Critics and CriticismbyEgmont Grigor©
On Literotica the critics and their criticism can be enjoyable to read and of possible value to the author and other readers; conversely they can be incomprehensible, gross and much worse.
Hmmmm – selected dictionary meanings (The Collins Dictionary and Thesaurus):
(1): a person who judges something
(2): a professional judge of art, music, literature, etc
(3): a person who often finds fault
(1) The act or an instance of making an unfavorable or severe judgment, comment, etc
(2) an analysis of evaluation of a work of art, literature, etc
(3) the occupation of a critic
(4) a work that sets out to evaluate or analyze
Obviously I haven't been getting altogether favorable criticism of my submissions otherwise I would not be writing this. Right?
Only partly right: I also read other posted submissions and then read the responses to the invitation below the story: "Love it? Hate it? Have suggestions? You can leave a public comment on this submission!"
Oh dear – that invitation doesn't say the comments should be valued judgments or a learned evaluation after a critical literary analysis. So therefore I must not be all embracing with my saber-rattling.
Two forms of comment/criticism exist via the website: the public comment and the private messages that land in the email box of the literary genius (or poor sod) who penned (keyboarded) the words and embodied nuances being praised/hammered.
There is a saying in journalism, 'Don't attack critics unless you're prepared to be savaged back. Obviously a critic dreamed up that advice.
This tilt is not aimed at people who snarl: "This story stinks."
What an odd thing to allege – and that's all it is - an allegation, being only an opinion – and it ignores the fact that the Lit site does not yet offer aromatic digital publishing. After reading some characters get up to in their adventures I am rather pleased that the pages currently are pong-free.
A more mentally generous commentator may say "This story stinks" but then adds a reason why to underpin his/her comment thereby making it more meaningful and possibly of some value to the readers who may include the author.
Here's one I've seen on another author's site: "The ending was unsatisfactory."
Oh yeah? Obviously the passion died and the couple split up or in one case there is a tragic ending. Apparently because it's fiction the good guys are not supposed to die or get STD's. An explanation by the contributor would effectively explain her/his criticism. Here's a thought: do you remember a film with a happy or soppy ending better than one with a sad ending, such as 'Gone With The Wind'? I loved seeing women cry over that film because obviously they were heartbroken and enjoying their trauma so immensely. My favorite opera is Madam Butterfly because it makes me cry.
Let's get this straight: I heed the words of some critics/people offering comment because I either recognize they are right or worry that they may be right – a conflict which can be rather daunting.
Here are some conclusions I've arrived at after some thought, knowing that they could be erroneous conclusions:
"Get an editor" sounds suspiciously like a thin-lipped person with indigestion reading the text simply to find an error and pouncing immediately upon finding one and with a terrible laugh screams, 'Got you, you sloppy bastard/bitch.' Another suspicion is such comments could be lodged in the hope that listed volunteer editors are kept busy.
"I'm disappointed that you've sunk into touching on depravity." When I got that response I almost wet myself and felt so guilty. Then reading comments received by some other authors I found similar wording. The guilt continued until a reader urged me to continue writing closer to the bone, advising me to ignore 'the morality police' and that set me on track again. Okay, I chose which critic that suited me best, but at least the nudge was effective.
I decided to let it rip a bit and got a married woman getting down on an unmarried and younger man, a hitchhiker. "I give it a 3 for it does not flow. The content is good, but the flow stinks. It is so jumpy, there is no build up, and to say it again it just does not flow..
That critic got to me – obviously I jumped into hotting up my writing too quickly, my endorphins took over my fingers and I deserved that reprimand. Since then I have read the comments coming in with greater initial respect. At least in the eyes of one reader I made the grade because a little later 'Ronnie' wrote: "A rollicking good story." Whether he is critically astute to make such a judgment on behalf it was satisfing to know that I'd pleased one reader.
"It is unacceptable to make married women into promiscuous sluts." I'd only been aware vaguely that I had done that as turning a woman into a slut was not my motive for writing that particular story – she sought excitement and got it – usually only at one end in my writing. As defenders of author under attack sometimes say, "Dammit, it's only a story!" I concluded that for me it is acceptable to make a married woman into a slut just as it is acceptable to write at the other end of the scale regarding morality and write about a young couple having tentative sex and then getting married. I find it no more difficult making married women into promiscuous sluts than I do making married men into promiscuous sluts and, with me, inevitably they enjoy it and not always without consequences.
We are all aware, are we not, that every action has a consequence? So in emailing me that such writing was unacceptable (unacceptable to whom the respondent did not say) the consequence was to encourage some steamy outpourings into postings on the Lit website from me.
Typically useful comments for me include:
"They didn't get to fuck – please write the sequel and get them going hot, hot."
"You stories would be easier to read if you defined chapters."
"Your story is too slow and ponderous, with not enough sex in it. This is an Adult Website. I see there is more to follow so could you please get focused and have them acting as horny adults."
Ah, yes. Judging from some of the emails received, some readers are also horny adults, abusive adults and not particularly skilled at communicating; but providing they explain themselves adequately then they're probably not wasting their time in passing on their thoughts.
Of course, critics/commentators don't know everything but then neither do authors. Therefore it's good to have both.