Wednesday, March 7, 2012

You Can't Please Everybody

I read through that stack of critiques from my fellow students regarding my latest short story.
This stack.
I admit I didn't go through that entire stack because some of it is copies of my story with edits written in (instead I read all the critiques), and I'm still thoroughly going through my professor's edited copy which I hold to be more valuable than the other edits which I may not even read through unless a person's critique prompts me to.

I am happy to report that I got a lot of good suggestions and input. Some of it was said in class and some wasn't. I made a list of all the suggestions and problems I found most useful, and I even made a list of the names of people who loved the story beyond an average amount, calling it the  "Fan List". There are a total of six names on the Fan List.
I also made a list of the people who did not like the story at all. Calling it the "Hit List" (sarcastically, I assure you). There are two names on the Hit List.
The class is 25 students, counting myself. That means 24% of the class loved my story, 8% hated it, 64% enjoyed it a normal amount (or didn't specify their opinion), and 4% wrote it (that's me).

I'm going to take the time to explain what some people said, and rebuttal their claims if necessary.
"As long as your story was, I read it fast because it kept my attention the whole time." 
 "Awesome story! The plot was really interesting, especially to me being a psychology major ... it's making my head spin, in a good way."
 "Wow. This story was awesome ... My favorite story of the class so far."
"All I can really say is wow. This is by far the best draft that I have read so far. I think that it is an extremely novel approach to writing."
"What did I like about it? A lot of things. I think this has great potential to be published."
"I kept reading because I wanted to figure it all out ... It almost seemed like an inside joke to the English world ... I am now questioning my own reality."
A special thank you to all the people who said these amazingly nice things. Others complimented my story, but you six praised it. It's hard to describe how it feels to read such wonderful comments from my intended audience. It reassures me that this is what I want to do with my life. Thank you all.
"Beyond page 2, I found it to be very uninteresting. I had to force myself to keep reading because it was an assignment, and I feel compelled to always complete assignments ... I had no vested interest in any of the characters, and the storyline was confusing."
"The punctuation in the entire story is horrible. Please take the time to learn how to punctuate [dialogue] properly. Without the proper punctuation the story becomes very difficult to read ... You have large chunks of exposition where a sentence or two would be more than enough ... I call it tedious because it doesn't add to the story ... By page 8 I was bored and wondering what the point was ... I was completely fed up with the story ... I was dreading having to read ten more pages of this. What was the point? ... plus do you have any idea what [rape] would be like for a girl?"
Hater #1, you were kind enough to give me constructive criticism, and I genuinely understand that the story can be hard to understand, especially when you lose interest after page two. It wasn't your cup of tea and I can respect that, and I thank you for giving it a fair shot by reading all the way through for the sake of your compulsion to complete assignments.
Hater #2, I can forgive you for not understanding the story because frankly you are not my demographic and you seemed to not read into the story beyond the face value of the printed words. I will reassure you though, that I do know what quotation marks are, and I'm sorry you spent so much time marking them around every line of dialogue in the story without realizing the significant reason they were missing. It would have helped if you were constructive with your criticism, and I wish you'd not been so harsh with your criticisms, but I still respect your opinion. Also I don't personally know how rape would feel, but I can imagine it would be intensely unpleasant, and I hope you realize that I did not intend to glorify it at all (hence why the victim in the story is traumatized by it). I'm very sorry if you felt I was somehow promoting rape.
There are just a few other comments I would like to address from people that seemed to neither completely love nor completely hate the story (though most of them expressed liking it)
"If you have a rape scene in your piece, or anything resembling a rape scene, you must include a trigger warning so people can either a. chose not to read it or b. be prepared to read it"
I can see how you would think that, because this is such a sensitive topic with  many people, and I see given the tone of the rest of the story how you would not be expecting this and be more disturbed by it. I will rebuttal by simply saying; isn't that the point?
"While other writers might find it amusing, this kind of meta-humor doesn't really appeal to a very wide audience. If you're okay with that, it's fine, but you should keep that in mind."
 This goes back to my previous point of my targeted demographic. I was writing this story for a Fiction Writing class, and had that in mind 100% while writing it (why else would I have a story-within-a-story taking place in a night class?). The overall class seemed to genuinely like it, so I believe I was successful in that regard, and I've actually shared it with several non-writers who found it to be equally as fun to read even if they didn't get all the writer references. So I respectfully disagree.

The point is that nobody can please everybody all the time. This is something I always knew, but this is my first experience in which people had drastically different opinions from the majority of others about something I've done. The good news is that the majority in this case was in favor for my story.
I hope to have the final edit done shortly and upload it to the site for everyone to read eventually.

Also, March 19th seems to be the first Anniversary of this blog!

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