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The Constructive Criticism Thread

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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

WaterBlap Blapper of Water Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Blapper of Water
Jan 19th 2018 at 8:35:01 AM

Giving a second opinion on the questions in 1470:

  1. Whatever you want critiqued ought to be posted by the time it is your turn. That just seems fair to the critiquers, imo.
  2. You should post the sections you're most concerned with first (probably the first chapter first, though). I'd say that you ought to try to keep the word length per request somewhere within "short story" or "novelette" length (so no more than 17,500 words). Even that would be a lot for most people, though. I would think that the closer it is in length to a short story (about 7,500), the more likely you are to get feedback from passersby.
  3. People have used Google Docs and (which was used for the writing contest).

[witty saying]
Nightlikeday Teller of secret stories. Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Teller of secret stories.
Jan 19th 2018 at 5:34:27 PM

A 7500 limit seems very reasonable to me.

For reference scribophile recommends at most 4000 words per submission, so 7500 is very generous.

edited 19th Jan '18 5:35:18 PM by Nightlikeday

I know the truth—darkness beats light. Visit my DA: I'll share my secrets stories with you.
kaalban The Ultimate Bullshitter from a very bad place Relationship Status: Faithful to 2D
The Ultimate Bullshitter
Jan 20th 2018 at 6:27:30 AM

So, I am interested in getting criticisms for my work. Do I just need to add my work at Con Crit Thread?

Everything that lives is designed to end.
Nightlikeday Teller of secret stories. Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Teller of secret stories.
Feb 22nd 2018 at 12:53:07 AM

So I was the first to put my story on the queue this year. But given that was like a month a go, I already got feedback somewhere else and I am already working on some improvements and heavy changes

I still want criticism from here. But I rather have the improved version on review. So, if I don’t finish on time, feel free to skip me to second place on the queue.

I will tell you if I finish on time of course.

Also I am also open on crit for crti if anyone wants to private message me ( max word count around 5 thousand words)

edited 22nd Feb '18 12:59:07 AM by Nightlikeday

I know the truth—darkness beats light. Visit my DA: I'll share my secrets stories with you.
joacobanfield Blackbox. from [DATA EXPUNGED] Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Mar 18th 2018 at 3:35:28 PM

I've added a story of mine to the waiting list. Is it anyone's turn at the moment?

Well, then SHOOT!
Apr 18th 2018 at 8:50:58 PM

Added my story as well. I read the rules but I still don't get how exactly this works.

AwSamWeston High Fantasy Writer turned Filmmaker. from Duluth, Minnesota Relationship Status: Married to the job
High Fantasy Writer turned Filmmaker.
Apr 18th 2018 at 9:20:48 PM

For what it's worth, this thread has historically had some kind of moderator to keep things on track.

We don't have a moderator right now, as far as i know.

I'm making a TV pilot! You can support it at!
CrystalGlacia from Cedarpointland
Apr 19th 2018 at 3:01:56 AM

Back in the day, though, this thread had no designated "moderator"- literally all that needs to be done in terms of admin for this thread is PMing the next person and comparing the current date to the date when the current person's turn started. Expecting one person to handle even this causes responsibility creep, and before long, nobody thinks it's okay to offer critique unless you do it first.

And, no, I don't have the time or energy to take on that role again- I work full-time now, and I'm fighting to keep my head above water on my own writing projects.

I think the bigger problem is the lack of critics this thread gets. It's not fair to anyone coming here for help to only get one critic, and it's not fair to expect that one critic to offer what, say, three critics can do.

"Whenever I feel like I know how computers work, I go to class and leave feeling like I'm wearing my pants on my head, eating paste."
HugoG Unkindled One from Republic of Yucatan Relationship Status: I <3 love!
Unkindled One
Jun 25th 2018 at 7:58:58 PM

Hello folks!

I would like to revive this thread if possible. The concept is great and I think we'll do a lot to help people improve their writing. So if everyone's alright with it, I volunteer as the new "admin of the thread to PM" people when their turn begins and ends, etc.

I know the lack of critics can be exhausting for the ones that do offer critiques, and frustrating for the writers themselves, but if the mods don't mind, I could try advertising us in the Writer's Block Daily thread and P Ming the creators in the queue so they can offer critique too and get this thread moving.

So I've gone ahead and sent a Private Message to Nightlikeday so they can start their turn now.

Nightlikeday: June 26th, 2018

Their last post was on 27th Feb 18 so I hope they're still around.

Tomodachi I'm stronger than I think I am from Venezuela Relationship Status: watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ
I'm stronger than I think I am
Jun 25th 2018 at 10:20:24 PM

I guess I can't ask for help here. I only need someone to tell me if the cliffhanger lines work. Otherwise, I'm fine with my script.

edited 25th Jun '18 10:23:04 PM by Tomodachi

I will survive. I'm the writer of Insecto Nocturno. Check it out!
HugoG Unkindled One from Republic of Yucatan Relationship Status: I <3 love!
Unkindled One
Jun 25th 2018 at 10:27:52 PM

[up]Hey! Don't feel discouraged.

You could try making a post at the Uncle Drunkie's Writer/Critic Dating Service note  and see if anyone's interested in offering some one-on-one critique.

You should check it out.

Edited to add: I know this thread is slow (and it seems a little dead at the moment), but I would really like to change that, we may just need some time to get it back on its feet. Hehe.

edited 25th Jun '18 10:31:23 PM by HugoG

AwSamWeston High Fantasy Writer turned Filmmaker. from Duluth, Minnesota Relationship Status: Married to the job
High Fantasy Writer turned Filmmaker.
Jun 26th 2018 at 10:27:54 PM

I'm completely down for reviving the thread. It's helped a decent number of people.

I've got a short film script that could use some eyeballs eventually, so add me to the list.

I'm making a TV pilot! You can support it at!
Millership from Kazakhstan
Jun 26th 2018 at 10:30:24 PM

Will be joining in as an occasional critic.

Spiral out, keep going.
HugoG Unkindled One from Republic of Yucatan Relationship Status: I <3 love!
Unkindled One
Jun 27th 2018 at 12:11:14 AM


I've already messaged Nightlikeday and I'm waiting for their reply. Hopefully they're still around.

Just in case, I propose we wait a week to hear back from them before we contact the next person in the list.

Jun 27th 2018 at 9:16:23 AM

I'm also willing to be a critic for this thread, thanks to having an inordinate amount of free time right now. grin

"Can't make an omelette without breaking some children." -Bur
Kakuzan I'm so fitted. from Miami Relationship Status: What is this thing you call love?
I'm so fitted.
Jun 27th 2018 at 9:30:48 AM

My story should already be on the list. I am already reworking the prose. I'm not sure ho good of a critic I would be since I don't want to e neither too harsh or too soft, but I'll be more than happy to provide another voice.

Thanks, I hate it.
HugoG Unkindled One from Republic of Yucatan Relationship Status: I <3 love!
Unkindled One
Jul 2nd 2018 at 6:30:52 PM

What's up guys!

So, Nightlikeday's turn began on June 26th, 2018 but it's been a week and they haven't replied or post anything here so I'm ending their turn so we can move on with the next person on the list.

So I've already sent a message to Kakuzan so they can start their turn now.

Kakuzan: July the 3rd, 2018

So good luck!

Kakuzan I'm so fitted. from Miami Relationship Status: What is this thing you call love?
I'm so fitted.
Jul 2nd 2018 at 6:45:51 PM

Hello everyone! I am seeking critique for my series, Breaxer. This is actually not my first attempt at writing this particular series as I have rebooted it a few times since I wasn't satisfied. I am already working on a revamp, but feedback in regards to the structure , prose, and tone is something I need. Brief first impressions are also welcome. Thank you all.

Edited by Kakuzan on Jul 2nd 2018 at 9:45:46 AM

Thanks, I hate it.
Millership from Kazakhstan
Jul 3rd 2018 at 9:06:53 AM

Hi Kakuzan.

Show, Don't Tell.

There is a common opinion that those three words are a cornerstone of storytelling, regardless of the medium. While it is difficult and sometimes counterproductive to always show the ongoing events instead of telling, this is something a writer has to aspire to when making a work. Why?

  1. Showing instead of telling is the best way to immerse the reader into the story. When we are showing the story, we provide the reader with sensory information about the events of the story, and our goal as writers is to make the reader think that they are physically present at the scene we're describing, to make them feel that the story is unfolding right before their eyes.
  2. It is the best way of developing and fleshing out the characters, the driving force behind the story, by showing how they are interacting with the world and the people that live in it. To show what motivates the characters, what makes them tick.
  3. Related to the above, people become the way they are in part because of the environment they live in. Showing is a good way to make the reader's imagination busy, especially in Speculative Fiction, when the setting drastically differs from our own world.
  4. It is also about the only way to make the story a dialogue with the reader instead of the author's monologue. When we are showing the story, we are inviting the reader to take a proactive part in the storytelling. We are humbly offering them the information to allow them to use their own knowledge and personal experience to draw the story's conclusions, which might differ from the conclusions we intended for them to reach.
Why am I telling you all of this?

Unfortunately, your prose is very, very telly. It also implies completely different things that it's actually trying to tell. Here's what I got from the first chapter, on the surface:

  1. It's very far into the future.
  2. The protagonist is a son of a sex worker.
  3. He is being marginalized because of this.
  4. He wants to leave his home, for unclear reasons (I assume it's because of the above).
  5. He has some sort of superpowered empathy, the mechanics of which are not clear.
Now, a reader always brings along his baggage – his knowledge, his personal experience, his mentality – when reading a story. And they are always viewing the events of the story through the prism of their own personality. Here's what conclusions I've reached while reading the first chapter:
  • It's too far into the future. More than two thousand years! With the quickness our own society and technology is evolving I can't even fathom what it would be like to live in the 41st century. And the narrative doesn't actually give me this information, I can only guess what it's like. They're still selling katanas, the way Edward described it, it's seriously being used as a legitimate weapon of self-defense. Edward is being bullied for being a son of a whore, but our own society right now is a lot more tolerant to sex workers and their offspring than it's been told in the chapter. Did our descendants bomb themselves back into the Stone age in those millennia?
  • Edward doesn't give the impression he was raised in harsh conditions as it's being described. First, he wouldn't be as alone as it's implied by the narrative. He would be very involved in the shady dealings of the area he's living in, from a very young age, because his parents don't give a fuck about him (also, where are child care social services in your world? He should have lived in the orphanage), committing petty crimes just to survive. Second, by his own words, he used "a mixture of sneaking, lying, and audacity" (I don't believe him, by the way, more on that later). A person possessing those qualities who started his life in the gutter would be quite respected on the streets, and be feared by ordinary schoolchildren, bullies would be afraid to fuck with this kind of person. And more questions rise up: why does he want to leave? Where does he get the money to buy the katana? And to make his trip, to another planet, I assume? How does he hope to actually use the katana if he's so averse to violence?
  • Because of the telly prose, Edward gives the impression of being self-centered. He barely interacts with the outer world. His interests start and end with his inner self. I have no idea what he looks like, how old he is, how bad the conditions he lives in actually are (maybe his mother works in a high-class brothel, who knows?), what school he goes to is like, etc. And there is a lot of I's and Me's in his narration, when I was reading the chapter, I was feeling like I'm a therapist listening to a particularly narcissistic patient. Because of the telly prose, the narration of his exploits (whatever they are – it's all very vague) felt intrusive and boastful. I would be more impressed if I, as a reader, have witnessed what his "mixture of sneaking, lying, and audacity" actually looks like.
I apologize if the above sounded harsh to you, Kakuzan, but those are glaring flaws in your story. But it's not without positives. You have very good grasp of the English language, the flow of the sentences is smooth and easy to read. I also like how you've pulled off the general dramatic tone of the narration, even it's a bit unfitting, considering its contents.

In short, competent use of the language, but you need to work on your storytelling techniques.

I hope this feedback was useful to you.


Edited by Millership on Jul 3rd 2018 at 10:21:07 PM

Spiral out, keep going.
Kakuzan I'm so fitted. from Miami Relationship Status: What is this thing you call love?
I'm so fitted.
Jul 3rd 2018 at 9:15:57 AM

[up] Thanks for the feedback, but I would like to clarify that this doesn't take place in our world. Also, quite a few of your questions in regards to the world are questions I have answers for. This is only the first part of the story, so I couldn't overload the reader with information.

Edited by Kakuzan on Jul 3rd 2018 at 12:24:44 PM

Thanks, I hate it.
Millership from Kazakhstan
Jul 3rd 2018 at 9:25:47 AM

Then adding something that could tip off the reader would be helpful. An alternate form of calendar, alien-sounding names, this sort of thing. It won't work if you need to clarify it in the appendices (or by Word of God).

P.S. I think you have meandered too much into the opposite direction. It's a bit too vague.

Edited by Millership on Jul 3rd 2018 at 10:29:22 PM

Spiral out, keep going.
Kakuzan I'm so fitted. from Miami Relationship Status: What is this thing you call love?
I'm so fitted.
Jul 3rd 2018 at 9:29:50 AM

Well I did. At the beginning, I mentioned both the nation (which is Vespin) and the spatial relation to Terra (which is a super continent).

Thanks, I hate it.
Millership from Kazakhstan
Jul 3rd 2018 at 9:33:22 AM

I think it was the usage of Aerith and Bob that confused me. Seeing that the protagonist's name is Edward and the name of month is the same as we use made me think it simply takes place in the future. Terra is, frankly, not exotic enough (it just means Earth, many Science Fiction stories use it as a substitute for our planet's name).

Edited by Millership on Jul 3rd 2018 at 10:37:11 PM

Spiral out, keep going.
Jul 3rd 2018 at 4:22:06 PM

Millership already hit the nail on the head with his feedback, but I'll try to offer a few more points of my own:

  • Never ever ever start a story with a "Hi my name is..." Not only is it dull, but it's the kind of intro that doesn't give the audience anything to latch onto, nothing that even paints a picture of the scene or setting. Start with an action. Be descriptive.
  • Along those lines, you need to do a better job of painting a picture with your words. I know Millership already pounded this point in their critique, but seriously, I cannot overstate how important Show, Don't Tell is for the impact of a story. Don't tell us that he's never been told the words "I love you," show us the relationship he has with his mother instead.
  • The powers you mention at the beginning are poorly defined. I see a lot of jargon regarding it, but I honestly have little-to-no idea what it actually is, and it's even harder to picture without seeing these powers in action. You talk about it, but we - the audience - never really get to see them used. We're only told.
  • Minor one, but either use curses or don't. Don't beat around the bush with that sort of language with asterisks. Accept that your audience is mature enough to read that language or cut it altogether.
  • Your prose reads choppily as I go through it. For example:

I understood his intentions. He was going to harm the raccoon. I moved quickly and picked up the raccoon before that happened...I put the raccoon down, and the raccoon ran away.

  • This doesn't read naturally and has a blocky feel, largely due to how frequently you say raccoon in so few sentences. Try reading your prose out loud, and listen to how everything sounds when you add a voice.
  • Additionally, there's no tension in that scene. It's just like saying "this happened, then this happened, and then this happened." The easiest way to fix this is to add sensory details, flesh out the scene. Also use more sentence variety; mix it up here and there.

  • Lastly, and this goes with everything else I've said already, your lack of detail makes it hard to picture not only what is going on, but where your action is taking place. I cannot picture these places in my head. You mention that his mother's brothel is unpleasant, but what is unpleasant about it? The smell (which, considering it's a brothel, likely reeks of human odor). In your replies to Millership you mention that this doesn't take place on Earth, which I'd be willing to buy if you did a little more concrete worldbuilding? Small details can tell you a lot about the world without telling everything. A thick layer of omnipresent smog over the sky tells you that the world suffers from a lot of pollution, while a clear sky and open areas creates more idyllic imagery. Don't be afraid to stop and let your character and your audience look around for a bit. It's not always bad to meander, just as long as that meandering isn't boring.

Overall I can tell that you're someone with a lot of ideas and passion, considering that you were willing to share it here in the first place. That being said, you've got a lot of room to grow, and you'll need to practice more before you really hone your skills. Thank you for being willing to share, and happy writing smile

Unrelated to Kakuzan's post, but how do I sign up for the waiting list?


Edited by randomdude4 on Jul 3rd 2018 at 4:39:38 AM

"Can't make an omelette without breaking some children." -Bur
Luigisan98 A wandering user from Venezuelan Muscat Relationship Status: I <3 love!
A wandering user
Jul 3rd 2018 at 4:34:23 PM

[up]Add your story on the waiting list and wait for the turn.

The only good fanboy, is a redeemed fanboy.

Total posts: 1,621