Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sunday scribblings 'my two cents'

Does my Butt look big?

This weeks prompt in Sunday Scribblings(http://www.sundayscribblings.blogspot.com/ is “My 2 cents.” I started off doing this last night with the intention of going in a whole other direction. When I started, my little post was like a caterpillar in my mind. Before I knew it I realized three hours had passed and I thought maybe, just maybe it was showing signs of wings underneath its opaque white shell. Will it turn into a full fledged butterfly? I don’t know. Certainly I HOPE so, but at the very least I figure I have an ugly moth on my hands.

As I was typing along deliriously last night, I was also wondering what the hell I would do for this post now that the other one had started morphing into something else. I have also been reading a lot of other blog posts, and stories lately that I have come across. Sometimes I make comments, other times I don’t. I have been trying to figure out the rules and such as far as critiquing them or offering my opinions on them. I seriously doubt that I am the only one that wonders about these things and imagine it has to be fairly common. Likewise, I imagine when I share some of my stuff with family, friends, or even on line, those reading it are wondering the very same things.


In his book “On writing” by Stephen King, he goes out of his way to point out that “there is no idea dump” where writers get their ideas from. He says something along the lines of usually, it is when two totally unrelated items click in his mind and come together somehow that is where he often gets his story from.

This morning, I sat here reading a few blogs that I enjoy and perusing the other posts from Sunday scribblings. At the same time I was wondering what I would write for my own 2 cents prompt. Finally, I was hoping I hadn’t upset someone recently by offering my opinion on something they had written even though I don’t think so. Then it clicked. Two unrelated topics coming together. “My 2 cents” and worrying I had offended someone by offering it. A post on just such a thing would work. How far do you go when offering comments, or criticism? Do you tell someone “hey I like it” when you are actually thinking that you didn’t? I guess two of the main types of things I am talking about are in blogs or regular story writing.

First of all, there are blogs which are fairly new to me in general. I have recently started to read a fair number of blogs. I have come across some that I enjoy and plan to return to on a regular basis. Some are well done but just not my cup of tea, and others I just don’t really enjoy at all. I personally try to comment on most of them even if I don’t suspect that I will be visiting them on a regular basis. I guess I figure if someone is going to take the time to post it I can at least take the time to say hello and let them know I was there. When I find a post or site that I really DO like, I DEFINITELY try to comment.
I try not to be critical at all on these though I do try my best to be honest.

Secondly, is actual writing related stuff. With this I am a lot more critical though not always in a bad way. Why? Because that is what I want when asking someone to read over something that I have written. Telling me “I liked it” when really you didn’t to me is akin to allowing me to go out on a first date with toilet paper stuck on my shoe or my fly open. It is akin to saying “no baby, those jeans don’t make your butt look fat go ahead and buy them” when actually what I am thinking is “wow she usually has a great rear, but those things somehow make it look like a house.” Telling people ‘what you think they want to hear’ instead of the truth may keep you from embarrassing them or hurting them at the moment; however it is going to cause twice the embarrassment and pain later. At least that is my opinion, my 2 cents for what it is worth. NOTE: I don’t recommend sharing the ‘house’ thoughts, but “no I can’t really say that I like those jeans” should work okay and allow you to survive the night.

How do YOU handle commenting on other people’s blogs?

How do you handle commenting or critiquing other people’s writing?
Are you brutally honest? Do you temper your comments? Do you only make positive comments? I am curious how other people go about this.

tags:,,,,,

24 comments:

bonnie said...

I usually only comment on blogs that I really like, or if it strikes a nerve in me, or if I have an additional thought to one that is posted. Then again, sometimes I comment, and my internet connection drops and I can't post the comment (I have to use a proxy to get on SS), so, 'oh, well...' Good thoughts!

charlea said...

Interesting topic for us all and particularly for me as someone who has entered the blogosphere relatively recently! I generally like to comment if someone has written something that particularly strikes me or that I can identify with - if something doesn't grab me I usually just hit the back button.

And I also try to comment on someone's blog if they have done me the honour of leaving a comment of mine - so thanks for your comment! : )

paris parfait said...

Like my grandmother always said, if you can't say something nice, say nothing. I am constantly amazed by the wonderful writing that's out there and have no trouble finding positive things to say about most efforts. If I don't like or understand a piece, I won't comment - unless it's about a political issue and the blogger specifically asks for readers' views. As in life, politeness and respect for the other person is key.

jason evans said...

I totally agree with you regarding the harm that is done by false praise. Writing is a learning process for everyone. Even the best can be better. Unless we know where to adjust, that growth slows or even veers in the wrong direction.

When critiquing, I always start with the positives, then respectfully offer suggestions. I know you do the same. If a writer has a problem with that approach, then he or she is probably not committed (yet) to truly improving. Some folks are still tightly wound with the emotional strain of putting writing out there to be read.

Michelle said...

First of all, I always visit people who have visited my blog, because I am curious about them. I will usually leave a comment. With Sunday Scribblings, I only leave comments if I am somehow struck by the post, and only critique if the author specifically asks for one.

Recently, I left a comment on a politically provocative post questioning the author's assumptions, came back, and found the post deleted. That was weird. I am always hoping for a dialogue.

FYI, even saying that the jeans aren't your cup of tea can be opening a huge can of worms. Jus' saying.

briliantdonkey said...

bonnie: thanks for stopping by, yes I have that same internet problem at times to, I HATE that!

Rachael:again as I already said GREAT post on the SS this week. "back button" top left, I know it well.

Paris: Thanks for the comment, that is quite interesting . I agree with the whole 'if you can't say something nice' concept but at the same time I think that can get in the way of constructive criticism as well. Also, if that is the case can't the silence itself be taken as criticism in some cases? For example using my analogy again. Saying "of course your arse looks big in those jeans it looks big in everything"= mean and shouldn't be said. However, to me saying something along the lines of "welllll I think your butt looks better in the black ones" to me is much better. I think that writing is much the same way, especially if someone has ASKED for your opinion. NOTE: @ 37,still single, and suffered the wrath of answering too honestly a time or two I can certainly see your side of the discussion. lol

Rob

briliantdonkey said...

Jason,

Thanks for popping in. I couldn't agree more and glad to hear you feel that way. It is like everything else I guess. Different strokes for different folks. Actually, I KNOW that a lot of what I write needs a TON of work. Therefore, I appreciate having it pointed out to me when something can be done better. At the same time, if someone ALWAYS says it is good I get a strong suspicion that they are just afraid to hurt my feelings. While I appreciate that, at the same time I don't view it as doing my writing any good whatsoever. Thanks for the comments.

Rob

briliantdonkey said...

Michelle,

Maybe you completely changed the other persons mind on the political thing so they took it down? re: can of worms.....true, veryyyyyyy true......I KNOW that can of worms. (enter Elmer fudd voice here) be vewwwwwyyyyy VEEEEWWWWWWWYYYYYy careful.....

Geosomin said...

I agree with you - the thing about only saying things that reinforce the positives and the idea that "everyone is special" really means in the end that noone is. QUality and uniqueness should be rewarded, but if I don't like something I'll make a suggestion or a question.
But, I know how it feels to have a positive comment or a question and how it can encourage me to try other things and maybe go in a direction I hadn't thought of.
To me, good criticism is the best kind. It is meant to improve and no hurt - if I don't get something or it's confusing I'll say so, but usually it's the posts I agree with or that strike a chord with me that I'm more likely to respond to. I guess I'm shy, even in the blogosphere...

briliantdonkey said...

::::the idea that "everyone is special" really means in the end that noone is.::::


Thanks, Geosomin, THAT is the perfect way to put it. Thanks for stopping by.

Rob

Kim G. said...

I appreciated this topic for your "2 cents" post. I'm finding myself torn over the whole comment thing about blogging. Theyc can become a bit addicting and for some of us newbie writers, it can become too easy to judge the quality of our writing on the number and content of the comments. I know in my head that this shouldn't be the case, but it doesn't stop my heart from skipping a beat when I see someone else has added a new comment to my post. I guess it's all about silencing the internal critic within and not relying on the praise of others on the outside that makes for a secure and confident writer. Wait, is there such a thing as a secure and confident writer?

Colleen Gleason said...

Very interesting topic, in particular regarding giving feedback on others' work.

Usually when I am asked for feedback for someone I don't usually critique, or don't know that well, I try to find out what they want--do they want line edits/grammar/spelling checks? Or what I call "big picture" stuff?

I hate doing line edits (although I will if asked); I prefer to read the piece as if for enjoyment, then to give my impressions.

And that's generally how I give feedback: I say things like, "I got the sense of...." and "My impression of X character is...." and "This didn't work for me because..."

In other words, I tend to put the responsibility for the "problem" on myself--my impressions, my understanding, my interpretations. Then it's my fault it's not working, not the writer's fault.

And then we often get into a discussion after that and perhaps in more detail.

Another thing I do, again, for someone I don't usually critique, is: before I give any feedback, I ask questions: "How long do you see this book being?" "What kind of market are you targeting?" "What kind of character is so-and-so?"

That way I can see if my impressions meet what the author is trying to accomplish. And I can tailor my responses to the author's goals.

Hope this long, rambling comment makes sense...I couldn't help myself; it's an interesting topic.

briliantdonkey said...

Kim,

Thanks for coming by and for the comments.

::::Theyc can become a bit addicting and for some of us newbie writers, it can become too easy to judge the quality of our writing on the number and content of the comments. I know in my head that this shouldn't be the case, but it doesn't stop my heart from skipping a beat when I see someone else has added a new comment to my post.:::::::


I know exZACHARY what you mean. well said.

Rob

briliantdonkey said...

Hey Colleen,

Thanks for the comments. It is really interesting to see the different ways people approach making comments and such whether it be on a blog post or on real writing.

::::I prefer to read the piece as if for enjoyment, then to give my impressions.::::

I always do my first read through with nothing more in mind than answering the question "do I like this story? Is it keeping me interested?" and things like that. I HAVE found though that the more I 'get into' this writing thing the harder that is to do at times. I find myself wondering if it is the chicken or the egg? Am I having a harder time enjoying the story because I am(whether trying to or not) letting the technical stuff get in the way? Orrrrr am I noticing the technical stuff more because I am slowly but surely getting more into writing myself? I am not sure which of those two is the better option.

Thanks for the feedback about how to "make it your fault" instead of the writers. I like that, can I use it or is that a Colleen trademark/copyright infringement violation?

As for the apology for the length of your comment,,,,,,,ME telling someone else to 'watch that' would be like a politician telling people to be honest.

Like Mark Mcguire or Barry Bonds telling kids NOT to use perfomance enhancing drugs.....allegedly!.

Like.......ME telling someone to quit being a smartass.

Like......Simon cowell telling someone to be nice for a change.

Like.......my sister telling someone to drive more carefully.

Like.......Jay leno telling someone to get their chin out of the way.
exhibit A your honor, submitted for your approval. See what I mean?

Rob

Colleen Gleason said...

LOL, BD, on the "Colleen trademark" thing--heck no, use that tactic if it works for you.

And as far as being a writer influencing how much I enjoy reading...oh, I've found that to be very true for me. I'm very critical, actually, and don't finish at least 50% of the books I pick up to read for enjoyment. I think much of it is that I pick apart the plot and the techniques; which is a shame, because the sapping of an enjoyment of books is a tragedy. I love to read. I just don't find that many books that I can love without nitpicking.

Kimberleigh said...

Hi Rob!

First I would like to thank you for your comment left in a blog that I am a co-writer "Write Words Writing Club" Seondly I would like to invite you to my main journal over at AOL....appropriatly called.... "I Shave my legs for this" There you can learn more about me than my recently diagnosed breast cancer and my extremely sick sense of humor...Can't help it it is apparantly in my DNA....the sick sense of humor, not the breast cancer! lol I'll be back to read more about you again sometime...

Kimberleigh

http://journals.aol.com/demandnlilchit/Ishavedmylegsforthis/

Roadchick said...

LOVE the post. LOVE it. Comments are addicting & like the old TV theme song said: You take the good, you take the bad, you take them all and then you have the facts of life.
Roadchick will take any comments she can get. Good or critical. She can always learn. She can always improve. And she'll do it a LOT faster with some feedback.
Your thoughts on this are great.
Thanks so much.

briliantdonkey said...

Colleen: I have to say that is about what I suspected. Also, I must say that scares me to no small degree. I LOVE to read. I mean LOVEEEEEEEEEE to read. See that long line of pissed of people waiting for the train that is broken down? I am the one person that really isn't all that pissed because I just pull the book off the seat beside me and escape into that other world. I wonder how much of that enjoyment is allowed solely BECAUSE of my ignorance and pretty much not caring(within reason) how technically sound a book is. Although I would love to become the next big author, if you told me right now I could have that but by doing so my learning what I was doing was going to take away a lot of the enjoyment I get from reading,,,,,,,,I don't know that I would go for it. Anyways, thanks for stopping back by.

Rob

briliantdonkey said...

Kimberleigh(mental note: I before e except after c,,,,and kimberleighhhhhh)learn something new everyday.......now if I could just stop forgetting 3 things old every minute I might,,,,MIGHT be in good shape. lol. Anyways, thanks for stopping by, and for the comments. Also thank you for the invite. I will have to stop by and check it out, though probably not tonight since it is two am and I am in grave need of beauty sleep. Hell who am I kidding, sleep won't do it, I may need Hibernation! Sick sense of humor huh? ditto!

Rob

briliantdonkey said...

Roadchick,

Thanks for the comments and for stopping by. Briliant donkey feels the exact same way. Briliantdonkey(btw, how brilliant can he be if he misspells his own name?)needs some sleep or he will have to go back and rewrite that whole 'baggage' post from a couple of weeks ago. Sorry, I tried the 3rd person point of view, but I already talk TO,answer, and even interupt myself enough without doing that too so I am going to stop.

Take care,

Rob

Pacian said...

Simply put: I comment when I have something to say. Sadly that means I'm often as quiet in Blogistan as I am in real life.

For example I meant to leave this comment on Sunday, but chickened out. :-)

briliantdonkey said...

Well Pacian,

I am glad you didn't chicken out this time! Thanks for stopping by. Sorry it took me this long to answer. I meant to come and do that but got sidetracked by all kinds of other stupid stuff.....work,,,,,work,,,,,,and pretending to work.

Rob

Lorrie said...

I'm still learning about this whole blog thing, so I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who wonders what I should be doing!

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