Criticism leading to hiatus

#1
So I’m not one to state my option on particular stories. Besides spelling errors. However I’ve noticed a worrying pattern. It goes as following

1. The author release a new chapter.
2. A lot of readers comment about something they dislike about the particular chapter.  Often it’s the same thing they “complain” about.
3. Author goes on hiatus, sometimes just after fixing whatever the readers dislike.
4. I get paranoid about giving any negative feedback because it’s not worth losing the story.

Re: Criticism leading to hiatus

#2
I think it can be hard for writers when receiving such a copious amount of negative feedback, and obviously people should put their mental health first. I think as a commenter it's important to be constructive as well, and mention the things you did like in a chapter and advice on how to fix whatever you didn't. The good parts of the comments are what give writers (especially ones just getting used to having their work seen) the confidence to keep going. I think it's tragic how people's callous remarks damage people's confidence in their story. Everyone says write for yourself first, but I imagine it's not easy if people are harsh day after day. 'Writers need to develop thick skin' is easy to say, but I'm sure it isn't always easy to apply.

Re: Criticism leading to hiatus

#3
It is not the reader's fault for the writer taking criticism poorly. I think everyone forgets that the readers are the ones reading and promoting our novels. The more we push the blame onto our critics and readers, the more they won't want to read anything on here because no one has enough of a backbone to take and give honest feedback. I don't want this site to end up being a circlejerk like reddit.

Re: Criticism leading to hiatus

#4

Tridetect Wrote: It is not the reader's fault for the writer taking criticism poorly.
I agree with the sentiment here, but some readers can make vicious comments that remind the writer all too well that they're (most likely) not getting paid for this, so why should they deal with the abuse with nothing to show for it? There's a difference between constructive feedback and criticism for the sake of criticism (or even just rude comments)

Re: Criticism leading to hiatus

#5
When giving criticism on a story or offering advice, like corrections to grammar or pointing out plot holes, center the beef you have with the story between compliments. 

Say something nice and point out what you like about the story or the author.

Inform the author that you're about to offer advice or point out mistakes.

Point out said mistakes and/or offer advice.

Say something else that is nice about the story and tell the author they're doing a great job, and/or that you're looking forward to reading more.

The End.

😸

Re: Criticism leading to hiatus

#6
Just make sure you're being balanced, and also just let the author know what you like about the story too. That could just be enough to keep them going. 
And I also find that if you are giving constructive criticism, then it's better to focus on one or two things that might need 'fixing' as a priority. Say if a story/chapter was riddled with basic punctuation errors and grammar issues, I wouldn't also consider telling them about the issues with the actual plot. The priority for that author will be to make it readable before then focussing on other things. 
Oh and while I'm thinking about it, I ALSO think that giving examples for a solution might help as well. I think I might take feedback better if the giver has considered the issue themselves and not just barfed up their opinion and expecting me to fix it. Besides, their opinion might not even be right, but if there's a rationale or suggestion (depending on the feedback) then it just shows the reader wants to help and not be a pain. 

Re: Criticism leading to hiatus

#8
I think one thing that gets forgotten is how new (in the history of publishing) getting comments by chapter is. It can actually be more brutal than getting one review of an entire work and it's routinely done to writers just starting out. Self-publish a book in its entirety and you may get some bad reviews that sting, but they are one and done. But if you're publishing a chapter every other day, you could be getting critical thrashings essentially in real-time all week, possibly on the same topic.  While I think open channels for feedback here are important, I do understand how that could prove a bit much for hobby writers or new writers.

Re: Criticism leading to hiatus

#9

Tridetect Wrote: The more we push the blame onto our critics and readers, the more they won't want to read anything on here because no one has enough of a backbone to take and give honest feedback.
I don't know if these writers are blaming their readers, I think they're more just saying to themselves 'people don't like this, so I don't think I'll bother anymore. Thinking about it just makes me feel like shit', and that's just their own personal journey. There's no blame there.

I mean sure, maybe some of them are blaming the audience, & obviously that's just childish and unproductive in terms of improving one's craft - but I don't think it's the majority of cases. After all, some people can just be assholes and very unhelpful in the comments. Other readers are great and lovely, and those moments of people enjoying what you do is greatly satisfying, but people have the unfortunate tendency to remember the bad reviews better than the good ones. It does depend on the writer obviously, and some can power through the bad times. That perseverance is what gives writers enough practice to become great, but not everyone cares to be the best writer. Some just want to share ideas and characters and when it stops being fun, it stops.

At the end of the day, most writers are just people who do this for fun. So yes if readers consistently tell an author enough that they suck at their hobby there's a chance they might not want to do it anymore, at least not in front of those readers. I think its a perfectly human response. It's totally their call whether to have their work public or not, and if it being public is a net negative to their lives and just makes them feel like shit, why would they continue? I think you'd find that literally anywhere work is published. 

That's why I advocate for constructive feedback that both helps the writer to improve while also reinforcing that sharing their work is enjoyable. I mean, if the goal is to be honest rather than just mean. If there is genuinely nothing good to say about a chapter, there are still ways to tell people in a way that isn't just 'this sucks'. Like some advice on how to make future chapters better. If you actually want to engage with the piece rather than just tear it down. 

Re: Criticism leading to hiatus

#11
I feel like a masochisms by wanting harsh comments. I started writing to improve and I am actively wishing to get a hard comment since something can still be learned from them. I can understand it can be hard on people that care for the things they do. Its the same thing for every workplace. Its hard to say something bad to someone that has done something for a long time.

But when a comment come, no matter what it mean, it first had an intention. "Well duhh I hope it does" you might say. But what I would recommends is to try to first understand this intention before the comment itself. Even if the comment is mean, it could come from good intention.
If the comment had bad intention then why care? Your day can already be hard and taking this too deeply only make it worse.
If it can help, think of the comment with bad intention like you stubbing your toe on something. It suck yes! But it won't hurt by tomorrow... unless you somehow broke it...
Pleasing everyone is impossible. This is why election exist.

So, if you make a comment, your day and time is always better spent being happy and sharing this happiness. There is no need to live angry and show it. It's a bad way to live.
When reading a mean comment, in the end, it's only a comment. A small rock in your wonderful life. Don't let it block your path!

Re: Criticism leading to hiatus

#12

Tridetect Wrote: It is not the reader's fault for the writer taking criticism poorly.


This is true, but it's also more complicated than a simple cause-and-effect relationship. People don't go from, "Writing is awesome!" to, "I quit" overnight.

A lot of these authors who quit were probably on the verge of quitting already, and those comments were the straw that broke the camel's back.

Imagine this scenario:

It's Friday night, and an author has just finished his latest chapter. It took him two days longer than expected, and he's still not happy with it. Everything just felt right in his last arc, but now things are stalling. It took him a full day of brainstorming to get all the characters in the proper places. Even once they were all set up, the fight scene felt stilted and contrived, and he wasn't 100% happy with his MC's decision-making process. He feels like he's losing his touch as a writer, and he's dreading posting this chapter to the public. But he's probably overreacting, right? It's not as bad as he thinks. Besides, he promised his readers an update on Thursday night. He can't let them down.

So he posts the chapter, hoping he'll get some encouraging comments.

They roll over the next few hours:

Commenter 1: Seriously? Why did the MC have to get involved here? A blithering idiot like her deserves to die.

Commenter 2: The MC just makes me angry with her dumb and illogical thinking. She has about the mental complexity of a tree.

Commenter 3: What a terrible, contrived chapter.

Commenter 4: This story started out strong, but these last few chapters have felt boring and contrived. If things don't improve, I'll be dropping it, and leaving a steaming half-star review.

Notice how the comments aren't random. They struck the author's exact insecurities about his own work, confirming his own worries. The worst troll is the one inside your own head. It's one thing to deal with that every day, but things get harder when a stranger holds up a megaphone to it.

And if it seems like I'm being hyperbolic to prove a point, these are all re-phased comments from my own stories. These aren't even the worst comments either, they're just the first ones I found that illustrated the point.

Do writers need a thick skin? Absolutely. 

But at the same time, humans are hard-wired to seek other people's approval. For our ancestors, the approval of the tribe was essential for survival. 

Even twenty years ago, authors didn't have mobs of angry strangers reacting to their very worst scenes and chapters. They published full books back then, and many people forget the boring chapters when it came time to write a review.

It's definitely not the commenters' fault when an author quits. After all, I received those comments from above and I'm still writing, so it's obviously possible to ignore stuff like that. But that's not because I'm more talented, or because I have thicker skin than those authors who gave up. I owe a lot of my success to my support network—the people who told me they liked the story, and who told me to keep writing. 

But what about new authors who lack a support network like that? I can't blame them for wanting to quit.

Re: Criticism leading to hiatus

#13
Of course it happens, humans aren't made to handle hordes of mad readers yelling them down about something they poured their soul into.

I am not even going to try and explain why, but just put out the fact that nearly all of the biggest stories no longer engage with RR comments or at least try to actively avoid them (it can be very hard despite how damaging it is). This alone should make one consider if perhaps the issue isn't with the authors, but the way people have learned to deliver feedback online.

Also, people say you can't blame the readers when authors quit... yes you fucking can. I was THIS close to quitting after I hit a particularly rough patch in the story, coupled with Trending really taking off and raking in hundreds of comments every single chapter. When it feels like the entire comment section is against you and complaining, you seriously begin to reconsider if posting the story online is really worth it. I know of authors who have quit over negativity too, or if you want an example outside of RR, just look at William Osman. A Youtuber with 2.5 million subscribers... who quit due to toxicity:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVCpKfedfok

I am fully aware that 95% of people never comment to begin with, over 4% are positive, and only a small fraction actually spread this toxicity... but it still hurts. So yeah, best advice would be to stop being a fucking asshole online, and if you are being an asshole, don't complain when the author decides dealing with your shit isn't worth it. If I wasn't making good money publishing here, I would be fucking gone tomorrow.

Finally... I love how it is only smaller authors who go with "lol just get a thicker skin" or "I don't care what readers think lol." Yeah, that ain't how the human brain works. And no, you can't predict how you will react until you are actually experiencing it yourself. I also thought that I didn't care, and for the longest time I didn't, but shit wears you down, and when your story suddenly becomes tied to your livelihood it gets way worse.

Re: Criticism leading to hiatus

#15

Atheos Wrote: 4. I get paranoid about giving any negative feedback because it’s not worth losing the story.


Now that's very interesting. It's very pragmatic, and I can't blame you at all. On the other hand, if an author does not wish to have negative feedback of any kind, should we give them any feedback at all? Posting on RR is implicit consent to community, and community means others' opinions matter. It's not a one-way street. On that note, if the author decides to go on hiatus, that is their own decision and I would support it--I wouldn't judge them poorly for it. 

I think I would leave honest feedback, negative or not, because my experience is that harsh but fair criticism can push me toward excellence. Abusive comments may be difficult to withstand, but presumably there is a some process in place to deal with this (like the block button or reporting to admins), so I assume that we are not referring to outright abusive comments or reviews for this discussion.  


Acusiont Wrote:
Tridetect Wrote: It is not the reader's fault for the writer taking criticism poorly.
I agree with the sentiment here, but some readers can make vicious comments that remind the writer all too well that they're (most likely) not getting paid for this, so why should they deal with the abuse with nothing to show for it? There's a difference between constructive feedback and criticism for the sake of criticism (or even just rude comments)



Kathy Wrote:
Tridetect Wrote: The more we push the blame onto our critics and readers, the more they won't want to read anything on here because no one has enough of a backbone to take and give honest feedback.

That's why I advocate for constructive feedback that both helps the writer to improve while also reinforcing that sharing their work is enjoyable. I mean, if the goal is to be honest rather than just mean. If there is genuinely nothing good to say about a chapter, there are still ways to tell people in a way that isn't just 'this sucks'. Like some advice on how to make future chapters better. If you actually want to engage with the piece rather than just tear it down.


Since the original poster stated that they hesitate to leave negative feedback for fear of losing the story to hiatus (an indication of enjoyment), I am not sure why the discussion in this thread has shifted to condemn criticism for the sake of criticism or abusive commenters and reviewers. I do not believe that is the type of negative feedback Atheos was referring to. I am not bringing this up to be combative, but the thread is now focused on attacking a strawman, which I do not believe is productive. I think we are all aware that abusive comments or criticism that is not constructive is undesirable, uncivilized, and quite frankly, useless. The thrust of Atheos' concern seems to be that there is a reluctance to leave any negative feedback now, which is a different question than the one people are answering here. Has this thread propped up a strawman, or have I lost the plot here? 

Wyatt_Wriots Wrote: LOL I wish someone would leave any comment on my story at all.


Your wish has been granted, good sir. Enjoy! =)

Evra-Kaze Wrote: I feel like a masochisms by wanting harsh comments. I started writing to improve and I am actively wishing to get a hard comment since something can still be learned from them. I can understand it can be hard on people that care for the things they do. Its the same thing for every workplace. Its hard to say something bad to someone that has done something for a long time.


Out of curiosity, Evra-Kaze, are you from a non-English-speaking country? I am a first generation immigrant from a non-Anglosphere country and I've been around for...a while. I do think there is a bit of cultural phenomenon at play here. One of the core issues I've noticed while living here is that people in the Anglosphere tend to have an innate and coupled view of their skills and their self-concept. People in my home country do not--we believe that abilities can be improved and trying over and over, rather being naturally smart or talented, is incredibly laudable. So here, criticism of work quality is often conflated and coupled to personal traits, such as intelligence. I'm not sure what to do here, other than to integrate ideas of a growth-mindset in students from an early age. 

ArDeeBurger Wrote: When giving criticism on a story or offering advice, like corrections to grammar or pointing out plot holes, center the beef you have with the story between compliments...

EnhancedBeing Wrote: Just make sure you're being balanced...

I think the two of you have nailed the art of giving good feedback, even when it is negative. As readers, commenters, and reviewers, being kind but still useful to other readers and to the writer in question is, I think, the best we can do. If the writer reacts negatively to this--well, that's out of our hands. 

Cheers,
bokhi

Re: Criticism leading to hiatus

#16

bokhi Wrote:
Evra-Kaze Wrote: I feel like a masochisms by wanting harsh comments. I started writing to improve and I am actively wishing to get a hard comment since something can still be learned from them. I can understand it can be hard on people that care for the things they do. Its the same thing for every workplace. Its hard to say something bad to someone that has done something for a long time.


Out of curiosity, Evra-Kaze, are you from a non-English-speaking country? I am a first generation immigrant from a non-Anglosphere country and I've been around for...a while. I do think there is a bit of cultural phenomenon at play here. One of the core issues I've noticed while living here is that people in the Anglosphere tend to have an innate and coupled view of their skills and their self-concept. People in my home country do not--we believe that abilities can be improved and trying over and over, rather being naturally smart or talented, is incredibly laudable. So here, criticism of work quality is often conflated and coupled to personal traits, such as intelligence. I'm not sure what to do here, other than to integrate ideas of a growth-mindset in students from an early age.
Ho no. I got found out. Me a French drinking maple syrup. Still, I think the issues lay more with the amount of time people partake in a certain skill. If you think about a painter, when he is starting and is a beginner, saying something like " your art is too red. " will either confuse them or help them. But lets say you tell the same thing to Picasso. For him, it could be hard to understand " your art is too red " since his skill and knowledge are to a certain standard. To really help him, you would need to describe what part is too red and why it is, compared with the other part of his painting. well... being Picasso he might get an epiphany and make a master piece from just that, but as the "maker skill increase" the skill from the "observer" also need to increase to still be useful.  

A lot of time, people that make comment don't have the energies, the times, or the will needed to craft an idea of value. 
And often, it can be frustrating to not be able to understand something or to make use of it.
Both reader and writer need to be open to the other. This is something that can be hard to make happen.
Those that read and those that write have different objective and mindset. For some writer, writing is closer to a work while for the reader, reading is more of a pastime.
Some clash are bound to happen. 
For me, I don't mind the hard comment since I am already close with failure as I wish to improve. So I make mistake and I realize them. Actively trying to put some hardship in my way. But it's something that can be tiring and why some don't take criticism well. Normally, no happiness come from being criticize. We are all human and human love happiness.
This is why giving compliments with criticisms is good.

Re: Criticism leading to hiatus

#18
The first comment I got in here, was from someone telling me they won't read justified text or my story, because of me using it.
Very polite, and gentlemanly other than that. DrakanMelt
I was so stunned at the fast rejection, having just published my first chapter, I couldn't understand
what I was reading and actually went and checked, whether an earlier draft got published by mistake.
But i like it. I like seeing the reactions now, good and bad. Its fresh, raw. The good, more than the bad of course :D
I've been writing and publishing my stories for ten years already, but this social aspect in RR is great.
People just have to be respectful and considerate in their critique, cultured in their interactions, authors and readers alike.
At least that is what I think. FancyDrakan

Re: Criticism leading to hiatus

#19
The best way I found to deal with it as an author was to simply delete any negative comments without responding. There's a difference between constructive criticism and hate comments. The first few comments on a chapter set the tone for the readers afterwards and it's amazing how miraculous it can be by deleting the bad ones. Suddenly someone else who enjoyed the chapter posts a comment and everyone else jumps on the bandwagon. As they say "don't feed the trolls"

Re: Criticism leading to hiatus

#20
I love good feed back and criticism. I look for ideas and concepts that maybe I have overlooked. I approach my writing with the idea that there is no bad feedback. It secures me in my 'writing idealism' while warding off any negative thoughts. I can understand that some authors may be put off by a lot of negative feedback, or harsh criticisms. That's part of writing publicly though, I suppose. Adversity is everywhere. Twisting that adversity to constructive means though ... well it can be just as challenging as getting a new chapter out sometimes.

I am always up for reviewing someone else's works. Just hit me up. I will give you honest feedback on what my thoughts are.