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The Constructive Criticism Thread:

Please read the rules below before posting. We're taking turns to post text, and text posted out of turn will be hollered.

The discussion over at the "Is being Troperiffic a Bad Thing?" thread got a few of us seriously talking about starting a full-fledged, free for all dedicated ConCrit thread. Thanks go to your friendly neighborhood Herald, Chihuahua0, for giving this the go-ahead smile

This is how it's going to work:
  • This thread is for helping people improve as writers. Please stay away from needlessly gushing or needlessly being mean when handing out criticism.
  • No mentioning your own work when giving out criticism. This is to prevent "Let's talk about ME" derails.
  • Feedback will be given to one person at a time. We're taking a deliberately slow pace; a person's turn to get feedback is generally supposed to last a week, but we're not ending someone's turn until they get feedback from at least five different people. On the other hand, the person getting feedback can end their own turn if they figure they're done.
  • When a turn ends, we wait 12 hours to see if anyone of the people who have just given feedback wants to be up next. If they don't, we pick the person up next from the feedback request list.
  • Yes, it's okay to point out spelling and grammar errors made by the person you're giving feedback to.
  • If you're unfamiliar with the original verse of a piece of Fan Fiction up for feedback, pretend it's a piece of original fiction and criticize accordingly.
  • If and when you step up to receive feedback:
    • Post actual writing (not world-building, concepts, layouts, character lists and so on).
    • Be specific in what you are looking for, or at least mention what is troubling you the most.
    • Fan Fiction is fine, but take into account that anyone not familiar with the source material will judge your piece "blind", essentially by the same standards as original fiction. This means you might get called out on flaws that fan fiction usually gets away with in practice, perhaps even justifiably so. Just like any other kind of criticism, consider it or ignore at at your discretion.
    • Be ready to hear some things you probably didn't want to hear. This should go without saying, but, please: No being bitter, being sarcastic, calling people out for "going too far" or otherwise expressing disapproval of the criticism given to you. If you think people are being unfair to your writing, make your case civilly.

With that said, I suppose we can begin and see whether this goes anywhere. The first person to respond with a post to the extent of "I'll go first" will go first.

edited 17th Feb '12 5:07:01 PM by TripleElation

Diagonalizing The Matrix
Please read the rules below before posting. We're taking turns to post text, and text posted out of turn will be hollered.

The discussion over at the "Is being Troperiffic a Bad Thing?" thread got a few of us seriously talking about starting a full-fledged, free for all dedicated ConCrit thread. Thanks go to your friendly neighborhood Herald, Chihuahua0, for giving this the go-ahead smile

This is how it's going to work:
  • This thread is for helping people improve as writers. Please stay away from needlessly gushing or needlessly being mean when handing out criticism.
  • No mentioning your own work when giving out criticism. This is to prevent "Let's talk about ME" derails.
  • Feedback will be given to one person at a time. We're taking a deliberately slow pace; a person's turn to get feedback is generally supposed to last a week, but we're not ending someone's turn until they get feedback from at least five different people. On the other hand, the person getting feedback can end their own turn if they figure they're done.
  • When a turn ends, we wait 12 hours to see if anyone of the people who have just given feedback wants to be up next. If they don't, we pick the person up next from the feedback request list.
  • Yes, it's okay to point out spelling and grammar errors made by the person you're giving feedback to.
  • If you're unfamiliar with the original verse of a piece of Fan Fiction up for feedback, pretend it's a piece of original fiction and criticize accordingly.
  • If and when you step up to receive feedback:
    • Post actual writing (not world-building, concepts, layouts, character lists and so on).
    • Be specific in what you are looking for, or at least mention what is troubling you the most.
    • Fan Fiction is fine, but take into account that anyone not familiar with the source material will judge your piece "blind", essentially by the same standards as original fiction. This means you might get called out on flaws that fan fiction usually gets away with in practice, perhaps even justifiably so. Just like any other kind of criticism, consider it or ignore at at your discretion.
    • Be ready to hear some things you probably didn't want to hear. This should go without saying, but, please: No being bitter, being sarcastic, calling people out for "going too far" or otherwise expressing disapproval of the criticism given to you. If you think people are being unfair to your writing, make your case civilly.

With that said, I suppose we can begin and see whether this goes anywhere. The first person to respond with a post to the extent of "I'll go first" will go first.

edited 17th Feb '12 5:07:01 PM by TripleElation

Pretentious quote || In-joke from fandom you've never heard of || Shameless self-promotion || Something weird you'll habituate to
 2 feotakahari, Tue, 7th Feb '12 12:15:30 AM from Looking out at the city
Fuzzy Orange Doomsayer
Uh, we already have a stickied "Troper Critique Club . . ."
That's Feo . . . He's a disgusting, mysoginistic, paedophilic asshat who moonlights as a shitty writer—Something Awful
Diagonalizing The Matrix
Yeah. This thread is trying to play by slightly different rules from that one, hopefully to get a good result.
Pretentious quote || In-joke from fandom you've never heard of || Shameless self-promotion || Something weird you'll habituate to
 4 nrjxll, Tue, 7th Feb '12 12:41:17 AM Relationship Status: Not war
What exactly happened in that thread that led to this of all things? I stopped following it because I was losing my ability to argue in a civil fashion, but when I was last there criticism wasn't really on the agenda.

At any rate, I approve of this idea. Both TV Tropes and the internet as a whole could use more constructive criticism.

Shadowed Philosopher
I approve in principle. Probably won't use it in practice, since there are easier alternatives for the writing I need crit on, but it's a good trend to promote. Will probably do some feedback if I run across it.
Shinigan (Naruto fanfic)
 6 Mr AHR, Tue, 7th Feb '12 5:39:22 AM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
So this is like the critique club, only with a line? Cool.
 7 chihuahua 0, Tue, 7th Feb '12 6:18:47 AM from Standoff, USA Relationship Status: I'm in love with my car
Writer's Welcome Wagon
I endorse this. Once we're able to get one successful round out of this thread, we can talk about a pin.

Triple Elation and I were talking it over, and I think it will be a great help. It's more serious than the Critique Club, because there are rules and a way to make things smoother, and it's a little faster than the Beta Reader Thread, because people can post excerpts of their work right on the thread, without waiting for someone to PM them. I don't see what the problem is.

I'm ready to critique whatever the first post is, if anyone is interested. I think this could actually work.

 9 Mr AHR, Tue, 7th Feb '12 6:30:59 AM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
Well, I'd post my climax for critness, but comics are never a good thing to start off with.
[up] It doesn't matter, as long as you provide a few details as to what happened before.

 11 Mr AHR, Tue, 7th Feb '12 6:41:55 AM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river

This post was thumped by the Stick of Post Thumping
Element of love
This is a great idea AHR unfortunately I am worried it would have the same issues the other thread hs.Mainly the fact that everyone wants a critique but nobody wants to be criticized. Other than that I support you this seems like a great idea.

edited 7th Feb '12 6:47:19 AM by FallenLegend

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. C. S. Lewis
 13 Triple Elation, Tue, 7th Feb '12 6:48:09 AM from Haifa, Isarel
Diagonalizing The Matrix
Hah, I was expecting pictures grin but all right, I'll try to have a look over this some time during the next few days*.
Pretentious quote || In-joke from fandom you've never heard of || Shameless self-promotion || Something weird you'll habituate to
@AHR: I'm going to class soon, but I'll post a full review sometime this evening.

 15 Mr AHR, Tue, 7th Feb '12 6:59:21 AM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
TE: Everyone does. XD. It's why I usually try and jump on these threads. It's sometimes hard to get script crit. It's not as bad as it used to be, mind you, since I've whined enough to get enough attention, but I'm itching to know how the last few pages turned out, since I'm still only half way through on my thread.

edited 7th Feb '12 7:01:55 AM by MrAHR

Element of love
@AHR I will try to give a full review after my tests but unfortunately I have to admit I am a little lost. I dunno if it's intended to be In Media Res. But a brief introduction would be very helpful.

Not saying it's your fault given english isn't my first languagetongue. But I am having a hard time following what's going on.

edited 7th Feb '12 7:12:53 AM by FallenLegend

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. C. S. Lewis
 17 Mr AHR, Tue, 7th Feb '12 7:12:39 AM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
Well, I gave this introduction:


Nicky: Main character, has lightning powers. Everyone knows by this point, and while some are uneasy, most are fine, due to the whole uber acceptance of the town. Everyone else is not too important, just know they've been pretty much backgrounding this entire time. The talisman he has is a power-booster.

[Page 222: Nicky is most depressed to have his grandmother, Elizabeth, put his hair in an embarrassing style, due to pre-mentioned character flaws. Cut for needless length. It is mentioned he needs to give Nia back a magic talisman she had given him previously]


Do you need more information? I'm bad at knowing what is needed and what is not

edited 7th Feb '12 7:12:58 AM by MrAHR

Element of love
@A Hr this is just a preliminary review I have tests I will write you the good one on Friday.

I have noticed some issues (I noticed that the story begins at page 222 so that would explainm some of the issues). I don't want to be mean but this is for your own goodgrin

  1. Unfortunately I don't know anything about the characters nor about the setting. For example Ankra hurted Nicky. Unfortunately I don't know anything about Ankra for that to be meaningful, is Ankra a villains? , or a random persons? , is she important? , Why should we care?. Same for the other characters it's very hard to notice any personality or reason to care about them

  2. You rely a lot on visuals panels, while not a bad thing. It-s very hard to critisise given that it will depend a lot on the artist interpretation. They seem to be more like instructions to an artist more than anything. I would advice you to try to narrate those panels even if an artist is going to draw them

  3. Nicky is the protagonist and he has lighting powers.Unfortunately he is mostly only reacting to what is going on. We only know about Nicky's external feelings of pain and what he does but we really don't know anything about him regarding personality. Who is Nicky? He seems to be a boy or at least immature given that he was pulled by the ears but that is just speculation and not the best way to show personality at all. But nothing of what he does tell us about what he is only how he reacts. I am assuming that this story has already advanced and its the reason you didn't include it but a psychical description Nick is really needed.

  4. There is big lack of meaningful descriptions. Unless they are meant to be shown in the comic we don't know anything about ages or personal appearance of the characters nor anything about the town (population, culture, place etc) as a reader you leave us mostly blank.

  5. You use many names for unimportant characters. While you said that most of this characters are unimportant it is hard to follow so many characters that aren't that important to the plot in the first place and at worst they confuse the reader.They are just too many characters on this scene to get to know them. As a reader I find difficult to understand which characters are important and wich ones are incidental

edited 7th Feb '12 7:53:54 AM by FallenLegend

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. C. S. Lewis
 19 Mr AHR, Tue, 7th Feb '12 9:51:40 AM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
Aaaand 1 down.

Yeah, comics are a tad bit of a different medium than books. Named characters are confusing. Visually recognizable extras (Who are named in script for my ease) barely register as something worth remembering, and keep the town looking...well...not full of blandness. Bleach is easy proof of this. You might not be able to recognize a name, but so long as the characters look unique and diverse, you can usually recognize any character even if it's been years since you've last seen them. You also see this when people can tell that characters are from X show based solely on the art style, but never saw them before, or even know their name. You can especially see this in something like Lucky Star. But now I'm just gushing about visual vs. written stuff...—kicks topic to somewhere else—

That is what Nicky looks like, at the moment

Thank ye kindly!

edited 7th Feb '12 9:59:26 AM by MrAHR

Note: I’m not going into the technical things here, only because I’m not sure of how to critique a graphic novel piece. This “review” is mainly focused on my reaction from the story:

Okay, I’ve read this five times, and here’s what I got out of it:

Nicky, who—as other threads have mentioned—is the main character of your story, is with his grandmother, Elizabeth, at a festival. He’s carrying around a talisman that makes his lightning powers even stronger, and he is dressed in a way that is both embarrassing, and makes him unrecognizable to others. Several people comment about Nicky’s looks, he panics, which triggers his powers, and a lot of the crowd and Nicky is injured.

The ten pages you posted could have a great establishing character moment, or even relatable to the reader. I’m sure everyone has a memory of being forced to wear an outfit or sport a haircut that a parent, grandparent, or relative imposed on them. That moment of stepping out into the world, with everyone they know looking and commenting about it is dreadful. It is an embarrassing situation, and not being able to handle it is natural.

There is also the “Character With New Abilities or Magical Powers Has No Idea How To Use Them or What The Effects Are” angle being worked here, something we have sounds dozens of times, across all mediums. Generally, these scenes are funny: the first that came to mind was the first Spiderman, where Peter does whatever a spider can across rooftops in New York. Of course, they aren’t always funny, but the device is rarely stale, because each moment is more character development. We get a glimpse into who the character is, what they will do with this newfound power, and imagine what it is going to be like when they improve.

I didn’t get a sense of any of that in this scene because Nicky’s reaction here is, in a word, ridiculous.

You’ve struggled with your protagonist in the past, and one thing I’ve seen you say often is, “I’m too good at making unlikeable characters, ” but this is over the top. It passes unlikeable and insufferable, and comes to where, if I had paid the $17.95 price of a new paperback graphic novel at Barnes and Noble (or the merchant of your choice), took it home, and reached this moment, I would set aside the book in frustration.

Nicky could have killed people, a lot of them. The word “chaos” is used there, and yes, when several people are trying to flee from fire and lightning in a crowded hall, chaos is an understatement. In addition to those actually getting hit from the attack, imagine the trampling, the asphyxiation…and for what? Because a few people made fun his hair? Really?

I’m assuming that there is more to it than what I described (and I’m also assuming that you had different intentions to this scene) but this is how it feels at face value.

Other Comments:
  • I agree with Fallen Legend. There are too many named and, as you said, unimportant characters in this scene. For a second, forget what all of the other mangas do. If this is the climax of your story—the highest point on the narrative mountain, so to speak—the focus has to be really, really fine and concentrated on the characters that are significant to the falling action and resolution. Every time another name and line of dialogue popped up, my concentration shifted. There is nothing wrong with having a large cast, but you might want to tune it down for a pivotal scene.
  • As for the drawing: I’m not an artist, but my best friend is—right now she’s a sophomore in a fancy-schmancy art school in the South—and I have a recommendation. The very second your schedule clears up, sign up for the first available Anatomy and Physiology course your school offers. At the school she goes to, Anatomy is a requirement for every single art major, no matter your concentration. Your drawing will improve when you get a detailed sense of how the human body will move and lay according to its form and structure.

Also known as Katz
Yeah, I never know what feedback to give you because the answer is always going to be "I absolutely hate Nicky. Get rid of him." And you aren't going to do that. (The underlying question also remains: Why would anyone want to read your story if it stars someone you know nobody likes?)

The script also revolves around Nicky in a weird way. Before he blows up, everything and everyone is completely focused on him—understandable since he's the POV, but it makes it feel not like a festival but like Nicky's birthday or something. Some background dialogue unrelated to Nicky would help (and is very easy in comic format).

Then, once he blows up, the focus shifts and suddenly everyone is not focused on him anymore. There's no "OMG that kid just shot a giant lightning bolt!"-type dialogue; people are mostly interacting with and helping each other, except for Ankra. This makes it feel impersonal, more like a natural disaster than something human-caused.

The aftermath is also too many pages. We don't need a separate panel of each individual person; one big spread with everyone in it is better. It's odd that Sandra's exchange is the only spoken dialogue after the attack. And I'm unsure why Ankra needs or thinks she needs to attack Nicky when it seems to already be over.

 22 Mr AHR, Tue, 7th Feb '12 1:46:01 PM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
Ok, so Make clear that the talisman is causing the power problem, and focus more on Nicky in it. Cool Thanks. That makes 3.
 23 Night, Tue, 7th Feb '12 2:03:14 PM from PSNS Intrepid Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Who you are does not matter.
It strikes me you could probably compress some of the panels together without loss. There's a lot of single-action panels where you could convey more than one thing with a panel. Page 226, for example, has Oz and Ankra standing next to each other, yet you devote individual panels to both the lightning hitting Oz and Ankra seeing this. 228 has two people affected by the same bolt of lightning in different panels. (Which could be confusing in terms of continuity, though probably not.)

Unlike everyone else I don't find Nicky's reaction terrible or murderous or anything like that. They seem to be reading things into the text that are not actually present (intent, for one, which seems to be actively denied in the text with the statements he's not sure what he's doing) in the piece provided. Maybe their greater familiarity means they can assume them. I think at this point he's clearly dangerous and they might want to lock him up somewhere without a clear view of the sky and a good twenty feet of dirt between him and the surface, or at least make sure he has a lightning rod attached so he'll get hit first, but I don't see him as having deliberately caused all this.

At least, from what's been provided.

edited 7th Feb '12 2:05:57 PM by Night

"Let us look less to the sky to see what might fall; rather, let us look to each other...and rise."
Also known as Katz
I'm also looking for the place where anyone mentioned the talisman; I definitely didn't and it isn't related to any of what I see as problems.

Euo will do!
Hmmm - skimming the script, I've found it to make sense, especially in the described panel-layout.

Except for one which is niggling at me a bit: the massive single-panel at page 225 for the Earth-Shattering Kaboom. Perhaps a jagged two-panel cut of a single scene, with the mainly centred SFX overlaying the gutter and them might make for something a little more dramatic? Just a thought. And, I'm not sure about the SFX itself: "Kraa—KOOOM!" Perhaps "[Kraak]—[KOOOM!]" would scan better for the reader.

The later SFX in panel 2, page 226 is then a little too like the previous one to make much difference. I'm assuming that the first is the talisman itself activating and the second is the actual effect, now divorced from it?

For the lightning to sound so much like the talisman so soon after may be a bit confusing, unless it's cleared up in colouring. But, just in case, maybe a more zappy sound would be good - something that mixes the thunder with the lightning. Maybe... um... "SsZzttANG" or something along those lines?

Otherwise, I'm not feeling any hate towards poor Nicky, here - seems a typical "let's put the slightly immature character through a lot of embarrassing development via glowey hell with massive consequences" section. With decent enough pacing, but I do agree a little trimming elsewhere might tighten it a little for maximum effect.

But, these things usually resolve themselves during sketching. Good job, though.

edited 8th Feb '12 10:56:01 AM by Euodiachloris

"When all else failed, she tried being reasonable." ~ Pratchett, Johnny and the Bomb
Total posts: 681
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