Improving our 75 Word Stories -- READ FIRST POST

Phyrebrat

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Oh yes, I agree! Stricter voting rules are not what I was angling for. :D

I see your point about the comments helping you @scarpelius but that brings me back to my original point about the reviews. If we don’t understand a story until we’ve read someone’s review then that is also unwanted; it’s the same reason we’re not allowed to explain our stories until after voting.

For example, it’s like having an advocate to use extra words to tell your story. And even more worrying - what if they misinterpret your story? ;)

pH
 

Hugh

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With the best will in the world, we can say 'they're neutral' and 'just what the reviewer sees', but the people who read those reviews are - erm - human and will take from the review according to their own filter and experiences. This may be, 'Oh, now I get it', 'What?!' and even, 'Well, it's a review so that must be what the story means,'
I say this all in the sense of explaining how I feel about reviews and how inadvertantly influential I feel they can be. Without singling anything out, I have twice been rather put out by impolitic or inexact word choice when my story has been reviewed - not in what they saw, but how they said it.

pH
What I like about the reviews, and this was particularly true when I first started posting, is that it's tangible proof that someone has actually read the story, and that there is some form of acknowledgement. I really value this. Sometimes their take on my story makes me laugh, while on the other hand sometimes I can feel that the sheer brilliance of my story has passed the reviewer by completely (strangely this is nearly always the case in the voting also), but they do make me feel welcome and part of things. Being somewhat self-centred, I doubt that I'm influenced by review comments when it comes to voting.

Without wanting to be a buzzkill or come across mopey, when it comes to the discussion thread, I’ve found myself only really visiting it at the end after voting over the last year. Now and again there are interesting chats, but these days it’s all about the reviews; people thanking for them. Or the ‘well, I’m in’ posts, and later, the rash of ‘thanks for the shortlisting’ posts.
I rarely see some discussion other than that and so I’m careful not to post in it - or if I do, to unwatch the thread - and avoid all those unneeded notifications every time someone posts their thank yous.
I haven’t been entering this very long, but my impression is that it’s difficult to say much in the discussion thread except in heading off on some tangent. I’d often like to make comments or ask questions when people post stories, but fear that would be breaking boundaries as it would give unfair opportunities for explanation. By the time the voting has passed these questions are long gone from my head.

I don't usually read either stories or discussion until I've posted my story for fear I'll lose inner momentum.


Edit: ahh! this was being written while the last post was posted.
 
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The Big Peat

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It might not always be information; it might be misinformation.

(Have you never seen a short review of your work that not only misses the point but invents a completely new one out of thin air, including a complete change of genre? I have.)
I think just about every writer here must have received feedback or a review at some point that utterly dumbfounded them as to what story was being read, as it surely wasn't the one they just wrote.

That's just the nature of the game. Communication between two fallible individuals will sometimes fail and each story involves a lot of those communications.

I'm not sure there's an answer to it other than to leave all discussion/reviews etc.etc. until after the voting is done. And, while firmly believing that the reviews *can* colour people's opinions and personally avoiding them until afterwards, I'm not sure that's a better idea.

Maybe the answer is more reviews and more discussion, with everyone chiming in rather than only the reviewers really talking.
 

Joshua Jones

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Oh yes, I agree! Stricter voting rules are not what I was angling for. :D

I see your point about the comments helping you @scarpelius but that brings me back to my original point about the reviews. If we don’t understand a story until we’ve read someone’s review then that is also unwanted; it’s the same reason we’re not allowed to explain our stories until after voting.

For example, it’s like having an advocate to use extra words to tell your story. And even more worrying - what if they misinterpret your story? ;)

pH
Those are fair concerns. On the flipside, the reviews bringing out an interpretation other than what I intended cues me that I was too subtle in my intended meaning, and helps me to see where I can improve. If @Parson hadn't made the comment about my story being grimdark, I may not have considered that someone may interpret Camille as the killer, and I may not have posted it in this thread.

So, for me, the reviews are feedback regarding how clearly I am communicating and where I need to improve.
 

Joshua Jones

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I think just about every writer here must have received feedback or a review at some point that utterly dumbfounded them as to what story was being read, as it surely wasn't the one they just wrote.

That's just the nature of the game. Communication between two fallible individuals will sometimes fail and each story involves a lot of those communications.

I'm not sure there's an answer to it other than to leave all discussion/reviews etc.etc. until after the voting is done. And, while firmly believing that the reviews *can* colour people's opinions and personally avoiding them until afterwards, I'm not sure that's a better idea.

Maybe the answer is more reviews and more discussion, with everyone chiming in rather than only the reviewers really talking.
Personally, I think the people who frequently review these stories do an excellent job. I have had a couple months where I was somewhat baffled, but every time, I traced back the cause to a deficiency in my own writing.

For me, these challenges will always be about improving, so I welcome the reviews, even if that means I will get less votes (still, vote Joshua in the August challenge!).
 

scarpelius

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^ what they have said.
I don't know about the others, but my ego is a monster who feeds on praises :)
Sometimes there are just those reviews who keep him from starving.
 

Phyrebrat

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My favourite thing is when a new member enters the challenge and then sees there’s been a review, takes umbrage for whatever reason and posts a really passive-aggressive response.

It’s just so ‘cringe l’ that they get so angry and feel it’s acceptable to abuse the reviewer who has, as said already many times, made a considerable effort.

:D

I think more reviews might, as JJ says, help out but I’ll admit I’m not a fan of that either.

When I first joined Chrons I saw Perp’s reviews. They were a very different creature from those we get today; around 2 or more paragraphs long each (!) and I was astounded at the effort he took to do it. I always felt a bit like the class dummy when reading his reviews, and decided one month to do reviews, too.

I don’t think I managed to keep up with more than five before I gave up.

And these reviewers do approx forty stories or so every month! So I’m not belittling the efforts they make, but I would rather not be reviewed till after the voting.

pH
 

TheDustyZebra

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On occasion, I've seen someone commenting on someone else's story and felt that they had misunderstood the story entirely, so I've felt the need to add my own interpretation as a counterpoint, since the author can't.

There used to be more of that in the discussions.
 

Ursa major

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other than to leave all discussion/reviews etc.etc. until after the voting is done
I only read the reviews of my own entry in a Challenge until after I've voted.

Note that one reason that I might be more sensitive to this is that my favourite art form (in terms of "consuming" it) is music, principally "classical" music. One rarely gets to hear the composer's interpretation**, even of solo works, so at least two artists are almost always involved. On top of that, I listen to quite a few orchestral works that have been transcribed for the piano, so there are three artists: the composer of the original piece, the composer of the transcription and the pianist.


** - Sometimes, this is just as well: Ravel was, apparently, known for not playing what was on the score, but the nearest he could get to it. (He wrote some really difficult pieces for the piano and his own technique was not always up to performing them as written.)
 

The Big Peat

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I only read the reviews of my own entry in a Challenge until after I've voted.
Likewise and maybe that's a problem with the idea that we need more people commenting. I don't really look in because I don't want to accidentally see (although easily enough avoided for us last minute folk...)
 

Parson

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I have entirely missed the point of some stories I've reviewed, and always feel dumb when that happens. And I want to apologize to anyone I've done that to. But that's also the danger in writing anything down. And having someone later read it. Clear communication is not very easy, and clear entertaining communication is downright hard.

As to reviews, I think I shall continue and I shall continue to make other comments from time to time unless the mods ask me to cease. As we have said before the purpose of the challenges is to accept the challenge of creating a story in fairly strict parameters in 75 words. I was dumbfounded when I was told that some authors of the stories did not vote because it would lessen their chances of winning if they voted for someone else. To me that means that some people are thinking that the only thing that counts is winning and I'm sure that's a mistake.

We did certainly have more discussion during the first year or two of this challenge. I for one, certainly miss that. It made for a more collegial and less competitive atmosphere, and that probably added to the discussion. One other thing I think that helped that along was that sometimes someone would hide something in their story and challenge the readers to discover it.
 

Ursa major

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And I want to apologize to anyone I've done that to.
There's no need to apologise.

It's something that we all do from time to time. As we all know, 75 words is often not enough to give the reader a story lacking ambiguity as to its meaning...

...particularly where we are from a number of cultures (and where we don't always naturally assign the same basic meanings to some words, let alone anything more subtle than that).
 

The Big Peat

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I was dumbfounded when I was told that some authors of the stories did not vote because it would lessen their chances of winning if they voted for someone else. To me that means that some people are thinking that the only thing that counts is winning and I'm sure that's a mistake.
Not only a mistake, but also very rude and a breach of unwritten social contract.
 

Shyrka

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I have entirely missed the point of some stories I've reviewed, and always feel dumb when that happens. And I want to apologize to anyone I've done that to. But that's also the danger in writing anything down. And having someone later read it. Clear communication is not very easy, and clear entertaining communication is downright hard.
Having done a fair few reviews myself, this is always a worry, but one that you shouldn't apologise for. As has been mentioned above, there's always a gulf between the intention of the writer and the interpretation of the reader - it's just the nature of language. Whilst I sometimes have felt like I'm completely missing the point of a story, I have ultimately decided that trying to give the same sense of satisfaction I get from knowing someone has bothered to read my entry to another writer is worth the occasional failure on my behalf.
 

Joshua Jones

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I have entirely missed the point of some stories I've reviewed, and always feel dumb when that happens. And I want to apologize to anyone I've done that to. But that's also the danger in writing anything down. And having someone later read it. Clear communication is not very easy, and clear entertaining communication is downright hard.

As to reviews, I think I shall continue and I shall continue to make other comments from time to time unless the mods ask me to cease. As we have said before the purpose of the challenges is to accept the challenge of creating a story in fairly strict parameters in 75 words. I was dumbfounded when I was told that some authors of the stories did not vote because it would lessen their chances of winning if they voted for someone else. To me that means that some people are thinking that the only thing that counts is winning and I'm sure that's a mistake.

We did certainly have more discussion during the first year or two of this challenge. I for one, certainly miss that. It made for a more collegial and less competitive atmosphere, and that probably added to the discussion. One other thing I think that helped that along was that sometimes someone would hide something in their story and challenge the readers to discover it.
Having done a fair few reviews myself, this is always a worry, but one that you shouldn't apologise for. As has been mentioned above, there's always a gulf between the intention of the writer and the interpretation of the reader - it's just the nature of language. Whilst I sometimes have felt like I'm completely missing the point of a story, I have ultimately decided that trying to give the same sense of satisfaction I get from knowing someone has bothered to read my entry to another writer is worth the occasional failure on my behalf.
There have been one or two months where one of the three of you who frequently do reviews have not understood my intention, and I want to make sure my point is clear here.

Thank you so very much for missing my point.

Every time that has happened, it has cued me in to a weakness in my writing, so every single time one of the reviews has missed the point, I have grown as a writer. While I love getting votes and mentions and accolades as much as anyone else, I grow far more by experimenting with things, failing, and learning why I failed. Without the reviews and this thread, I wouldn't be able to learn from my mistakes. I wouldn't learn that simply referring to the same type of gemstone may not cue the reader in that the knight is giving his mother in law a homing beacon for dragons. I wouldn't learn that having a child interact with her dead parents may cause others to think she killed them. I wouldn't have learned that quotation grammar for non-fiction can be different than fictional quotation grammar.

Quite simply, I owe a large portion of my growth as a writer to the reviews you two and @Victoria Silverwolf do in these challenges, both when you understand my intentions and when you don't. Especially when you don't. So, please, don't feel bad when you get it wrong, because you are helping me more than you know.
 

Luiglin

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I have entirely missed the point of some stories I've reviewed, and always feel dumb when that happens. And I want to apologize to anyone I've done that to. But that's also the danger in writing anything down. And having someone later read it. Clear communication is not very easy, and clear entertaining communication is downright hard.

As to reviews, I think I shall continue and I shall continue to make other comments from time to time unless the mods ask me to cease. As we have said before the purpose of the challenges is to accept the challenge of creating a story in fairly strict parameters in 75 words. I was dumbfounded when I was told that some authors of the stories did not vote because it would lessen their chances of winning if they voted for someone else. To me that means that some people are thinking that the only thing that counts is winning and I'm sure that's a mistake.

We did certainly have more discussion during the first year or two of this challenge. I for one, certainly miss that. It made for a more collegial and less competitive atmosphere, and that probably added to the discussion. One other thing I think that helped that along was that sometimes someone would hide something in their story and challenge the readers to discover it.
I certainly remember more discussion and that still occurs in sporadic bouts. I don't think the reviews have stifled that though.
 

Cathbad

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Every time that has happened, it has cued me in to a weakness in my writing
Why do you see this as a weakness?

I believe that all art - including writing - no longer belongs to the creator (artist, author, etc.) once he/she puts it out to the public. It belongs to those who behold (read) it. All of us interpret art differently. And that's how it should be. Paintings bring forth memories and emotions unique to each of us. Poetry and prose strikes a different chord in us, individually. While you may find the struggle of the individual to be himself in a particular work, I might envision the difficulties of maintaining relationships.

You'll go insane trying to find a way to express exactly what you want to with every individual. You wrote it. It has a definite reason/purpose to you. Let that be enough, and let it mean whatever it means to everyone else who reads it.

Or tell 'em all how crazy they are. Meh.

;)
 

Luiglin

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Why do you see this as a weakness?

I believe that all art - including writing - no longer belongs to the creator (artist, author, etc.) once he/she puts it out to the public. It belongs to those who behold (read) it. All of us interpret art differently. And that's how it should be. Paintings bring forth memories and emotions unique to each of us. Poetry and prose strikes a different chord in us, individually. While you may find the struggle of the individual to be himself in a particular work, I might envision the difficulties of maintaining relationships.

You'll go insane trying to find a way to express exactly what you want to with every individual. You wrote it. It has a definite reason/purpose to you. Let that be enough, and let it mean whatever it means to everyone else who reads it.

Or tell 'em all how crazy they are. Meh.

;)
^ this.

As I said before the world would be a very boring place if we all reacted the same way.

There have been winning entries on a 75 that did nothing for me and ones that I believe deserved more love. However, seeing as they did win there was obviously something there that a chunk of folks like.

By the way, I consider all my entries to be instant classics. I'm still waiting for the penny-to-drop with everyone else :p
 

Joshua Jones

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Why do you see this as a weakness?

I believe that all art - including writing - no longer belongs to the creator (artist, author, etc.) once he/she puts it out to the public. It belongs to those who behold (read) it. All of us interpret art differently. And that's how it should be. Paintings bring forth memories and emotions unique to each of us. Poetry and prose strikes a different chord in us, individually. While you may find the struggle of the individual to be himself in a particular work, I might envision the difficulties of maintaining relationships.

You'll go insane trying to find a way to express exactly what you want to with every individual. You wrote it. It has a definite reason/purpose to you. Let that be enough, and let it mean whatever it means to everyone else who reads it.

Or tell 'em all how crazy they are. Meh.

;)
I don't consider it a weakness if I am going for a more broad interpretation, and sometimes I write such works. But, in the two cases I mentioned, the story doesn't make much sense interpreted differently, so it is a weakness in this setting.
 

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