Last week my story was up for critique in my Advanced Fiction Workshop class. I felt I had written it well and wasn’t at all worried about the critique or my grade. When I first started taking Creative Writing class I got really nervous about the in class critiques, but I no longer get extremely nervous about them. Half the people in my class this semester were in my class last semester and we’ve all gotten to know each other, so it’s nice.
Most people seemed to like my story and while they had some constructive criticism for me, the critique was going well. However, one guy in my class (he’s in his 40s, I think), absolutely hated it! He pretty much told me the characters were flat, there was no plot, and it was generally a bad short story. I was completely stunned because while people do offer criticism, they do so nicely. This guy was completely rude about it, to the point that my friends were getting really mad and arguing with him and defending my story.
His written critique was even worse, telling me that I need to “consider the type of work I am turning in to an advanced fiction workshop class” and “this just did not make the grade”. He really had nothing nice to say at all. When I critique stories, I always try to find at least one thing I can compliment the writer on, even if I do not like their story. It’s just a polite and nice thing to do. Plus, it really was out of line for him to tell me it “did not make the grade”. It’s not his place to do that. He’s not the professor. He also gave me his copy of my story that he had read and it was written up and he had even written “awful” and “ugh” in the margins. If you want to do that, fine, but don’t hand it to the person who wrote it. He did the exact same thing to another girl’s story and gave her practically the same critique he gave me.
However, apparently my story did make the grade because I got an A- on it!
Then, yesterday, we were critiquing one of my friends stories (he was in my class last semester) and two of my other friends and I complimented him on his ability to describe the setting of his stories really well. We brought up one of his stories from last semester and compared them because they both took place in the same town. The guy who insulted my story the previous week was quite outraged that we were bringing up a previous story. He told us it was completely inappropriate and horrible that we were doing that. He said my friend’s previous stories were completely irrelevant to the class.
What? Of course they’re relevant! One aspect of writing is improving your writing and it’s good to compare one story to a previous one to see where people improve. Plus, the two stories were somewhat connected by their shared setting. Another friend was really mad that he had said that and started defending herself, saying that the comparison was relevant, and I agreed. Even the teacher pointed out that we were free to compare the stories if we wished. He quickly changed the subject, but otherwise we would have had an all out shouting match during class.
It just seems like something like this is going to happen every week now. I just can’t wait to read his story.
Filed under: Really Grinds My Gears, Writing | 2 Comments »