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tWR Critiques You!

Journal Entry: Fri May 2, 2014, 8:45 AM



When we posted THIS POLL, I knew my fate was sealed. No joke, putting HugQueen in any such poll will end up with her owning it and then us being left with the impossible task I'm about to tell you all about. Which I too late realised is a terrible, terrible one. :stare:

As you all must know by now, theWrittenRevolution is a critique(and mutual improvement!)-oriented group: deviantART as a whole, really, used to be less social, less about "hey this is my work all come here and comment on it and praise me!" and more about improving as an artist, of any media. tWR, among other groups, is here to keep that aspect of dA alive, and we're always looking for new ideas to make our members participate and get better at writing.

When DailyLitDeviations was reborn as DailyLitRecognition, I left a comment on a journal of theirs about this, and in my comment, one of the things I said was
"create interactive articles that show the strong points of the writing, the weaker ones, the mistakes that could have happened but haven't and find more experienced writers that can write those articles well enough to have beginners, or intermediate level writers, understand and absorb some knowledge from them and still say "hell, that was good writing" without thinking "I'll never write like that"."

And I really liked that idea. :giggle: So much so that I talked about it with the other admins and theWrittenRevolution approved it, so we'll be doing a blog series featuring works from our members, commenting on the good and bad aspects and explaining not only what is wrong, but why it is, and what is good and why.

The poll we posted a few days ago was simply to have you members decide which admin would have to put forward a piece to be critiqued by me in the first blog entry of the new series. Yeah, it's that bad. :lol: you all chose Stephany (HugQueen) and she's so sweet and her gallery so amazing that it's really hard to even think of doing something like critiquing anything of hers. :XD:

However, you know what I noticed going through her deviations? On a LOT of them, she mentions deviants who helped her polish her piece thanks to their amazing critiques. Also, she writes a lot of collaborations, which being the work of two minds instead of one, are much more polished because one corrects each other's mistakes.
That helps a lot understanding why her writing got steadily better over the years: she asked for honest critique, and people helped her and she took their words seriously enough, and humbly enough, to accept that her work needed editing to become better. That's what a lot of writers lack right now, the ability to admit that even though critique is sometimes hard to swallow, it is given in their best interest and they shouldn't be afraid of editing their work. After all, you can always keep the original if the second, third, fourth and so on version don't resemble what you wanted it to anymore!

But let's get down to critiquing! It was really hard to find a piece in her gallery recent enough to display her current skills, and that wasn't either a collaboration or hadn't already been critiqued on by someone else and so, had already been heavily worked on. :XD: damn you, people who voted on the poll and chose the beautiful Stephany.

The work we'll be critiquing today is...


Into the Arms of StarsShe is pressing her palms up against the metal frame of the ferris wheel, a nervous smile dancing across her face. With wonder swelling along her fingertips and grace protruding from each footstep, she takes her seat. The lights from games bounce and twirl across her cheeks as happiness surrounds her every movement. She gazes up at the sky, eyes locked on the wisps of clouds, lips parted and trembling. The ride click,click,clicks to a start, crawling its way above candy-cotton stained stands. Her hands fidget, grasping endless amounts of air before she reaches for the safety of the seat-belt.
Concern dissipates from her face as the stars grow closer, humming hushed melodies in between each shimmer. The wheel continues to ascend into the arms of the stars, until there is nothing but a tiny gap between her and them. Trees reach out in the distance, pulling the breeze with tender leaves. The sounds down below become muffled, a soothing murmur of laughter and music as the carriage r

Into the Arms of Stars

It is a very short story, and I recommend you to open it in a tab and keep it at hand to follow the critique! (: As I mentioned above, the critique will focus on both bad and good things of the piece, explaining what is good/bad and why so everyone understands and can possibly gain some more knowledge.

(thought this was interesting to mention: the first thing I check before I even start reading the piece is its category, first to get an idea of what I'm about to read, second so I can tell the deviant if they mis-categorised their writing once I'm done reading)

I'll first be highlighting what I think are points that need improvement, then go over what is good about it.

"She is pressing her palms up against the metal frame of the ferris wheel, a nervous smile dancing across her face. With wonder swelling along her fingertips and grace protruding from each footstep, she takes her seat."

I underlined one of my two complaints with this part. "pressing up against" something makes it seem like what the protagonist is pressing is higher than them, hovering over them or so, and it's an image that feels weird to me because of the second sentence, where a nervous smile is mentioned. To me, it's more likely that the character is holding the sides of the ferris wheel, which are probably at around elbows' height at the most, for security and/or fear.

My second complaint, which is found throughout the prose apart from the last sentence, if anything, is that sentences are really short. If this was converted into poetry, I can imagine each sentence being its own stanza, like a couplet poem, but like this it makes the reading a bit chopped, like the action is happening in divided sections and not flowing all together as one. Longer sentences would probably need a different wording/structure, but I feel like they could improve the piece a lot -- right now, the action feels very slow and that is bad, in my opinion, because what's happening are things that would take seconds.

"She gazes up at the sky, eyes locked on the wisps of clouds, lips parted and trembling. The ride click,click,clicks to a start, crawling its way above candy-cotton stained stands. Her hands fidget, grasping endless amounts of air before she reaches for the safety of the seat-belt."

Ha, ha, the "wisps of clouds" making me think of wispofcloud. :lol: /random
I underlined candy-cotton because I really don't like how the words are inverted. :XD: it feels unnatural, and made me stop reading for a second. I have no other complaints specifically, apart from how the action feels chopped because of all the short periods, which I already mentioned.

"Concern dissipates from her face as the stars grow closer, humming hushed melodies in between each shimmer. The wheel continues to ascend into the arms of the stars, until there is nothing but a tiny gap between her and them. Trees reach out in the distance, pulling the breeze with tender leaves. The sounds down below become muffled, a soothing murmur of laughter and music as the carriage rocks with caution."

The wheel being the subject of the first part of the sentence makes it a bit weird when in the second part "her" is the protagonist, and not the wheel. If the words "continues to ascend" were changed to something as simple as "slowly pushes her up" or even "continues to ascend her"(if grammatically correct?) which includes the protagonist, I feel the sentence would be improved lots. Also, I bolded that "the" because it's not in the title of the prose, and in my opinion, it either gets put in there or goes away from the prose. :giggle: it's me being over-precise, though, so feel free to kick me in the head Stephy.
Also, considering the wheel moves up pretty slow, I would consider adding in "the sounds down below become muffled" an idea of the fact that it's not a sudden thing, like one second ago they were clear and now they're not. "become increasingly muffled", "become more and more muffled", the choice is up to you of course.

"As the ferris wheel sighs, cradling its passengers as it descends each carriage to the ground, she is no longer afraid."

The only nitpick is the double use of "as" in the single paragraph. I love the first one too much, so the only option in my idea would be to reword that second one. If you do indeed change that "continues to ascend" using other words, using "descends" here is not so necessary anymore to me, so you could even change verb if it helps editing.



Now to the good points about this...



HugQueen's vocabulary is sort of endless. :XD: her imagery is amazing and she's very clever with the words she chooses. "with wonder swelling", "stained stands", "humming hushed" just to mention a few assonances/consonances she used in the prose itself... you can tell she knows what she's doing. She'll try to say otherwise, but yeah, just read any other work from her if you need the confirmation that she can write really, really well.

But let's look at Stephy's evolution over the years...

Because we do know how awesome she is now, and we all want to know how she did this. So I'll give you three pieces from her gallery to read, which will help you notice her growth during time!

You CanThe tears fell quicker than a summer thunderstorm; they hit her faster than the lightning that scared her as a child. It called to her, the sound of death and sang it's lulling song but she would not hear it. Covering her ears like a child would when something disagreeable is said to them she slid down the wall, weeping uncontrollably.
It couldn't  happen. No, no, no. It couldn't. The words fell from her trembling lips into silent lakes and rivers on her callous, wooden floors. She shifted her weight, now dragging her numb legs to her body and holding them to her chest. Her sobs were heavy and weighted in the damp, morning air; she struggled to breathe in the oxygen she so wish to force out.
Time became a wonderland of snow and ice, spring and flowers--a mix of two vastly different concepts that, somehow, made sense. The ragged breathing, that came from her shaking form heaved with each exhale, morphed into quick tiny breaths of frustration. It shouldn't have happen

You Can, the first submitted deviation in her featured gallery. (: it's way back from 2008, and hopefully she doesn't hate that I featured this. I meant no harm, promise!

This piece was submitted for a contest, and it is about cancer. Let me highlight a few things within the writing that I found, that weren't there later on:
  • punctuation is not always perfect, especially the use of commas here and there;
  • some imagery is a bit cliché, read the first paragraph for a couple of examples -- in contrast, some other things are amazingly well thought and creative. This is usually a sign of someone who has potential, but has just began tapping into it;
  • some spelling mistakes. Granted, those happen to the very best, but there are a few in this piece and considering it was submitted for a contest, I'm forced to think they were a mistake caused by distraction. I am pretty sure Stephany learned to revise her pieces so much over the years that this will hardly happen in any of her latest works!


Same Heart, Different ChestThe silence in his arms
spoke all the words
between a thousand years
and yesterday.
He told me:
"You could not have forgotten my face."
I had.
I am spray painting black doves
on the bellies of his walls,
but his walls were made of paper.
They folded and withered
as paint kissed cardboard barriers;
sleep would have taken me
if invisible entities
didn't pry my eyes awake.
In return, he made the galaxies
churning in my lungs rearrange,
and sideswipe into my heart.
Sixty-four years is too long
for anyone to hold their breath.

Same Heart, Different Chest is from 2010, so two years later. Let's read this and see what we can get out of it!

First off, the difference will blow you away. :XD: it sure did for me.
  • You can immediately tell that her imagery evolved in a terrific way, especially the third and fourth stanza give it away. I am not completely happy with the first stanza admittedly, the thing about "silence being more than a thousand words" is a bit of an overused idea, but I like how she put it as "the silence in his arms", it's a different take on the usual subject and I, in the end, approved;
  • punctuation is perfect. Poetry is perhaps even trickier than prose when it comes to getting punctuation right, and she did. Definitely an improvement.
  • no spelling mistakes that I could find! :la:

The nitpick with this is the third stanza, and the contrast with the first two (second being simply "I had.", but it counts as stanza right? :lol:). The subject changes abruptly, and I still right now have a bit of trouble keeping in mind what it changes to, maybe the imagery is even overly cryptic? Also, the third stanza starts out as present tense, then goes back to past like before, which is kept until the very end. But whereas it makes sense in the ending stanza, that first one in the third one is sort of weird.

As you can see, the things I found "wrong" (which aren't necessarily even wrong, you know? They are points of view, in this case, whereas in the first deviation from her gallery the points I brought up were more objective than subjective. This is a big turning point for any writer, when what is critiqued on isn't all a flat-out mistake, but some things are ones that can vary according to the reader)

SorrowbirdI watched him flap helplessly between the teeth of a barbwire fence, screeching for help.
"Papa, look Papa! A boy!"
My papa stood dazed for a moment, dust billowing at his legs, his eyes teetering along the field. It wasn't until later that evening he told me he hadn't understood what I had seen. What he had seen.
With grass tickling the backsides of my legs, I bounded toward the boy, "What are you doing? Are you okay?"
As I approached him, I felt his skittish eyes rake across my every movement. With his ten-year-old arms slung inside the gaping maw of a fence and darkened feathers pasted along the creases of his face; he looked squarely at me. I could hear his bird-bones quaking at my voice, he pushed harder against the fence. I winced for him.
"Hold still, we'll get you out," I turned back to my papa who stood alongside the road, "Papa," I pleaded, "Please! Help him!"
Reaching out, I touched his shoulder, "Don't be afraid. We're going to help you."
He didn't pull away from me. I thou

Sorrowbird is a piece of hers from 2012, written after the idea to write about someone who thinks he's a bird. The piece IS a bit long, but I urge you to read it because it's really beautiful!
(just to give you an idea, also, this got a DD! I didn't know until I finished reading it, but it makes total sense that it did. There's a lot of work put into it. :heart:)

In this story, you can see just how much HugQueen has improved. The imagery is perfectly done, neither overly present nor too light to be noticed, and constant attention is paid to the relation between the subject of the story and anything said about the boy/bird (I'm referring to the constant bird references when Evelyn is talking about him).
There are a couple of weird tenses here and there, but at the same time she mentions in her Artist's Comment how there might be, and to let her know if anyone finds any that is just too jarring.
The story has a great evolution overall, it's original and has its own strength.


Conclusions


From the above, it is easy to see just how much Stephany grew as a writer since joining. Her style and skills' evolution is so evident just from reading a few scattered pieces in her gallery! I seriously had the most awful situation when needing to critique her deviation "Into the Arms of Stars" up at the beginning of this blog entry because I knew I'd have to be nitpicking like hell since I know how good of a writer she is. :faint:

But the point of this blog was to show all of you how everyone starts from the bottom, and how you never really finish growing as a writer. HugQueen has a great privilege, the one of having English as her native language, but nonetheless it is the constant effort both when it comes to writing and reading (which is more important than you might think! Reading builds your unconscious knowledge a LOT. You are learning and you don't even know it! Our brain is a sponge, it absorbs everything. Don't underestimate it.) that puts her where she is now. As you read above, her writing isn't flawless - and no one's writing ever will be! The important thing is striving to grow, as slow or as fast as you wish to and can. Never think you're an accomplished writer, not even if you've been published or are becoming a successful author.

When you're feeling like you're never getting anywhere, that your writing will never be as good as the one of all those people up there who got all those DDs and features and senior membership and stuff, come back here and check out this series of features, and read again what I just said up there! The first feature was indeed about someone pretty famous within the community, but the best thing is that the next ones will be made on a member of theWrittenRevolution, and it could be any of you!

Wait, what?You'll feature my work?


:giggle: indeed! Do you, as a member, have any deviation that you have submitted to us more than a week ago and hasn't received enough feedback? Would you want the admin team to give you some in-depth constructive criticism on it, and check out your gallery for a chance to show not only the community, but you, how much your writing has evolved since you joined here, and what are its strong and weak points?

The poll has been posted, and in its comments you can post a link to the deviation you'd want us to critique. We'll pick a random deviation among the comments we'll get on there, and the next article will be up in two weeks' time. :la:

An article series that will aim to critique deviations from theWrittenRevolution's gallery that haven't received enough feedback yet. We'll choose one every two weeks, critique it in-depth and then explore the deviant's gallery to show other people their improvement over time, in hopes of helping them understand a bit better that every good thing requires time to happen. :giggle:

The first feature was going to be on an admin's gallery, and THIS POLL chose IrrevocableFate!

Show your support by faving this journal! :D the more people get to see this, the more we can help. (:
Add a Comment:
 
:iconwispofcloud:
wispofcloud Featured By Owner May 3, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Haha, thanks for the random mention, it made me chuckle. :D

Also, lovely example of an in depth critique. I'm sure I'll be coming back many times to reference this.
Reply
:iconthemaideninblack:
TheMaidenInBlack Featured By Owner May 4, 2014
:XD: it made me also. I had to mention it, so I'm glad you didn't mind.

Thanks! I'm glad it's getting approval, I really hope it is.
Reply
:iconvigilo:
Vigilo Featured By Owner May 2, 2014  Student Writer
:clap: Gorgeous. :heart:
Reply
:iconthemaideninblack:
TheMaidenInBlack Featured By Owner May 3, 2014
:love:
Reply
:iconunenglishable:
unenglishable Featured By Owner May 2, 2014
This is very touching.  I really like how you went back to look at previous work.
Reply
:iconthemaideninblack:
TheMaidenInBlack Featured By Owner May 3, 2014
:D glad you liked it! I feel it really helps understanding someone's improvement.
Reply
:iconsilverinkblot:
SilverInkblot Featured By Owner May 2, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Glad to see you did something with the idea :D
Reply
:iconthemaideninblack:
TheMaidenInBlack Featured By Owner May 2, 2014
:dummy: you should consider it also! It was a real fun to do, and made me feel like I know a lot more about IrrevocableFate. (: it was time-consuming, I'll admit, but the first blog of a series always is. I trust it will become more and more effortless as time goes on!
Reply
:iconhugqueen:
HugQueen Featured By Owner May 3, 2014   Writer
:glomp:
Reply
:iconthemaideninblack:
TheMaidenInBlack Featured By Owner May 3, 2014
:heart: :hug:
Reply
:iconsilverinkblot:
SilverInkblot Featured By Owner May 2, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I'm afraid DLR has enough on it's plate, and, consequently, so do I :XD:
Reply
:iconthemaideninblack:
TheMaidenInBlack Featured By Owner May 2, 2014
:lol: good point. Maybe we can do a collaboration between our Groups someday! :P
Reply
:iconallvideosown:
AllVideosOwn Featured By Owner May 2, 2014  Student Writer
Omfg your casual humor with these critiques is perfect. Were you the one who wrote it, HtBlack?
Reply
:iconthemaideninblack:
TheMaidenInBlack Featured By Owner May 2, 2014
:lol: was that so evident? 
A blog as long as this one can easily become too long without something put here and there!

Haha, I'm glad it amused you, and that its purpose was achieved!
Reply
:iconallvideosown:
AllVideosOwn Featured By Owner May 2, 2014  Student Writer
Did you write it? :la:
Reply
:iconthemaideninblack:
TheMaidenInBlack Featured By Owner May 2, 2014
Guilty of that, yes. :giggle:
Reply
:iconallvideosown:
AllVideosOwn Featured By Owner May 2, 2014  Student Writer
GASPkay.
I'm not sure whether to start posting things to the group or not, it seem like such a big thing to do lol.
Reply
:iconthemaideninblack:
TheMaidenInBlack Featured By Owner May 2, 2014
:D it feels like a big thing only before you start. The rules are so simple, it's just that at first it's all overwhelming I guess. :P first find something in our galleries that needs some critique, you give it to them, you submit to us your work - that must be in English, under 1500 words (or under 3000 for the Longer Works folder!) and not too mature - with some feedback questions for our members, and link to the critique you just wrote. THAT'S IT. :la:
Reply
:iconallvideosown:
AllVideosOwn Featured By Owner May 2, 2014  Student Writer
How do you link to a comment? :/
Reply
:iconthemaideninblack:
TheMaidenInBlack Featured By Owner May 3, 2014
If you look at this reply I just sent you, you'll see at the top it says "HtBlack posted a REPLY on ...". If you hover on the word "reply" you'll see it's a link, click on it and it will take to you to the comment/reply page, and you just copy the URL of that page and put it in your Artist's comments specifying it's the link to the critique you gave. :D If it's too complicated, you can give a link to the piece you wrote a critique on, and we can look for it in the comments. (:
Reply
(1 Reply)
:iconhugqueen:
HugQueen Featured By Owner May 2, 2014   Writer
I've been critiqued! :noes: YOU COULD BE NEXT. :iconwooooplz:
Reply
:iconthemaideninblack:
TheMaidenInBlack Featured By Owner May 2, 2014
:iconitsjosephplz:
Reply
:iconhugqueen:
HugQueen Featured By Owner May 2, 2014   Writer
JOSEPH. gasp 
Reply
:iconrieal-dragonsbane:
Rieal-Dragonsbane Featured By Owner May 2, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Wow, that was a great article! This is an amazing idea! :eager:
Reply
:iconthemaideninblack:
TheMaidenInBlack Featured By Owner May 2, 2014
Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it, it was a really exciting idea and I'm glad the other admins approved of it. (: be sure to look out for the poll when it comes out, if you have any deviation that is in our gallery that needs more feedback put the link and you might get featured next!
Reply
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