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View Full Version : B&N Week 178: Critique or Personal Attacks--What's the Difference?


Steven Forbes
05-21-2014, 12:14 AM
http://i1.wp.com/www.comixtribe.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/BoltsNutsFeatured-compromise.jpg?resize=640%2C290
We’ve got yet another Tuesday upon us! Know what that means? Time for more Bolts & Nuts!

This week’s question is: Critique or Personal Attacks—What’s the Difference?

Some question, right? It should be simple, yet it is anything but.

I’m about to sound like an old man. You were warned.

When I was a kid, we’d get certificates of achievement in school. I’m talking about recognition for having and maintaining a high GPA, or being most improved in your GPA, for outstanding achievement in one subject or another… Awards of merit. And as kids, we’d work hard to get those awards, and if we missed out, we’d work all that much harder the next year in order to get those certificates.

Kids today don’t have that. They join all kinds of clubs, and they get certificates for taking part. They want to receive special treatment just for showing up, and feel slighted when they aren’t. They haven’t done anything to earn kudos, but want them anyway.

Click here to read more. (http://www.comixtribe.com/2014/05/21/bn-week-178-critique-or-personal-attack-what-is-the-difference/)

Alyssa
05-21-2014, 07:16 AM
You already know how I feel about honest critiques, but I'ma gonna jump on my soap box anyways. :har:

All these folk who jump up and down, saying that critics should be more NICE, most of the time they have no business getting huffy in the first place.

It kinda makes me think about the tossers who changed "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" to "Baa, Baa, Rainbow Sheep".
"Oh my WORD, we can't be singing about black sheep, that's offensive to black people! It simply MUST be changed to something that doesn't make any sense at all!"
Never mind the fact that I've never once heard a black person complain about how offensive that nursery rhyme is.
(As a side note, in 5 years will they change that to Baa Baa Colourless Sheep, so as not to offends gays?)

If the person receiving the critiques isn't offended, leave it be. Just because it doesn't fit within one's paradigm of what's socially acceptable, doesn't make it any less helpful to the person receiving the critique.

And if the person receiving the critique IS offended, then they need to look hard at what's happening. If the critique is focusing on the work only, and not throwing insults at the individual, then the "fault" is with the person receiving the critique, in my opinion.

> The person has an ego that doesn't allow for anything but sugar-coated remarks (if any at all).
> The person is too young or inexperienced to realise that sometimes the best help is NOT sugar-coated.
> The person for some reason feels that critiques don't apply to them.
> The person actually didn't want critiques at all, but instead just wanted to parade their wares, careless for all the bleeding eyes in their wake.

And honestly? NONE of these qualities are going to help them succeed. The sooner that "lesson" is learned, the better. But if they're still gonna get butt-hurt, they should at least keep it to themselves. Whining about critiques is a good way to label yourself unprofessional.

As a writer, it's one thing to have so-so grammar in emails, text messages and chat rooms. No one is expecting you to revise, rewrite, and edit your daily communications. But when you're submitting a piece of literary work for the masses to see, it should damn well be the best you can put out at the time (mistakes happen, things get missed, but fix the shit you know is there). That way, any critiques that are given are relevant. They apply. They help you learn.

Here's the deal (and many people forget this):

People leaving critiques, unless paid, are in no way obligated to write anything. They are taking time out of their day (time that could be spent on any number of other things) to carefully consider YOUR work. Kudos should go to the person leaving the critique for that fact alone.

Some people have enough time and inclination up their sleeves to fluff up a critique with shallow compliments (and if there are no actual positives in a work, they might flat out lie for the sake of being friendly).
Other people just get to the point as quickly as possible. They still care enough about that person's success to leave a helpful critique, but they're not going to waste their time (or the recipient's) by blowing smoke up their ass.

Sugar-coating does nothing but stroke ego and obfuscate the hard facts. Personally, I think that's more offensive. ;)

http://funnymemes.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Politically-correct.jpg

Screwtape Jenkins
05-22-2014, 02:03 PM
I disagree that there's this clear dichotomy between comments that are about the work and comments that are personal attacks.

You're asked to review a sub-par piece of work. You can either say:

A. "I'm sorry, but this isn't anywhere near professional quality and you have a lot of work to do if you want to ever be successful."

Or

B. "This is just plain garbage and you're wasting my time."

Sure, both A and B are technically about the work, but B is obviously much more personal and much more likely to give offense.

Now, I'm not personally offended by B. I actually seek out people who use style B versus style A (which is why I try to get Steven's opinion as often as I can - in my experience, Steven's more of a B-style guy).

However, I don't think a person who is offended by B is wrong to be offended by B. B isn't utterly ad hominem, but it's obviously much more potentially offensive than A. And if you use language that is obviously potentially offensive, you have to expect that people will get offended. You can't put that entirely on them - you chose to use language that could give offense.

Schuyler
05-25-2014, 07:59 PM
I only have my own experience to draw from. I have sent two scripts into TPG and neither of them went well.

The first time I was very sensitive and did get my feelings hurt. The second time I knew it was not to going to receive any praise and had no problems accepting the critique as it stood.

The "B" style, as Jenkins put it, was important for me. Steven talks about growing a thicker skin. For me that means I have to learn when its okay to defend myself. The more I learn the more confident I get with my own ideas. The more confident I am the better I take the critique and use it to make my art better. The important thing about confidence is being able to laugh about my mistake and not do it again.

I personally believe that Steven's style is little about entertainment value. He adds a flare to his editing that can actually be offensive. Here is the thing, Steven is not going to lie to you. He likes to tell jokes and stories. But if he didn't tell good stories then we wouldn't trust him to edit ours.

Steven Forbes
05-26-2014, 02:41 PM
Entertainment value? A little bit. I'll cop to that.

However, aside from that, nothing I've ever said is untrue. Jokes? Yes, but with truth to them. Stories? Yes, generally to illuminate what's going wrong in the script.

While I may think it from time to time, I'll never say that anyone has ever wasted my time. Never in public, and never in private. Possibly in ultra-private, which means I'm talking to my wife, but never in public or in private.

I've only ever declined to accept a script for TPG once, and that was relatively recently. For the purposes of TPG, it would have been a waste of time. The writer sent in a screenplay without even trying to put it in a comic script format, and refused to change it due to their own beliefs about Hollywood and editors. It was bizarre, and I opted not to burden the readers of TPG with it.

Anyway, as for being offensive or not... I do believe there is a dichotomy. In the two examples that Screwtape Jenkins gave, the first one was about the work, and the second one was about the reviewer. That's where it became offensive. "This is just plain garbage and you're wasting my time." That's when it becomes about the reviewer and not the work.

I call things crap all the time, but then I say why it's crap. That's about the work. I may say that I want to punch kittens in the spleen over something I've read, and while that's absurd and about me, it's about how I feel about the work, and not about how the work has "wasted time" or anything speaking to that. It's a fine line to walk.

As for the type of editor I am... Everyone has their own views. I'm going to tell it as I see it, and I'm not cuddly about it. I always try to be helpful. That's really all I ever want to be. Some may not like the bald truth, as evidenced by the two examples I linked to, but that doesn't mean I'm wrong. Message or messenger: which is more important?

Screwtape Jenkins
05-26-2014, 05:31 PM
I only object to the "truth is rudeness, and rudeness is truth" narrative I (perhaps mistakenly) see lurking behind Alyssa's post.

It's true that rudeness does not invalidate truth, but by the same token, truth does not excuse rudeness.

There's a happy medium between rudely telling people they suck, and lying to them about the quality of their work. You can always politely tell them they suck.

And while it's true that the message is more important than the messenger, it's also true that how the message is delivered has a great impact on how (or whether) the message is received. Some people might be perfectly willing to hear that their work "isn't close to professional." They can take that note, hear it, and work hard to get better. That same person might get personally offended and defensive about their work if you called it "crap." They might get their feelings hurt, shut down and refrain from sharing their work anymore. I've been in screenwriting groups were people were criticized so harshly they just completely quit the group, and possibly writing altogether.

Now, I know the tendency will be to place the blame totally on the writer for "failing to have a thick skin," but I just don't agree with that mentality. We're all at different points in our creative lives, and some of us, through no fault of our own, aren't ready for "tough love." There were times near the beginning of my writing life when a review as harsh as the one I received from Steven last week would have made me quit writing. But I'm lucky enough to have had some success writing. I've won a couple of screenplay contests, gotten some positive reviews for Theodicy (http://theodicycomic.blogspot.com/) (plug, plug), including one from Comixtribe (http://www.comixtribe.com/2013/12/06/review-roundup-2/), and had a pretty favorable TPG review (http://www.comixtribe.com/2013/08/23/tpg-week-139-strong-starts/) from Steven under my belt. So, I'm in a position to take a swift kick in the pants more or less in stride.

But there's always somebody who is submitting their work to public approval for the first time. Those people might be very self-conscious and very much fearful that they lack the talent to live up their aspirations. They might not be ready for tough love, and that's not their fault. There were times in all our creative lives where we needed encouragement more than hard truth. And then, once we'd gone on to somewhat develop our craft, we probably all reached a time when we needed hard truth more than we need encouragement.

Unless you know the writer personally, it's hard to know where he is on that timeline. That's why I try to always err on being too encouraging when I'm critiquing people's work on the internet. For all I know, I could be talking to a child, or a person who has never before submitted their work to public scrutiny.

In my opinion, if you're not doing everything you can in giving the critique to make sure the message gets through, then you can't entirely blame the person receiving the critique if the message gets lost.

Alyssa
05-27-2014, 05:11 AM
One thing I see a lot of (in visual art forums mainly, as that's where I tend to hang out) is a multitude of posts by new artists. Their work is riddled with errors. They have no idea what they're doing. Yet they don't get any help from anyone. Not a peep. Why? Because folk are too scared to leave critiques, in case the person takes offense. They can't possibly leave a critique that sounds overly positive while also being helpful, because there are so many things wrong with the work. So they choose not to help at all.

Given the fact that artists (of any kind) WILL face harsh criticism at some point, I feel that growing a thick skin is in their best interests. But it'll also drop some of the stigma attached to being that "one person" who had enough balls to lay out the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

In "real life" I'm known as being super duper friendly. I go out of my way to make people feel good. So I totally know where you're coming from, regarding being polite. But personally (and this may be where we'll have to agree to disagree), I don't see Steven's critiques as being rude or harsh. I know others see them that way, but I don't. It's hard to feel that Steven (and Yannick, and Sam, and all the other awesome folk) are doing anything but a solid favour to folks. I mean, FREE editing! FREE learning! NO barriers to entry! That's a big deal. They're dedicating their (non-existent) spare time to trying to help others. If that comes with a line about an editor wanting to tear their eyeballs out, that doesn't bother me in the slightest.

But again, just my opinion.

Screwtape Jenkins
05-27-2014, 11:41 AM
Again, I'm not saying there's anything inherently wrong with Steven's style. But the thing is, there's also nothing inherently right about it. For some people, (myself included) it's just what they need. For others, it's the last thing they need.

I give credit to Steven, because I've never seen him ask people to submit to TPG without warning them that the critiques can be tough and encouraging them to read a few articles to make sure they know what they're getting into. So, hopefully, most of the TPG submitters think they're ready for some tough love. I gather that's the case, because most of the TPG submitters I've seen have been polite and receptive even when they've been dressed down pretty thoroughly. Also, I don't think I've ever seen Steven be as hard on people who just submit stuff to the Writer's forum as he is on people who submit to TPG. He seems to reserve TPG treatment for people who want TPG treatment.

I obviously think there's benefit in what Steven does or else I wouldn't have sought out his help with my book or submitted to TPG. I'm just saying, I disagree that "tough love" is a panacea and that we should all go around indiscriminately pushing our tough love onto any and all comers. And again, that doesn't mean I'm advocating lying to people about the quality of their work. I'm just advocating truthful but polite critique.

(ETA: Sorry for talking about you like you're not here, Steven.)

Steven Forbes
05-27-2014, 12:34 PM
No worries, Chad. I'm often not here.

And yes, I do give people the same treatment in the Writer's Showcase. I just don't often go over scripts in there. I just leave out the eyeball bleeding and head 'sploding stuff.

gummahfan
07-02-2014, 02:25 PM
This is a topic I've been thinking more and more about, especially when reading through critiques on this forum.

I have read some of your comments Steven, and honestly I have found them to be devoid of tact. Now on a bad day, it brings up memories of my times in "Philosophy of Art" where self-righteous students focus on sounding smarter than the other instead of having an actual discussion. A real lesson in pretentiousness and dick-ery that always ends in "geez, I was just being honest". (No one likes that guy)

On a good day, however, I chalk it up to the fact that you edit as a profession and don't have time to sugarcoat what you say because you do it all day, and are doing it for random people you don't know, for free.

Personally, I remember taking art class in high school, and the rules of critiquing included finding one thing that was good about the work and praising that, then going on to some of the flaws. Call it stroking egos or sugarcoating, I consider it being courteous and mindful of how people will take my opinion. Also, having someone not think you're a jerk goes a long way in them actually listening to your critiques on what is wrong with their work.

But, in the end, I can't fault you too much. You're technically right. People SHOULD have thicker skin and I've noticed that some people are really, really bad at taking critiques. And of course, it's not up to you to meet them halfway. As long as you understand that a lot people will consider you abrasive and not a particularly nice guy (which you seem to understand quite well).

As for now, I have a script that I'm working on that I think is some of my best writing. I'm going to be honest, I'm afraid to post it on TPG and probably won't unless the thing has gone through at least 5 drafts. In that sense, you really are pushing people to become better writers, albeit out of fear.

"Honesty without compassion is brutality."

Oh, and Steven, it was a great article. I respect your opinion and you provided great examples with your links. I would however look at this sentence again:

"They things to be couched more friendly:"

=P

Steven Forbes
07-02-2014, 03:26 PM
Hey, Cedrick! Thanks for stopping by, reading, and commenting. It means a lot.

Let's get to it!

This is a topic I've been thinking more and more about, especially when reading through critiques on this forum.

Yup. Comments are something that this entire site could use more of. Seriously. The more comments and people posting for comments (as well as commenting on things themselves), then the more everyone will learn, and this site will regain some of its former glory, if not surpass it.


I have read some of your comments Steven, and honestly I have found them to be devoid of tact. Now on a bad day, it brings up memories of my times in "Philosophy of Art" where self-righteous students focus on sounding smarter than the other instead of having an actual discussion. A real lesson in pretentiousness and dick-ery that always ends in "geez, I was just being honest". (No one likes that guy)

Yup. Lots of people here think me devoid of tact. However, rarely are the times I think myself self-righteous, and rarely are the times that I think myself smarter than anyone else. Better at understanding where someone is coming from, from time to time? Sure. But smarter? Hardly ever. I don't think I'm that smart. I'm just a guy doing what I can to help out the medium I love.


On a good day, however, I chalk it up to the fact that you edit as a profession and don't have time to sugarcoat what you say because you do it all day, and are doing it for random people you don't know, for free.

You, sir, are one of the very few people who understands that we do this for free. Every week, without fail. That's a burden, and we shoulder it the best we can.

As for sugarcoating...I've never believed in it. I do soften blows when I can, but most of my reactions here are generally geared toward the level of respect shown for both the craft and the time we take to do this for free. We go out of our way to do this, and some of those who submit don't take the time to study format? Run it through a spellcheck? Punctuation?

Those creators don't deserve things to be sugarcoated. If you can't master the period/full stop, then you shouldn't try to communicate using the written word.

/rant


Personally, I remember taking art class in high school, and the rules of critiquing included finding one thing that was good about the work and praising that, then going on to some of the flaws. Call it stroking egos or sugarcoating, I consider it being courteous and mindful of how people will take my opinion. Also, having someone not think you're a jerk goes a long way in them actually listening to your critiques on what is wrong with their work.

Praising something done well is for the ego. I do that on occasion, when I see something that deserves praise because it was done very well, or something unusual that was reached for but not quite there yet. Doesn't happen often.


But, in the end, I can't fault you too much. You're technically right. People SHOULD have thicker skin and I've noticed that some people are really, really bad at taking critiques. And of course, it's not up to you to meet them halfway. As long as you understand that a lot people will consider you abrasive and not a particularly nice guy (which you seem to understand quite well).

"Really, really bad at taking critues." That's kinda funny.

The place is called The Proving Grounds. If you go to a place called "the proving grounds" and are expecting cookies and candies and gushing over your script, then you've gone to the wrong place.

One writer that came through thanked me for the time, and then went on Twitter and talked all kinds of crap. They took one thing I said (which was deservedly harsh), posted it, and people were all over it. "How dare he say things like that? Who does he think he is?" That was the general refrain/consensus.

Then a couple of weeks later, the same writer submitted again.

Hilarious.

Yes, I know people think I'm harsh. I know they think I'm not a nice guy. I'm okay with that, because I know they're wrong. Their inability to handle my version of the truth is not my fault. However, I try to be amusing when I'm making harsh comments. If something is particularly bad, I try to get a second opinion. (Usually my wife.) It gets changed about half the time.

However, I know how I look. Harsh, uncompromising, direct, sometimes amusing, and that I know better than most. Take the time to converse with me, though, and you'll see how wrong most of that is. (The "sometimes amusing" part is almost never wrong. ;) )

Again, I can live with it.


As for now, I have a script that I'm working on that I think is some of my best writing. I'm going to be honest, I'm afraid to post it on TPG and probably won't unless the thing has gone through at least 5 drafts. In that sense, you really are pushing people to become better writers, albeit out of fear.

Help me to understand this, please.

You have a script. You believe it is some of your best writing.

You want to submit it to TPG because...why?

You're afraid to submit it to TPG because...why?


"Honesty without compassion is brutality."

Honesty, compassion, and brutality are all subjective.

To me, honesty is always compassionate.

I can't take all scripts submitted on a case-by-case basis. It isn't that I don't have the time, it's that most of the time, I don't know the people. I can't personalize a submission if I don't know the person.

Also, there is a certain comfort that can be found in the fact that you know what you're getting into when you submit. You're going to get some great editing by one of the editors, more than likely some snark from me as I take the page in its entirety, maybe a personal story of mine that has at least a tangential meaning to or example of the submitted story, and a rundown.

Editing is about finding the flaws and trying to eliminate them. Editing is not about praising the work.


Oh, and Steven, it was a great article. I respect your opinion and you provided great examples with your links. I would however look at this sentence again:

"They things to be couched more friendly:"

=P

Thanks!

And yes, some things get lost. Words get dropped on occasion. Something for me to fix. Thanks for finding it and letting me know!

gummahfan
07-02-2014, 05:19 PM
You want to submit it to TPG because...why?

You're afraid to submit it to TPG because...why?

I want to submit because... I want to become a better writer

I'm afraid to submit because... I honestly don't know if I have thick enough skin for it yet.

We'll see how that pans out.

Steven Forbes
07-02-2014, 05:26 PM
I want to submit because... I want to become a better writer

I'm afraid to submit because... I honestly don't know if I have thick enough skin for it yet.

We'll see how that pans out.

Why not post the script in the Writer's Showcase? See if you can get some feedback there first. See how that turns out.

Or, you can always hire an editor. That's also an avenue.

Charles
07-02-2014, 05:34 PM
I disagree that there's this clear dichotomy between comments that are about the work and comments that are personal attacks.

You're asked to review a sub-par piece of work. You can either say:

A. "I'm sorry, but this isn't anywhere near professional quality and you have a lot of work to do if you want to ever be successful."

Or

B. "This is just plain garbage and you're wasting my time."

Sure, both A and B are technically about the work, but B is obviously much more personal and much more likely to give offense.

I think that I will chime in by pointing out that the example above isn't limited to it being either response A or response B.

Beyond that very narrow range of choices, which isn't accurate, it's worth remaining cognizant of the fact that people choose to take offense. That is choice. One does not have to take offense, even if offense is intended, so certainly, if offense isn't even intended, no one has to take offense at it.

I haven't read every critique that Steven Forbes has ever written. Not by a long shot, in fact. But, I have read a number of them. I don't always agree with Steven, whether on matters of critique or other things, but I will say this about his critique style, as far as critiquing comic book scripts is concerned: To call Steven's critique style as harsh is, in my considered opinion, an exaggeration, at best.

Criticism is inherent to critique, just the same that praise is. Critique, as a process, requires subjection to scrutiny. To fore go criticism is to skewer the process, itself.

Granted, a lot of criticism or praise is subjective in nature. Articulation of critique is often a process that yields opinions. Steven, at least, will often quantify his opinion - he provides reasoning that leads him to conclude that which he concludes.

The devil is in the details. Critique is not about affirmation of existing opinion.

As for now, I have a script that I'm working on that I think is some of my best writing. I'm going to be honest, I'm afraid to post it on TPG and probably won't unless the thing has gone through at least 5 drafts. In that sense, you really are pushing people to become better writers, albeit out of fear.

As a general rule of thumb, fear tends to be a poor guide, except maybe where safety is at issue. But, fear for one's physical safety is a far cry from fear for one's emotional safety, as in emotional attachment to one's opinion established prior to critique manifesting itself.

The real question is, why place undue value in someone else's opinion to the point where it makes you fearful of what they might say? And all over what you wrote for a comic book script? You can always seek a second opinion, or many opinions. Don't inflate the critique, whether it is issued by Steven or anyone else, unnecessarily.

Ultimately, if you have no confidence in your own work, or you are lacking confidence to the degree where you are fearful of the mere opinion of others, then that is a problematic spot to find one's self in.

Even if Steven were to rip your script to shreds through critique, it would be proverbial shreds, and not the destruction of your property. Even if he did, what of it? What power do you imbue his words with?

My experience in life has been that there are far worse critics in existence than Steven Forbes. Steven renders opinions. No one has to make them self a slave to his opinions. Steven isn't perfect. Thus, at times, it stands to reason that he might be wrong about a few things. Additionally, no one has to agree with him, whether he criticizes or whether he praises a given script.

The thing about opinions is that everybody has one. To illustrate and to underscore this particular point, I often hold multiple opinions about a given thing, simultaneously.

A lot of what Steven's critiques focus on tend to be on the fundamentals - on the most basic of things. But, in all fairness, if one doesn't have the basics down, then what is the likelihood that they have the finer points down?

"Honesty without compassion is brutality."

That statement makes for a nice sentiment, but it isn't particularly accurate, standing alone.

After all, the character of every act depends upon the circumstances in which it is done. Every case must turn upon its own particular set of facts. Honesty has its own existence. Not all issues involving honestly necessarily trigger compassion or brutality. Unilaterally ascribing them to honesty, itself, leads to error. Error, in turn, leads to problematic judgments. Compassion and brutality are not automatically implicated, where honesty hangs its hat.

It seems to me that it stands to reason that the particulars of a given critique may well be colored by one's experience. Thus, not only may opinions vary, but experiences vary, as well. So, more than one individual can reasonably come to different judgments of a comic book script, based upon more than one factor - factors not rooted in either compassion nor brutality.

Even where opinions issue forth, whether from Steven Forbes or anyone else, words contain both a cognitive context and an emotive context. Thus, not all criticism should be taken in a literal sense. Criticism stings, because human beings have feelings, and feelings are governed not by logic and reason, but by emotions.

Critique can be cursory or in-depth. I often find that people tend to love praise, but not love criticism with equal fervor. Praise is their preference. But, preference is not the same thing as objectivity.

Making Steven Forbes into a paper dragon serves no one well - not the ones submitting comic book scripts, and not Steven, either.

Pampering one's comic book script creation, by trying to protect it from critique of individuals well-versed in the art of delivering it, does not advance either confidence or script. If you've written a script, then you've written it for a reason. Unless you wrote it only for your own personal consumption, then it is a literary gift to someone else - perhaps to the entire world.

Rest assured, the world will have an opinion on it, in due time. In all likelihood, the world will not have just one opinion on it, but many - maybe even what seems to be a near-infinite number of opinions on it.

Keeping the script to one's own self is akin to living in the past.

Be ye of good courage. Caution has its place in the overall scheme of human life. But, so, too, does courage.

Life is a stroll through a maelstrom of opinion. You can try to avoid the storm tossed sea of human opinion, or you can can try to learn how to surf. Your script can exist in the sanctuary of secrecy, or it can rise or fall on its own merits in public.

To share your comic book script is to also share a piece of yourself, a portion of your innermost self. It is a glimpse into your creativity, as an individual. Creativity is nothing to fear, and neither is mere opinion.

You don't empower yourself by placing an inflated sense of value in what others think. If Steven thinks a particular thing about your script, he probably thinks that for one or more reasons. They just might be very good reasons, reasons that will benefit you (or someone else with a comic book script), if you will but only give him the chance.

It is said that if the blind shall lead the blind, then they shall both end up in the ditch. If you aren't sure about your script, then you are, in essence, blind. Not totally blind, perhaps, but partially blind.

The best way to get better at writing is by doing it. The best way to get better at enduring criticism is by actually enduring it.

The world doesn't have to end, simply because someone criticizes a comic book script. The literal world doesn't end, in such instances, and neither does the proverbial world have to end, in such instances.

Steven Forbes holds no monopoly upon either opinion or critique. You always have other options. But, if you fear criticism (or the prospect of criticism), then that's a far bigger issue than Steve Forbes, no matter how harsh he proves to be.

It is true that tact has a purpose. It can be quite useful. But, it is also true that there is a time for tact, and a time to dispense with it. Critiques of comic book scripts are typically not carried out at exhausting lengths. The reason for this is fairly straight-forward - most of what's wrong with the average comic book script is found on the surface.

If you can't handle criticism of the surface of your handiwork, then can you handle criticism that digs much deeper, even into the bone of your creation?

If not, then you have much, much bigger problems than Steven Forbes.

Maintaining a sense of perspective can be exceedingly useful. What is at issue is - now get this - a comic book script. No matter what the volume of criticism that emanates from critiques of such, in no instance is it likely to rise to the level of devastation of the person who created it.

Even if you gain nothing from the criticism, itself, you might well benefit from the process.

Morganza
07-02-2014, 07:24 PM
I can relate to this because I used to be the one who would defend my mistakes because I took critiques so personally. Way back when I first started posting my work, I was arrogant, stubborn, and thought I was better than a lot of artists out there.

It took me a few years to realize I wasn't a good artist. I'm mad at myself for wasting time with that nonsense instead of learning.

I'm one of those afraid to give critiques because more times than not I waste my time trying to help someone who only posts art to get pats on the back, I have pulled way back on doing that.

There is something to what Steven is saying, this new generation seems to believe it is exceptional without merit, deviant art is full of them. And they come here expecting the same accolades.

I think my problem was I never had any peer review of my work when I was younger, I was so unprepared for critiques and it confused me because my family liked it. This is why I consider everything before 2004 "refrigerator art", cause Mommy would stick on the fridge and tell it's good.

gummahfan
07-03-2014, 09:51 AM
Thing is, I know that holding my stuff to myself holds me back. I've been told again and again that critiques will help you as a writer. It's not like it doesn't make sense. I take full responsibility in this, and will take the plunge one day to get my stuff reviewed and critiqued.

That being said, when someone gets defensive about their work I have two simultaneous reactions:

1) This person is too sensitive, and needs to understand that constructive critiques are a favor for him/her

2) I totally understand why this person is feeling attacked because at the end of the day, you can't help what you feel.

Now, for (1) there's not much to explain that you guys havent' mentioned. But for (2), I feel for the person because whether or not it makes SENSE to be offended, people can't help but FEEL like failures when their mistakes are pointed out. It IS up to the writer to learn to take it better and get thicker skin, but personally I would appreciate a bit of social grace and courtesy. I mean, I'd rather someone tell me that my breath smells, but there is a broad range of ways someone could tell me.

"Hey, you might want this extra piece of gum"
"God, your breath smells like an old man's ass!"

Also, I am taking Steven's advice and taking my time with my script. I will work on it and put in a lot more effort before I decide to post it. With promotions on my current comic, a website that is almost done, and the arrival of my first son it may be a while before you can read how terrible a writer I am =P

Charles
07-03-2014, 12:03 PM
But for (2), I feel for the person because whether or not it makes SENSE to be offended, people can't help but FEEL like failures when their mistakes are pointed out. It IS up to the writer to learn to take it better and get thicker skin, but personally I would appreciate a bit of social grace and courtesy. I mean, I'd rather someone tell me that my breath smells, but there is a broad range of ways someone could tell me.

"Hey, you might want this extra piece of gum"
"God, your breath smells like an old man's ass!"

It shouldn't be assumed that an individual offering up a critique can't or doesn't sympathize, on a personal level, with the individual whose work that they are critiquing.

But, the point of a critique is not to sympathize with the individual. Rather, it is to assess the work. The distinction is a critical one.

At some point, if you release your work to the world, it will likely get critiqued. So, at some point, reality will assert itself - namely, the reality of other peoples opinions. A world full of complete strangers - how sympathetic do you think that they will likely be?

Friends and family are often ideal to turn to, if what you seek is social grace and courtesy, where critiques are concerned.

However, if it is the unvarnished truth that you seek, you might want to seek opinions and analysis from those who are not emotionally connected to the creator. Otherwise, what you may end up with is varnished truth, rather than unvarnished.

The marketplace of ideas encompasses a wide range of opinions. Ultimately, you have no control over the opinions of others. Producing quality work tends to mitigate criticism. What you do have control over, however, is how you choose to receive and deal with criticism of your artistic handiwork, which, in this case, is a comic book script.

Charles
07-03-2014, 12:07 PM
Is it genuine praise that you seek? Or genuine criticism

If you really want to know what people honestly think about what you produce, then you can't achieve that by setting artificial parameters for critique of your work that gravitates around a craving for tact.

In fact, a critique delivered with tact can often be more devastating in its impact than one delivered without regard for tactful delivery. Be careful what you ask for. You might very well get it.

Duane Korslund
07-03-2014, 01:07 PM
Thing is, I know that holding my stuff to myself holds me back. I've been told again and again that critiques will help you as a writer. It's not like it doesn't make sense. I take full responsibility in this, and will take the plunge one day to get my stuff reviewed and critiqued.

That being said, when someone gets defensive about their work I have two simultaneous reactions:

1) This person is too sensitive, and needs to understand that constructive critiques are a favor for him/her

2) I totally understand why this person is feeling attacked because at the end of the day, you can't help what you feel.

Now, for (1) there's not much to explain that you guys havent' mentioned. But for (2), I feel for the person because whether or not it makes SENSE to be offended, people can't help but FEEL like failures when their mistakes are pointed out. It IS up to the writer to learn to take it better and get thicker skin, but personally I would appreciate a bit of social grace and courtesy. I mean, I'd rather someone tell me that my breath smells, but there is a broad range of ways someone could tell me.

"Hey, you might want this extra piece of gum"
"God, your breath smells like an old man's ass!"

Also, I am taking Steven's advice and taking my time with my script. I will work on it and put in a lot more effort before I decide to post it. With promotions on my current comic, a website that is almost done, and the arrival of my first son it may be a while before you can read how terrible a writer I am =P


The problem with people being overly and I mean OVERLY sensitive about their work (to the point of defending wrongness) is that sometimes they let their emotions and hurt from getting a negative critique blind them to the fact that they are categorically wrong.
This makes them look unprofessional and frowned upon by their peers.

We've seen it all a hundred times here on DW. Someone posts artwork and gets a crit back (by either tact or harsh bluntness)and the artist completely go off the rails like the person giving the critique stabbed his or her grandma.
The problem is often times the artist did indeed make the mistake the person giving the critique claimed they had.

If its an anatomy issue, then its chances are they need work on anatomy. Same with perspective.
No force in the universe can make improper anatomy/perspective/grammar proper. If you don't put a period at the end of a sentence you've done something wrong, this cannot be argued. If there are sixty three muscles between the bicep and the tricep, your anatomy is wrong. Its incontrovertible! There are not sixty three muscles there! Suck it up and learn!
Same with writers. If your grammar is terrible, and you get called out on it (especially multiple times), then your grammar is probably bad and you need to pay attention to that.
That's where an artist needs to have thick skin. Learn to take your criticisms. Now, on the other hand. I know personally, I tend to respond better to constructive, tactful, criticisms far better than rude ones.
I see nothing wrong with:
A."Your perspective is bad, you need a lot of work on it."
Vs.
B."Dude, your perspective sucks dried monkey ass. Maybe you should consider a career as a tax auditor. Quit now."

Why A? Because if said artist has any brains, he'll note that he has a perspective problem and work hard to over come the problem.
While example B, may garner the same result, it may cause the opposite effect and said artist will just put down his pencil and never pick up that perspective book, and will never learn perspective. I find that a shame!
But that's a little subjective.

I actually enjoy a lot of the flare that Steven puts into his critiques. As he stated, its called The Proving Grounds for a reason; he's not a dick for the sake of being a dick. I know its not personal. If he saw me on the street he wouldn't stab me in the eye just because I submitted something of poor quality.
Also, his style doesn't dictate the kind of person he is either. Sure he's harsh with his crits, but when you're just goofing around in chit-chat...whole different vibe.

Steven Forbes
07-03-2014, 03:06 PM
...he's not a dick for the sake of being a dick.

Methinks I was just called a dick! :laugh:

Duane Korslund
07-03-2014, 03:10 PM
Methinks I was just called a dick! :laugh:

hahaha...a functional dick...which is very important to the world...its the nonfunctional...dicks...that....are...useless...

ok...I think I need to rethink all of that :whistlin:

Steven Forbes
07-03-2014, 03:14 PM
:eek: :slap: :p :laugh::laugh: :whistlin:

Charles
07-04-2014, 12:13 AM
Methinks I was just called a dick! :laugh:

In fairness, he did use a semi-colon before doing so. It was also dick with a small d.

Just saying.