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Submitted on
December 16, 2013


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Comments and Commenting

Journal Entry: Mon Dec 16, 2013, 12:23 AM
Welcome to WritersInk's latest feature: Editorials

Our editorials will discuss issues which affect writers generally, as well as dA Lit specifically. In this Editorial, we will be focusing on comments, discussing what writers want, and what to provide in a comment.

    We all know that getting the exposure you want for your work is a tough endeavour here on dA.  Despite the wonders of the site, the simple fact of the matter is that comments are hard to come by these days.
    There may be many reasons for this - lack of time on the part of many browsers, lack of interest, or simply: not knowing what to say.  We've all been there at one point (some of us more than others), and it presented the question - "what is it that writers want out of a comment?"
    The only way to find the answer to this question was to set up a poll - which received an amazing response from the lit community, and with your help, this editorial will highlight some points that will aid in leaving some insightful and appreciated comments.

First and foremost - Read.
    Many of the writers on dA want feedback - we all do, it's what we crave!  Unfortunately, a startling amount of people, don't actually read the work of others, yet expect others to read theirs.
    No matter how you look at it, it makes sense to give, in order to get - not only will you discover new writing styles and ideas, but you will also start paving the way to comments by building relationships with like-minded people.  So go out there and read the work of your fellow writers - help them out if you can, and tell them what you like, or what you don't - it doesn't matter, they want to hear it all.  Everything helps, no matter how small.

Articles on Reading as a Writer
Reading as a WriterHave you ever set down a book for good because you found something in it you don’t like? If you want to write, I suggest that bad habit end now.
Why, you ask? Because everything you read—and I mean everything–has positive value for you as a writer. Stephen King, and any author worth his or her salt, is a huge advocate of writers reading massive amounts.
Again you ask, why? How can everything be useful? There are a number of reasons and I’ll cover as many as I can.
Reading bad literature teaches you about yourself and shows you what to avoid—or at least how not to do something—in your own work. If you run across something that you don’t like, stop and ask yourself why you don’t like it. Is it just a personal preference? Was it out of place or poorly executed? Does it contradict something from earlier? As soon as you figure out the “why” of something’s badness, you learn a little about yourself and you
Message Center: friend or foe?Greetings! A while back Beccalicious asked the writers on deviantART to look to ourselves for solutions from within the literature community and what we as a whole can do to better help and educate ourselves and others in this big ol' happy family of ours.
Also, SKYFALL gifs because reasons.
This prompted me to write a journal centered around the aspects of the idea:
Does activity equal community?
Granted, the journal has evolved quite a bit since its first draft, but I feel it brings up a point that we in the community need to think about.
As EclecticQuill explains it:
"Community is based on the interaction of individuals, so in a sense yes, activity does help increase the level of community someone experiences. But that being said, activity alone isn't enough, if there's no sense of inclusion, common ground and mutual respect, then all the activity in the world

"Critiques are helpful, because I'm always looking to improve; analyses of plot or characters or even random background elements are always interesting and lead to wonderful discussions; and personal connections bring up interesting points of conversation." - Forta-Verity-Amity

So what do writers want?
    You do not have to be a writer to offer up useful suggestions, and more often than not, the lit community of dA will be more than appreciative of all comments, here are just a few suggestions on what to write about.

:bulletpink: Personal connection
If the reader can relate to the piece, then this is the highest compliment an author can get.  Forming a connection doesn't have to be a powerful one - simply having experienced something similar, or known someone like a character is enough.
:bulletpink: Feeling
Authors love it when a reader tells them how a piece makes them feel while reading.  This in itself is a form of personal connection.  If you felt sad while reading a poem, or tense during an action sequence - let them know!
:bulletpink: Interpretations
What do you think the writer is writing about? This is open to everyone!  Don't be afraid to voice your understanding of the piece or what you think of the themes.
:bulletpink: Critique
What did you think worked well? What did you not like? A critique doesn't have to be an essay, it can simply be a short comment.  Just remember - a good critique will tell the author WHY, and HOW.  Why the reader liked/disliked something and how to improve.
:bulletpink: Favourite line/part
Writers love this!  It means you engaged with their work and appreciate their ability to create great masterpieces with words.
:bulletpink: Typo spotting
If you see any, mention them!  The same can be said about any grammatical errors you think the author would like to know about, but please try to insert these into a longer comment instead of focusing mainly on an edit job.

"I like hearing how the piece connected with someone on an emotional level. I enjoy hearing people's stories and it always makes me feel good if my piece has the ability to connect with others on a deeper level that them just liking it." - SpiralingSpontaneity

Asking Questions vs. Open Comments.
    A note for all writers to keep in mind when seeking feedback, is to ask questions actively within your artist's comments (the deviation description).  Quite a few writers on dA said they do this, and not only does it offer them critiques on specific points within their work, but it also gives commenters something to grasp if they are lost for comments.

Some examples of questions to ask are:

  • How can I improve (part A)?
  • Does the wording in (part B) work well for the feeling / scene / form?
  • Too much dialogue / not enough?
  • Do the characters work / are they believable?

    Now, if you are unsure of what your weaker points are, then perhaps it is best to opt for leaving the comments open to whatever comes in.  Remember however, that sometimes a little nudge in one direction is useful in coaxing commenters to unravel your work.

"I usually put specific questions in the artist comments - things I'm not happy with myself, what could help improve the flow, etc. - to get them started. If people just reply with a generic answer such as "Not my cup of tea" or "it was okay, but I think it needs improvement", I try to probe them to get a clearer answer on what specifically they didn't like or thought could use improvement." - ezradeacon

Critiques - What to Expect
    If you ask for a critique, be prepared to expect some harsh realities.  Not all critiques will be positive ones, and in fact, the point of a critique is to highlight some aspects of your work that aren't the strongest, and then help you to improve upon them. 
    If you are a little more on the sensitive side, then perhaps critiques aren't for you, however, it is worth while to venture into them in order to condition yourself into accepting them a little more.

Critiques - A Brief Guide
    When it comes to writing a critique, bear in mind that a good analysis of a piece will contain both praise on what is done well, and criticism of what is done poorly - each held in healthy balance, and finished with suggestions on how to rectify the negatives.
A good word to keep in mind is "PEE" (as used in many a GCSE History essay).

Point - highlight the part of the work you believe requires attention, or needs to be changed
Explain - explain why you believe this particular aspect of the work is not done as well as it could be.
Example - offer an example on how to change it.

    Remember that a "critique" is not an excuse to tear a piece of writing apart with no justification or attempt to help, neither is it a praise-fest (much though we all adore a good ego-stroking).  A good critique will cover both the good, the bad, and sometimes the ugly - but should be delivered in a neutral manner

Articles on Critiques and Receiving Them
PE: Literature Critique TipsAs part of Project Educate Critique week, the Community Volunteers would like to share more art specific elements to consider whilst giving good critique.
Today we are looking at the Literature gallery, with our Top Tips.

Before you start
:bulletblue: READ the piece all the way through.
:bulletblue: Read it again, making notes of what you would like to point out in your critique.
:bulletblue: Stay Objective- you are critiquing the piece not the person.
The Tips!
These tips are areas which aren't just necessary in critiquing others' work, but also when self-critiquing your own writing. This is one person's suggestions and I welcome any further tips in addition.
:bulletpink: A good opening. The opening to any form of writing doesn't necessarily need to involve a physical explosion, but it needs to have an initial hook; something to entice the reader in. It needs to be clear, something that
Guide to Advanced CritiquesTutorial Index
What a Critique is NOT
What Is Advanced Critique?
Guide To Advanced Critique
Writing the Advanced Critique
An Example of a Critique
Advanced critique is as much
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.

""Wow, I really enjoyed this! The {THING1} was really cool, but the {THING2} could have been a bit better."
At the very least, I can reply and thank you for the feedback, and discuss the pros/cons of the piece." - Rhetoricism

    The most important step to take when on the hunt for comments is to "give what you expect to get".  The Lit community on dA is full of people seeking feedback on their work, and every comment is appreciated.  Taking the time to read and then provide comments on the work of others is an important part of receiving them yourself, it is just a matter of knowing what they want.

Add a Comment:
andy12678 Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2014
I have to remember to comment on more written works from now on. I hardly do anyways. I just am never really interested in doing it but I do try to comment on other peoples work as in digital paintings, etc. But I have been busy/lazy lately so that is also a problem I need to tackle.
Edges-to-Everything Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I have been receiving more (quality) attention toward my own deviations and gallery as I increase the number of comments I write and improve the quality of my comments. I am quite new to dA, and I am not yet comfortable offering detailed critiques, but I do not feel the need to. Most of my comments include both a mention of my personal interest in and/or emotional connection to the content, and a simple critique if I find the words for it.

This journal entry has definitely helped me greatly. Thank you. :)
Sleyf Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
That's great to hear! And yes, I think critiques are a choice rather than a "must do" in the majority of cases I think more people just want comments of connection or interest rather than constructive in-depth critiques :nod: those are for the hard-core commenters lol

Glad it could be helpful! You're very welcome
MajorasMasks Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
I try to read/comment/fave as many literature deviations as I can here on DA, so I'm happy this point was stressed in this journal.  :)
Sleyf Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hooray then you're a :star:
brietta-a-m-f Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist

<?xml:namespace prefix = da />Clap 


I totally agree with just about everything said here. I like that you have addressed both sides of commenting/critiquing, giving them and receiving them. As a new critic at :iconcriticarium:, I am waiting for the first accusation of being mean for pointing out an area to be improved upon.


It's great to see this getting more attention in the lit community as it is such an important and overlooked aspect. I've built some great friendships on dA through back and forth commenting on writing. I have even gained a supporter/collaborator/editor on a serious project that I have finally settled into.

Sleyf Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
:bow: I'm glad you agree!  Yes we just affiliated with you peeps :iconbrohugplz: lol well if you get accused, just point out that they were the ones who asked for a critique in the first place! A word of advice if someone starts getting aggressive - leave your response until the next day, don't be tempted to respond right away while in the heat of the moment.  This will give both sides time to cool down :XD: hopefully though no one will get mad!

I'm happy it is actually, I'm surprised and also very glad that so many members of the lit community responded well to this.  I agree with you too, many of my good dA friends were met through comment exchanging!
brietta-a-m-f Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist

Well, I could also just tackle them like that little gif up there.

It's interesting to see how much the lit community seems to be expanding and yet growing closer together in the year that I've been here. In some aspects, it feels like a completely different dA than the one I started out on, in a good way!

Sleyf Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
*body slams them*...hmmm a bit much I think

That is interesting actually.  When I first set up the group I had no idea what the lit community was like, but as I got to know about it a bit more, I found that, despite it being bigger than I thought, it does actually work and feel like a community.  In contrast, the wider fine-art world, has never felt like a community, it's everyone for themselves with their small circle of friends, and no group I am a part of feels the same way as the lit community
brietta-a-m-f Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I agree. It's almost like coming home sometimes. I am a dummy! 
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