ABDL Story Forum

A Note on Critiquing

We encourage feedback on this forum. That is more or less the raison d’etre for this place. However, we don’t tell you what kind of feedback you should leave. For some people, feedback is nothing more than an expression of pure opinion, an “I like it, please continue.” I am not here to tell you that you can’t do that. Nor it is my intent to dictate preference. If you gauge your enjoyment of a story by how many times the word “diaper” is mentioned, that’s your business.

Instead, the purpose of this thread is to develop approaches to critiquing that will produce feedback that is useful to authors. There may not be a single ironclad, universal method, but there are things I’ve culled from undergraduate and graduate-level writing workshops that I think will be useful here. To some, these will seem like obvious no-brainers. I’m more concerned about reaching those who don’t know or think about these things already.

First and foremost, feedback should be specific. “I liked your story,” “I hated your story,” “this was good” and “this was bad” are all relatively meaningless. They don’t tell the author what was good so that s/he can know to do more of it or what was bad so that s/he can learn to avoid it.

In keeping with this specificity, it is helpful to provide examples. If I say that I don’t like a story because of the awkward syntax and sentence construction, I owe it to the author to illustrate what I mean by that. An example of awkward syntax would be something like, “Into the store the woman walked with her daughter age 11 and her daughter age 8.”

It doesn’t hurt – and often helps – if you provide suggestions. If, for instance, you notice that a character lacks depth, feel free to provide ways to give that character some depth (A hobby? A nickname? A phobia?). Be sure to take caution that your suggestions do not become commands (unless, of course, there really IS only one right way to do something), as the author is the one writing the story.

Tone is also important. You do an author no favors if you heap praise on or sugarcoat criticism of a piece that is really flawed. Likewise, to rip something to shreds over minor errors or because you simply do not like the style shows a complete lack of class. There should be a fundamental level of respect – and that goes for the authors too. If an author submits something which is extremely short, grammatically incoherent or otherwise indicates a lack of effort, s/he does not deserve the courtesy of a kind response. The same goes for authors who continue to get things wrong after ways of fixing things have been pointed out to them. We don’t run a praise factory here.

Finally, feedback should be accurate and relevant. If a point you’d like to make about a story is undermined by the one line you forgot to read, you won’t come off looking very good. Likewise, asking if an author will write more or what happens next after a story is completed is a good indicator that you haven’t been paying attention.

All that being said, I’d like to hear from some authors here. What do you look for in feedback? Are there types of comments left on your stories that you really appreciate and types of comments that really irk you? List 'em here.

A Note on Critiquing

Personally, when people say they like my work, I’d like to know what exactly they liked about it. I also like to know if there’s anything wrong with my work, if something’s missing.

In my Maylu fic, someone told me that people may not know about the series I was writing about, which was something I hadn’t taken into consideration, and ammended in the next chapter somewhat.

When people like something I’ve written, I’d like to know if it was just a part, the whole thing, or even just a line.
EX: “With a crinkle in her step…” A line from a story
Loved seeing _____ risk exposing his/her diapers in public like that.
The thought and concept behind the different scenes was impressive.

For the record, the first example was from me. None the less, this is something I, as an author, would like to know about from the people reading my stories.

Re: A Note on Critiquing

This is probably THE MOST IMPORTANT issue to me. Fortunately, most of the folks that have responded to the chapters I’ve posted have been pretty clear as to why they did or did not like something I posted. This is really of GREAT value to me as a writer. It helps me to do as you talk about and avoid repeating mistakes, and put my time into producing things that work.

Of all of the statements, I think this is one of the most important. The reader and the writer depend on each other. Without one the other has no purpose. You don’t piss off someone that writes something you really enjoy reading (not if you want them to write more, anyway), nor should you as a writer post something that you haven’t taken the time to put your best effort into (unless you want to get blasted the second time you try that).

Don’t get me wrong, no writer gets it right every time, and folks reading don’t always pick up every detail of what’s been written, and that leaves much room for misunderstanding. Unfortunately, with message boards, there is no body language to show when you’re kidding, or when flames are NOT shooting from your eyeballs. :slight_smile:

Take the time to choose your words carefully when offering a critique on another’s toil, after all, you may be the target of someone elses verbal howitzer due to a misunderstanding at some point.

And just a bit of advice, saying “Don’t take so long next time” is really not the way to get an author to write faster, or give you more of what you’re looking for.

I’ve been fortunate in that the folks that have left feedback have been kind for the most part. But the most memorable of all was of SomeGuy telling me that he loved to hate Snuggles and Tears. I liked that (as strange as it may sound). It told me that when he thought I did a good job of putting an idea out there, he meant it, and wasn’t afraid to tell me if he thought I screwed up. As a person, it might not be what I want to hear at times, but as a writer, it’s definately what I need to hear.

Sorry for carrying on so long,

Thanks,

BabyButt

A Note on Critiquing

Nice to see that two things are the single most important to you BabyButt!

But yeh - I agree with this. For some time I’ve observed that criticism in the literary sense does not exist on this forum; for the most part it’s posting something just to let people know that someone’s reading it.

A Note on Critiquing

Yep Nemo,

You got me.

OK, so the first most important thing was most important until I thought about the next most important thing and then it became most important…LOL

Seriously though, for me, first comes respect, then telling me why you do or do not like something I’ve written.

Thanks,

BabyButt

A Note on Critiquing

While your post is spot on WingZ, I think there’s a minority of posters that have heard this before and will just ignore it. There’s probably an overlap of those with the people who blindly post stories here that are complete trash. Anyway I’m sure those that actually try to listen to what others are saying(the majority) will be better critics as a result.
I think there’s, in general, an absence of detailed criticism, not only here, but on the internet at large. I wish there would be more people that would take the time and thoroughly overview the stories and art they find. I should probably become one of those people, as my critiques are usually as short as the next guy’s :slight_smile:

Re: A Note on Critiquing

I too find myself more inspired by specific and focused feedback - someone telling me “Story’s great, want more” is all cool and everything, but it doesn’t really energize me to work harder on moving the story forward.

Focused statements like “I really love the way you’ve developed this character (explanation of what they’re getting out of the writing)” or “That scene felt a bit (hurried? plodding? surreal? irrelevant to the plot?)” gives me some additional fuel regarding the direction of the composition, simply by showing me strengths and/or weaknesses I can go back and evaluate and expound upon or correct as the case may be.

Re: A Note on Critiquing

Reciprocity is always nice. If someone puts the time and effort into reading and critiquing your story, you should definitely find the time to read theirs and put an equal amount of effort into your own critique.

Re: A Note on Critiquing

Admittedly, I’m accustomed to the DD section, where intelligent critique is rare, and quality writing is even rarer. Furthermore, everyone over there is so damned sensitive, I fear giving honest feedback. Hence, I rarely make the effort to reciprocate, for fear I’ll piss someone off if I find major technical flaws in their story and tell them so.

Re: A Note on Critiquing

I’d like to add something here if possible.
Remember to differentiate between problems with style or quality and the sub-genre. This may seem obvious but it is something I notice quite a bit.
Basically, there are different types of abdl stories, and people read them for different reasons. I’d say most fall into one of three types:

  1. “Cute” stories- Usually very innocent, based on characters and relationships.
  2. “Embarrassing” stories- These are a bit more fetishy, focusing on graphic images and situations. They might also involve spanking or bondage related elements.
  3. “Everyday” stores- these are stories where the diaper parts essentially take a secondary role. They could easily be re-written as romances, comedies, or other genres except that the characters are abdl.
    Obviously there are other types and stories in between, but this is a guideline.

Each one of these has good and bad examples. Each one requires some suspension of disbelief for different reasons and is written for a specific audience. However, too many times I have seen people criticize the “Everyday” stories because they don’t have enough fetishy elements, an “Embarrassing” one for being too fetishy, or the “Cute” ones for being to sweet, ect. This isn’t really helpful, as it isn’t really critiquing the author but an entire style and misses the point of that style. If you don’t like a story because of its genre, then don’t comment. Often, you are putting a story down for accomplishing its intended goal. It is comparable to criticizing a horror movie for not being funny enough.

Anyway, I am sorry if this is the wrong place for this comment, or if people disagree. This is just my thoughts.

Re: A Note on Critiquing

Each of the “subgenres” you reference still has a standard regarding the quality of the writing.

I’ll concede the fact that porno movies are never recognized for the quality of their plot, but then porn movies are f-ing porn movies. Porn BOOKS, on the other hand, (think Harlequin Romance) might be trashy and whatnot, but they still make the effort to be descriptive and detailed, in order to evoke the desired responses…

Similarly, ABDL porn movies (FLDiaperGirls comes immediately to mind) are like regular porn movies, and we have little in the way of expectations from them. “Fetish” stories, as you call them, still have to be held to standards, even if it’s more of a Harlequin standard. It still has to have SOME semblance of a plot outside of the fetish component, and it still has to meet certain standards of grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, etc…

I think what I’m saying here more than anything else is, Kita’s forum isn’t DD. There are expectations here regarding quality. If you kill those expectations, you kill what this forum is about.

Re: A Note on Critiquing

I think you missed my point.
I said stories should be judged on their quality, not their sub genre. One should critique if it is well written or not regardless. Then you seem to be saying “Yes but even if it is part of a specific genre it still needs to be well written…” YES. THAT WAS MY POINT. THANK YOU. Yes, if a story has bad structure, punctuation, characters, ect., it doesn’t matter which type it is, it is still bad. Also, if it has good structure, punctuation, characters, ect., it can still be good even if you don’t like the genre.

I just find it odd you reiterated everything I said then claimed to be disagreeing with me…

Re: A Note on Critiquing

Where in that post did I say I was disagreeing with you?

I was merely expounding on the point, with emphasis on the quality of writing… :wink:

Re: A Note on Critiquing

Sorry if I was confused. The “I conceded X but X” type of sentence structure is usually used when disagreeing with someone overall, and the rest sounded like an argument against me, especially since you quoted me before hand. But alright, glad we agree.

Re: A Note on Critiquing

No…all kinds of no. I’m sorry but intended content is just as important as correct syntax/grammar/spelling, otherwise with that kind of logic then I, as a lover of BDSM, should just keel over and appreciate books like 50 Shades of Grey or Gorean novels for what they are despite the fact that there’s virtually no character development, ‘consent’ is pretty much a myth, and an egregious amount of horrid sexism encouraging women to explore their deviant sexual behavior so long as they know their place is still under a man.

Sorry but if I critique a story, it’s going to be for all that it is and not just grammar and spelling. If I personally find the content of it reprehensible even despite any aforementioned warnings about its disturbing content, I’m still going to call it out.

This is a story forum where, as it’s been indicated by the administration time and time again, critique will always be accepted. I hate to be a dick about this but a writer doesn’t get to simply get away from bad storytelling simply because they met and executed the intentions of their story by their own standards. That’s not how critique works.

Re: A Note on Critiquing

If someone posted an ABDL version of 50 shades here, I would give it the absolute beating it should have taken by any other intelligent critic…

Re: A Note on Critiquing

I am not certain, but I feel this was a response to my post… Correct me if I am wrong.

Again, I think you missed the entire point of my post. You essentially re-stated my point while saying you were disagreeing with it. My point was a story can be good or bad regardless of the type. While you said “by your logic I should just keel over…” my point was the opposite, by my logic you wouldn’t accept 50 Shades even if you were into BDSM. 50 Shades was bad not because it had BDSM elements, but because the writing, plot, and characters were poor. If the rest of it was good (I know its not, but hypothetically), it wouldn’t matter if I liked BDSM or not, it would still be a good book and judging it simply because I don’t like the idea of bondage would be a mistake and useless to the author. If that is the case, then the genre doesn’t matter. My point is not to base your critique on the type of story, but on the story and writing itself.

Also, I have actually seen it more often go the other way, where people claim that there isn’t enough diaper content in the “everyday” sorts of stories, usually saying it takes too long to get to anything interesting. Also, I have seen people insisting on the inclusion of spankings in the “cute” types, even when it wouldn’t make sense and would go against the point of the story. These would be cases where people are judging the story on the genre, not the quality, which is what I am trying to avoid. Basically, different people read abdl stories for different reasons, and there are good and bad examples for each of those readings whether everyone likes one or not.

Again, it seems like you agreed with me while arguing against me.

Re: A Note on Critiquing

Funny you mentioned the Gorean novels and their having no character development. I thought Tarl Cabot had intense character development. I just hate what he developed into. He is trained into a proud warrior and decent guy in a BSDM type world and fights for the book equivalent of aliens/gods, then for some reason loses his honor and awakens into a darker BSDM figure dominant in the setting. I hated losing the character I’d invested in to the darker one. Occasionally in each of the following books, he recalls his honor and stops a plot from the evil aliens. Think Beowulf.

The whole series had great promise that still exists and I really want to read to the end of it. The problem, is what you addressed above: the insistence in turning an adventure story into a BDSM story at the expense of forward motion through the plot. Examples involve vast paragraphs of sexist drivel that add nothing to the plot and only further the whims of people reading for pornographic purposes.

The series took a left turn somewhere after book five or six, when the book changed characters. Female characters were as well developed as the male characters without the sexism of sixties and seventies books. Instead of the usual sexism you have of female characters being cardboard cutouts who don’t add to the plot, you have the sexism of “all women yearn to be dominated by men.” Even that might have been okay if it wasn’t so overused in all of the latter books with long diatribes and essays when all I want is action. Now that he is self-published the diatribes go on and on and never let up.

John Norman has probably never heard the phase, “Show, don’t tell.” Essays are not showing. It’s a pain to read because I am interested in the plot, not the BDSM scenes. Fortunately I can read a Gor novel pretty quickly because I can just skip through the boring parts.

I am among a minority of readers of the Gorean books, not being into BDSM, but reading to find out all the fascinating things that we never get to because he has to write essays about his theories of male dominance.

So to sum up my thoughts, I disagree that character development is the problem with the Gorean books. Instead it’s the author’s insufferable views and insistence on expounding on them at the expense of story.

As readers of diapers stories, we want to make sure we aren’t doing the same thing and making diapers stories insufferable. In a hypothetical diapered super-heroine story, we want to devote more stories to her fighting crime and not devote ever page and all our description to the super-heroine peeing and/or messing her diapers. As in the Gorean books where the BDSM is expected, we want to give our reader the right amount of diaper without losing site of the fact that our heroine has other aspects of her than the fact the she can turn a white diaper yellow or brown. Balance is an important ingredient. It’s an ingredient that the writer of the Gorean novels never had and the novels are poorer as a result. Many diaper story writers don’t have balance and that is almost as egregious.

Re: A Note on Critiquing

This is something I wrestle with constantly with The Panda’s Ashes, especially since the fact that Naomi alternately struggles with her bladder control and allows herself to be lazy with it is a significant component of her internal conflict between desiring and loathing her physically necessary infantile treatment. In short, it’s part of a key plot point, but I have to tread carefully to avoid excessive focus on it.

Re: A Note on Critiquing

Hmm, interesting. I think there’s a misinterpretation of what ABAlex was saying.

Correct me if I’m wrong here, but essentially, you don’t like critiques that boil down to “I don’t like it because I don’t like stories about messing” rather than that being something to give perspective to the rest of the review.

You think that they should be posting something more like this:

“I don’t like stories with messing and couldn’t really enjoy it but I did notice some issues that you might want to fix. For example in the third paragraph you missed a comma after Sarah’s name. I also noticed you changed between first person and third person narration in several places where it does not make sense to do so.”

Is that what you were trying to say, ABAlex? :slight_smile:

EDIT: Btw, the second one? Based on an actual review of a sci-fi porn story I wrote a few years ago. Just replace messing with S&M :slight_smile: