FF – What Goes On Tour (rerun)

Rochelle has gifted us a re-run this week, to celebrate her anniversary leading us. I’m happy to take her up on it, so here’s the link to my story from October 2012.

She’s also challenged us to share some opinions about the group, so here are my two pet bugbears. Rider – they are just my opinions and are not intended to imply a criticism of anyone, least of all Rochelle, who does an incredible job of leading us.

1.  I joined the Fictioneers a few years earlier, when Madison Woods led the charge and the group was much smaller. One of the things I liked most about it was the availability of honest and constructive critique among the members. It was a small group back then; many people read all the stories but Madison’s suggestion was to read at least five, and leave comments. Back then, I did that, and sometimes more, and made a point of giving detailed critique where I could. I got the same back.

Over the years, the group has grown, diversified and changed. One thing that’s changed is the nature of the comments I receive. Now they are mostly short, positive and story-focused (as opposed to writing-focused). If I’m honest, I vastly preferred getting better-thought-out critique, even if that meant fewer comments. I struggle to get out to in-person writing groups these days, so that feedback and education is hard for me to get elsewhere.

2.  I  agree wholeheartedly with Rochelle about serialised stories. To me, the point of the challenge is to create a new story each week and the deal you strike with the group revolves around it being a 100 word commitment from your reader. Asking them to go back and read (or remember) previous installments makes that much harder.

Having said that, I know I often write lengthy introductions and sometimes my stories are part of a series. To me, that’s different. In both cases, readers are very welcome to skip straight to the exactly 100 words of story and ignore the rest. The stories stand alone, and if they don’t, it’s because they have failed, not because I’m expecting readers to hunt for clues elsewhere.

19 Comments

Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

19 responses to “FF – What Goes On Tour (rerun)

  1. Dear Jennifer,

    I’ve no problem with long intros. I usually do read them and I’m glad I did. I also realize it’s my prerogative to read or not. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and feelings. This is exactly what I asked for. I can always count on you to be honest.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    PS I remembered the ‘great smelt vs smelled debate’ but didn’t remember it being this story. I enjoyed reading the story again and the comments. 😉

    • The ‘great smelt v smelled debate’ – that’s quite the accolade! Glad you like the intros; I do appreciate readers’ time, hence my attempts to make it work even if you only have100 words’ worth of it for me

  2. I have to agree with your first point. It’s great to have a larger group, but we seem to have gotten away from critique, and I miss that.

    And I guess I have to agree with your second point. While I have written serials, and some of my more recent pieces feature recurring characters, I try to make each one stand alone.

    Anyhow, I don’t have much of a critique on your comments, but I always enjoy reading your pieces. 🙂

  3. I broadly agree with what you say, especially about comments being story rather than writing focused.
    I am always at a loss for a response to ‘What happens next?’
    Um, nothing, it is a 100-word story.
    As for recurring characters, this is obviously cool as long as the reader does not have to understand their background, etc, to follow the story.
    Liked your 3-year old tale!

    • Exactly what I mean about recurring characters v serializations, crate. I love being able to look at other chapters if I have time, but I’m disappointed if I don’t and can’t appreciate the story on its own.

  4. gahlearner

    I loved your story and had to laugh about the American/British spelling differences. This hit me hard when I first started writing. My school English was British, most of my reading was American… and I mixed up the whole thing constantly, still do although these days I try to write Canadian. 😉
    About the critique–I would wish more criticism, too, (don’t have a critique group, but a beta reader for longer texts) but in such a large group, I can’t see it happen, or couldn’t do it myself. It’s difficult enough to read the many entries and leave something at least slightly meaningful. Maybe smaller groups within the group where people who really want criticism link together (with something like the scalpel, but more personalized) and critique each other in detail, while others who don’t want this get less critical comments?
    I love intros.

  5. When I first joined there I remember only receiving feedback on the story.. which I do not mind at all.. a few times I have received what I would say are writing feedback, that are either language oriented (corrections) or plot related, which is more on how the story is constructed. I think maybe I lack the confidence to criticize…. so it’s hard when I seldom have received such feedback. I do try to read most of the stories, because to me that is a learning in itself….

  6. I too appreciate good critique, but have never felt confident enough in my own ability to give instruction. Even after spending six years in a writing group, I still feel woefully inadequate and unperceptive when analyzing the work of others. I can (and do) point out areas where I stumbled while reading their story or became confused.

    Thanks for bringing this up. I’ll try to be of some help in the future.

    • gahlearner

      I can relate. I also don’t feel comfortable criticizing the language, but I can tell if a plot works for me, if parts are difficult to understand, or perhaps could be worded in a way to understand better. Also, if I know that some people are willing to look deeper into the writing, I would feel comfortable asking questions about passages in my writing I feel insecure about. Maybe others would, too.

  7. “The stories stand alone, and if they don’t, it’s because they have failed, not because I’m expecting readers to hunt for clues elsewhere.” Who failed? The reader or the story? I think “they” would read better as “the stories” have failed.
    I agree with your comments and feel free to critic my work.
    Tracey

  8. I have to agree about the serials: if the episode can’t stand alone, I’m not really interested. As for critiquing, I used to do quite a lot, but I was never sure how it was being received, although I know that some of you always appreciated it. (I’m not saying I’m a supreme critic, just was always trying to help.)

    janet

  9. Dear Jennifer,
    I agree with all of your comments (and I always enjoy your writing), especially with your comment about wanting honest critiques.
    However, with a large group with which one doesn’t have more than a passing exchange of words, it’s harder to give it. One worries about hurt feelings, or bruised egos.
    As a school-teacher (taught English at an American public school for seventeen years, I had to be very careful with how I worded any feedback — and this, with students whom I saw every day for the entire school year. It’s, to put it mildly, dicey.
    Sometimes, I see errors of grammar, usage or punctuation in some of the FF posts. I try to just see the story for what it is, and comment on that. Sometimes, the story might be choppy, but the idea might be great. I try and focus on the latter.
    I feel hesitant about saying more, since I’ve seen how some insecure students viewed any feedback, no matter how positive (with helpful suggestions) as a blow to their pride or self-hood.
    If you start a smaller (closed) subgroup for critiques, I would love to be part of it for my longer pieces, especially.
    Warmly,
    Vijaya

  10. I still get a critique every now and then from some writers. Sometimes I take it as an affront and sometimes I appreciate it. I think it depends on who is doing the critiquing and how. I used to read all of the stories but I just don’t care to make the time for that any more. I’ve limited myself to those whose stories I typically enjoy and try to add an occasional “new person” every now and then. Even with that I am reading about 40 stories. I think that is enough. I have a novel on my bedside and another on the sofa table waiting for me to read.

  11. Jennifer , You once gave me a critique on my strory – to give the MC a name to make the story more personlized – I valued that and now spend time to think about an appropriate name where applicable. Rochelle also provides great feedback about grammar/tense etc.- all valuable.

    I do agree that most comments make an effort to stay positive – sometimes i don’t make any comments when the only thing that comes to mind is constructive criticism. Mainly because I don’t the person and not sure how they will take it.

    Maybe if everyone adds a line at the end or on the top of page asking for constructive feedback – assuring that they will take it in the right spirit – it can help determine who is open for critique. I ‘m going to implement my own idea next time 🙂

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