New entry May 06
Critters is 25!
Last November, Critters turned 25 years old! Wow! Thanks so much to all of you, who've made it such a resounding success!
Books from Critters!
Check out Books by Critters for books by your fellow Critterfolk, as well as my list of recommended books for writers.
New Book from a Critter Member**NOW IN PRINT EDITION TOO!** Awesome new book, HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR SPECULATIVE FICTION OPENINGS, from a Critter member who's unearthed a shard of The Secret to becoming a pro writer. Really good piece of work. "...if you're at all concerned about story openings, you'd be nuts not to read what Qualkinbush has to say." —Wil McCarthy, author of BLOOM and THE COLLAPSIUM
Stayin' AliveIf you want to make a career of SF writing, STAYING ALIVE - A WRITER'S GUIDE by three-time SFWA President Norman Spinrad, published by your Critter Captain's ReAnimus Press, is an indispensable guide to the inside workings of the SF publishing industry by an expert.
I was interviewed live on public radio for Critters' birthday, for those who want to listen.
Free Web Sites
Free web sites for authors (and others) are available at www.nyx.net.
ReAnimus Acquires Advent!
ReAnimus Press is pleased to announce the acquisition of the legendary Advent Publishers! Advent is now a subsidiary of ReAnimus Press, and we will continue to publish Advent's titles under the Advent name. Advent was founded in 1956 by Earl Kemp and others, and has published the likes of James Blish, Hal Clement, Robert Heinlein, Damon Knight, E.E. "Doc" Smith, and many others. Advent's high quality titles have won and been finalists for several Hugo Awards, such as The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy and Heinlein's Children. Watch this space for ebook and print editions of all of Advent's current titles!
THE SIGIL TRILOGY: The universe is dying from within... "Great stuff... Really enjoyed it." — SFWA Grandmaster Michael Moorcock
Announcing ReAnimus Press
If you're looking for great stuff to read from bestselling and award-winning authors—look no further! ReAnimus Press was founded by your very own Critter Captain. (And with a 12% Affiliate program.) [More]
In the time since I've written the several articles on the importance of critique phrasing--
The first is the similarity to the observation in How to Win Friends and Influence People that harsh words never garners the desired reaction (unless you have power over someone, then it's really the power and not the harshness of the words). That a pleasant delivery of bad news does the job more effectively than a "brutal" approach. (Again: Same content, just different delivery.)
The second observation I was alerted to refers to what's called Transactional Analysis (TA), made famous by Eric Berne in his book, Games People Play. In this, he notes that people have three facets, which he calls the Parent, the Adult, and the Child. As I understand it (and as relates to workshop critiques, even if I'm unknowingly bending things a bit here), the Adult is the rational mind, factual, reasonable, etc. The Parent mode is how people act when playing a role of "power" (parents have power over children, instruct them, etc.). Child is the "not mature" mode, etc.
As relates to critiquing, diplomatic critiques are presented in the Adult manner, not the Parent mode. Thus, as I've said in my articles, when you say "Never use a..." or "Don't..." or "You have to..." you are acting as if a parent instructing a child -- and this causes problems. Similarly, saying "It's a rule of writing that..." or "Editors say..." or "Editors don't like it when..." are adopting an authoritative tone, thus an (ineffective) Parent mode. If you say, "It didn't work for me when..." you are using an Adult mannerism.
TA indicates that for communication to occur, there can't be a mismatch of modes. If someone is expecting an Adult-to-Adult comment (like a critique comment) and gets instead a Parent-to-Child response, they don't hear it, communication gets fouled up, stops really, until the modes get realigned.
In fact, it appears to me that what happens when someone makes a Parent comment is that the author being critiqued reacts in the Child mode. This is not to exonerate the "Parent" critiquer, by blaming the author for reacting "like a child": If anything, the "child" in all of us is reacting as normal humans do. Thus the problem lies with the use of the "Parent" mode.
What happens in practice when someone uses Parent modes is that the Child in the recipient gets angry, both because that's a natural child-like response to improper authority from a parent, and because the critiquer is not, in fact, in a position to make Parent control/demand statements. So they complain to me, or argue back. Regardless, the "Parent" has failed in this case, since they have no standing to play Parent, and all their efforts have in fact been wasted.
Bottom line: Don't use "Parent" mode when critiquing; it's not your job. Use "Adult" phrasing for your opinions, such as I've documented in my articles on how to phrase critiques.
Anyway, I thought it was interesting that there are others out there who've already described why diplomatic critiquing works, and explaining why the other kinds fail miserably even when the underlying content is the same.
© Andrew Burt