Good and Bad Feedback

The same Author that got this feedback:

The story could do with a beta read and an edit before publishing. The story kept jumping from point to point and I was so confused as to the direction the story was headed while reading it. Maybe that was the original intention, I don’t know. The first few paragraphs could also do with a bit of refining, I think you used too many ellipses there.

Also got this feedback:

I have to agree with what was said. A BRILLIANT piece of literature. It’s transcendental. I think you NEED this published. :wink:

And that same person was me.

I guess there are a few different ways this topic could go, but I wanted to say.

A: do you have any personal stories to share about receiving bad feedback, and / or, improving and receiving good feedback?

or

B: Have you ever felt guilty about criticising an author in the comment section? or thought it ‘best to say nothing’?

The criticism above is what finally compelled me to get an editor to proofread my stuff, and since then, I’ve improved enough to sometimes no even need a proof reader.

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I can’t think of a negative comment that I’ve left, except pointing out mistakes like wrong names, or wrong chapter numbers or something.

In the same way I don’t give low scores. Some stories just aren’t for me. What is giving a 1 star going to do? Rating systems like this are completely arbitrary.

I get the impression that some of the “advice” people give is more malicious than constructive. Some people just like to tear things apart.

This is free entertainment. No one owes you anything.

Sometimes you read comments on stories and you just think, “girl, get a grip”

Then again, the idea is that we help each other improve, writing is a skill, practice, practice, practice.

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I try to leave constructive feedback but often fall short. I know I’ve left plenty of comments that are just glowing because I loved the story, and that while that’s nice, it’s not particularly insightful criticism.

I’ve also left terse comments, which in retrospect are probably counter-productive. And it is free entertainment, but it’s also free criticism and there’s no quality control on it, so a lot of it is garbage criticism.

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Unless negative comments arise from inaccuracies in terms of facts - and even then they are not so much negative but rather corrections - I do feel that our responses to stories are entirely subjective. A story may not be focused on your fantasy so just pass it by.

All writers, in a sense, expose themselves because they are putting their experiences and fantasies out there. Negativity can be damaging. So if you can’t think of a positive comment, walk on by. Ultimately a story speaks to you or it doesn’t. I can’t stand George Elliot’s Middlemarch but I see that as my failure rather than hers.

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Ahh, yes but that and this is different.

Like you can not like something because it’s not your thing

“This is an apple and I like oranges”

That kind of criticism is no use to anyone.
But my story I got the “bad editing” comment on, was true; the editing was atrocious and noticeably effected the immersion and legibility.
I felt bad reading it but it made me do better, and let me see that people noticed.

Sometimes bad things are bad things universally, and its better to know people know, rather then live in blissful ignorance that it’s “probably fine”.

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My thing is that tough-love constructive criticism can go either way.

We don’t know each other, we are all basically strangers. We don’t know if the author is young or old, out and proud or closeted, confident or timid.

I would hate to critique a story that some poor, vulnerable guy or girl or whatever poured their heart and soul into and just tear it to shreds.

Someone on a power-trip could discourage the next great author. None of us are perfect.

Constructive criticism has to be constructive. We try to build each other up here, I assume. If your comment is just a massive list of errors maybe you need to step back and look at yourself.

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Yes, I critiqued an author for repeatedly using the exact same “said” word repeatedly and I felt bad saying it. Was sure it would be taken poorly. But in that author’s next story the dialogue was markedly better. Did I have an effect? Did I hurt his feelings? Did he even read my comment? No idea. But it was fair criticism and I’d like to think that an author would like to know if he or she were doing that, since it’s a thing authors try to avoid doing normally.

I think giving a rating of 1 is almost gratuitously cruel. Leaving mean spirited comments is both destructive and mean. If there’s something that can come of the criticism (better grammar, more editing) then fine. If you’re just criticising without contribution, it’s mean. I personally, have removed stories because of mean spirited comments. This isn’t the London Times or the New York Review of Books. This is a site where people share intimate fantasies hoping to connect or relate and criticism without purpose is sex shaming.

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I don’t often leave comments on stories (I never seem to have that kind of time), but I do rate most of what I read. When I rate, I seldom give less than 4 stars or whatever the ranking system. Is that over-rating some stories? Absolutely. But (A) the author went through the trouble of writing it for us, and (B) the author shared it with the community, and I think that deserves some encouragement. Besides, one person’s “just awful” is another’s “wow, hottest ever!” One’s “ugh, I hated all the typos” is another’s “I loved the unfiltered immediacy.” I think readers can say “run a spellcheck” or “proofread, dang it” without doing so offensively–giving an opinion/critique and being rude are different animals. One of my very best friends is someone whose stories make me cringe because we’re just into different things; but when my friend sends me drafts for comments, I put that dislike aside and try to find ways to say “this works” or “this part need to be tightened up” without being rude. “Don’t be a dick” is a good rule for both online life and life in general.

Flat-out discouragement means fewer and fewer stories, until nothing new is being posted. At worst, If I just don’t like something, I move on without rating it.

My two coins. Not sure what the exchange rate is for those of you in more civilized parts of Planet Rainbow.

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It’s easy to criticise, but hard to create.

I don’t mind objective criticism, like pointing out errors or continuity mistakes, but subjective criticism is annoying. I do not expect my stories to please every person who logs onto the site; we are all very different and have varying ideas of what is erotic and what isn’t. I read a lot of stories on here which do not match my particular fetish tastes, but I never moan to the authors about it. It would be like writing to a romantic novelist asking them to include more horror or science fiction in their work - it’s absurd.

I get quite a lot of flak for some of my characters being unpleasant to other characters. I find this odd given that the whole site is supposed to be about mind control, which is rarely consensual. There are also double standards. It’s apparently okay for white characters to get fucked up, but not for people of colour. If I write a story involving a black man being dominated, I’m told it’s ‘uncomfortable’ and if I write about a black man being dominant, I’m told it’s ‘stereotypical’, so it’s impossible to win, really. If this double standard continues, many writers will be afraid to write interracial stories or feature non-white characters, which would be a very sad thing.

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I think I share a lot of the same sentiments as many of the responses above. Constructive criticisms that encourage positive improvements are fair and welcomed, but leaving random bad comments just for the sake of condescending or spewing negativity would be a big NO. In my early days of writing stories online, I’ve received some direct but constructive feedbacks on my writing (verb tenses, typos,…), and I took those comments to heart and have certainly learned to improve a lot since then. I have also seen some random stabs in my stories here that provide no substance to the improvement of my writing, to which I simply ignore them.

I don’t always leave comments, and when I do, it’s usually a positive one to share my appreciation of the story. If a story is not to my taste, I just move on from it…same thing with ratings. There’s really no point in telling others you didn’t like it (who cares really) or down rating someone’s story. Being a free sharing site, it achieves nothing other than giving a slap in the face of the author who put their time and effort in sharing their ideas with us all.

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I started typing out this big meaty comment and maybe I’ll revise it and post it later for everyone to hate me for.

“Don’t be a dick” is a good rule for both online life and life in general.

Good rule, but here’s the problem: everyone has different criteria for what constitutes “being a dick”. I’ve made plenty of thoughtful, respectful, and non-aggressive comments on various sites out of genuine desire to both express myself and give others a different way of looking at things, trying very hard not to be a dick, but still end up annoying people because I said something negative. The existence of negativity is not evidence of cruelty. Some people simply can not handle critique, and no matter how polite you are, you are a dick because you didn’t deliver praise or “could have just not said anything”. The responsibility is not on the commentor to refrain from sharing their ideas out of fear it might bother the content creator, it is their responsibility to choose what to do with their feedback if they opened themselves up to it.

It is the commentor’s responsibility to treat everyone kindly and respectfully. Critique is not inherently unkind, yet a lot of content creators act like it is. You can not put something into the public space and expect the public to adhere to your idea of what “respectful” is. You’re going to hear things you don’t like.* It’s inescapable. Find a coping mechanism.

*And for the record, I’m not talking harassment or bigotry or anything like that. That’s a separate issue. No one should have to put up with that.

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In a recent story of mine, it was established that the characters were transformed by a particular sex act. One character forced another character into this act, which I – as author – thought was morally bad. In my mind, it was rape.

So, one of the other characters – the leader of the group – punished this character by smacking him around a little (two slaps to the face during one scene).

I caught so much flak for those two slaps than anything I’ve ever written before! And I was like, but the guy raped the other guy! But no, punishing him was going too far!

So I agree with you @mgreene70 you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. You just gotta have a thick skin sometimes.

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Ah, if only the comment section was as easy to control as the men in our stories…

I think it’s important to find that balance. If you want to critique grammar and syntax and the like, more power to you, but toss in some stuff you like as well.

A compliment sandwich, if you will.

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If ever I would give a 1 or 2 out of 5 in a category, I would usually just leave it blank.

One thing you can do is, if you notice an improvement is also comment about that like

“Your dialogue has come on so much! well done.”

tbf, Some people would not even see that as criticism, that’s just interfering with a story. As in, judging character’s behaviour in a story, as feedback, is the act of a moron who’s missed the point of writing fiction.

One doesn’t say “I hated Home Alone 2; Those parents should have gone to jail for negligence! that poor child! what bad writing.”

Or “I hated silence of the lambs; how did the writer get away with being ‘so bad at writing’ as to write such an evil character?”

You know? Like the story is the story, making this kind of mistake as a reader or a “feedback giver” is akin to attacking a soap opera actor you’ve bumped into on the street for violence they’ve portrayed on TV, or blaming the weather reporter for bad weather.

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Do you find yourself more critical of contest entries? I mean because we directly compare them.

I just judge them individually because I generally only read one at a time.

There have definitely been stories that I thought for sure would win and they aren’t in the top three. Keeps things interesting.

If you only rate 4/5 categories does the fifth one count as a 0? I hadn’t thought of that before. I genuinely have no idea.

I always try to give constructive feedback, that way guys improve their writing skills. if I get comments it helps me improve myself. as others have said not all stories are of interest to me and some of my stories are of no interest to others. if i dont like the subject matter i move on, but i appreciate the effort that they have put into writing them. my gripe is when guys comment and dont put their name and slag off the writter.

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I think contest entries are interesting to rate because you don’t usually know who wrote them (unless you cheat). That makes the ratings more honest, I think, since it avoids any fanboying.

I can tell you that my one contest entry rated way lower than the rest of my stories, but then again, I know damned well that I didn’t spend a lot of time on it, didn’t send it to my proofreaders, etc., so I’m not really surprised that it didn’t do well. But without the usual fan audience, I feel it was judged fairly for what it was.

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