Hey! Feel like shattering someone else's dreams? Then critique my writing, please.

I’ve farted around with writing for some time now. I have a blog, which only my friends go to. I was hoping that someone might visit and tell me if I have any talent, or if I’m just spinning my wheels, trying too hard, ardently obnoxious, etc.

Anyway, here 'tis. Feel free to give me any advice or criticism you want. I may cry like a little girl, but only on the outside.


I wanted to read it, I really did, but my eyes glazed over as soon as I started. That’s not a comment on your ability, but it’s getting late and I just don’t have it in me. I’ll try again tomorrow. I did scroll through and I will say this much: I give/get high fives for good sex. Ben gives me high fives for good dinners. We give the kid high fives sometimes for no reason at all (“I love you. High five!”) or for doing good at school or for doing extras around the house. For example, I asked him earlier to grab a dryer sheet for me and he actually wound up taking the clothes from the dryer and putting the washer load in there without being asked; that’s a high five and some ice cream.

So… yeah. Eff you and your dislike of the high five. :slight_smile:

Oh, also I don’t personally like that you seem to title a lot of your (first page, anyway) musings “In which…” I find it uncreative and repetitive to the point of approaching obnoxiousness.

I’m mostly only replying so I’ll come back because I probably won’t remember to otherwise.

Seems a bit juvenile. and boring.

I’m not sure what the point of critiquing blog posts is unless you’re thinking about writing something else - for publication via the standard channels.

Silver Fire: 'kay. And point taken about the “In which. . .”
Lanzy: I can see it being juvenile. Thanks for your point of view.
dzero: I thought that by reading blog posts, it might be possible to discern whether I had any writing talent. I have no idea what the future holds, but a writer friend suggested getting as much constructive criticism (no holds barred) as possible, yet refuses to read anything I’ve written. The ass. My other friends and family are too kind to say anything bad.

I thought that might be the case, but I don’t agree with your friend’s advice. Each type of writing has to be judged on its own. Someone who can write a compelling political essay will probably write crap fiction.

Each genre has it’s own set of criteria by which it will be judged. For fiction, that will include intangible things like imagination and originality. Even different subtypes within each genre will be graded based on different considerations. A good murder mystery has different elements than a good sci fi story.

I guess people can critique your overall style, but I’m not sure that would be helpful. Your personal style might be inappropriate for one type of writing but perfect for another.

The best thing to do would be to take a creative writing class. Just don’t be too influenced by any criticisms from the teacher since I think most of the time these are bitter people who couldn’t make it as writers themselves.

I read a lot of blogs. I write a lot of blogs. I also edit others’ writings on a freelance basis and some of the biggest problems I see in reading through your writings is numerous:

~ As Lanzy said, it is rather juvenile. What point are you trying to make?

~ It tends towards stream of consciousness writing with no direction or point. The t-shirt monologue is 800+ words with no point to it other than a <ahem> laundry list of why you won’t throw away articles of clothing. But you don’t tell us why or how the t-shirt obsession began or why it is important (either to you or to anyone else). You have to engage the reader to want to continue reading and after the second shirt description, I didn’t care. But I read on and then regretted it because there was no arc to its dialogue. It was flat and pointless.

~ Your sentence structure and paragraphs need editing and direction. The whole marriage section is almost incomprehensible. Are you married? I can’t tell (or, at least, couldn’t until I read further and realized you had a two-year-old). It is all “me, me, me” with no balance and horrific run-on sentences which border on incomprehensible.

~ It seems like you enjoy stringing words together without putting in thought on depth or purpose. You are having fun mindlessly creating complicated trains of thought which are derailed. The first “sentence” of the marriage section is almost 100 words. #1 in your list is over 120 words. To what point? To show off that you can, but not very successfully, I’m afraid.

Obviously you have a good imagination and a good eye for things.

But your blogs posts are boring.

Think plot. Think beginning, middle, end, all related.

Think of starting off by perhaps asking a question that will make people want to read on, to find the answer.

The key here is, getting people to read on. Whether it’s a blog or a poem or an appellate brief or a thousand-page novel. And then, at the end, you have to really impress them or else it was a big waste of time.

I was about to jump in here and defend my blog and my writing (I did expect some harsh criticism, but I also expected a little praise), but then I realized that you guys are giving me exactly what I want and need: real-life criticism and direction so that I can improve my writing. I disagree about certain points, but overall, I think you’ve all given me a very, very honest appraisal. So. . . thanks! Seriously. I really do appreciate it. I’ve never asked for criticism this way before, and I especially like how you point out specific needs, Mr. Dough Ho. And Ms. Suze, I may be boring on paper, but I’m certainly exciting in real life.

But did you get to the gay one? That one first appeared here on the Dope. It’s my fave.

You’ve got a good eye for detail. A good eye for quirky little things that happen. In general, though, I think you’re trying too hard; there’s an overall tone of ‘Look at me; I’m so witty/clever’. Good writing is about keeping it simple; paring it down to the bones - only if you do that, then you’d better make sure that there’s something real there that’s worth reading.

What do you actually want to write? Fiction? So get going on it. :slight_smile: Writing a blog gets you in the habit of writing, but if it’s not ultimately what you want to be doing, I personally wouldn’t waste the writing-energy on it.

In my experience, talent is not the vital ingredient to getting published; it’s drive. How much do you want it and how hard are you willing to work? I see people with amazing writing talent all the time, who in all likelihood are never going to make it, because they’re not willing to put in the hours to learn the craft. Talent and craft aren’t the same thing. I think you do have talent, but you’ve got to learn craft. Keep your use of language simple. Learn about story arcs. Make sure there’s a reason people are going to want to read your work. Would you want to, if you hadn’t written it? Write what you’d most like to read.

Oh, and I thought the Princess Potty post was pretty funny. :slight_smile: (Why, though? Because you kept it simpler, it didn’t seem so self-conscious, and there was an arc of sorts there.)

That was what I was afraid of, actually.

And that Princess Potty story sure entertained my friends. I thought it was just sort of a little throw-away thing.

I write these little essays purely for stress-relief. I think they’re funny, so I write them up and post them around. I usually write them when I have something else big going on in my life and need a distraction. But still, I want to be a good writer.

Whenever people say to keep it simple, it reminds me of Hemmingway - and I never liked Hemmingway.

However what I think you meant was elegant - which to me means making all of your words add something to the story. And elegance is something that is appreciated no matter what you write. In a past life I wrote appellate briefs. One of the jokes about brief writing has a judge asking a lawyer why his brief was so long and the lawyer replying that he didn’t have time to make it shorter. The idea is that when you just crank something out, it tends to be sloppy and disjointed so you end up making the same point 5 different ways - none being very good. But when you re-read something over and over, improving it every time, instead of being an amorphous blob of words, it takes on a meaningful form.

I mean giving the ideas room to breathe, without a lot of excessive clutter. Quite often, I think good writing isn’t so much the words you use, it’s the words you don’t use - the spaces in between the words, almost, where stories and ideas can come to life in the reader’s mind. Good, simple writing is actually very difficult to do well. Our tendency is to make things complicated; to restate things over and over. When I teach writing, it’s always great to show students how their work can suddenly fly, just by trimming out the excess.

So yeah, ‘elegant’, if you want to put it that way. Or ‘sleek’, or ‘streamlined’. Making each word work for its keep.

OP, it sounds like writing is mainly just a hobby for you - something you enjoy that takes you out of yourself. If you want to get better at it, why not take a creative writing class? Some are better than others, but a good one would give you a better grasp of form and structure. (Original sentence: ‘…but what a good one would do for you would be to give you a better grasp…’ And then I saw that I was using about twice as many words as needed, and started hacking. :p)

Try reading your work out loud to yourself, too. You’ll be amazed at how different it sounds, and how much you suddenly want to start changing.

Okay, I went back and read the gay thing. And gave up about halfway through it. Why? Less so on the subject matter (which is irrelevant in my eyes - especially since I am firmly ensconced in San Francisco within the gay culture), but with the tone of the piece and its preponderance of “I” statements which becomes stale and overwrought.

For example, you wrote the following: I tried to capitalize on my fascination with the final phase of my experiment. While I could not have sexual contact with any man, I could still provoke orgasm while fantasizing about a man. I would masturbate.

Well, for starters, I am not sure what you are fascinated with because the paragraph immediately prior to this one indicates that you find naked men “inadvertently hilarious.” Is that fascination? Regardless, here is how I would edit your previous sentiment away from an “I”-centric tone:

Trying to capitalize on the inherent fascination of [whatever fascinates you], the final phase of the experiment would commence. While no sexual contact with another male would be involved, an orgasm could still be provoked through fantasizing and masturbation.

See? I said exactly the same this without any “I” statements.

Not sure how to say this, Fried Dough Ho, but I never noticed that I do that. :wink: Strange. We’ll see if it’s possible to stop.

Christ, you’re absolutely right. I was speaking sort of tongue-in-cheek up there, but everything is very I-centric. Everything. Man.

As someone else suggested, read the entire piece out loud and listen objectively to the voice. Its self-aggrandizing and doesn’t need to be.

ETA - Oooops - cross-posted with your last statement.

Eh. It’s your blog. Of course it’s full of I statements; you’re writing about yourself. Notice, for instance, how many I statements there are in Fried Dough Ho’s own posts about not using I statements. Nothing wrong with that, was there? Because she’s talking about her own reactions.

Frankly, if I was reading somebody’s blog about his or her own experiences and it was written entirely the way Fried Dough Ho suggests (which ultimately just means entirely in passive voice), there’s no way I’d make it through an entire post.

I agree; this isn’t a novel, it’s a blog. The comparison comes to mind with Dave Barry’s writing - his is all “I” statements, too, but that’s what I’m looking for - his experiences, and his hilarious take on things.

I’ve read up to the gay blog now, and my criticism is fairly mild - you could do better on the technical grammar aspects of writing (that for which, using the wrong there, etc.). I don’t know if it is expected that editors will fix that kind of thing for you, but I notice errors like that, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

I liked the blog entry about the body-count children’s stories. I also liked the marriage advice - very entertaining. :slight_smile:

Sid, I enjoyed your writing. Yeah, you have a couple of hurdles to clear but I think you’re on the inside track. You need an editor.

Many people think that writers are editors and editors are writers. This is I think because most HR managers don’t understand the difference. I am a good editor and a good writer, but I am a lousy editor of my own writing. A writer must have a flaming vision; an editor must have a stone cold eye.

Please take a look at my writing here. I would appreciate your thoughts as well.

If I were to give you any advice, it would probably be similar to this. I have written a novel, some opinion, and a bunch of mediocre poetry. I’d like to solicit your objective opinion.

Thank you.