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Positive VS Negative Criticism

REP
Updated:

I get confused by the way Forum contributors use the terms Positive Criticism and Negative Criticism.

To me, Positive Criticism is intended to help or assist in some way. It can contain negative comments that are meant to point out a problem. Negative criticism is comments that are intended to harm or discourage.

Some people seem to define Positive Criticism as all positive comments without regard to the writer's intent. If the content contains negative comments, it is immediately classified as Negative Criticism.

How do you use the two terms, and what factors do you use in classifying the feedback you receive?

I doubt it is possible, but is there some way to standardize the meaning so we are all on the same page?

Grant

@REP

Some people seem to define Positive Criticism as all positive comments without regard to the writer's intent

Which isn't criticism, it's just positive feedback. "Your story sucks" isn't criticism either, it's just negative feedback.

"The things I liked about your story..." providing examples and even explanations of why, and "what I had issue with" providing examples & explanations of why are both positive criticisms as they allow the author to understand what & why people felt about the story & lets them to fix it (if they feel it's necessary) and allow them to improve as a writer if they do further stories.

richardshagrin

Electrons have a negative charge. If your feedback involves using electrons, it is negative feedback. There is some elemental particle that has positive charge, maybe positrons? If your email doesn't use electrons, then it is positive feedback.

Capt Zapp

@REP

Some people seem to define Positive Criticism as all positive comments without regard to the writer's intent. If the content contains negative comments, it is immediately classified as Negative Criticism.


Criticism, by definition is negative comments:

crit·i·cism
ˈkridəˌsizəm/
noun
1. the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes.
synonyms: censure, condemnation, denunciation, disapproval, disparagement, opprobrium, fault-finding, attack, broadside, stricture, recrimination
2. the analysis and judgment of the merits and faults of a literary or artistic work.
"alternative methods of criticism supported by well-developed literary theories"
synonyms: evaluation, assessment, appraisal, analysis, judgment


I agree with your interpretations of positive (aka constructive) and negative criticism in that it all depends on how it is presented.

All positive comments are not criticism, but just stroking the writer's ego. It's like giving an award just for showing up. It does not attempt to encourage the writer to improve and implies that substandard work is better than it actually is.

As for how I classify the feedback I receive, it depends on how it is presented.

In my story 'The Loser', I have females playing baseball in school instead of softball. I had comments and criticisms that were positive and asked if I actually intended to say softball, since that is what girls in our schools play. The other just basically said "Hey stupid, girls only play softball in school. Fix it." I replied that in MY universe, everybody plays baseball.

Another bit of feedback I received concerned the choice of weapons I had made. The comment indicated that I had made a poor choice in weapons and recommended a variety of others that would be better suited for the job. I studied the recommendations, then went back and re-wrote the scene based on the new information. Had the person just written that my choices were 'f#'ed up', it would not have given me the information I needed to make a more informed selection and improve the story.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Capt Zapp

@REP

I doubt it is possible, but is there some way to standardize the meaning so we are all on the same page?


Why not just use the definitions already in use?

Constructive criticism is the process of offering valid and well-reasoned opinions about the work of others, usually involving both positive and negative comments, in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one. The purpose of 'constructive criticism is to improve the outcome.


Or maybe we should say positive and negative feedback instead and get rid of the negative connotation attributed to 'criticism'

Replies:   Zom  REP
Zom

@Capt Zapp

Criticism, by definition is negative comments:

Nope.
criticism
ˈkrɪtɪsɪz(ə)m/
noun: criticism; plural noun: criticisms
1.
the expression of disapproval of someone or something on the basis of perceived faults or mistakes.
2.
the analysis and judgement of the merits and faults of a literary or artistic work.

Given we are talking about literary work, I would suspect meaning 2. would be relevant, and it includes 'merits'.

Replies:   Grant  Crumbly Writer
Grant
Updated:

@Zom

Given we are talking about literary work, I would suspect meaning 2. would be relevant, and it includes 'merits'.


Beat me to it.

Also,

critique

noun

noun: critique; plural noun: critiques

1.

a detailed analysis and assessment of something, especially a literary, philosophical, or political theory.


and,
Critique is a method of disciplined, systematic analysis of a written or oral discourse. Although critique is commonly understood as fault finding and negative judgment, it can also involve merit recognition

awnlee jawking

@Capt Zapp

In my story 'The Loser'


Continue the story, damn you! It's really good.

AJ

Replies:   REP  Capt Zapp
Crumbly Writer

@Zom

Given we are talking about literary work, I would suspect meaning 2. would be relevant, and it includes 'merits'.

That's true. A response that says, "Great story, I love the way you ..." is also criticism, but it highlights where an author's strengths are, encouraging them to build on their strengths rather than focusing on overcoming their weaknesses (which they might not make as much progress on). It's still critical, but it highlights strengths rather than weaknesses. By missing positive and negative feedback, "Your use of dialogue is great, but your action scenes are weak because ..." it proves you're not just hypocritical, but can view the work objectively, which raises your opinion--in most cases.

The other point is 'precise comments', or suggestions which accompanies specific passages, so the author can see which specific passages are either good or problematic. Without these, writers are simply dealing with random opinion, with it they can see how a criticism applies to examples of their writing and view it more objectively.

Switch Blayde

@REP

"I hated your characters" is negative criticism.

"I hated your characters because..." is positive criticism.

Replies:   Zom  awnlee jawking
Zom

@Switch Blayde

"I hated your characters because..." is positive criticism.

Or would that be constructive criticism. It doesn't seem all that positive.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

"I hated your characters"


That could be ambiguous. If you're meant to hate the characters, that's praising the author :)

AJ

Replies:   Zom  REP
Switch Blayde

@Zom

Or would that be constructive criticism


Criticism is negative. When someone says Positive Criticism it's implied to mean Constructive Criticism.

Replies:   Zom
Zom

@Switch Blayde


Criticism is negative.

Nope.
criticism
ˈkrɪtɪsɪz(ə)m/
noun: criticism; plural noun: criticisms
1.
the expression of disapproval of someone or something on the basis of perceived faults or mistakes.
2.
the analysis and judgement of the merits and faults of a literary or artistic work.

Given we are talking about literary work, I would suspect meaning 2. would be relevant, and it includes 'merits'.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Zom

@awnlee jawking

That could be ambiguous. If you're meant to hate the characters, that's praising the author :)

True indeed.

REP

@Capt Zapp

Why not just use the definitions already in use?

I would agree to that, however, currently it seems the terms are being used by various commenters to mean different things.

Providing feedback is a balancing act. When receiving negative remarks without positive remarks, the recipient can misunderstand the intent of the feedback.

REP

@awnlee jawking


Continue the story, damn you! It's really good.


Thanks for the referral, I'm always looking for something good to read.

REP
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

I posted a story in which I created the main character as an absolutely despicable person. It got low scores and no feedback. Did I succeed in my goal, or did the story suck.

Perhaps, the low score and no feedback was a form of praise.

Edited: OOPs, I forgot to cite your remark. "If you're meant to hate the characters, that's praising the author :)"

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@REP

I don't know how to answer this without casting nasturtiums at your readers :)

AJ

Capt Zapp

@awnlee jawking

Continue the story, damn you! It's really good.


I'm trying, honest. It's just that I was writing and posting and the story kept straying from my intended path. The original story idea wasn't supposed to go more than twenty chapters or have so many characters. I am working hard to get things back on my original track and am currently working on chapter 29.

Replies:   REP  Crumbly Writer
REP

@Capt Zapp

Sounds as if your Muse is trying to tell you something.

Perhaps, you should set the plan aside and go with the flow, until you can bring it back to the planed path.

Crumbly Writer

@Capt Zapp

I'm trying, honest. It's just that I was writing and posting and the story kept straying from my intended path. The original story idea wasn't supposed to go more than twenty chapters or have so many characters. I am working hard to get things back on my original track and am currently working on chapter 29.

Sometimes, stories take on a life of their own. On a recent story, for the first time I planned out the chapters in advance. However, I kept adding chapters as I went, sowing confusion in my route rather than just typing one chapter after another. The fact I was writing the chapters out of chronological order (multiple flashbacks) didn't help.

Then again, I've always insisted the time to trim excess story threads--even favorite ones--is during the revision phase rather than during the writing phase. That way, you'll know how each thread comes out, and any which aren't completely successful, or which take the story in unexpected directions, can be cut loose and used in other stories (if you find any that fit).

Switch Blayde

@Zom

Given we are talking about literary work, I would suspect meaning 2. would be relevant, and it includes 'merits'.


My mistake. I would have said that was the definition of critique not criticize.

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