Issues with Criticism

Discussion in 'Help and Rules' started by John-1107, Feb 23, 2018.


What should John-1107 do?

  1. Stay on!

  2. Leave and don't ever come back!

  3. Leave, but Return in the Future

  1. John-1107 A writer under treatment for issues with criticism

    Jun 24, 2014
    Republics of Texas and the Philippines, USA
    I feel afraid of posting my timeline-style stories and scenarios on because I face criticism of my definition of the alien space bats variant of alternate history.

    My definition of alien space bats-styled alternate history include the Nantucket series and the Draka series, both by S.M. Stirling, as well as the 1632/Assiti Shards series by Eric Flint. In short, to me, Alien Space Bats refers to implausible, impossible divergences from real history as well as the impossible events that result from these impossible points of divergence. Alternate history includes fantasy, not just real history.

    The definition of alien space bats-styled alternate history only includes what the community defines as real history, and completely excludes fantasy history. In short, alternate history has to align with the real world. This is the definition that I have strong issues with.

    Also, I cannot post my unrealistically implausible ASB stories in the ASB forum without being shouted down for my stories' unrealistically implausible elements. I also disagree with my former screenwriting teacher's statement that plausibility is key to a good story. When people criticize my ASB stories, that meant that people think that I'm a very bad writer, of which I strongly disagree. I can be a good writer whenever I try.

    I see as a public place to practice my creative writing, but others see it only as a place for real-life historical discussion, which meant that only the Writer's Forum being the only place on that site for creative writing.

    In contrast to what thinks, I don't think that S.M. Stirling is a bad man because of his racist views. I disagree with his racist views, but I still think that S.M. Stirling is still a good man despite his horrible racist views.

    Edit: because of my views on creative writing and alternate history as well as my intense dislike of criticism in general, I have made more enemies and less friends on this site. As a result, I will be going away for a while. When and if I eventually return, I'll just post only on the Alternate History Writer's Forum; however, if there's no place for creative writing in alternate history on this site, then I will never return.

    This is John-1107 signing off. I will not be missed by anyone on this site.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2019
    Aloha and NzRuJw like this.
  2. RiverDelta Gwen, Gwen, the Mirror Gem

    Aug 13, 2017
    The American Communes
    As a screenwriter, you will have to heed criticism at many points in your life and in the creative process.

    If you can't take the heat, my dude, stay out of the kitchen.
  3. BiteNibbleChomp Currently faking a fishing trip

    Jul 23, 2016
    21st Century A.D.
    I've just looked through your last few posts in a thread about a Japan ISOT or something in the 1800s, I imagine this is what you are talking about?

    Anyway I have observed that does have a bit of a "plausibility police" mentality at times. In pre- and post-1900, this is commonly by people saying something is ASB (even when it is just unlikely), while in ASB it tends to be more picking apart the bits that your ASB change hasn't covered. For instance, you replied to a post about the USA not being industrialised in 1879 - that sort of stuff is common. Most of the time, those people are right. I made a post a couple of weeks ago suggesting that, because the ASBs give the USA a massive idiot ball to hold, that Stalin could somehow land 5 million troops in New York. Very quickly I was told that 1) there aren't enough ships in the world for that, and 2) they would all starve. Apparently I had forgotten that D-day only involved 150k and that took a hell of a lot of stuff to make work.

    My advice is to listen to them and at least consider what they are saying. The mods have done a pretty good job at shutting down trolls and jerks on the forum, and it seems that basically all of our active members are pretty decent people that know a lot of stuff. Sometimes the messages come across a bit more aggressive than they probably intend, but don't worry. If you've gone to the effort of writing a multi-thousand word piece, people will respect it.

    Just because someone suggests something, doesn't mean you have to change it. I for one don't like to retcon my TLs (the only time I have so far done so is to change the population of a city), but their feedback can still be incorporated in the future if you feel it still fits in your story. Hell, I killed off one of my French Emperors without having yet named who would be their successor, with the original idea being that I would introduce a son to take over in the next update. Someone else mentioned the possibility that a known sister could instead rule and I just went with that cause it sounded cool. Honestly I reckon the TL became better because of that.

    In the case of "USA can't industrialise in 10 years" or whatever, think about why they are saying that. If they don't give details, ask for them. Looking through that thread, I'm convinced that the poster I'm referring to is right - you can't go from full feudal to industrial in a decade. That doesn't mean you have to do anything they say (and because it is the ASB forum, less explanation is needed than in pre/post 1900). It is just something to keep in mind. Perhaps spend an update or two examining another aspect of your world that doesn't look at industrial power - say culture or economics, it will give things time to blow over. When you come back to industrial power, it might be possible to just pretend that the previous narrator was a bit unreliable and exaggerated things slightly? Honestly once you are about three updates past an event people won't even remember the details all that well anyway, so it doesn't matter. As long as the story you produce is coherent and not utterly absurd (use your own judgement on this, but it should be fairly obvious), that's all that matters in the end.

    I don't think there's a lot of "wanting to change to their liking" on here from what I can tell. My first TL had a great long debate about how everyone wanted America to get a Pacific coast, and by the end I just refused to because I found it amusing how they would keep asking (when they found this out, I got called a sick twisted monster and was threatened with Coca-cola torture :p), but apart from that I don't think I've seen anything much like it (and that incident was deliberately prolonged because it was funny). When people put forward suggestions, they are usually making them to show a way the world can be more realistic, or possibly to improve the flow of the story. You don't have to do anything with them (and it is always possible to just not reply to their post). No-one here hates you or your work.

    If stress or something is an issue, there is nothing wrong with a two week break or something, give yourself time to clear your mind. Who knows? At the end of it, you might have a stack of new ideas for your work, making it better than it would have been otherwise.

    - BNC
  4. Md139115 Bring back the Inquisition! Banned

    Jun 28, 2017
    Secret Catholic World Domination Conference
    I do not believe in torture. :mad:

    All it would have been was a quick execution as the carbonic acid liberated by the boiling dissolved you alive. I’m not sure if you even would have felt anything...

    Let me experiment a bit more...
    Aloha and King_Arthur like this.
  5. BiteNibbleChomp Currently faking a fishing trip

    Jul 23, 2016
    21st Century A.D.
    There's nothing wrong with trying to make it a strong point. :)

    Is there a way I can arrange for an ASB to get some of the leftover weaponry out of the Napolead so I have some way to defend myself?

    - BNC
  6. TheImperialTheorist To theorize & imagine worlds of possibilities.

    Feb 10, 2017
    California, USA
    While I do understand your concerns, I do think that criticism is, ultimately, a beneficial thing. You might have some ideas on something unique or unusual, and some people might call out on its plausibility. Now, you could just ignore it. After all, you do have the right to decide who you'll listen to. But I do think that any form deserves a chance. You might not be the greatest writer ever, and that's ok. Criticism points out the flaws in things and knowing how you can improve things leads to a development of your skills, which is a positive thing. Now, there's always the chance that some criticism is not... enlightened. Again, you can choose to ignore them. But I do think that there's a clear enough difference between the two types and a small chance that will happen.

    Finally, if you want to take a break, by all means! Take one. When you feel that what you previously considered your passion has some drawbacks that you don't like, take the time to reflect and think things over. Are these negative things overpowering the positive? Is there a way to look on the bright side? Can they help me? Allow yourself to think about it, and I think that, should you ever come back, you'll come back with a new look at things.

    EDIT: Also, could you add a third option for the vote? One where it says, "Leave, but come back after a while" or something of the sort? I don't think you should just leave permanently, but I also think you just need a break from it.
    AltHispano, Aloha, zert and 1 other person like this.
  7. desmirelle director of admissions, brookview sanitarium

    Nov 8, 2015
    Usually inside my head
    If you are going to be a screenwriter who sells, get used to criticism. You look at what your point is and determine whether or not it works for your end scenario. Even if you write for "Black Mirror", you'll have to write well enough to get viewers to suspend disbelief.

    Here, you can do as I do: read it, see what kind of criticism the poster usually gives and whether or not they actually write (there are a lot of armchair quarterbacks and hit-and-run posters). You also evaluate whether or not it works for your end scenario - as above.

    I started writing when I was in second grade (which was before Woodstock) and have enjoyed writing for years. Criticism is never easy (even after all these years, we all think we're doing well on paper) but I take it for a challenge and I decide if it's valid or - like one of my English teachers in college - a case of a difference in writing styles.

    I didn't vote in the poll because YOU have to make the decision you've posited. My advice is don't give up and don't let the haters drive you off permanently.
  8. zert Casual Reader, Interested Follower

    Dec 19, 2010
    Others have offered good advice. As someone who is not a good writer and just flows with no real skills, let your innerself out. Then you can go back review. Take feedback from others and take what parts work for you. Positive and negative can assist with how you may develop, but you do need to filter. Try not to take everything personally and choose to discard those opinions that you do not want.

    Best wishes with your writings.
    Aloha and TheImperialTheorist like this.
  9. David Flin Three coded messages. Gone Fishin'

    Oct 23, 2016
    Pwff y ddraig hud
    I'm afraid there's no easy solution. If you intend to write professionally, get used to criticism. Editors, producers, etc are notorious for blunt and direct comments. Others might call them rude.

    The very first attribute a professional writer needs, even above the ability to hit deadlines and the ability to string words together, is a thick skin. Because it is utterly certain that submitting professionally will bring you criticism way, way harsher than anything that appears on this site. All professional writers have their horror stories of particularly rude rejections. One of my personal favourites was: "An infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters will, in infinite time, produce the works of Shakespeare. Your piece? Three monkeys, five minutes."

    On this site, criticism is mild and generally designed to help. In the big world out there, that's not the case.
  10. FriendlyGhost Haunting history for 45+ yrs

    Firstly I think it's a shame that there are 16 votes in the poll at the moment, but only 10 posts, of which two are by you and one by someone who said he/she hadn't voted; so at least 9 votes are by members who haven't said why they voted the way they did.

    Secondly, let me say that I admire you for having the courage to post your writings at all. I haven't got any further than drafting stuff on my computer yet, so the fact you're willing to post something, anything is great.

    On to your main point, I have to say I agree with most of the posters above. Generally, criticism is meant to help. Sometimes particular criticism may come across as a bit harsh, but that's normally because someone has typed and posted quickly in the style of a verbal conversation, whilst you're missing the visual/verbal cues that the statement isn't meant to be harsh, nor as a criticism of you personally. There is a general consensus on here, IMO, that stories should be as plausible/realistic as possible within the constraints of their premises, but that doesn't mean that you as the writer don't have freedom to decide what's realistic for your story. For example, what's to say that Skippy the ASB doesn't keep interfering in small ways throughout a story? In non-ASB, if you want to have a queen give birth to 11 daughters in a row when OTL she had 3 sons, that's your prerogative - just don't have her have the 11 births in less than 9 years, as 11 successful pregnancies following 9 months after each other would be too implausible. If you want a country not to be industrialised, have a big explosion at an early 'advanced' factory which causes workers not to work with the new technology, thus slowing down industrial progress. Or do something completely different - it really is up to you.

    Having said that, if you are feeling stressed from what's happening, then perhaps taking a break from it might the best for your health and well-being. That doesn't mean you have to leave the site permanently (please don't) or even temporarily (my vote - just to help you with the stress). You could choose just to stop posting for a while - post in your TL that you're taking a break for a couple of weeks - but keep reading other TLs and threads, particularly ones on similar subjects to your own, to see what sort of comments/criticism they receive. Hopefully you'll see that everyone here is treated the same.

    Sorry for the rambling reply...
    TheImperialTheorist and Zagan like this.
  11. markedward Well-Known Member

    May 4, 2016
    Somewhere in Canada
    I had a reply written out last night but didn't post it. It took a lot for me to join this forum and start a TL. I hadn't really shared my writing with anyone in years, let alone strangers. It's been a good experience for me. You're always going to get people who try to derail things and are negative, but there are also lots of people who are helpful and offer a lot of really good advice. It's your choice, but I've found this place pretty supportive.
  12. Youngmarshall Still Clowning Now

    Dec 28, 2014
    Occupied Northumbria
    I think your point about realism is well made.

    As a professional writer, you will get a lot of criticism but the criticsm will be based around your writing skills. Are your characters interesting, is your dialogue beliavable, are your action scene exciting, are your jokes funny etc.

    You don't really get that here (@David Flin who has posted above is a professional writer and so does offer that kind of critique but he's the exception). We're not writers, we're amateurs and so you tend to be allowed to write badly and people will make allowances.

    The critique you get here is never really going to teach you to be a better writer because frankly very badly written pieces will get nothing but praise if the subject matter is interesting.

    What you will get criticised on is historical details. I view it as more a place to talk about history than writing, which might well be the real culture clash between us. The advantage to me of it is an audience who has enough historical knowledge to get my references and correct my assumptions. And you will get that in spades here, we as a community, care deeply about historical accuracy and will correct you if you make unrealistic posts.

    You are probably right to argue that realism is probably not as big a concern among editors, readers, critics etc. And you can probably sell historically inaccurate stuff quite easily (see e.g. Wonder Woman) if your character work and dialogue is top notch.

    If you view this primarily as a creative writing forum for unrealistic pulp adventure stories rather than a forum for historical discussion, you are probably right to find the type of criticism unhelpful. So maybe you'd get more of the feedback you want somewhere else.

    I understand why if you write 1,000 words of your dashing hero confronting your evil villain and the only comment you get is that he's using the wrong gun for the time period, you might get annoyed.

    I will say however a) the kind of thread you seem to be writing doesn't actually seem to be prose or have much to it it terms of characters and dialogue that people could talk about b) isots are a niche idea and might struggle to get an audience elsewhere and c) dealing with people who criticise your stuff is a skill you'll need to learn so you might as well learn it here.
  13. Jasen777 AOC Twitter Repost Bot Donor

    Aug 22, 2006
    The only critic that bothers me is myself.
    TheDetailer likes this.
  14. Ian the Admin Administrator Donor

    Dec 19, 2003
    I don’t see why you think the mods should have some input. Criticism happens, deal with it.
    Talwar and Zagan like this.
  15. John-1107 A writer under treatment for issues with criticism

    Jun 24, 2014
    Republics of Texas and the Philippines, USA
    I just need advice on how to deal with criticism. Should I accept criticism as the reality on this forum or fight the critics and risk getting banned?
  16. fdas Professional Jobber

    Jun 6, 2015
    Criticism happens. You can fight the critics but remember to be polite.
  17. Talwar Ontario Mountain Man

    Feb 22, 2008
    The Fortress of Bureaucratic Incompetence
    I recommend accepting that criticism is a likely and reasonable response to any creative post, including your own writings.

    I recommend understanding that criticism can be powerfully constructive and effective for the writer.

    I recommend you learn to distinguish between criticism of your story and personal attacks - the difference, as Calbear sometimes calls it, of playing the ball and not the man.

    If you are unwilling to do these things, this is probably not a site you're going to be happy at.
    RiverDelta likes this.
  18. Danishbro Well-Known Member

    Jan 23, 2012
    I'm not sure I understand your defination of ASB. An ASB timeline is one which would require the intervention of god-like beings in order to happen, as opposed to events which COULD have conceivably happened, even if somewhat unlikely.

    These are all examples of ASB: Nantucket, 1632 and Assiti Shards all involve impossible displacements of land across space and time. One could argue that the premise of the Draka isn't ASB because Francis Drake could have founded South Africa, and it could have developed into a militarist slave society, however the massive success of the Draka, and the blindness of the rest of the world, could only be done with the intervention of god-like beings.

    I don't understand what you're saying. On people generally expect the timeline to behave realistically outside of the parameters of the ASB situation. So if you wanted to make a timeline in which the Confederacy are magically granted heat-seeking missle launches and the knowledge to use them, that's fine. However the way the armies and people behave should still be realisitic- so you can't write "Once General Lee's men rode over the hill, General Grant could see the heat-seeking missles on the backs of the confederate horse- when the union army saw this they all died of heart-attacks at the shock!" If you want to write a timeline where that happens, that's fine, just tell everyone that the timeline involves magical confederate missle-launches, and the union army being cursed with weak hearts.

    So in an ASB stories the premise can be as unrealistic or implausible as you want, but the event which unfold afterwards should be realistic and plausible. For instance, when Grantville arrived in 1632 Eric Flint didn't have Mike Sterns kill every single European with a machine gun, because that's impossible.

    It depends on the exact criticize, but what you're describing sounds like they are critcizing your realism.

    While you can certainly use to help hone your writing skills, is ultimately a forum for discussing historical diveragances, so people's comments (for the most part) aren't going to be about how good/bad the writing is, but about the historical events you're writing about.
    Zagan likes this.
  19. John-1107 A writer under treatment for issues with criticism

    Jun 24, 2014
    Republics of Texas and the Philippines, USA
    I see all forms of criticism, including criticism on this forum and movie criticism, as all the same: unfairly biased and generally unhelpful. I also see criticism as indistinguishable from personal attack: "Your writing of historical events is very bad!" = bad writer and bad historian.

    Can you recommend an alternative website with alternate history that probably would accept my ideas about alien space bats and alternate history? It's too difficult for me to write a story where everything happens like in the real world. It's way easier for me to write a story where events don't always happen the same way as in the real world.

    Before he got banned, when S.M. Stirling was a user on this website, he would get into the same arguments like I have with another user over what's realistically plausible.

    Now vote on the poll: can I stay, should I leave and come back later, or should I leave and never come back?
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019
  20. Neshomancer Mistborn Jedi

    Dec 8, 2011
    Have you ever considered that the problem is with you and not with your critics? If you don't want criticism it's probably best that you don't post on a public forum. Especially if you take any critique as a personal attack. You're looking for a hug box, not a place to get feedback or improve your understanding of history or your writing skills. You can make a realistic story without making it exactly like the real world. If you're not willing to put in the effort, that's on you. You can take an outlandish original premise and extrapolate the consequences of that. The very things you consider ASB i.e. 1632, and Nantucket do just that. If you aren't willing to do that, again it's on you. When people find flaws and point them out, they're not trying to be mean, generally anyway, they're trying to help.

    Again if you can't handle that, if you consider even well-meaning critiques personal attacks that's on you. If you think this is an environment that won't suit your needs, then just leave quietly. There was no need to make a big production of it by making a thread with a poll and asking us to make a decision that is ultimately yours.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2019
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