AdministratorJuly 19, 2020 at 2:21 pm
Here’s a great letter I got from a member. So great, in fact, that I thought many of you would benefit from reading the question and my response. Here goes!
Thank you again for your great forum! All is great, except one thing: I come from Soferet where, as you know, you get answered so fast! Here it takes so much longer, which I find a bit annoying! But it’s not a complaint to you, because you can’t change anything anyway. I just wanted to tell you and ask you what you think.. As you saw I posted my XX and have so far received two replies. (You and someone else.) I expected a bit more, not for getting Wow`s but getting feedback. Do you have any suggestions on how I could get more or was it just “by accident” that I haven’t gotten so many replies?
Here’s my reply:
XX, you are asking a very good question and I will try to give you a very good answer :-). In fact, it’s such a good question that I’d like to post it (anonymously!) to Masterpiece, if you don’t mind because I think it would be of benefit to other women as well. Here goes:
When you ask for feedback, you will get better responses if you ask for SPECIFIC feedback. That means, there’s a big difference between saying, “Here’s my poem. What do you think?” and saying, “I would like feedback on the tone of the piece. I feel like maybe it is melancholy. Any way to make it more uplifting?”
Another thing is that when you do receive feedback, if you are OPEN to receiving it then other people will be more open to giving it. For example, I took time and thought to reply to your piece with what I thought was a very good insight, but it seemed that you took my response as a question instead of receiving it as a constructive piece of feedback that you could take to revise your piece (which would seem to be the purpose of asking for feedback). Do you see what I’m saying? If other members get a feeling that you appreciate their feedback AND they understand what you are looking to get from them, they may be better able to respond.
One other thing: I think the response process can be reciprocal sometimes–either consciously or unconsciously. If people see that you respond to them then they may be more likely to respond to you.
As an aside, it’s also a really busy time right now for a lot of people now that the kids are off for summer vacation but still under the corona regulations so traffic has been much slower on Masterpiece.
Well, what do YOU think?
Thanks and kol tuv,
MemberJuly 19, 2020 at 3:44 pm
Wow, this was also on my mind exactly. On the one hand, there isn’t much to do about this. You can’t force anyone to comment on your stuff- and I totally understand that people are busy. On the other hand, that’s the whole magic of Masterpiece- having your work commented on so you can improve.
One idea I have is perhaps for there to be two types of memberships. The regular membership and one a bit more expensive which would includes having you, Riva, or other well known writers that you can hire, comment on the member’s post that is paying for the ‘premium’ membership. I don’t know how practical this is on your end, Riva, but it’s just a suggestion.
MemberJuly 19, 2020 at 3:50 pm
Hi Anonymous Letter Writer,
I totally relate to your question and think a couple of us Soferettes are consciously or subconsciously comparing, and hoping to see some of the benefits we’ve gotten used to on Soferet over here, plus more.
Because this forum is new and because Riva is so open to feedback, I think that’s a good thing – if we keep in mind that each forum is unique and will obviously offer unique benefits.
The answer to why Soferet posts get quick responses vs. Masterpiece is, in my opinion, a lot simpler than Riva makes it (with all due respect to Riva’s important points). Soferet posts come directly to one’s inbox. It is primarily an email group. The forum is secondary. People check their email often. If the email has an interesting title, the likelihood of it being opened is big.
I know for myself, I check this website average once a day. Sometimes less. When I do, I give myself a couple of minutes. . . That doesn’t make for many responses. . . Also, it takes some navigation and hunting to hit the posts that are interesting and relevant to me and once a post is ‘overtaken’ by many others, it falls to the bottom of the list and is less likely to be seen.
I wonder if there is a way to make particpation a little less cumbersome so that feedback is quicker in coming. . .
Wondering if this might be a good suggestion: If your post doesn’t get the feedback you were hoping for, maybe use Riva’s tip to REPOST with a more specific question, in order to bring your post back to the top.
AdministratorJuly 19, 2020 at 9:10 pm
Loving the feedback, C.K. and Elisheva–thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas!
Masterpiece is a brand new animal, a whole different experience than Soferet or anything else of its kind. It is a fascinating social experiment, where I am inviting women of all ages and stages in their writing journey to come together and support each other. It is almost entirely online so it has that real-time element with a simplified Reply system, unlike an email-based forum. It is an opportunity to post work and even “pre-work” (ie. random thoughts and ramblings). Since we launched JUST 3 MONTHS AGO!! (I can’t even believe it!), Masterpiece has been building itself day by day, member by member. We have over 130 members on the site, with more signing up every day! I believe that this work-in-progress will reach a kind of equilibrium at some point. It will carve out a place of familiarity and habitual relevance in our lives where we find our comfortable niche and build upon that.
I am constantly working to upgrade Masterpiece, but ultimately it is you, the members of this amazing community, who will make Masterpiece what you want it to be.
MemberJuly 19, 2020 at 10:07 pm
I also find that people are much faster to respond to a query or poem, whereas a short story or a chapter in a novel gets little response…to my chagrin. Perhaps a better idea might be that, instead of posting the story, or in addition to posting the story/chapter I can post and ask if anyone is available to critique my work and I can offer to critique theirs. I find that I try to be specific with the critique I am looking for and comment on other’s work but the response is still very little…oh well perhaps I can try to re-post and try again
MemberJuly 20, 2020 at 5:18 am
I can think of three reasons why the responses on soferet are so much faster: one was mentioned, that it goes straight to the Inbox, which many people check several times a day, but the other two are that there are ten times as many people on soferet,and the posts are much shorter, rarely more than a sentence or two. There is probably in inverse proostion between the length of the post and the number of responses, i.e., the longer the post, the fewer the responses.
Now for Riva’s tit-for-tat suggestion, that if you critique other people’s posts, they are more likely to critique yours. Might I suggest that if someone actually read to the bottom of a post, she should at least send a minimal reply, like “Read it.” If she is feeling more charitable, she should could write, “Read it and liked it,” even if she has nothing more constructive to say. Then the poster would know whose posts she could concentrate on critquing, even if they are not in her favorite genre.
AdministratorJuly 20, 2020 at 7:24 pm
Great point, Jane. I am working on getting emojis on the site as well as a Like button, which would make for easier self-expression, but as Jane says, if you’ve read most of the piece, it would be great to acknowledge it even with just a word: “Wow!” or “Loved!”
Where a writer is asking for specific feedback, especially if the piece is lengthy and there may be a number of points that need addressing, no one needs to feel pressured to be The Fixer. That is not our role or responsibility. We give as much as we can, both because a community is about supporting each other, but also because in giving, we receive so much more. I would suggest that it is better to leave one kindly-worded and helpful comment that takes you two minutes tops, than to try to figure out how to say things “perfectly” or attempt to give a complete edit on a piece; both of these latter objectives can be so daunting that they’ll likely result in you abandoning the effort and moving on to the next thread without even leaving a response! Something is always better than nothing–so long as it is constructive! 🙂
There have been quite a few women on Masterpiece who have privately reached out to other members whose work and personality seemed like a good fit, setting up “critique chavrusas”, where they send each other longer manuscripts in a tit-for-tat setup, which is something that can be very mutually beneficial as well, as Jane mentioned, so that’s definitely an option for more in-depth work.
MemberJuly 21, 2020 at 4:38 am
That one-word reply also brings the other person’s post up to the top of the pile again, before it falls into “Cyber Never-Neverland” at the bottom of the pile.
MemberJuly 21, 2020 at 10:12 am
Thanks for bringing up the short reply idea, Jane! I think if a few of us do it, we might see more of it, cuz people will feel good-enough about posting a ‘good-enough’ response. And yes, I do find myself gravitating to shorter posts, so that validates your experienc Elisheva.
MemberJuly 21, 2020 at 2:24 pm
I like the idea of making a ‘like’ button!
MemberJuly 21, 2020 at 8:25 pm
I wouldn’t compare Soferet to Masterpiece. Riva’s website, Masterpiece is unique in that EACH person feels valued, gets honest but gentle critique, and feels welcomed – not just “another” person. As you can see, I feel that greeting and treating each person as a whole world of its own and taking the time to read through posts and replying, is a crucial piece of Masterpiece! That is perhaps what makes Masterpiece so unique.
So, thank you, Riva!!! And while I’m add it – I want to tell you that I so much enjoyed reading 3 degrees! It was amazing and even humorous!
MemberJuly 21, 2020 at 10:04 pm
PassionforWriting, I agree that Masterpiece is a gentle and encouraging environment that’s a rarity (woo-hoo!). But perhaps there’s a flip side to that? Maybe Masterpiece members are wary of providing honest feedback because they’re scared to hurt other writers or disturb the utopian equilibrium? Like if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all. And I know you would say it’s possible to find at least one good aspect to every piece that is posted on this forum. Agreed. But finding that piece and formulating a delicate yet honest response takes time and consideration many would forgo.
I also believe genres play a role in eliciting comments and responses. Memoir writers may gravitate toward posts that are memoir-related and dismiss fiction-related posts. For example, I’m a literary fiction fan and would rather read a literary piece than a personal essay or a poem. There are times I would hop onto a poem post and discover a fondness for poetry. And then there are times I would not be invigorated by a poem, and that’s okay. It’s a matter of taste. Maybe the piece you’ve posted doesn’t fit a specific genre or category and there is a slim market or no demand for that particular variety. If that’s the case, hunt for writers who share similar preferences in literature and writing like you or consider writing for yourself (or a small readership).
Let’s remember that Masterpiece is multifaceted. Its complexity creates a pool of various levels of writing skills on a single forum. A proficient writer may not appreciate critiquing an amateur writer’s piece because it may not match their level of expertise. An experienced writer may not feel challenged or stimulated to engage in discussion with a beginner writer who hasn’t mastered the basics yet. It’s like communicating in two separate languages. Makes sense?
Lastly, to quote Riva, ask for specific feedback. For example: I posted this personal essay two days ago but have only received a lukewarm response. Is my piece too personal? Does it cause readers to feel uncomfortable? If the answer is yes, ask yourself if you’re okay with not having a large readership for that piece. It’s perfectly fine to write for yourself. But if you want to appeal to other readers, it would be a good idea to ask for specific guidance on how to tweak your piece to gain the reader’s approval. Be open to feedback and learn how to glean insights and incorporate them into your work. The magic trick is allowing beta readers or ‘feedbackers’ to believe you’re adaptable and serious about your work.
AdministratorJuly 21, 2020 at 11:30 pm
Great points, FF, as always. But, um, how can it possibly be that I did not see your personal essay posted on Masterpiece?!! I just searched the whole Forum and can’t see it! And I WANT to see it! Can you give us a link?
MemberJuly 21, 2020 at 10:34 pm
Of course I want honest, genuine and yet gentle feedback. Yes, some may be wary of providing feedback that might sound a little too critical, but I personally have found the feedback here to be respectful and yes, genuine. I don’t think feedback has to be rigid, rude, or unauthentic. To the contrary – respectful, honest and gentle feedback is appreciated.
In other words, it’s about acknowledging the person behind the writing piece and giving them the respect they deserve. We’re talking to people, not writing pieces. That’s just my opinion. I guess I was very hurt while being on Soferet, so I have an appreciation for the person behind the writing.
MemberJuly 21, 2020 at 11:50 pm
Oh Riva! I used the words ‘personal essay’ as an example. My apologies for driving you haggard scouring the site for a phantom post that hasn’t been posted and probably never will. Good grief!
AdministratorJuly 22, 2020 at 1:54 pm
Sorry, FF, but you owe me big-time for all the haggard scouring you drove me to, and the only acceptable recompense for my inconsolable anguish and supreme disappointment is this:
A REAL PIECE.
Come on, ladies! Let’s all gang up on FF, whose writing rocks. We must prevail upon her to put her work out there, even if it needs to be anonymously at first. Who’s with me??!!!
MemberJuly 22, 2020 at 11:45 pm
Oh Riva, you read my mind!! FF let’s go – we gotta see your masterpieces!!!!!!! 🙂
MemberJuly 22, 2020 at 1:32 am
Maybe Masterpiece members are wary of providing honest feedback because they’re scared to hurt other writers or disturb the utopian equilibrium?
I think the guiding factor in this should be if the writer seems interested in feedback. If someone posts something you think is awful, but she seems proud of it and isn’t requesting critique – your best bet is to say nothing.
On the other hand, on a personal level, if I post something – even if I don’t specifically request feedback, I’d be really happy if someone points out areas I can improve. We’re all here to grow our skills. Aren’t we?
MemberJuly 22, 2020 at 2:39 am
True, I hear you. I just had a very bad experience. Yes, we’re a work in progress!!
MemberJuly 22, 2020 at 2:46 am
Quoted from Happiwriter: If someone posts something you think is awful, but she seems proud of it and isn’t requesting critique – your best bet is to say nothing.
You have a good point there. I would say to couch it with soft words (i.e. saying what parts you did like) and by stating your opinion as in “I would…” That way it minimizes the chances of the writer feeling hurt. Again, I believe that acknowledging the writer versus jumping to critique is helpful.
Hi ___, I really like the topic of ____ and really resonated with it. I especially like how you wrote/pointed out____. Then it would be “safe” to get into critique. My thoughts 🙂
MemberJuly 22, 2020 at 12:45 pm
I’ll try to be better about acknowledging if I’ve read something but I can’t guarantee I’ll be consistent. Maybe it’s better that way. Because if I were consistent, then someone might wonder, why is she avoiding my thread.
I have a browser-free phone. I can get email on my phone, but no other groups that require internet to go on. So I don’t see Masterpiece as often.
MemberJuly 22, 2020 at 4:16 pm
I also sometimes feel that people on here are – instead of saying their honest opinion – covering up their opinion by saying: “Oh, that is so nice! It
s amazing! You are so talented!" Bla,bla,bla... No, I am not looking down at these compliments, in fact, I find it super nice that people are complimenting each other. But why can we not take critique?? You cannot even take it personally, because most people here dont even know each other, so no one is out there to get ya! I also have a hard time taking critique sometimes because I thought that what I wrote was amazing so why can
t the other person see that as well? I am in general quite sensitive as well, so no, it is not easy for me either to take critique in writing, and I love getting compliments as well! But I am working on myself, to not to feel hurt all the time when I am getting corrections for my writings. Youve gotta accept that there are other people in writing who are – depending on how advanced you are with your writing career – better in you in writing and if they can do it correctly, can help you get better as well! You just have to accept that the people who give you critique are a bit further advanced and that you still have a bit more to go. But if you accept their critique you`ll certainly get there!
Hatzlacha to all!
MemberJuly 22, 2020 at 4:23 pm
OMG! Thanks so much for your post! I feel so validated, and yes, I’m also very sensitive and think why can’t others see it as well-written as I see it? And on top of that, the critique isn’t always said with sensitivity (I’m speaking in general terms; not this website). I’m also trying to work on myself, but it’s so hard. I take it as a direct offense – – even though they don’t know me 🙁 I need a sad face here, lol!
MemberJuly 22, 2020 at 4:56 pm
But what if I think a post really is so nice or amazing? What if I actually think the author is, in fact, so talented? Ought I refrain from complimenting and seek out critique simply to appear more honest? Are compliments intrinsically dishonest?
MemberJuly 22, 2020 at 5:04 pm
LOL! I love how things evolve from one extreme to another… This whole discussion started because people were sensitive about giving and getting critique…
Everyone loves compliments. Go ahead. There’s no reason to stop. 🙂 Believe me, the people getting the compliments are overjoyed when receiving them… They’re not thinking so deeply into your motives or honesty — though I tend to believe most compliments here are people’s true, honest opinions. If someone doesn’t like it, they’ll just say nothing.
Also, I want to retract a bit from what I said yesterday. I never opened a post and thought OMG this is awful. It was just an example. Everyone here has awesome talent! (and that’s not a fake compliment 😉 I can’t flatter even if I wanted to — It’s against my nature…)
MemberJuly 22, 2020 at 5:20 pm
To Brocha: Of course not! There are writings which are great! And I repeat: People LOVE getting compliments! So no one will be mad at you for giving some! But if you are already, then – like you would detail a critique – detail the compliment! Because then people realise that you mean it genuinely. Like: “Your poem/story has such a clear language and it`s written so real, that it feels like I myself am in this situation. or: “Some words you used are such high language for example: …. ”
Telling people that they are amazing and talented might help their self-esteem (for a while) but not their writing! Of course you can use it as an motivational tool next to your detailed compliments. I know bla”h that I have talent in writing, but do you know how much I still have to work on? Talent doesnt mean that you can do everything the day you were born! A talent has to be promoted. You have to work on it, accept that you still have some work to do and people – harsh or not – try to help you to get there!
To Passionforwriting: I get what you mean! But if you asked for critique, you have to be prepared for the not-so gentle ones as well! Just because this person said it in a harsh way, doesn
t mean she that she isnt right! Ok, it doesn
t exactly make you feel trusted towards this person because she said it like that, but lets face it: You will not change her character, and she will not change yours! Like she can
t tell you: "Hey, stop being so sensitive!", you cant tell her: “Hey, stop being so harsh!” So if you know that this person is a good writer, forget her harsh words next to the critique and focus on the writing part! Gosh, I sound as if I can do this so easely! Trust me, I have hard time with it as well! You are not alone in this!
MemberJuly 22, 2020 at 8:05 pm
Yeah, I hear you. We can’t rely on everyone to compliment us (even if we think we deserve it).
And I like what you said about forgetting harsh words and focusing on the critique – separating it.
Boy is that hard! But I think that praising ones writings can “up” their confidence, temporary (unless they’re given constant praise), which is unlikely. Sometimes I wish the world could be more understanding and validating. This is probably irrelevant to this forum, as it’s not a psychology one, but just my thoughts.
MemberJuly 23, 2020 at 12:30 am
Just a thought that’s sort of related. (And a suggestion …)
If I want people to read something I wrote and give me feedback, I usually first send it to someone who I know always has something good to say. She also critiques, but I know I can always count on some compliments (and not fake ones… :))
Then, I send it to “real critiquers,” and I don’t care as much if they complement or rip my work apart, because I already got some positive feedback.
By the way, Masterpiece is totally amazing, because (even though I just joined) I know I can count on some complements and great critiques!
MemberJuly 23, 2020 at 12:48 am
Great point! Yeah, sometimes I run poems by a friend who also has good writing skills.
I second your last statement about Masterpiece! It’s a unique and warm community 🙂
MemberJuly 23, 2020 at 4:13 pm
Yup, it is for sure better to get critique (and compliments) from a good writer who you know and trust.
I hope I didn
t point out that compliments arent important and that everyone
s compliments on here are fake! I do believe that most people here mean it genuinely. What I wanted to point out (From the writer-whos- asking- for- critique view), is that if you wanna get somewhere in your writing, you will have to put your head down, accept critique (from a good writer)- even if it
s not comfortable and you wouldve loved to get a compliment rather than critique – and work on the things you still have to work on.
MemberJuly 23, 2020 at 6:32 pm
I only critique if the writer posts under ‘Can I get your feedback’ or specifically asks for critique when posting. If a writer just posts under ‘fiction’ or ‘poetry’ I wont critique that and only say what I like about the piece.
If you do post under ‘can I get your feedback’ be ready to get some critique! In general, criticism is like open heart surgery; it must be done with extreme care. I always try to preface critique with something about the piece which I genuinely like and then say what I feel needs improving, but never in a way which puts down the writer as a person, and try to highlight the potential of the piece if it is just fixed up a bit.
MemberJuly 24, 2020 at 9:39 pm
My my! To pull the ladies together and gang up on me…should such encouragement be rated as violent? Perhaps. Does it work? Absolutely.
I spy with my little eye two posted poems (!) with Fiction Fangirl’s fingerprints all over it.
We’ll play it fair now. An eye for an eye. Go hunt for Hector. I’ll fiddle my thumbs meanwhile. Until the next extortion?
*leans back and whistles*
MemberJuly 26, 2020 at 2:13 am
Fiction Fangirl, I found them and I love them :-).
Succinct poetry is my favorite.
Please post more, I’m greedy like that.
MemberJuly 26, 2020 at 6:25 pm
My take on this thread –
I reply to what I sincerely want to reply to. I put time and effort into the wording, so the piece of writing has to be deserving. I am not interested in faking enthusiasm. And I wouldn’t even want someone to give me a response that they didn’t wholeheartedly mean. It kind of defeats the purpose.
Sometimes the most powerful feedback is the amount of feedback you get. But don’t judge by the speed. We do have lives.
MemberJuly 27, 2020 at 8:48 am
Someone pointed out that my reply was condescending and I can see now what they mean, I feel so bad! I’m sorry if I hurt anyone, I’ll try to reword it to show you what I really wanted to say.
I generally reply to what interests me, of course everyone has different interests.
And anyway, I can’t reply to everything, because I put time and effort into the wording. So I try to pick the shorter ones, the ones that catch my eye, or that I have a natural response to. I wish I could go through all the posts but it’s hard to keep up.
Sometimes, for me, the most powerful feedback is the amount of feedback I get. But I do have to remind myself to give it time, people have lives…
Please continue letting me know if something here is said too strongly or taken the wrong way, I’d never want to cause pain.
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