What can YOU say in six sentences?
There's a broad spectrum of talent and subject matter at 6S and writers receive feedback in the form of comments, but these comments pertain to specific pieces. What would happen if writers received a general review? What if you've always wanted to tell a writer one or two things that would make a huge difference in his/her overall writing but are afraid to hurt his/her feelings? (Doesn't that last sentence read awkwardly?).
I received a private comment once, an eye-opener, "I like some of your pieces but you need to work on your grammar."
I bought two "Idiot's Guide" books to assess/fix this. What if we're making the same damn mistakes over and over again and don't know it? It's like walking around with toilet paper on our shoes or leaving our flies open and nobody says a thing.
I've caught some of my mistakes long after hitting "Publish" and cringed at the thought of all the eyes tripping over the errors before I realized they existed. That's bad enough, but the idea of unwittingly repeating the same mistakes creates an ugly paranoia in me. I'm constantly checking my shoes, so much so that otherwise promising stories remain hidden in the bathroom.
If the range of problems runs from A to Z, I'll hang up the craft (not). But please, tell me about my toilet paper and open fly. I don't expect constant deep editing, but a once-and-for-all spoonful of constructive criticism can't hurt. I trust my "friends". Who knows? A deep cleansing review might just mesh with some suspicions we already have about ourselves and our writing.
Would this be a good or bad thing for us all? Can we separate opinion from fact critiques?
It's worth a discussion.
I've just caught up with all the posts on this topic. I agree wholeheartedly with Robert here. I belonged an online critique group before I joined 6S. I still pop in occasionally, but don't post any of my work there now as I came away feeling rather battered and bruised even though I developed a pretty thick skin while I was there.
Don't get me wrong as I learned a great deal in the process of being critiqued and in critting other's work. But, as Robert points out, there are those who do set about to tear your writing to shreds and those who expect you to rewrite your stories until they are unrecognisable as your own.
Also, because the majority of online writers on the site were American, having it continually pointed out that my English was incorrect (there are a great many differences between English English and American English as I'm sure you are all aware)became a bit of a pain.
I received many extremely helpful crits for which I am grateful as I have received some welcome pointers on 6S. I am always happy to have the weaknesses in my writing pointed out, but please don't turn 6S into a critique group.
I'm with you Teresa in wanting some feedback that corrects and critiques and thankfully the very talented 6ers who've read my posts so far have been able to find the balance between positive comments and critique. One person seeing a very glaring error in a post sent a message to my Inbox instead of posting it in comments which I thought was really lovely. I immediately corrected the error and thanked her. Another one I received on my last post was very useful in that I'd felt something was wrong but didn't know what it was until the comments were posted.
I think the compromise is to seek critique from the persons you believe have the eye, the expertise and the experience to help you but not that there should be anything formal on the site itself. I do think that if there are glaring spelling, grammatical or construction errors that we should Inbox the person to advise them and let them take it from there. I've really been encouraged by the positive comments and critiques my posts have received which make me want to continue writing and to grow in the craft.
While I understand criticisms about grammar and especially spelling (hail to the Gates God for the spellchecker :0) ...) it is worth considering that six sentences is a hell of boiler casing to work within and pretty much strong arms you into overuse of the beloved comma, (I personally have a converted MG 42 machine gun and ten large ammunition boxes of comma loaded belts).
I'm like Bob in that I don't want to make people feel bad. I do this purely for enjoyment of it, not to improve my craft since I don't consider it a craft. I see it as a sort of hobby. I can't deny I'm often in awe of some of the talent I see here, like a busker outside a West End theatre, but I'm not in competition, I'm only in it for the laughs, and sometimes the tears (storywise that is, us Ruffy Tuffy Bikers don't do tears). :0/
I know there are writers here who want to make a life of it ... short stories, novels ... the whole bundle, and I sincerely wish them luck, but I see this site as a 'What can you do with six sentences?' (besides pad em out with a googol to the power of a googol commas).
I realize I'm almost a couple years late on this, but I generally like commentary to be of a comprehensive nature. I've not posted much since I've joined, but I noticed that my postings that have received responses were probably favored over those that had very few replies (i.e. people would rather not respond than leave an negative comment). My most recent posting had a comment that pointed out an entirely valid point, where the individual commenting made a play on words based on the language in my 6S. I took this all in good fun; however, my being absent for a year and my own rather dry sense of humor came across as being defensive, which indicated the fear I've had all along: you have to get a feel for an individual before you can go out on a limb with constructive criticism. And I did genuinely appreciate his criticism.
I suppose I've always took "What can YOU say in six sentences?" to imply that as long as the sentences are sentences, grammatically speaking, they are valid. Still, a grammatically correct, properly punctuated sentence can be as confusing and awkward as a run-on or a fragment. As previously mentioned, we might write differently given the inherent guidelines of this site, so I am often wary of correcting people on issues of grammar or spelling. As well, when people include 6S adaptations of their longer works, I don't see the point of offering too much criticism other than the content based, because ultimately its root is of greater importance to the writer.
Going to your original point, however, a general review would be excellent. If there were fundamental errors in punctuation, diction, grammar, or spelling, I would rather find out from this community than from a rejection letter. Also, I've ended up copy-editing and even editing in the past years for friends in the UK where I ended up getting my degree, but I still find that I've given incorrect info in the past based upon American rules. So, I could only hope to benefit from general reviews of work. Another helpful feature would be a separate comment box for such errors that only the author and those who have posted technical advise could read, apart from the general comments on a piece.
You don't need a separate comment box because you can send that person a private message. Only the author would see it.
I'm new and I haven't posted a thing yet, but I thought I would respond. I struggle with grammar. I have read so many grammar books you would think I could be an expert on the matter, but still, I'm absolutely dyslexic when it comes to commas and semicolons. Help isn't a bad word, but I have been in groups where people have been absolutely intolerant to others foibles. I believe you should always try to help, but you should also try to do no harm. The cure shouldn't kill the patient. imho
Bit late with commenting here, but I've been away. I belong to a critique forum online, and I send all my work there. Sometimes the critiquing hurts, but that's just because sometimes the truth does. These people are my peers, and they're only there to help me get better. I will reciprocate, and offer comments about their work.
Should 6S go to critiquing? Only if the author asks. Otherwise, just react to the story.
I think as Toby mentioned, issues of a structural nature that do not in themselves impede the thematic and overall content can be conveyed over private messages. On the other hand, as I've mentioned before, I've only posted about seven entries to this site since I started, so I'm hardly 'the voice', so to speak. All I can say is that personally, I value critique of any nature, whether it be thematic or structural; however, in a critique, I would hope to see both in this particular forum. If I was to be blasted for overusing commas or making blatant grammatical errors, I would hope to see feedback on the thematic content as well, if only as a balance.
It is beneficial to me as an individual to receive feedback regarding the structure of my postings, but the best structured blog entries can be bland or ineffective in their content. I would only ask for a comprehensive critique for my own--and I stress my own--entries, in order that I achieve the proper synthesis of all elements.
I may not have used double dashes in the correct context, for instance, in the previous sentence, but it probably depends on the individual. I'm not an active enough member to speak on behalf of anyone but myself. If critiquing must hurt me, then I assume there ought to be a good reason. If it becomes a matter of a prescriptive versus a descriptive grammar camp, then few will benefit from that back and forth. I would hope that content is the primary concern, but grammar, punctuation, spelling and style--keeping in mind the country from which the writer is based--ought to be addressed if it undermines an otherwise effective 6S.
For myself, fire away, tactfully though, if you don't mind. I break easily, and I always fear breaking into fragments. ;)
In short, perhaps it would be beneficial for the author to ask for an extended critique that involved something more comprehensive when posting. I focused on grammar, punctuation, etc., on my other post, but generally, I would like to know if something works or does not. If someone wishes to go further into the mechanics of it, that is helpful to me too; however, I understand I'm not in a position to speak for everyone, nor do I wish to.
I hope this helps.