Thursday, June 18, 2009


I'm thinking I'm being too negative in these line edits. I just don't do praise much. If I don't comment on it, it's probably fine. Very problem-focus here.

But if you don't want this kind of edit, and I don't blame you, just delete the comment that has your paragraphs, or comment here and let me know you don't want me to look at your stuff. No hard feelings. It might not look like it, but I'm sensitive too. (Just with my own work. )



Anonymous said...

I didn't feel any negativity in the line edits. I wanted (and needed) the problem-focus picking apart. Your comments were clear and constructive criticism.

Thanks again for sharing your time and expertise. :)

Edittorrent said...

Thanks for saying so, but I just seem so focused on problems. I should probably clean out a closet if I'm going to be so ruthless!

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

I think folks probably appreciate the fact that you're doing free line edits for a bunch of strangers rather than worrying about negative comments. The people that don't probably also turn down birthday presents that aren't wrapped in pretty enough ribbons.

Julie Harrington said...

I didn't get negative either. I've *seen* negative. Crits that leave you sitting on the floor with bloodied knees (maybe even missing a tooth or two), thinking OUCH!

These edits just seemed like straight forward, to the point, "here is why I think and say this..."

Worked for me and very appreciated. :)


Edittorrent said...

I'm actually writing an article for writing center tutors. It's called "Be Positive." You know, really, I shouldn't find it so difficult! In a weird way, it's easier with college students, most of whom have serious writing problems, because the number-one job is to keep them writing until they figure it out-- hence being positive.

But the good writers here-- I don't feel that same need to pump up. Maybe it's because I know you've already made the decision to write no matter what.

There was an infamous prof at a college I taught at, who taught creative writing, and told a student of mine, "You're a bad poet." Well, this student came to me, because he thought he wasn't that bad, and he was actually good-- had gotten published as a poet, which is something. Anyway, I went to the prof and asked if he really thought Marsh was a bad poet. And he said, "Oh, I say that to all my students. If they really want to write, they'll decide to prove me wrong."

I still think that's close to evil. Don't let me do that.

Andrew Rosenberg said...

In a critique, I think honesty trumps everything. Because somewhere out there, there will be a reader thinking the same thing.
At the same time, if you like something, go ahead and praise it. I think what happens is we tend to focus on what needs to be improved and ignore stuff that's actually pretty good, so naturally these things come across as negative.
OTOH, some critique groups I attend, everyone wants to heap praise on everyone else, which I find completely useless. I'm not there to make friends (primary), I'm there to improve my craft, so let me have it!

Unknown said...

Negative? Nope. I like your focus (on problems) because fixing problems will make us better writers. Praise is good, but when we're here for line edits I know I'm not looking for praise. It will be praise enough to find an agent for my WIP *one day*.

You're a saint compared to the prof! LOL!

Thanks again for your time, it's really appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I didn't feel anything negative about your edit of my four lines! I didn't send you those lines so you could coddle me.

In fact, I found it to be such a positive experience that I shared your edit and what I learned from it on my blog. I hope that is okay.

As far as I've been able to determine on all the edits, you've handled them with a delightful sense of humor. I just think that we sometimes take ourselves far too seriously. ;-)

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tena Russ said...

Alicia, that's why we're paying you the big bucks :-)

Seriously, thank you. I left a response over at my line edit.


Wes said...

You are not being negative. We need to know where there are problems and issues we should address. That's one of the best ways for us to learn. If I want praise, I'll read my stuff to Jake, my golden retriever. He likes everything I do.

Unknown said...

You're doing a brilliant job. This is very helpful and I can't see where anyone would be upset with your honest comments.
In fact I have a lot of catching up to do. I haven't been able to look at a computer for four days! I'm looking forward to reading all that I missed.:)

Wes said...

I just read your post of 11:56 about the negative prof. That practice is evil, as you state. I was a prof at major universities for 12 years and saw this behavior often. A lot of profs aren't very successful in life and have fragile self-esteem which they prop up by harrassing students. Others do it in hopes that students will drop so the prof's workload is reduced. In fact I still see it. Last semester my daughter got D minuses and Fs on her papers and exams in a history course, yet pulled a B for her final grade. What good came from such a practice? We all have our stories about petty tyrants in the classroom.

Riley Murphy said...

You know Alicia, if you were being petty or too nit-picky, I could see someone complaining or feeling bad about the experience. But your analysis is thoughtful, well meaning and insightful. I just don't know where you get your energy from. This ‘new exercise’ has taken up so much of your valuable time. I, for one, appreciate all your efforts! You’re a real trooper to be worrying about how we’re taking your sought after advice. When you should be worried about tallying up the drinks Theresa owes you for this one. Let me know what bar you guys go to so I can purchase some stock in it, would you?;)

Edittorrent said...

Sure, Frohock-- be sure and link to our blog. :)

Murph, Theresa's off doing real work, probably! I always get productive when I'm procrastinating.

Riley Murphy said...

I've been read the riot act so I guess I'm back to work myself. Happy 15th anniversary! It's quite and accomplishment. Here's to many more.

And hey, have you given any thought about what kind of chocolate I can use to bribe you for the inside scoop on the contest?

Anonymous said...


Oh, there are links galore! ;-)

I have a link in the post and another under my "Writing Tips" category.

I also failed to thank you and Theresa again for taking time out of your busy schedules to be so helpful!


Edittorrent said...

Murph, let me tell you about a sad experience I had. Once I was visiting a friend in Foodie Heaven (San Francisco), and we sat one night and ate Dove chocolate and talked and were happy.

The next day, we went to the farmer's market and had some handmade artisanal chocolate. She bought a 6-piece box for $25. That night, we sat and ate each piece slowly.

Then she said, "Let's try the Dove again." You know, the Dove chocolate that we were so happy with the night before?

It tasted like plastic. It tasted like Barbie chocolate. We felt resentful and cheated and didn't like each other anymore.

Two points.
1) It is possible to ruin your life by having too elevated tastes.
2) Don't even bother to try to bribe me with cheap chocolate. :)

Jordan said...

I'm going to chime in here and agree, even though I'm extremely apprehensive about if/when you'll do mine.

I've seen negative. No, I've seen mean. I had a critique partner who told me my characters were flat-out stupid (vs. another CP who couched it in terms of "she might be approaching TSTL"), who presumed to know my characters better than I did after ten pages, who truly seemed to hate what I was writing.

Was my work great? No. But reading that person's critiques wasn't helpful. It was poison. I had other CPs pointing out the same thing in kinder terms, with useful suggestions to fix it, and in a much more timely manner. I ended that critique relationship.

Your edits are nowhere near that experience (well, from the outside so far). It might hurt a little, but it's like feeling the burn during a run—you know it's helping you get better/stronger/faster. (Anyone else feel a Daft Punk song coming on?)

Thanks so much for doing this!

Jeanne Ryan said...

When you do an edit do you tell the author what you like or do you concentrate on what needs to be fixed?

By giving us mainly constructive criticism, we are seeing what it is like to get an editing letter.

I have friends, family and even some crit partners who feed my ego and tell me what I did write. I'm hoping to get an editor who will help me improve my manuscript.

Also, these take a lot of time for you to do. They would take even more time if you went into what you liked and what worked.

I've learned a lot, not only things to watch out for, but what the editing process is like.

Leona said...

You are not mean. your critiques are right on and your explanations take any sting out of what might be negative. My writing has improved dramatically (I don't believe it was bad before!) from following some of the simple suggestions you've given.
They are in the back of my mind helping me improve my craft continuously.

I pulled out a fantasy short story I wrote last year for a contest. I've turned the first 2 paragraphs into 6? At least I think that's what I'm up to.

I wasn't clear or I skipped to much and kept it in same paragraph, etc. And keeping in mind your remarks about first paragraphs and the old blogs I've read, I HAD to fix the story.

AS I was saying before following my rabbit trail, thank you for your time and explanations.

Riley Murphy said...

Cheap chocolate? For starters we were at Godiva. I'm willing to work up from there.:) Ever heard or Purdy's chocolate? Too die for (and I have a connection. Really!).

Bethany Michaels said...

I prefer a tough, honest set of line-edits/crit from an editor over a lot of gushing complements. When you do get an 'atta girl' from that editor, you know it's genuine. No MS is perfect; there's always something that can be improved.

Same with contest judges. I once scored a 98 out of 100 in a chapter contest and was not a finalist. Huh? Those judges were all waaay too gushy and there were no comments that actually helped anything but my ego :)

Edittorrent said...

Sounds good, that Purdy's. :)