earth did those people think the team members were supposed to do about it at that point? Magically reach through the screen and fix it? Bloody waste of comments is all that was.
"I was wondering about what y’all think about concrit – as a reader, or author or artist"

I think that constructive criticism is a wonderful tool and perhaps even, key, for a writer and artist to improve themselves.

Unfortunately, it is also my thought and opinion that there are very few out there capable of giving actual useful concrit.

"If a fic is a huge hit, does that make your criticisms of it any less valid?"

Different factors aside, I don't think any well written, constructive criticism is any less valid on a popular piece than on a not-so popular piece.

Are we less willing to criticize stuff with a big fan following?

It certainly is intimidating. There's always the slight chance that you're going to be flamed to high heaven by the fans, by the (perhaps) fan fic writer's fans--for simply offering over your honest opinion.

There's always the factor of how hard it can be sometimes for people to "hear" whether or not the concrit is meant in honesty or cruelty and whether or not the person is REALLY open for it. I have seen so many people ask for concrit--and when they get anything that deviates from the, "wow, this was nice!"--they get terribly snippy.

"But I wanted to know…if you do produce fanworks, do you like receiving critique or concrit?

Yes, I do. It may not be terribly visible to some, but without a few people being blunt and honest? I would still be making far worse mistakes grammar and spelling wise. My writing, (if you wanna call it that :D) has improved greatly thanks to the the few and far between willing to work with the writing and not the author who wrote it.

"Or do you just wish people were more verbose and personal with their comments rather that leaving generic comments that could be applied to any other fanwork?"

I think anyone who writes something and puts it out there for reading kind of wishes this, but I also don't think it's that easy.

Personally, coming up with the words as to why something moves me, or why I like it can be the most difficult thing without sounding like a giant cheese head. I figure that perhaps, some of the reasons why some don't comment are the same--plus, if I come across a piece with 232302392302392032 comments already? Someone must have already said what I would have.

It'd be nice, but some times it doesn't work out that way.

How do you give concrit?

I always start off, first and foremost by warning them that I am not saying the things I am about to because I dislike them and remind them that I am going to deal with the piece, be it drawing or fic and never the person behind it. I give this warning just so that the author and I can be (hopefully) in the right mind set when we begin.

Since I am NOT a real writer nor artist, I tend to stray away from uber technical crit. I give them impressions, I tell them what I really loved, I tell them where I thought it was awkward or where I didn't understand things. My con crit tends to be light and deals more with impression, feeling and the occasional spelling mistake. I tend not to concrit drawn/digital art much either--I don't feel I have enough confidence.

Aaand, I think between here and there I covered most that I could. Whew. Coffee time.
I encourage feedback in any venue, and I've always tried to be open to people -- in fandom and elsewhere -- that I want concrit, so don't be shy about giving it. It's nearly impossible to upset me.

SPAG issues aside, which are normally rigid in definition and therefore either clearly "right" or "wrong", I take each piece of concrit and measure it against the next. Doing this, I've found, helps separate opinion from possible constructive change. I believe it was Steven King who said in his book on writing that if one person tells you they don't like something, thank them and leave the story how you wrote it. If six people tell you they don't like a particular something, it's time to re-examine that element of your narrative.

I think it's good advice.

Speaking as a creator of fanworks:

Or do you just wish people were more verbose and personal with their comments rather that leaving generic comments that could be applied to any other fanwork?

OH FUCK YES. Over time I've come to terms with the fact that 'I loved this, it was great!' is all some people feel and is honestly the best they can do, but. When it comes right down to it I appreciate the longer, thoughtful comments more. I'm only human. And while I'm pretty grateful than anyone comments at all, I'm more grateful when the comment reflects the effort I put in. Also, when it's writers reviewing other writers - hello? You should be able to come up with something better than that. The skill applies to every word you write in every setting, not just in stories.

I don't mind concrit, which is handy, as I get a lot of it. >.>

I rarely leave comments. I'm a bad person. But to be frank most of what I read online isn't anything that would benefit from concrit. It just doesn't push the envelope enough for that.

Edited at 2008-05-05 12:00 pm (UTC)
I think concrit is a good idea in theory that seldom works well in practice.

Personally, I hate crit -- Any kind, constructive or otherwise -- unless I've very specifically asked for pointers on how to improve. The reason for this is that I am already suuuuper-hyper-critical of myself, and what somebody else points out as needing improvement, I'm likely already aware of. It takes a lot of courage to put something out there on the internet, where the pool of talent is so vast and overwhelming; I'd rather know if you like something, or not hear from you at all (Silence speaks volumes.) I have a fragile ego, but beyond that, I don't create/post things hoping for the approval of the masses -- I do it for myself, because I enjoy it. Yeah, I want to improve, but not to the point where I'm willing to feel bad about my efforts.

Of course, not everybody is like me, but I still use that as my rule of thumb. I don't offer concrit unless it is very specifically asked for, and then I tread carefully. If you're too harsh in your review, you're more likely to offend the author/artist and therefore more likely to have your advice written off. When giving crit, I always, always point out the positive aspects of the work first before offering suggestions, and I never put those suggestions in a negative context. How you word things makes a huge difference.

ETA: I should probably add for clarification's sake that I work primarily in visual mediums, which I think is very different from writing.

Edited at 2008-05-05 12:21 pm (UTC)
First, as a writer, I'll happily take a one-word comment on my fic over no comment at all. Of course I love long, thoughtful reviews, but I know that not everyone has the time and/or the inclination to give them, and I'm grateful for every bit of feedback I get. When I see an author dismiss short squeeful comments, it usually makes me think twice about ever commenting on this author's fics again in the future.

Re: concrit, I think that useful concrit, i.e. something that is actually helpful for the author, is extremely difficult to give because it means overcoming your personal likes and dislikes as a reader. The only exceptions are SPAG issues - as a writer, I'm always glad when people point out typos and suchlike in my fics because even the best beta misses things here and there. As a reader, however, I usually only point them out if I know the author because not everone reacts well to this.

That said - apart from SPAG issues I can't think of a single piece of real concrit that I've got for any of my fics (I mean from readers, not from betas, of course). Many commenters brought up interesting points in their reviews, and I've had many fascinating discussions with reviewers, but as far as critique goes, I can't think of anything that didn't come down to personal likes/dislikes. I hope this doesn't mean I'm too intimidating or something like that, since I always state in every fic header that I welcome concrit ;)

I don't think the "huge hit" factor should play a role when it comes to concrit, btw. It's extremely difficult to define quality, but IMO popularity isn't a factor - if it were, Dan Brown would be a great writer...
Many commenters brought up interesting points in their reviews, and I've had many fascinating discussions with reviewers, but as far as critique goes, I can't think of anything that didn't come down to personal likes/dislikes.

but... that's all any critique is, innit? it may be a professional opinion, if it comes from an editor you're trying to get to publish your work, or a literary reviewer for the NY Times... but it's still a matter of opinion in some respect, right?

i mean, if i saw "you used too many adjectives; the general accepted style is more of a hemingway approach", that is still a matter of opinion, even if i'm speaking as a publisher... because lord knows there's plenty of 'adj/adv-abuse' in professionally published and well-sold stories.

so what critique could any one possibly give that isn't a matter of opinion?

i mean, even some 'simple' comma usage rules have been broken down into a series of 'opinions' that are held by various groups of publishers, hence we have Oxford rules, NY Times rules, Associated Press's rules... so even something as seemingly basic as the Oxford Comma has been broken down to a matter of taste (read: opinion) set by groups of people.

pardon my ramble, by the way -- i'm drunk as hell.

(there should be laws about drunk-commenting)

I never gave concrit in a comment, because I didn't think it would be wanted or taken into consideration. I try to write positive comments and say what I liked, and maybe sometimes what I wished would have been more developed, but not as criticism.

As for receiving concrit, I received a comment like that once and it helped me. If expressed clearly and/or explained properly, criticism can be very useful. As a writer, I have some things in mind when writing and no matter how many betas I have, there will always be things we miss. And it doesn't always have to be something set in stone. It can be a very subjective thing, but one I haven't considered. Hearing about it might help me think about it and even if I don't use it, I thought about it and it's something I chose not to do.

authors and artists should be prepared to receive all kinds of feedback
Yes, but it would help if the review is thoughtful and explains itself.
A comment like 'everyone was OOC' wouldn't help too much, even if it's true, and a reviewer who leaves such a comment shouldn't expect the author to improve.
And I think the same thing goes for praise. I know those fics or art pieces that are amazing and you can't say something coherent without feeling dumb, but I think we should all try to write a bit more than 'nice' or 'sweet'. Not to say that's bad, but I think knowing exactly what was appreciated can help an author just as much as good concrit.

Edited at 2008-05-05 12:46 pm (UTC)
But I wanted to know…if you do produce fanworks, do you like receiving critique or concrit?

I greatly appreciate concrit--I think it's a gift when people take the time to share their honest thoughts about something I've created. And I do love to get in people's heads and find out what does and does not work for which people. That's actually something I'm endlessly fascinated with, and part of the reason I work with as many betas as will have me.

That said, my least favorite form of concrit is the very public and impossible-to-respond-to form that comes during anon fests. I vastly prefer concrit when it can take the form of a dialogue with the person offering it. It is definitely a special form of discomfort to see someone discussing the perceived flaws in your story and not be able to say, "Oh, well, it's funny you should mention that. My betas and I spent about a week discussing that, and here's what our thinking was..." or "Well, actually, if you'll look on page [whatever] of [whichever HP book], you'll find [point proving that I didn't actually make the canon error you thought I made]", or, in some cases, "OMG you are SO RIGHT and I am SO EMBARRASSED! *scurries off to fix the error*" (The inability to edit a fic until after reveals is a quite uncomfortable feeling too! lol)

And BTW, I just wanted to say that I really appreciate all the time and thought and energy you've put into discussing the WC fics. I haven't agreed with you on every fic, but I've been very interested in your thoughts and was/will be (trying to keep it mysterious whether anything of mine has posted yet, lol) extremely appreciative to get such detailed feedback on my own WC efforts. I understand that it is probably too much to ask for all the discussion to take place after reveals, when so much interest has died down, and personally, if I have to take the choice between getting the feedback during the fest or not getting it at all, there's not much choice, really. Of course I want the feedback! lol

(And I'll probably be coming back to comment on some of your posts after reveals. I'm always nervous I'll give away whether I did/did not write a particular Team Canon entry, so haven't been commenting much at all.)
Oh! And I forgot to address the other points in your post. Let's see...I only offer concrit if I have reason to think it's welcome (so pretty much never anonymously), because it's really not going to accomplish anything good (and will therefore be a complete waste of my time) if the writer doesn't want to hear it. Depending on who the person is and how sensitive she might be, I might opt to offer it by email. (Might offer it by email if the person is incredibly popular, too, and if I don't have the time/energy to have a discussion with the author AND her fangirls, lol.) Definitely don't let popularity of the fic or author get in the way of sharing my thoughts.

But yeah, I don't feel obligated to leave "balanced" feedback in every comment either. I think people can learn from what works as well as what doesn't work, and I feel no shame in posting the positive parts of my response to a story and keeping the negative to myself unless I feel someone would actually want to hear it. I don't leave insincere praise, but it's usually not hard for me to find something (or multiple somethings) to like/love about a story.

So, yeah, that's me. I try to comment if I read, I say something honest and positive when I comment, and I offer concrit when I know who I'm talking to and have reason to think it will be useful/well-receieved.