Welcome to deviantART!
A Tutorial for New Deviant Writers
Greetings, all! Welcome to deviantART! I'm so excited to welcome you to a community I have been a member of for going-on 8 years. I started this tutorial specifically because I know the literature community is difficult to find, so I wanted to create a kind of quick reference guide for writers who have just joined dA (or returned to it after a long haitus) to let people know how things work, where to go for critique, contests, help, DD suggestions, or just friendly conversation!
In this guide, I would like to talk about how to submit literature, critiques, Daily Deviations, people you should know, the literature forum, and groups.
This tutorial began life as a single article. About halfway through the first section, I realized there was no way I could fit all the information that I think is important for new members to know into a single guide without creating an impossibly-long article. So, I'll be including links to the other parts of this tutorial in the comments section at the bottom.
Part III will finish looking at the complexities of critiques
, including how to write and request critiques
if you DON'T have a premium membership, how to write thorough critiques
(also covered in this section: how not to be a dick), resources for new critics, and some
groups to help you improve your pieces and your critiquing skills.
So let's get started!1.Critiquing Just Means Responding Critically
There are some groups that you will find in your wanderings around dA who ask you to include a link to your critique of someone else's work with anything you submit to their gallery. Some people are instantly discouraged by this because they can't find that many pieces that use dA's official critique system (which I discussed in the last tutorial). DO NOT DESPAIR, MY FRIENDS! You do not have to participate in the official dA critique system in order to give a critique.
You can use a normal comment to leave a critique. So let's spend some time talking about what a critique is and how to give one.What is a critique?critiquecri·'tique \krə-ˈtēk\
A detailed analysis and assessment of something, esp. a literary, philosophical, or political theory.
Evaluate (a theory or practice) in a detailed and analytical way: "the authors critique the methods used in research".
(Thank you, dictionary.com)
is essentially just a critical, thoughtful response to another person's work
. You may say to yourself, "I don't have the authority to write a critique! I'm just a _____, I'm not a super-awesome writer or anything. My opinion doesn't matter. All art is subjective, anyway." Of course you have the authority to write a critique! You don't have to be an expert to write a solid critique, but you also have to be willing to improve. Writing well and critiquing well often go hand-in-hand - building up the two skills together can really help you improve your craft.
Art may be subjective, but that does not invalidate your opinion. On the contrary, if art is intended for the viewer/reader, then it is your privilege and your responsibility to try to improve the quality of what we call "art." You may be just one person, but you're still a member of the "audience," and that makes your opinion valid. HOWEVER, you should still make an effort to be an informed critic.
Most importantly, though, critiques are neither about simply complimenting the artist, nor about beating someone's hard work into the ground. A critique should be a balanced engagement with someone's piece
So, how do you write a critique if the person hasn't asked for one through the official critique system? Easy. Observe:
But that doesn't give you a whole lot of an idea of what CONTENT a critique should have. Not to worry! I've got that covered Critiquing Rules
I have a few personal rules for critique-writing that I find are good guides for writing critiques that will minimize the likelihood of an indignant, insulted response (because, unfortunately, you WILL, at some point, run into someone who hates you for daring to critique their work). Some people are more confrontational than I am in their critiquing. As you gain more experience, you might find you're one of these people. I just never found it to be very productive. You're not required to follow these rules, but I highly recommend using them if you're new to critiquing.
1. NEVER, EVER USE CUSS WORDS, whether in the critique or in response to one of the author's responses.
This is a personal rule. I am sure there are those who disagree with it, but I think it's a good one to keep in mind if you're just starting. Though you can sometimes use curse words as an interjection of humor or as an informal remark, remember: this is the internet. The tone you intend is not necessarily the tone that will be read. Think before you post. Don't be stupid. This is also an excellent rule to use when someone doesn't like your critique - it can keep you from writing an angry response you'll regret later.
2. Always come up with at least one good thing to say.
Sometimes, this is really hard to do. I've had a few occasions when I felt that the person should literally throw the entire piece out and start over. But sometimes, it's about how you phrase it. In such a situation you could say, "you have a really interesting topic," or, "I really like this theme," which you may follow with a hefty BUT, but at least give the author something on which they can build.
3. Always come up with at least one bad thing to say.
If there's honestly nothing bad you can say about the piece, you should either LOOK HARDER, or leave, because there's no reason for you to bother critiquing the piece - you're just writing a long, detailed compliment. These are lovely to receive, but not very productive. There is, almost with out exception, SOMETHING that can be improved. One of my favorite critiques I have received
was one that said, essentially, "There is nothing wrong with this piece, but if you added x, y, and z, it would be so much stronger." There is always something that can make a piece better.
4. Don't say "bad," say "weak;" don't say "good," say "strong."
I hate the words "good" and "bad." They can mean so many things as to be almost meaningless. They're also too polarizing; if something's bad, it seems irredeemable, and if something's good, it sounds like it's beyond reproach. "Weak" and "strong" imply more of a sliding scale. And saying a piece is "strong" also reflects the impact it has on the reader. I find it helps me address the subjectivity of art and continue to make constructive comments.2.Writing Thorough Critiques and Critique Etiquette
So...what do you write about? This is where you might find the section on the official critique system from the last tutorial
helpful, since it gives you four distinct areas to focus on. If you'd like to learn more about the four suggested categories, see the above link.
I'm going to talk about the things I look at when I'm writing a critique. Keep in mind, I have a strong bias toward poetic critiques, because I tend to write more poetry and more critiques of poetry. Hopefully you'll find this helpful even if you're looking to critique prose!1. Technique
In my opinion, this should always be the first thing on your list. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation
are key things to consider. But, DON'T simply criticize someone for not capitalizing every line or putting punctuation in weird places. Have you ever read e. e. cummings? Emily Dickinson? Consider the way spelling, grammar, and punctuation have been used within the piece.
These basic aspects of language can be used to establish a narrator's personality, or can show you how a piece is supposed to be read. The key thing is: if any of these three elements have been "misused," has the author done so consistently, or in a way that enhances the piece?
If so, AWESOME. If not, point out where they seem to have made unintentional errors (if there are enough, simply saying they should recheck grammar and spelling will suffice), or comment on where their intentional misuse seems to be inconsistent.
There are plenty of other areas of technique that should be considered. Literary devices fall into this category. Rhythm/meter, rhyme, line breaks, etc. are big ones, for me. When in doubt, read a piece aloud to yourself - do you like the way the sounds work together? Or does the rhythm of a line or two sound off? You could look at any number of things as part of "technique." It all depends on how deeply you want to critique the piece.2. Cliches
These are a big no-no for me. Cliches CAN be used well, but there are a lot of over-used phrases that appear in poetry around deviantART. PLEASE don't use them in your own work, and try to convince others to steer clear of them through your critiques.
If I hear one more person comparing love to a red, red rose, or talk about how sad they are by using abysses, black tears, or slit wrists in their imagery, I'm going to go out of my mind. Push people to think more creatively and outside of that cliched box. For a more in-depth discussion of cliches in poetry in particular, and an example of how I try to encourage people to push their work farther, check out section 3 ofthis poetry tutorial I wrote
. 3. Diction/Imagery
This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the above category. When it comes to imagery
, sometimes the worst thing to see is that there's none AT ALL. Declarative statements can be used to good effect, but strong images help the reader to connect with a piece and even, if used well, make the reader feel with the narrator.
[Insert a long, drawn-out conversation on "show-don't-tell."] Look, I'm a huge fan of "Don't say the fat lady screamed - bring her on and let her scream." But the truth is, this doesn't ALWAYS work. Even in writing poetry - honestly, sometimes declarative statements are NECESSARY, and people can't get into your poetry without just one to help them determine where their head should be at (yes, that is a colloquialism, let me have my bad southern grammar). In lieu of an elaborate discussion on the topic, I will simply link you to one of my fave articles ever. Be prepared: there is cussing involved. I promise it's worth it, though
Just Tell the Fucking StoryOkay, so I saw this journal that contained a number of tips, including a detailed section on 'show don't tell,' and I had an epiphany. There was an 'Oh' and everything so you know it's legit.
For a while now I have wondered why amateur writers write the most mind-numbingly long descriptions that I could not care about even a little (yes, my attention span is short, why'd you think I put in so many GIFs? but anyway, I'm a bit atypical there). I mean, I don't want the 'flames of burning searing pain of the aching broken heart' all up in my grill. I'd genuinely prefer a 'he hated her after the break up.' That's all I need to know about that? Good. Move on.
And that's the 'oh' moment: when people tell you to show not tell, they always fail to mention 'pacing.'
Look, there are times when it's best to convey a mood. His trembling fingers reach for the full glass, her voice an angry buzz in the back of his mind--I'd consider that a reasonable establishing shot. But if you're halfway t
When it comes to diction
(that means word choice, by the way), there are a number of questions you might ask yourself depending on what you're reading. Sometimes, you'll come across a short story or a poem where it reads like someone vomited a thesaurus across the page. This is not good diction. This is sloppy writing. As with everything, there is a place for such over-use of long words, but diction does NOT simply mean using long words. Strong diction means using the most accurate word for a situation. One-syllable words are generally not very strong ones - good diction evokes very specific mental images. I find rhyming poetry often suffers from weak diction.
So ask yourself some questions: Does the form of this piece regulate word choice? Or is the word choice integral to the piece? Does the word choice make me think of something specific? Or is the wording too vague?4. Feeling
This category is a bit more...wishy-washy. Essentially, I ask myself: does this piece take my breath away? Do I feel with this piece?
If the answer to either question is no, there is room for improvement. Often, weak diction is the problem, so go back to criterion 3 and work through it again.Critique Ettiquette
I'm not going to spend too long on this, but there are a few things you should keep in mind if you're going to ask for/give a critique.Only ask for critique if you're certain you want it.
Sometimes pieces are REALLY PERSONAL. Ask yourself if you could handle receiving constructive criticism. If you're too emotionally involved in the specifics of your piece, don't even ask for critique, because it will be YOUR fault if you blow up in my face 'cuz I wasn't sensitive enough for you.If you're concerned about improving something specific, ask questions.
The artist's comments space is great for this. And don't ask me some reading comprehension questions, either - those aren't proper critique questions. Feel free to ask me about content through pacing or character development. Don't ask me whether it's Suzie or Jimbob who I like better as a character; ask if I think Suzie is a fuller, better developed character than Jimbob. Don't ask me to tell you your own plot; ask me if I understand what happens. I am not here to take the SATs or a literature exam.When writing a critique, actually bother to read the whole piece.
I know you're probably busy, as we all are, but asking a question that is answered somewhere in the piece looks a little stupid and makes the author wonder why you bothered writing the critique at all.Write a critique that is at least 3 sentences long.
Seriously. It's hard to write something really constructive in less than 3 sentences. It's only slightly less hard to write something really constructive in exactly 3 sentences. Trust that the author has put enough effort into writing the piece to deserve some effort in the critique.When reading someone's critique of your work, don't take it as a personal insult.
Before you go off the handle at someone for not understanding every nuance of what you've written, stop. Take a breath. Go make yourself a cup of tea. Come back. If you're still pissed after rereading the critique, go watch an episode of your favorite tv show, and then come back again. Trust that your critic is trying to make your work better, not bash on you as an individual. Unless they are clearly a troll, in which case ignore them. Don't feed the trolls.Don't be a jackass. Seriously. This sounds obvious, but it happens all the time.
Before you hit the "send" button, reread what you've written and ask yourself, honestly, how it sounds. Don't be an asshole. Don't be mean. Don't be a troll. Well...only be a troll if someone REALLY deserves it 3. Critiquing Resources
Here's the deal: you don't necessarily have to write a lot in order to be qualified to critique someone's work, but you really SHOULD have at least a basic understanding of the way writing works. For some (like me), this requires practice at writing. For others, this might mean studying what makes for strong writing.
I had an English Literature teacher once who told me, when I asked her why the poets we read in class didn't have to capitalize or punctuate their poetry properly, that we have to know the rules of language before we can break them
. Writing literature is often a process of finding the correct balance between broken rules and unbroken ones.
Therefore, I think it's really important to have good resources to remind yourself of the technical details involved in writing
. You might also find some of these resources great things to mention in a critique to someone (I know I have, in the past), where you found someone just said things in a really easy-to-understand, straightforward way.
This section is pretty much just be a collection of advice on critiquing from other sources. I'm including a few resources that include terms that you should probably know as a writer and you might find to be helpful when it comes to critiquing. I've also included some great compilations of poetic forms/types of rhyme that you might find helpful, and some workshops that might help you consider how to address problems with things like cliches. For those of you interested in critiquing beyond the literature community, this section also has some more general critique guides and advice.
How To Critique?And back here we are, my fellow deviants, to explain you all how giving critique works. Below is the blog entry I wrote for %theWrittenRevolution about giving critiques, in an attempt to clarify it all a bit.
tWR's guide: How To Critique?
About Us | Our Rules | Our Gallery
We could say that this is even more difficult than asking for feedback.
You know why?
Critiquing is self-less. Its helping someone else without getting anything back, apart from a thank-you or maybe, a critique in return. And this is why making a good critique is more difficult than writing a good feedback question
many, many persons will simply give a half-thought comment. Critiquing requires time (also coming up wit
Part 1: The Basics of Poetics
Brought to you by E-Shark47
What is a Poetic Device?
A poetic device is a usage of words and phrases to achieve a certain effect. These effects can range from modification of rhyme and rhythm to some witty wordplay. Poetic devices are powerful add-ons that can be implemented in a poem. Poetic devices are also a must for people writing free verse. But don't think poetic devices are restricted to poetry. It can also be implemented in prose as well. In fact, prose poetry is prose that utilizes poetic devices.
There are two main subcategories of poetic devices. These include:
Structural figure-of-speech that deals with word placement, letter order, syntax, and sound.
Lexical figures-of-speech that deal with twists in and manipulation of the meanings of words.
Colon, Semicolons, and Hyphens Trouble often arises when dealing with combining sentences. It's good you're taking a look at this - very good. How many of you have wondered how to use a colon? A Semi-Colon? How about a Hyphen? Well, this piece of literature will keep your head spinning for a while. Not because you are going to be confused, but because a rather large amount of information. However, you shouldn't let that stop you from becoming a better writer, right? So, let us continue with the lesson on...
The main use of a colon is when one wants to link a lead-in(a sentence that can stand alone, but will be used to bring in two or more primary subjects) with the items(subjects) that will be introduced by the lead-in.
Confused? Well, look at the sentence below:
I ordered many items on the list(Lead-in): tomatoes, chips, bread,
Lesson 1 - Basics of MeterQUOTE OF THE DAY
"Life is tons of discipline. Your first discipline is your vocabulary; then your grammar and your punctuation. Then, in your exuberance and bounding energy you say you're going to add to that. Then you add rhyme and meter. And your delight is in that power."
- Robert Frost
As Robert Frost is saying, meter and rhyme are not the most important parts of writing. They are the most intricate when creating poetry, but poems can be written without them. I began my poetry with free verse, and gradually became more and more fixed as I went on to learn more about how meter affects the poem, and how rhyme, alliteration, assonance, and the like also affect the reader's experience with a piece of poetry. And my free verse is all the better for it. Even if you never write another fixed poem after finishing this course, an intricate understanding of the rules of conventional poe
Wonderful critics, wonderful writers #1 The wonders of critique
Great critique and great writing go very closely together. All of us feature great writing whether it's through fav'ing them, commenting on them or telling others about them. Critiques, however, are under-appreciated. Have we really featured them? Here are some wonderful critics. I will be showcasing one amazing critique and one wonderful piece of writing from each of them.
More attention should be given to critiques. Read them well and they are likely to be even more useful that guides; guides are oftentimes generalized so that they are useful to the majority. Referring to examples is one of the best ways to improve your own writing. No two pieces of writing are entirely different. Your horror masterpiece and that love poem critiqued may actually have the same area for improvement word choice? clarity? A critique is always useful.
Not to mention that critiques can inspire. Whether you're the one giving the cri
Critique Personality TypesI thought I'd type up something on the type of people you're likely to meet in critique groups and how to handle them. For those wondering, I am a Pit Bull Trooper.
Feel free to add other types; I don't think I got them all.
Also, feel free to donate so I can buy another Premium Membership: http://Droemar.deviantart.com/?givepoints
The Toxic Snark
Most likely to be: Parents, self-described elitists, jerks in general
"When are you going to write for real? Why are you wasting your time writing this junk?"
Attributes: This person is inclined to hate your stuff. Without fail. They don't read what you write, or they read "real" literature. And your work is so far below what they like, you're obviously in desperate need of their opinion and correction, which is largely that you should abandon what you're working on and start writing their idea of a story. They hate mainstream, or hate a genre
W-W Presents: De-Cliche Your Romance!I had a lot of fun with the Halloween contest Workshop, and I think we got a lot of good critiques in; so, huzzah! But now this train is back on its usual track.
Before we start in on this much-anticipated workshop (most highly-voted in our previous poll), I'm going to put a quick word out about our current status: ~tromacom, ~Shuriken95, and I have been running this on our own for the past few months, (with ^Beccalicious having had her baby ) and we'd love some workshop host volunteers! So if anyone has an idea for a workshop, send it in a note, and we'll try to get you all set up to host.
Okay, so, that PSA outta the way...I'd like to talk to you about:
:iconbigheartplz: :iconcuteheartplz: :iconcupidplz: :iconbigloveplz:LOVE :iconbigloveplz: :iconcupidplz: :iconcuteheartplz: :iconbigheartplz:
Specifically, romantic love. It can be ooey-and-gooey, sweet and innocent, lustful, dangerous, sexy, or even traumatic. It's one of the most universal emotional experi
The Reason for Rhyme Workshop CHAT EVENT TONIGHT WILL BE AT 10PM GMT IN #CRLITERATURE!!!
1) Submissions to this workshop are now open! Please make sure, when submitting, that your artist's comments include a link back to this workshop as well as stating which rhyming devices you used and where. Makes it easier on those giving feedback!
2) The chat event will be held on Sunday May 22nd at 10PM GMT. Hope to see you there!
Hi, I'm `zebrazebrazebra! You might know me from such literature community hangouts as #transliterations and the seedier end of the %CRLiterature chat--but for the next couple of weeks, I'm going to be hosting a workshop around here covering the most common rhyme devices and their use both in metered and unmetred poetry.
In these heady days of contemporary wordsmithing, rhyme is often seen as a little bit passé, a little bit, "we're not living in the 19th century, you know." I've always thought this was a shame. Rhyme isn't just a silly tradition we shook
How to Accept A CritiqueFirst, there's a common misconception that I want to address before I even begin. I've heard way too many people try to claim that they don't write for an audience or that they only write for themselves. In my mind, this usually translates to something like, "You or someone else gave me a critique I don't agree with, so I'm trying to justify why I'm going to ignore it." You're going to have a hard time convincing me that you don't care about anyone else's opinion of your work if you PUBLICALLY SUBMIT IT ONLINE.
I don't know if you've noticed, but dA (and any other site like it) is essentially structured to be used for peer review. That's the main point of the ability to leave comments in the first place. If you're really only writing for yourself, you would keep your stories in a shoe-box hidden under your bed. And, no, the "I was posting it so my very bestest friend Mary Sue could read it" excuse doesn't fly either.
Critique: A BreakdowndeviantArt is a website focusing on art. Wherever there is art, there is bound to be critique- no exceptions. While this fact may be aggravating and/or intimidating to younger, more inexperienced artists, they should learn and heed some basic advice on how to respond appropriately to receiving a critique.
This is a little bit of information about critiques- who critiques, what a critique encompasses, the different "styles" or approaches people take when offering critique, and appropriate ways to respond to all kinds of critiques.
What is Critique
Noun: A detailed analysis and assessment of something; a critical review or commentary, especially one dealing with works of art or literature.
Verb: Evaluate (a theory or practice) in a detailed and analytical way
In a nutshell, a critique (or to critique) is to approach something and analyze something in a critical manner. The key words here are analyze and criti
LaMonaca's Workshop: Punctuation with Purpose13 November 2008
This workshop is now CLOSED. We have an almighty 20 entries, so please could you take some time to look at the entries for this workshop and share your feedback and critique. ~LaMonaca is looking at the entries also, and will be responding on Sunday.
Love by ~8ankH
Punctuating with Purpose by ~brytning
The Grammar Gangsters by ~CyberPhantom
The sunset line by !dimerization
Bathroom Sound Waves by `Drunken-Splice
Prose Critique BasicsProse Critique Basics
Critique... we all want it. We all need it. But what exactly is the embodiment of this fear-inspiring, often frustrating word?
Ever since dA rolled out their advanced critique system in 2009, I've made it a point to read through many prose critiques, mainly in seeking a person to look at my own work. While most critiques are helpful to some degree, it never fails to surprise me how many exist out there are nothing more than in depth comments. Just the critic's opinion or view on the piece, which is usually made of nothing but positives. In short... a review. Of course, the receiving authors snatch up whatever feedback they can get, but are all those stars really fair to them?
A critique is by definition, the art of criticizing, which in turn means (according to dictionary.com): to censure or find fault with. So it stands to say that a proper critique would imply the seeking of faults, right? Not an Amazon.com type of review, or a
The Joy of Crit: G-ratedThe Joy of Crit: The G-rated version
Please indulge me in a thought experiment. Imagine that you drank some herbal tea that you found in the kitchen cupboard, not realizing that it would make you unable to tell a lie. Now, what if later that evening you were planning to attend your high school prom with someone you would be dating for the first time? You spend hours in the bathroom getting ready. Finally you meet up with your date and he or she asks, "so, how do I look?"
If your date looks wonderful, this question is easy to answer. A few superlatives, and maybe a comment about something you especially like, such as their hair style, just so that your praises don't ring hollow, will more than suffice. However, if the date looks so-so or is having a desperately bad hair day... Well, I'm sure you can see how answering this question the wrong way could end up with you dancing by yourself.
It's not difficult to u
So You Want to CritiqueHere is a two-fold guide for deviants wishing to receive critique as well as deviants who want to give constructive critiques:
A Note to Non-subscribers
You're allowed to give and receive critique, too! The system for subscribers that dA has put in place is flashy, sure, but it doesn't alter the content of a quality critique. Comments have worked just fine for many years. I see no reason why you should stop using the tried and trusted system just because something new has come along. Now, onto the article!
Make Sure the Feeling's Mutual
Some people don't give critiques. Some people don't want critiques. That's okay. Being a member of dA does not precondition you to the critique-crowd.
However, if you do want to be a critique-groupie, make sure the artist you're giving critique to actually wants it. If the critique option is not enabled, or there's no request for critique in the comments, chances are critique is unwanted. If there's something you really, really want
Haiku Theory Part 1 -2009-A Lot of Words About A Little Poem
An Introduction to Haiku Structures
A haiku poem cannot be defined according to the number of syllables and lines it contains (nor by the number of syllables in each line). Although I do not wish to go into the reasons why at this point (I will save that for a later discussion) the form of modern English haiku, as Haruo Shirane writes, is a short poem, usually written in one to three lines. (in Gilbert, 2009) At this point our definition sounds very vague. If the number of syllables and lines do not define a haiku poem, then what does? And if a haiku poem is simply a short one, two or three-line poem then what separates it from other forms of Western short-verse or, in the case of one-line haiku, a sentence?
Patricia Donegan writes, in agreement with the Western haiku community at large, that syllable counting... is not the important thing for haiku in English. Haiku is an experience, not an act of co
Forum on poetic terms:forum.deviantart.com/art/liter…
A pretty extensive list of literary terms:writing2.richmond.edu/writing/…4. Critique-Focused Groups
If you are looking for critique groups, check out some of these places. The lit community is full of resources on the subject, though, so this is by no means a comprehensive list, but it'll give you somewhere to start if you're not sure.
Make sure you thoroughly review each group's rules and requirements before submitting! And that's it!
In the next tutorial, I will cover everything about Daily Deviations: what they are, what it means to get one, how to suggest DDs, and some general DD ettiquette.
If there's anything else you think should be included in this tutorial, or a topic that you think should be covered in a later one, let me know! I am open to suggestions (and will not pretend my guide is perfect
Hope you enjoyed,