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Thank you for being a friend

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Angel_1756, Jun 9, 2015.

  1. Angel_1756

    Angel_1756
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    The Big Four-Oh

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    My buddy (okay, my husband's buddy) recently started writing online and sent me a link to his work so I could "check it out". It's awful. Cliches everywhere, sloppy sentence structure; it looks like the writings of an emo teenager. It's not beyond repair but I couldn't make it through his first post without cringing.

    He never asked my opinion, so I'm torn whether to say anything to him or not. I know he has expressed (to my husband, in the past) a desire to be a professional writer but maybe he's decided just to take his piece of the Internet for his ramblings and let that dream die.

    Focus: when it comes to friendship, is kindness better than honesty or vice versa? Do you tell your female friend that those pants kind of make her ass look fat? Do you tell your guy friend that buying a boat when you're already $40K in the hole is kind of a stupid idea? Do you tell Uncle Milton that his toupee is godawful?

    Alt-focus: Should I say anything to this aspiring writer or (as I'm more inclined to do) just keep my yap shut and hope someone closer to him speaks up?
     
  2. Juice

    Juice
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    I only give my friends unwarranted advice if I know its going to legitimately help them with what their doing. If me opening my mouth serves no other purpose than being critical, I wont bother unless asked. You're buddy ostensibly wants to be a writer. Unless he asks for an honest perspective, there's no upside to shitting on it.
     
  3. xrayvision

    xrayvision
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    Just let it fail. The best learning he will do is by seeing where he went wrong on his own.

    A lot of peoples' natural initial reaction to any sort of criticism is to get defensive. Even if it's constructive, people don't always want to hear it.

    If he asks, open the flood gate.
     
  4. Rush-O-Matic

    Rush-O-Matic
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    No, no.

    I disagree. You need to post the link here, so we can shit all over. Then, you email him all our comments. Either he takes the comments and figures out ways to stop sucking, or he faces the reality that he's wasting his time and picks up a new hobby. Win-win.
     
  5. audreymonroe

    audreymonroe
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    The most powerful cervix... in the world...

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    Focus: My groups of friends tend to do the honesty thing, but in nice roundabout ways. The more it matters, the more direct I tend to get. Like, for the unflattering pants thing, I'll say "I think the other pair goes better with that top" rather than "your ass looks disgusting in those jeans." But, for the blowing money on a boat when you're broke thing, it'll more "It's ultimately up to you but I think that's not a good idea right now." I turn to people about those kinds of topics for actual advice, and it's just a more productive way of going about things. I don't like the atmosphere of always having to tread lightly with every little thing you say, but I don't like people being assholes and disguising it as "telling it like it is." Somewhere in the middle always seems to work best.

    Alt-Focus:
    If he really does want to be a writer, he should get used to constructive criticism. Not only is it how people grow as writers, but it's just how the writing world looks. Granted, "I think you're a shitty writer and should give up on your dreams" is not constructive criticism. If there's any actionable feedback to give that's not strictly opinion-based, do the compliment sandwich thing if he asks what you think, and hopefully he comes away from it with an idea of where to go with his revisions. If there's seriously nothing salvageable there, I'd say this is white lie territory.
     
  6. CharlesJohnson

    CharlesJohnson
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    I tend not to verbally dislike someone's art if I hate it. Hopefully, my minimal praise is sufficient and the person takes the validation seeking elsewhere. It's tough to provide constructive criticism to a pal when something they spent literally hundreds of hours on is a steaming pile of pre-adolescent gobshite. I have an old internet pal who is published by a very small outfit. He kept asking me to critique, which I did, and I pointed out only small, inconsequential plot or syntax things. It's cool that he has his name out there, that he has some Amazon reviews, and his work printed in anthologies. But holy fuck. His work is embarrassing. Werewolf zombie apocalyptic mashups and ripping off H. P. Lovecraft with nowhere near the same erudition.

    But who the fuck am I? Dude has a publisher and his shit is for sale. Fuck me, in the end. If he listened to how I really felt he may still be sitting on a manuscript no one wanted.

    In Angel's situation, she should keep it to herself until solicited. Then be delicate when asked. I mean, they HAVE to know their stuff is crap right? How the fuck can they not? Have they not read ANY other book in their life and said, "Wow, my writing sounds nothing remotely close to this bestseller guy."

    Focus: In general, I want honesty. Guys really don't care what other guys wear unless you're going out for beers and he's wearing a mesh half tank top from 1985. Same with shitty tattoos; that's on you, buddy. I'd talk someone out of putting anything on their neck, that's about it. But if it is relating to relationships or finances then I feel it is a friend's duty to be honest. Unless your advice is terrible. Then you needn't worry because no one will hold you in much regard anyway.

    I learned an old shrink method. Pose a dissenting opinion or a criticism as question. That way, in theory, someone will analyze it instead of taking it as a slight. Works fairly well, but we all know people generally won't take the advice until they fall on their asses a few times. But you did your part as required without being a dick.
     
  7. Misanthropic

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    I also have a friend who is an aspiring writer, and he has aksed me to review and critique his work on several ocassions, usually before he goes final with his screenplay/story/whatever. He recently had a novel published through a small independent publisher, and asked for an after-the-fact review. As in, copies were printed, folks were buying it. The plot had some promise, and it wasn't horribly written - but it wasn't very good either, and there were numerous typos, grammatical errors, and inconsistent plot points. And I was honest with him about it. I could tell he didn't expcet to hear what I was telling him, and i still feel a little bad about it. But he is a friend, he asked me, and I wasn't doing him any favors by pretending it was a top notch piece of work.

    I think the critical point here is that i've known him for a long time, and he has asked me for my opinion numerous times. Otherwise, i would do as Angel should do - hold the criticism, and let someone else handle that. If no one does, the lack of positive attention to his writing will do it for you.
     
  8. toddamus

    toddamus
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    In general, and I think this applies most everywhere in life. If someone wants your opinion they'll ask for it. If you tell him his writing is shit and you could help him, the second part does not negate the sting from the first part. Just keep judging him from a far and let his dream wither and die without your involvement.

    If he finds out later you had a negative opinion in the first place, he will not ask you why you didn't speak up, he'll more likely ask you what tipped you off to that, not why didn't you shit all over him.

    Focus: Guys can be honest with guys to a degree, but it depends on the nature of the subject. If you don't like someone's new girlfriend, keep it to yourself, if you think he's a bitch for ordering bud light lime let him know. In general with guys I think, the less serious the topic the more openly you can rip on them, the more personal the topic the more lightly you need to tread.

    I remember when I told my twin brother I didn't like his girlfriend. It was open honest and genuine. A few months later he ended up trying to throw a chair at me in a hostel in Munich but failed to hit me because he was wasted.
     
    #8 toddamus, Jun 11, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2015
  9. CanisDirus

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    I find it is only good to give honest review to someone who can take it. It depends on the person's association to you and how they process critique.