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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 5th day of Running, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 121 > Articles > The War of the Words

The War of the Words

by erika_idle

CHAT BOARDS - Neopia is a haven to the fine arts. Poets and writers flourish, and one only needs to look in the deep Catacombs to see that. But have you ever heard the phrase, "For every reaction, there is an equal and opposite reaction?" Apply that to Neopia's fine arts. For every writer or poet in Neopia there is the inevitable: the critic.

With the introduction of the Writer's Board in Neopia, many aspiring writers posted their poems or short stories on the indicated chat board with high hopes of good reviews. What they found were not the sugar-coated replies they would have liked. Instead, the writers were horrified to see their masterpieces torn to shreds by the harsh critic. In retaliation to the negative reviews, the author would reply with the usual battle cry of, "Who are YOU to criticize the way I write?" or something similar. On the Writer's Board, this usually sparks into something slightly less serious than the Darigan/Meridell war.

This article is meant to be a bridge to both the writer and the critic. Foremost to the writer: If you do not handle criticism well, don't post your poem to be critiqued. You can't be 100% sure that you'll get an A+ review.

If you really want to know what people think, and are willing to go to any ends to find out, by all means! Post your stories or poems on the Writer's Board. There are a few things you should know, though, before you press that handy-dandy little submit button.

1. Proofreading. Maybe it's getting to be a bit redundant to say this, but if you ever want to be taken seriously, all you have to do is revise your work. Don't just use Spell-Check, either. Go over your entire masterpiece, making sure that you didn't type any word word twice, or that you didn't leave a out, or something similar. If you don't take the time to do this, rest assured that a critic will.

2. Write naturally. Make sure what you are writing about is interesting to the reader as well as yourself. Look at your poem or story and ask yourself, "What am I really writing?" Are you acting as a narrator from one of your own personal experiences? Are you describing a recent event in Neopia? Are you using logic or evidence to prove that Jelly World really does exist? Whatever it is, make sure you stick to one form of writing.

3. Make your story or poem interesting. Everybody can write a poem or a story, although not everybody can write a GOOD poem or story. You have to put some effort into it to make it worthwhile. Nobody can tell you how to make your story more interesting, but here's a tip: if you fall asleep reading your first draft, that's not a good sign.

And on the other end of the spectrum is the critic. The critic can be either the most hated or most loved person in all of Neopia, depending on the critique that they write.

For the most part, however, it's the bad critiques that cause the most fights on the Writer's Board. The reviews to a poem that read, "dis poem stinks. u are a horibel righter. u better giv up now, cuz ur never going 2 b published- EVA!111" generally are considered flammable and rude.

Just like nobody can tell you how to write, nobody can tell you how to critique. There are some easy rules that you could follow, however, if you are planning on doing some constructive criticism in the future.

1. Read the poem/story. Yes, read it. Don't glance over it, say in your mind, "This is a worthless pile of dung!" and tell the writer just that. Take your time to actually read the words so you can give the writer an honest review.

2. Do the actual critiquing. Ask yourself some questions in your head before putting pen to paper (or in this case, fingers to keys) and writing the actual critique. Does the story have a clear purpose? Not all poems or stories are meant to have clear plots. Keep that in mind.

Does the story or poem target a specific audience? If so, could you still understand and appreciate this story or poem as thoroughly as the audience it was intended for?

Is the story or poem presented in appropriate form? You might mention a "spelling error on line two" or a "proper noun that needs to be capitalized" but know that that hardly counts as a review.

And lastly, what were your personal thoughts on the poem or story? Did you like it? Did the writer succeed in making you smile, laugh, or cry? Did you react at all? You might feel it is worthwhile to mention that you laughed so hard you cried in your review. It's those kinds of sentimental things that authors really appreciate.

3. Write out your critique. Make sure to include all your points, and here's a good rule to go by that has been mentioned before on the Writer's Board: for every negative comment that you include in your review, add in a positive one to cancel it out. For especially sensitive authors, this small chore can really make even the toughest of criticisms seem the most constructive.

4. Remember what that little Snowbunny once said? "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all." If you can't find even the smallest ray of sunshine in a poem or a story, maybe it's in your best interest to not write a critique at all. Put yourself in the author's chair. Would you like an entirely negative review written about your so-called publication? Unless you honestly believe that the writer can handle your criticism, don't write anything at all.

You would be avoiding a lot of conflict, that's for sure.

In conclusion, the Writer's Board in Neopia is a haven for many writers and poets. If you want to have your poem or story critiqued, make sure you can handle it being critiqued in the first place. Also check your work to make sure it is the most natural and most interesting that it can be. It wouldn't hurt to revise it, either.

If you're planning on critiquing poems and stories at the Writer's Board, make sure your critiques are worthwhile. Write your personal thoughts and your criticisms, but also remember to add in a few good comments. If you can't think of anything positive to write for a certain piece of writing, maybe you shouldn't critique it at all. It might be the right thing to do to avoid one of those sixteen page fights over absolutely nothing on the Writer's Board. After all, it's just common courtesy.

To all the readers and critics of this, feel free to send me your constructive criticism.

Week 121 Related Links

Jay and the Super Authors Strike Back: Part Five
"For that Thursday, I learned of the powers of writing. And of the evils that wanted to thwart the true writers of Neopia."

by erika_idle



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