Critiques and Nathan's Sandwich Rule

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sierramcconnell
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Re: Critiques and Nathan's Sandwich Rule

Post by sierramcconnell » October 16th, 2010, 10:20 pm

Slice of wheat bread
Turkey pepperoni
Slice of cheese
Turkey pepperoni
Slice of cheese
Turkey pepperoni
Slice of cheese
Slice of wheat bread

Microwave for thirty seconds

PIZZA SANDWHICH~! :3
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Re: Critiques and Nathan's Sandwich Rule

Post by oldhousejunkie » October 21st, 2010, 2:48 pm

I agree with Cheeky Chook. The positive nature of this forum is what has kept me here. After a terrible experience on Absolute Write, I was very pleased to come here and get the help that I needed without being picked at because I worded something wrong. In general, it seems that forums draw people who want to take offense to most anything you say, even when you're trying your hardest not to offend. It's exhausting and frustrating to go to a forum for help with one thing and get lambasted because someone took offense to what you said in a wholly unrelated manner.

That's not to say that I don't have to put on my big girl panties before asking for criticism, but know I can come here and get solid, constructive criticism and walk away invigorated and ready to work. That's not something that happens very often so well done everyone.

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Re: Critiques and Nathan's Sandwich Rule

Post by Nathan Bransford » October 21st, 2010, 10:37 pm

I can't take credit for the sandwich rule, I stole it from Rick Daley: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2009/08 ... iques.html

As far as actual sandwiches, two words people: dutch crunch. Doesn't matter what's inside, it will be delicious.

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Re: Critiques and Nathan's Sandwich Rule

Post by cheekychook » October 21st, 2010, 10:46 pm

Nathan Bransford wrote: As far as actual sandwiches, two words people: dutch crunch. Doesn't matter what's inside, it will be delicious.
True, but if you carefully layer with forethought and purpose it will be even better.
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Re: Critiques and Nathan's Sandwich Rule

Post by bcomet » October 21st, 2010, 11:14 pm

Oh, Nathan, we love you.

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Re: Critiques and Nathan's Sandwich Rule

Post by wilderness » October 22nd, 2010, 1:57 am

Nathan Bransford wrote:As far as actual sandwiches, two words people: dutch crunch. Doesn't matter what's inside, it will be delicious.
OMG, I'd never had dutch crunch before San Francisco, but now that I have -- I wholeheartedly agree!

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Re: Critiques and Nathan's Sandwich Rule

Post by SuCue » October 23rd, 2010, 12:15 pm

I was in a writer's group many years ago and though the people were well-intentioned, they completely rewrote my book. It went from a supernatural/ghost story to a murder mystery! I got bored with the murder mystery angle, as my heart was not in it, and never finished it.

I've sworn off of writer's groups ever since.

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Re: Critiques and Nathan's Sandwich Rule

Post by TigerGray » October 27th, 2010, 8:27 pm

Margo wrote:I've recently adopted the Critters Workshop rules for critiquing. One of the most important rules, possibly the most important, is couch every criticism in the language of opinion rather than authority.

Instead of saying:
Three times you put in a long passage of info-dump disguised as dialogue. The reader can see what you're doing. It puts the breaks on the story so the author can insert information that should instead be worked into the story when it's actually necessary.

One would say:
Putting a lot of backstory into the dialogue, especially if it's a whole paragraph, didn't quite work for me. When I'm enjoying a story I kind of don't want to stop for background information, so I really like it when a writer just works the background in a sentence or two at a time right when I really have to know it to understand what's going on.

It usually helps.

It depends on the situation, of course, but I don't really respond to this attitude. I think people should avoid mocking, pretentious commentary and the like, and I further think that positive comments are very important as well as the negative. But no one does a writer favors by couching their language. I've seen a number of groups where feedback like that shown in the second example gave the author a false sense of their writing's worth. We want to respect our fellows as human beings with feelings but they also need to hear the truth if they want a valuable piece. Yes, I said valuable. I don't belong to the school that says all creative work has inherent worth just by virtue of being creative, either. The first example given above isn't an attack, it directly states the problems, and gives a solution. The second reads to me like hand holding and muddles the point.
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Re: Critiques and Nathan's Sandwich Rule

Post by polymath » October 27th, 2010, 8:58 pm

A principal difference between Margo's two examples is attitude, one imperative, one subjective. They both make the same point about long backstory blocks.

I don't know of anyone who likes to be imperially told how to write, at least not after grammar school. That kind of attitude tends to alienate rapport between critiquer and writer. Bad first impressions spoil the process. The method is as important as the message, for critiquing, for writing, for effective delivery, for reading satisfaction.

And though much emphasis is placed on the benefits a writer might receive from a critique, a conscientious critiquer generally receives more benefits from the process.
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Re: Critiques and Nathan's Sandwich Rule

Post by TigerGray » October 27th, 2010, 10:37 pm

polymath wrote:A principal difference between Margo's two examples is attitude, one imperative, one subjective. They both make the same point about long backstory blocks.

I don't know of anyone who likes to be imperially told how to write, at least not after grammar school. That kind of attitude tends to alienate rapport between critiquer and writer. Bad first impressions spoil the process. The method is as important as the message, for critiquing, for writing, for effective delivery, for reading satisfaction.

And though much emphasis is placed on the benefits a writer might receive from a critique, a conscientious critiquer generally receives more benefits from the process.

I don't think you've said anything new, exactly. The message in both is quite similar, if not the same, and we are discussing style. That's already been puzzled out. I stand by what I said regarding which is the most helpful.
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Re: Critiques and Nathan's Sandwich Rule

Post by cheekychook » October 27th, 2010, 10:45 pm

TigerGray wrote:
polymath wrote:A principal difference between Margo's two examples is attitude, one imperative, one subjective. They both make the same point about long backstory blocks.

I don't know of anyone who likes to be imperially told how to write, at least not after grammar school. That kind of attitude tends to alienate rapport between critiquer and writer. Bad first impressions spoil the process. The method is as important as the message, for critiquing, for writing, for effective delivery, for reading satisfaction.

And though much emphasis is placed on the benefits a writer might receive from a critique, a conscientious critiquer generally receives more benefits from the process.

I don't think you've said anything new, exactly. The message in both is quite similar, if not the same, and we are discussing style. That's already been puzzled out. I stand by what I said regarding which is the most helpful.
That's kind of the whole point. What's helpful to one person might be devastating (or meaningless) to another. If you're going to offer critique to someone whose threshold/preference/tolerance you don't know, it's best to sandwich....if you're working with a crit partner who you know really well then you'll also know how to phrase things so he/she gets the most out of your feedback. But, in my opinion, even if you know your crit partner really well it's nice to offer a sandwich once in a while. This whole writing thing requires sustenance and strength, and tasty treats make the harsh stuff go down better.
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Re: Critiques and Nathan's Sandwich Rule

Post by polymath » October 27th, 2010, 10:57 pm

A writer specifically asked me to have at it, no holds barred, let loose with all you've got, "I can take it." I couched my words carefully, diplomatically, conscientiously, subjectively. It didn't matter. I got insulting, harrassing e-mails for months afterwards. The final message was "Why don't you like me anymore?"

I stand by what I said as the most beneficial for me. Subjective.

Dr. Andrew Burt of critters fame in his diplomacy discussions addresses the specific point of imperative declarations as a frequent cause of misunderstandings, how to locate them, how to avoid them, and how best to participate in workshops constructively but diplomatically.
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Re: Critiques and Nathan's Sandwich Rule

Post by cheekychook » October 27th, 2010, 11:05 pm

polymath wrote:A writer specifically asked me to have at it, no holds barred, let loose with all you've got, "I can take it." I couched my words carefully, diplomatically, conscientiously, subjectively. It didn't matter. I got insulting, harrassing e-mails for months afterwards. The final message was "Why don't you like me anymore?"

I stand by what I said as the most beneficial for me. Subjective.

Dr. Andrew Burt of critters fame in his diplomacy discussions addresses the specific point of imperative declarations as a frequent cause of misunderstandings, how to locate them, how to avoid them, and how best to participate in workshops constructively but diplomatically.
Yeah, you can't always take people at their word, particularly on mattes like "Go ahead, tear me to shreds...". You need to actually assess a person's threshold through trial and error and lots of interaction before you can tell what their version of "shreds" looks like.

Also, in my experience, workshops (multiple people critiquing each person's work in a group setting) are very different from critiquing someone's work in a more personal one-on-one setting. There can be a big difference in terms of how criticism is handled in a group situation (whether it's the response to being critiqued in public or the response to being "ganged up on" by so many critiquers at once) vs. in a private email or discussion. And it still has a lot to do with the personality of the person receiving the criticism and the manner in which it is delivered.
Last edited by cheekychook on October 27th, 2010, 11:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Critiques and Nathan's Sandwich Rule

Post by cheekychook » October 27th, 2010, 11:07 pm

And no matter what you say or how you say it you run the risk of getting the "why don't you like me anymore" response.
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Re: Critiques and Nathan's Sandwich Rule

Post by cheekychook » October 27th, 2010, 11:10 pm

And no matter how much you're tempted to respond "Actually, I never liked you that much...", it's best not to---better to just hand them a sandwich. Hence the rule.
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