D.V. Sheppard

The web-log of a duck-herding author.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Critique? Or Not to Critique?

The Wombat and I are in a sort of pre-college course. We have both been in college, and don't really need pre-college preparation, but we're praying folk, and when the opportunity came to our attention over the summer, we felt strong inspiration that we needed to participate. Personally, spiritually, socially - it has been a huge blessing. Through participating and fulfilling the requirements I hope for continued blessings going forward with schooling through a rockin' awesome discount on the per credit hour cost of tuition. 

Wombat - Strut
However, the classes we are taking are mandatory and no testing-out is offered. The results of which mean that I am currently taking a very introductory writing class. Very introductory. I'm only in the first week of class, so I'm not sure exactly how the class will pan out, but so far it's rather enjoyably easy. There's been some nice, breezy grammar review, which has been kind of fun in that way that can only be found when doing homework far below your actual competency. Then, of course, there are the writing assignments, and it's been pretty fun to stretch my fingers and write things that I would otherwise never bother to write.

(I just had assignment in which I had to write a love letter to something. I wrote about my Wipebook. It was precious. The Wombat wrote about pickled okra. It made me laugh and blush. As the class is associated with religious courses I had to advise him to edit it just a tad for content. A little innuendo = you can blame the reader for having a dirty mind. The amount of innuendo he had = hard to find someone innocent enough NOT to blush when reading, Maybe I'll post his paper up. It's totally worth reading.)

Tonight, though, in class we all split up into groups and then critiqued each others papers. This is always fun for me. I fancy myself pretty good at giving good critiques. I may be wrong about that, but I enjoy fancying myself with it. Anyway - my group held a good writer, and okay writer and a poor writer and me. It was fun and challenging to find out - in a very limited time - what would be the most helpful advice. 

Well, that was all fine - but then I got my critiques. Frankly, there was hardly anything to them. Maybe my paper really was that nicely put together. That's nice, but not very satisfying. I was ready for critique. I figure I was running amok of two writer hazards. The first possible hazard: there was no one in my group that actually cared, or felt themselves much in the way of writers, enough to think deep and tell me what might help. The other possible hazard: because one or two knew that I liked to write and did so as a hobby, the word got spread that I am "A Writer" - and who of those that do not also call themselves "A Writer" is going to assume that they could critique "A Writer." 

I was bumbed. Don't get me wrong I got nice compliments and there were three minor pieces of feedback that I can take back and consider while writing my subsequent drafts, but,,,, come on! I want it to get better! Which is to say - I want my skill to get better! Per my instructor, it sounds like I"m pretty set to ace the class, as the course parameters are so basic - and the actual writing assignments aren't earth shatteringly important to me, but... I have to write them, so I figure I might as well get some help in improving my writing along the way.

:p Maybe next writing assignment :)


I want to read your love letters.....
Sometimes, it's truly hard to give a critique on an enjoyable piece. You find nothing wrong with it because you loved it all. I know I get that way. I'll make comments here and there, but overall, I had fun reading the story/letter/piece and didn't want to break the spell of enjoyable reading by forcing myself to nitpick. That's usually when it takes a few passes to give anything good. And depending on time, that might be the hiccup.

Also, I've noticed in my critique group, some people have strengths that others don't. Some people catch missing setting, while others don't need it. Some people get easily confused, while others follow along fine. Some people have great voice, but can't properly structure a sentence, while others have perfect form but dull delivery.

You could try writing a horrible piece and see if you still get back the same amount of comments.

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