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Critique Circle Makes Me a Very Grumpy Bulldog…

July 28, 2011

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve said and done some not nice things on the Internet.  I’ve cussed people out and called them morons and such.  Which is why it’s so unbelievable that I got a warning from Critique Circle for this:

Here’s my advice to you so you don’t sound like a jackass in the future:

If you’re going to question a 24-hour diner, you do it like this: “Are there 24 hours diners? I don’t have any around me, but maybe they have them somewhere else?” See, now it’s a question and doesn’t have the pompous “I’m skeptical” thing going on. I do stuff like that a lot because on Critique Circle anyway you get people from Britain, Australia, etc. so I’m not always up on things in those countries, so I try to phrase it as a question instead of making a statement and sounding like a jerk.
Betsyboop wrote:
You are very right but our Denny’s out here is not open 24/7, hence my comment. You’re welcome to take or ignore any advice I gave. Good luck in the future.
Roguebear wrote:
Thank you for critiquing my story, “The Night’s Legacy, Ch 1”.

“I don’t know of any diner open 24 hours a day so right away I’m skeptical of your details. ”

So you’ve never heard of Denny’s? I’ve been to diners open 24/7, so you can be skeptical, but you’re wrong. Try phrasing that a little nicer next time so you don’t seem like a complete ass.

What, I can’t say “jackass” and “ass”?  Those words are in the Bible for fuck’s sake!  And yeah, her critique wasn’t worded very nicely either, so maybe I should have been a whiny bitch and snitched to the moderators, saying, “Mommy, she’s picking on me!!!”

Or maybe it was for this highly offensive Email:

Well then.
Soledad wrote:
Roguebear wrote:
Thank you for critiquing my story, “The Night’s Legacy, Ch 1”. You should probably think a little before making some comments.

“She’s twenty-three, so it doesn’t seem likely that the cops would inform her mother that she was there. ”

Since she’s been missing for 7 years, don’t you think when they run her name and it pops up as a missing persons case they might want to tell her mom who filed the missing person’s report?

Oooh, such controversy there.  I didn’t even swear in that one!  Or call her a dingbat, which I feel is warranted.  I mean come on, if someone’s been missing for 7 years, why wouldn’t you call the person who filed the missing persons report when she turns up?  Age doesn’t have anything to do with it.  Incidentally, her excuse was that the cops would be lazy and not bother with it.  I hope the cops where I live aren’t like that.  I mean if my niece ran away for seven years, I’d kind of like to know when she turns up somewhere.  Really I probably wouldn’t have said anything about this except I was grumpy about the first dingbat.

Yeesh, they have some real low standards for reprimanding people there.  I mean I could understand if I said, “Look you fucking twat, if you’re skeptical of my details it’s because you’re a fucking moron…”

Really, you sissy little bitches want something to whine to Mommy Moderator about, I can give it to you.

Anyway, the critiques I get probably aren’t worth this kind of crap.  But I will miss playing Hangman.


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  1. Does critiquing do any good? Stephenie Meyer wrote in Twilight, “Green leaves were swaying in the wind, greenly.” She got an agent, got published, and sold 140 million books. That’s just an example of the bad prose in her first-time novel. Dude, no one cares about details like that. The only thing a beta reader needs to do is check for consistency and maybe report back if the plot is exciting. All the people sitting around critiquing over minor details are aiming for perfection in a book economy that doesn’t care.

    I think the number one thing you should look for on a resume for someone critiquing your work is whether or not they read and read a lot. People who do a lot of reading have an idea of what’s out there, what’s getting published, and can judge whether or not yours could stand on the shelf with other books of its kind.

    • See that’s the crap I’m going to write a blog post about eventually. Editors don’t really give a crap about adverbs, nor do readers. I was reading “Dracula” last night and Stoker starts a sentence “Presently…” That would be a no-no to modern people. Everyone stop reading because he used an adverb!

      Anyway, I think in this case if you’re going to be an ass and say something like “I’m skeptical of your details” because YOUR details are wrong then you should be the one reprimanded, not me for calling bullshit on it.

      • More so than ever I think that the publishing companies can publish anyone they want to and make a success out of them. The trick is how do you get to be the chosen one? Anyone that thinks that it is talent is fooling themselves in my opinion. You can be a terrible writer and sell a million books. The problem with a critique circle is coming to this realization is difficult. People in the class that James Frey addressed regarding his idea that aliens were the next hot thing felt dirty and wanted to wash themselves. He dispelled all notion that originality, good writing, and master of fine arts degrees were what made you money. Then he went and proved it. I think critique circles for the most part are useless because of what James Frey said (that just happens to be true).

  2. Why in the WORLD would you want to join this “Critique Circle?” I thought you got that 24 hour thing from an agent.

    The only people I want to hear from about whether they like my stuff or not are people who are paying me for it. In the case of my blogs, that’s any reader, since they’re ad-supported. In the case of my books, that’s people who buy them, or people who want to buy the rights and publish them.

    I would NEVER ask anyone who’s not in the publishing industry what they thought of my book, because what do I care what they think?

    Also, I have this problem everytime I hear that someone researched something, etc. to write a book (and I don’t mean to offend you if you do that): It’s FICTION. How important is it to get the details right? Only as important as those details are. Your 24-hour diner detail (I assume) is not all that critical to the story, so who would bother nitpicking it? And even if there NEVER had been a 24 hour diner, ever anywhere in the world, so what?

    I remember in “Bad Santa,” when they were breaking into the safe at the end, and Billy Bob Thornton described what kind of safe it was. Did anyone, EVER, wonder “Gee, is that really a safe, and is it really that good?”

    I didn’t.

    And people who did, I say, need to get a life.

    Rogue, you should make it a point to have EVERY business in every book you write be open 24 hours, so that when you get published, you can drive that woman nuts.

    • In part I like to see how other people will react. Also there are some legitimate things that I’ll miss and someone else might catch. But as you and Mike say, I don’t think the “beta reader” is all that important unless the beta reader is someone who really understands the publishing industry. Otherwise it’s kind of the blind leading the blind.

      I think though part of the problem in critique groups is the popularity of “American Idol” and such shows make everyone want to be a Simon Cowell or a Gordon Ramsey or whoever.

      John Irving argued in “A Widow for One Year” that details are important to a story (when Ted Cole tells Eddie what kind of shoe they found after the accident that killed his sons) but I don’t think those details have to be 100% accurate.

      Though I’ve had some wrong-sounding details irk me. Like in “The Sportswriter” Richard Ford says that Michiganders call Grand Rapids “Gren Repids” or say “I’m watching news” instead of “the news”. I’ve never heard anyone hear say that! And in “Next” referred to in my previous entry he kept calling the airport “Detroit Metro” when no one who lives here says that. We call it “Metro” or “Metro Airport.” So maybe if this person lived in Texas and there was a law against 24-hour diners she would have more of a reason to be upset about it.

  3. I haven’t visited Critique Circle in so long they sent me an email saying they “missed” me. Just remember that some of the people on that site don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. I’ve gotten some good feedback, but a lot of it is questionable.

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