Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Reply
Moderator
Brandi_R
Posts: 1,598
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

tips on commenting on others' writing

I’m glad to see many of you posting your responses to the writing exercises and sharing your thoughts and ideas. I’m thrilled, too, that many of you are responding to those posts. That back and forth is vital to the learning process. As we continue forward, this will become even more important, so I want to share a few tips on how to comment on other members’ writing exercise submissions here at the book club:

The purpose of a constructive workshop—which is what we’re doing here—is to help the writer fully achieve his/her intentions on the page. We can and should hold each other to high standards and that can be done in the spirit of helping. Don’t be afraid to express your thoughts on both the strengths and the weaknesses of the fiction. The writer expects this from you. Give suggestions on how to handle weaknesses, too, by sharing thoughts on alternative approaches. Try and be as specific as possible. A comment like “this is great” doesn’t say nearly as much as one like this: “Your character’s inability to shake her bad mood after the fight with her friend, even though her son is playing an excellent soccer game really makes her feel real.”

We all have our own personalities, our own voice, thoughts, methods of expression and style. This is true in life as it is in writing and it's part of what makes a writing workshop so exciting. Make a conscious effort to receive every piece of writing on its own terms and help the writer achieve what s/he is working toward.

Practice critiquing helps you cast a stronger editor’s eye on your own work and understand fiction more fully, so although articulating thoughts on a piece of fiction can be a challenge, it’s certainly one worth tackling.

Don't hesitate to let me know if you have any questions on this. Commenting on other writers' work is a skill in itself.

Brandi
letterpressfiction.blogspot.com
Inspired Correspondent
Bonnie824
Posts: 951
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Thanks for the clarity

I was really unsure about what we were suppose to comment on- or not. I thought maybe any writing tips and suggestions were your domain- and we would just give a laymans impression.
Moderator
Brandi_R
Posts: 1,598
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Thanks for the clarity

Hi Bonnie, I’ll certainly be chiming in on some of the responses to writing exercises, and everyone is encouraged to give their feedback, too. So don’t hesitate to share your comments. The more thoughtful input, the better the learning experience is for everyone. ~Brandi
letterpressfiction.blogspot.com
Wordsmith
Capuchin
Posts: 250
Registered: ‎05-17-2008

Re: tips on commenting on others' writing

I almost never comment on anyone's work. I know how to write a critique (I've knocked around writing groups and workshops for more than 40 years), but it's very difficult for me unless the author is asking for a response focusing on one particular aspect.

 

The main reason for this is that I'm an all-or-nothing kind of reader. If the story draws me in, I become blind to all sorts of technical problems and even gaping holes in the plot. The most I might be able to do is point out speed bumps (phrases or sentences that took me out of the story momentarily) or maybe say "love the writing, but hate the story." For me to analyze why I think a piece is great would be like using a calculator to try to figure out why my ladylove's giggle makes my knees weak.

 

If a story doesn't draw me in, then the most I can offer is basic proofreading. Since the majority of what's posted here is first drafts which will be rewritten several times, pointing out a few typos isn't going to be much help.

 

The obvious rejoinder to that is: comment on why it didn't draw you in. Often, that would be like trying to explain why I don't like broccoli-flavored ice cream. Other times, there's no gentle way to tell someone that I'm allergic to purple prose and their first sentence gave me a rash.

 

I can't really comment on poetry because I don't care for it. Unless it's on a par with Shakespeare, the substance can't overcome the form.

 

In prose, I can identify with a character's reactions even if they aren't how I would respond to that stimulus. Poems want to make me feel that directly, and they'll almost always fail for one simple reason -- I'm not average.

 

Want to give me the sensation of seeing a sunset over the ocean? You'll have to vividly describe how the sea stinks from dead fish, rotting seaweed, and whatever it is that oozes out of mollusks. It would also help if you add how, when the sun is near the horizon, the refraction and reflection of the light makes it a primary trigger for a migraine. (Moving the scene inland won't help -- as a country boy, I know that the 'fresh air' city people love is what wafts off of piles of cow manure, bubbles up from bogs, and comes out the south end of pigs facing north.)

 

While I enjoy the writing exercises, and hope you keep up the great variety and challenges, I'm afraid you'll find me non-responsive when it comes to commenting on other people's submissions.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards." -- Robert Heinlein
Inspired Wordsmith
twilight_fanatic_01
Posts: 1,162
Registered: ‎01-02-2009
0 Kudos

Re: tips on commenting on others' writing

I definitely agree with this. It's our job not only as writer's but as critics to give proper feedback on each other's work. Brandi is right. Just saying "I loved this poem" is not as effective as saying something like "I loved how you compared 'this' to 'that', it really puts the reader in the mood of the poem".
Moderator
Brandi_R
Posts: 1,598
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: tips on commenting on others' writing


Capuchin wrote:

While I enjoy the writing exercises, and hope you keep up the great variety and challenges, I'm afraid you'll find me non-responsive when it comes to commenting on other people's submissions.


 

That's entirely up to you, Capuchin. Do participate in the ways you feel are most inspiring and productive. Just keep in mind that the kinds of feedback you describe--moments that took you out of the story, writing that drew you in and made you ignore imperfections--can be quite helpful, even on very early drafts. 

letterpressfiction.blogspot.com
Moderator
Brandi_R
Posts: 1,598
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: tips on commenting on others' writing


twilight_fanatic_01 wrote:
I definitely agree with this. It's our job not only as writer's but as critics to give proper feedback on each other's work. Brandi is right. Just saying "I loved this poem" is not as effective as saying something like "I loved how you compared 'this' to 'that', it really puts the reader in the mood of the poem".

I’m glad this post resonated for you! Some writers want to comment, but have a difficult time figuring out just what to say. I hope this helps on that front. And there’s no better way to sharpen your editor’s eye, which will benefit your own writing, too. 

letterpressfiction.blogspot.com
New User
BookDevourer87
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎12-14-2009
0 Kudos

Writing Stories on the Internet

Hi Brandi,my friend went to fictionpress.com and her work was plargiarized and I was wondering if I shouldn't write any stories online because anyone could copy it. It seems to me that no website online has protection for writers. I want to share my story ideas too but is it worth the risk?

Moderator
Brandi_R
Posts: 1,598
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Writing Stories on the Internet

 


BookDevourer87 wrote:

Hi Brandi,my friend went to fictionpress.com and her work was plargiarized and I was wondering if I shouldn't write any stories online because anyone could copy it. It seems to me that no website online has protection for writers. I want to share my story ideas too but is it worth the risk?


 

I’m sorry to hear about your friend’s experience. It’s true, there are some people out there who will do this sort of thing. However, it is rare for the simple fact that there’s not much money to be made from it.

 

Technically, your work is copyrighted the moment you write it. When questions about authorship come up, the tricky part is proving you wrote it. That’s why some writers register their works with the US copyright office.

 

Again, it’s a rare occurrence. But only you can decide if the risks are worth it for you. This has been a very supportive and kind group. I see you’re a new user. Hang around for awhile and see what the Writing Room is all about and who posts. Post questions and comment on other writers’ work. Get to know the community. Once you do, you can make a more informed decision.

letterpressfiction.blogspot.com
New User
LilithLizvette
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎07-03-2010
0 Kudos

Re: tips on commenting on others' writing

I have commented on the work of others, whether it is art,poems,or writings, they(fellow artists, poets, and writers) come to me for comments because I am honest. Shakespeare is great. So great that his plays are like poetry to me, words spoken from the heart, a heart that went to waste . Words written with feeling,feeling life long. He is inspiration to me even though I have only read  his plays. 

Distinguished Bibliophile
Darkkin
Posts: 2,224
Registered: ‎08-15-2009

Re: tips on commenting on others' writing

These boards are a treasure trove of information, but also a place for truth.  There are very few in my acquaintance that understand the nearly physical pain of a stifled literary voice, characters who are screaming to be heard.  Most the time when I try to talk through a plotline tangle, (and believe me when I say some of them are epic), I get the 'have you grown a second head look?' because the non-writers don't understand what drives me.  They haven't been bitten by the bug, but they still have something I desperately need.  A different perspective.

 

As I stated before, very few have seen any of my writing, mostly due to the fact that they don't understand why I do what I do.  I read through these boards and was thrilled at what I found.  Honest, knowledgeable feedback.  Even if you're nervous about posting, go for it because every voice counts.

'Of wings and words and dancing milkweed seeds...'

Moderator
Brandi_R
Posts: 1,598
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: tips on commenting on others' writing

 


Darkkin wrote:

These boards are a treasure trove of information, but also a place for truth.  There are very few in my acquaintance that understand the nearly physical pain of a stifled literary voice, characters who are screaming to be heard.  Most the time when I try to talk through a plotline tangle, (and believe me when I say some of them are epic), I get the 'have you grown a second head look?' because the non-writers don't understand what drives me.  They haven't been bitten by the bug, but they still have something I desperately need.  A different perspective.

 

As I stated before, very few have seen any of my writing, mostly due to the fact that they don't understand why I do what I do.  I read through these boards and was thrilled at what I found.  Honest, knowledgeable feedback.  Even if you're nervous about posting, go for it because every voice counts.


 

Every voice counts . . .I agree! I'm so glad you're here, Darkkin and that you're posting your work and keeping things lively with the darker side.

 

letterpressfiction.blogspot.com
Contributor
RC15
Posts: 19
Registered: ‎10-03-2010
0 Kudos

Re: tips on commenting on others' writing

Thank you! This really helps, considering I am a new user.

Moderator
Brandi_R
Posts: 1,598
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: tips on commenting on others' writing

 


RC15 wrote:

Thank you! This really helps, considering I am a new user.


I'm glad! Welcome to the Writing Room.

 

letterpressfiction.blogspot.com
Contributor
As-H_Li87
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎05-29-2011

Re: tips on commenting on others' writing

In my opinion,

No matter how nicely to make your comments, some people just do not like be critical about his or her work. I think we need to make sure that we let them know before hand- a sort of disclaimer- that we are only trying to help them; or we are trying to gain more from his or her writing.

Ashli(:
Moderator
Brandi_R
Posts: 1,598
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: tips on commenting on others' writing

[ Edited ]

As-H_Li87 wrote:

In my opinion,

No matter how nicely to make your comments, some people just do not like be critical about his or her work. I think we need to make sure that we let them know before hand- a sort of disclaimer- that we are only trying to help them; or we are trying to gain more from his or her writing.


Prefacing your comments with genuine support like this can be a great way to start off commentary. This forum is aimed at helping the writer more fully achieve his or her intentions on the page. Feedback should somehow embody that helping spirit. There are so many ways to accomplish that.

letterpressfiction.blogspot.com
Contributor
As-H_Li87
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎05-29-2011
0 Kudos

Re: tips on commenting on others' writing

I think that that would be a great way. This way the writer is reassured and knows what to expect.

Ashli(:
Distinguished Wordsmith
Fleetfoot
Posts: 495
Registered: ‎05-14-2011

Re: tips on commenting on others' writing

Respect the other posters' writing.  Please.  Most of us can deal with constructive criticism, but mocking someone, especially when they have worked so hard on a piece is rude. 

'Posted: Do not feed the Trolls, not even reindeer flattened fruitcake...Feeding of Trolls will result in gnome revolts, gremlin induced chaos, and other strangeness...' - Darkkin, the Tedious
Contributor
BellasMomma
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎07-07-2011
0 Kudos

Re: tips on commenting on others' writing


Brandi_R wrote:
I’m glad to see many of you posting your responses to the writing exercises and sharing your thoughts and ideas. I’m thrilled, too, that many of you are responding to those posts. That back and forth is vital to the learning process. As we continue forward, this will become even more important, so I want to share a few tips on how to comment on other members’ writing exercise submissions here at the book club:

The purpose of a constructive workshop—which is what we’re doing here—is to help the writer fully achieve his/her intentions on the page. We can and should hold each other to high standards and that can be done in the spirit of helping. Don’t be afraid to express your thoughts on both the strengths and the weaknesses of the fiction. The writer expects this from you. Give suggestions on how to handle weaknesses, too, by sharing thoughts on alternative approaches. Try and be as specific as possible. A comment like “this is great” doesn’t say nearly as much as one like this: “Your character’s inability to shake her bad mood after the fight with her friend, even though her son is playing an excellent soccer game really makes her feel real.”

We all have our own personalities, our own voice, thoughts, methods of expression and style. This is true in life as it is in writing and it's part of what makes a writing workshop so exciting. Make a conscious effort to receive every piece of writing on its own terms and help the writer achieve what s/he is working toward.

Practice critiquing helps you cast a stronger editor’s eye on your own work and understand fiction more fully, so although articulating thoughts on a piece of fiction can be a challenge, it’s certainly one worth tackling.

Don't hesitate to let me know if you have any questions on this. Commenting on other writers' work is a skill in itself.

Brandi


Do you have a "formal" workshop going online in this Writing Room? I'm interested in serious (but it can be fun too : )   writing workshop from knowledgeable, experienced teacher/author or both. Please fill me in!

Moderator
Brandi_R
Posts: 1,598
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: tips on commenting on others' writing


BellasMomma wrote:


Do you have a "formal" workshop going online in this Writing Room? I'm interested in serious (but it can be fun too : )   writing workshop from knowledgeable, experienced teacher/author or both. Please fill me in!



BellasMomma, our set up is more informal, with participants posting what they want when they want and members choosing which threads they'd like to respond to with feedback. I'm around, too, chiming in on posts. And I post writing exercises, as well. If you're looking for something more formal than that, a class might fit the bill. If you go that route, let me know if you'd like some advice on finding one that fits your needs (and I hope you stick around here at the Writing Room).

letterpressfiction.blogspot.com