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wundayatta's avatar

When you ask for a response to your artistic work, what kinds of responses do you like?

Asked by wundayatta (58357 points ) September 29th, 2011

For example, if you ask someone to critique a work of writing, do you want someone to ghost write you? That is, reform your lines so they make sense to the rewriter? Do you want them to give you line by line critiques, but leave you to make changes? Do you want them to give you more general criticisms and more general suggestions about what to do, but leave it to you to either take their critiques or not?

How would you respond to each of these kinds of criticisms? Is there some other kind of criticism you would prefer? Do you just want, a thumbs up/thumbs down response? Do you just want encouragement regardless of what the person thinks?

What kind of response would you like from your ideal critic? What kinds of responses drive you out of your mind?

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20 Answers

PhiNotPi's avatar

I like it when they point out everything that’s wrong with it and tell me how to make it better. I consider telling me that “it’s good” not a very helpful response, because it doesn’t tell me how to improve it.

Tell me if I’m wrong, but I think that this question was inspired by an earlier question about a poem, and the ghostwriting thing was about my response to said question.

Symbeline's avatar

Well I like writing poems, and when I show them to people, I like to know if it has a good flow, whether or not they grasp the meaning behind it. Of course I like the positive remarks, but it’s always good to have constructive criticism that might help me improve.

Bellatrix's avatar

I like (need) criticism of my writing. So, while it can be hard to take, I want people to tell me where I can improve across a range of areas.

I think rewriting small parts to demonstrate what the critic means is not a bad thing. I would not want them to rewrite my work wholly though. Just perhaps changing a word here or there to show me how my word choices could have been improved. Or perhaps rewriting a sentence or two to show me how I might have introduced a character more effectively.

Earthgirl's avatar

I like writing poems too and I am very emotional and unstructured about how I do it. It’s very hard to be subjective about it so I would want to get a more objective viewpoint. I want the person critiquing it to say what they think it means, in order that I can see if I was able to get across what I was trying to express. Sometimes they see something a little different than what I meant or intended and that can be a good thing. It goes to show you the nature of communication. It’s imperfection can be an asset. If something I write has a broader vs. a personal viewpoint, I think that makes it more successful Like a good song lyric, everyone relates it to their own experience and finds their own meaning in it. I like that.

keobooks's avatar

I wouldn’t want someone to rewrite for me or tell me exactly how to fix something. But I love to hear “This section isn’t working…’ I like to hear why they don’t like it and some suggestions—but not a rewrite.

TexasDude's avatar

I’m a poet, and supposedly I’m pretty good (won awards/scholarships/etc before).

My poems are heavy with symbolism and metaphors, and I’ve always wanted someone to actually try and interpret one of them as opposed to just saying “OMG LOL SO GUD!!1!!”

Compliments are nice and all, but a response I really want would have to be interpretation.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

Any might be nice, I don’t know because I never get much feed back on my work. People usually don’t like what I write. Being that writing is 1 part talent, and 1 part opinion subject to the scrutiny of said talent… Sometimes I really think I must not be very good at all… and then I remember I don’t care, and all is right with the world… I don’t write for critique. I write because I have to, I need to, and I want to.

wundayatta's avatar

I understand the need to encourage and I know that criticism can really hurt. I used to love poetry, but that was mainly because I loved to talk about it. I ever tried to write some, but I through the point of poetry was to try to be obscure, like John Ashbury, and to pile strange image upon strange image until it was a grokness that people were fascinated with and tried hard to understand, although it was very difficult to decode. Ah, the folly of youth.

Now I want poetry to be as transparent as possible. I don’t have an interest in decoding anything. I want to see the story and I want the images to carry the story forward without any excess of words or rhymes or too much love of language. Language should serve the poem, but in far too much poetry it is the other way around. Yuck.

So that is my aesthetic and when a poem does not speak to me that way; when a poem tries to hide what it is about, either with the wrong tone or too much love of twisted language, or images that are there just to be images or rhymes that are tortured, then I have no patience.

I have no interest in rewriting anyone’s work and I think it is presumptuous. It’s your poem or story or painting, not mine. We are not collaborators. I want to give you some help, but if I can’t see anything, what can I do? I’ll ask you to either strip out all the useless crap, or to go back to the drawing board and start over—and tell me the story so I can see it and hear it. Then you can add all those embellishments if you want.

I’m tough and it is difficult for me to be kind, I think. I’m not a nice critic and it takes a lot of energy out of me to be a critic. I always worry about hurting people’s feelings, so I try to be ever more constructive and nice, and I end up taking myself to hell. Frankly, I don’t they I should be allowed near a keyboard. Not when there’s creativity to critique.

TexasDude's avatar

@wundayatta I never said that my poems were indecipherable or incomprehensible. I just want someone to tell me what they think they mean. It’s a personal desire of mine. That’s it.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

My last partner remarked, “oh! you are a Picasso!” Now, me not being a Picasso fan, I’m not sure how I was supposed to have taken that. Usually though, the response I like is for someone to notice a finer detail, kind of as proof they’re aren’t just making sounds come out of their mouths to make me feel good.

Bellatrix's avatar

@Wundy, I don’t think someone should rewrite another person’s work and expect the original author to just take it on board. I do think, and this is my experience with students, sometimes they need to see an example of what you mean. Just saying “you need to edit this more” doesn’t mean much because they can’t see how their work is flabby. So by taking a sentence and demonstrating how they could have written it more concisely can really help.

I think most people find critiquing hard and certainly initially. I encourage it with my students though, across various genres, from very early on. By being able to notice flaws in other’s work, we start to see the same errors in our own.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

*But that having been said, what critique I do get is usually given by other writers that I admire very much so… That’s a good thing. My “haters” serve other purposes.

CWOTUS's avatar

When I was young and learning to write comprehensibly (not well, just “to make sense”) I received thorough criticism from good teachers. They didn’t try to spare our feelings by “trying to find the good” in what we wrote; they let us have it. My writing today reflects that care in criticism; I’m a clear writer and I know that. I enjoy writing because of that. (I enjoy reading more because of that, as well.)

I think it’s a disservice to lob softballs of criticism at work that should be better. And that includes for 13-year-olds, too. I don’t think they need to be criticized the same way that a politician’s speech should be (those guys should have their throats ripped out, for example), but when there’s an 800-pound gorilla in the room you have to at least point out that the room sure smells “sort of gorilla-like”.

everephebe's avatar

Honesty, understanding and thoughtfulness.
But I don’t often ask for a response to my work…

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@everephebe Me neither… I find it slightly annoying when others do actually. Or worse, when they critique in order to either expect or request someone “Visit mine now.” It’s like begging. I only refer one of mine if it correlates to the subject at hand and it is pertient to something spoken or discussed within the critique.

wundayatta's avatar

Sorry, @Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard. I wasn’t referring to your poetry. I haven’t read yours. I was referring to other experiences I have had with critiquing poems.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

I am never open to any criticism about what I write or create, constructive or destructive.

TexasDude's avatar

@wundayatta no worries, sir.

lifeflame's avatar

I like it when people are specific and give lots of examples.
For example, I like comments like: “I can really smell the soil in the second line…” or even very specific personal reactions, “I was really moved by the final line. For some reason I thought of my father then.”

I also like comments that make me think. e.g., “It seems a bit stereotypical. I wonder what it would be like if you swapped the genders of the characters, so the girl’s the computer geek and the guy’s the social activist.”

Honesty is key. Enthusiasm is also nice.

OneBadApple's avatar

I always run my home recording efforts by our daughter, whose band had a pretty good following in some areas of the U.S. and a really nice following in Sweden (for some reason).

She has a wonderful way of mixing praise and gentle critiques so as to never hurt The Old Man’s feelings.

But she knows that I’m asking for honesty, and I always get it…

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