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Submitted on
May 22, 2013
Submitted with Writer


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A few days ago we had a chat to discuss community issues and solutions (see the original journal for details). Huge thanks to everyone who came and raised awesome points!

It took 45 minutes for the volume of talk to max out Writer's character limit and this chat went for two more hours, so I'm just going to summarize the key discussion points, starting with big actionables for CRLiterature and for the community.

I've put the chat stuff lower down as it's denser: the outside bullet is the issue, and the inside bullet is possible solutions (not necessarily in order, each point is really a response to the original issue). There is a lot to think about in there, but feel free to pick and choose the issues you care most about. :)

Sorry for leaving a lot of stuff out, but I hope you guys are too busy figuring out how best to act on what we discussed to pay too much attention to that. Also, feel free to re-raise issues in the comments here! And check out :star:s for potential solutions.


  • More educational opportunities—publishing, writing for fun, writing as a career, etc. (We do have a Project Educate week on Story Planning coming up, so stay tuned!) Basically something inclusive that doesn't end up centered on one group or another. Don't just educate about writing, educate about interacting with the community. And, while we're at it, more critique chats!
  • Better support for new writers—Expose-Lit is out there, but as the 'official' literature hub we should have more of that going on.
  • Better explanation of what you can do as a member of the group. In addition to posting your news, we can also help you host a chat event or offer contest prizes/judging. People haven't really taken advantage of this, though. You don't have to be an admin to contribute!


  • PROMOTE CRLiterature! If you have friends who are interested in the literature community, please get them to watch CRLiterature; if you run a literature group, please consider affiliating (after reading our guidelines on the home page) and link your members to communitywide blogs like this one—and post your news. We had about 30 people attend the chat, and that was great, but it would have been even better to see more new faces.
  • Going with the above, favorite/comment when news articles (e.g. FotoFriday :eyes:) are posted and share them in your journal or your chat. Both are needed to get these to the footer for maximum visibility. Also, participate in contests and prompts when they happen! We know it's not easy to think of something all the time, but if there isn't return on an activity, there's no reason to keep doing it.
  • Be proactive. Do you have an idea for an event you'd like to see? Don't expect someone else to think of it—it's your baby. Note the group if you need help organizing it or if you just need a place to do it.

Chat Discussion

  • MagicalJoey: How does one go about offering support to those newer/younger poets whose only support structure is their little friend who thinks that all their work is great?

    • PinkyMcCoversong: I like to use the sandwich method. The bread is something nice, or a compliment -- you have a layer of bread at the top and bottom of your critique. In the middle you have meat and veggies, the really important stuff that might be hard to take, and then you cushion it with more bread.
    • LadyBrookeCelebwen: I tend to go read the person's profile page first. If they're nice and polite to other people, I'm more willing to try than if their first comment on the page is about how mean so and so was and that they need to go off and die. And I agree with PinkyMcCoversong, if they're not here to improve, I'm not going to force critique on them.
    • Lucy-Merriman: I think tempering encouragement with critique and, most importantly, examples of good writing. A young writer needs to develop their taste.
    • Beccalicious: There was talk of someone trying to revive the Adopt-A-Writer programme, which could help. (:star: you can try noting nycterent if you're interested in taking over this group!)
    • aealla: I think this is more related to the individual than to the literature community, so to say.... I believe if a person is on dA writing and wants to hear a truthful opinion, he or she will know where to go.
    • SilverInkblot: I've adopted a policy of not giving critique unless asked, or unless given to writers that are well established in the community/ that I know won't bitch (too much :P)
    • PinkyMcCoversong: I think that if we focus on the people who give us crap for helping them, we're not using our time wisely at all. And it widely discounts the kids who ARE being receptive to feedback.
  • DailyBreadCafe: I'm sorta concerned about the interaction between writers on dA because I just find it difficult to get much of a response from people...even when I try to just start up some kind of conversation with people it just fizzles out because most people don't seem to care about anything that isn't themselves or their writing :(

    • PinkyMcCoversong: I know that I take longer to respond to intensive critiques, and a lot of the time I stew in them and then just say thank you, this well be helpful in my revision. I find that defending my choices as a writer is usually unhelpful, you know?
    • futilitarian: I also think that it's part of the dA thing. I've always always had to give a lot more than I get, comment wise.
    • K47454k1: Personally I try not to respond heavily to critique as a matter of grace. It's too easy to get into the pitfalls of interaction where it's easier to just read the thing say thank you offer to return the favor and let the feedback percolate.
    • :devjamberrysong:: I feel like there always needs to be a lot of questions on both sides for a critique to be really engaging. If a person comes in and pounds the writer with just their impressions but doesn't ask any questions, they might not be answering the questions the writer needs to be asking.
    • Nichrysalis: The source of this problem is about how active the readers are and how willing they are to be engaged in someone else's work, which lately, people are waiting for the work to come to them in the form of their message centers, features, DD's and things of the sort. I feel that as useful as the message center is to everybody, it makes them hide behind it as well.
    • BrokenTales: Is there some consensus that long critiques might be overwhelming to the author? ((Answers: leaning yes.)
    • futilitarian: If I'm planning a total overhaul and someone's nitpicking details, it's annoying. If the critique is pitched at the right level for where I'm at with the piece then it's awesome.
    • Tense: I think long critiques do in more time what a live discussion could do in muchhh less :/ (:star: Want to hold a critique chat? See above for how to do that!). I think as well critiquers want to know their efforts are appreciated, and I think it can be hard to express that as a receiver.
    • Beccalicious: A lot of chat regulars are quite happy to have impromptu crit sessions too, as long as the person asking is willing to give a bit too.
    • :star: I'm planning to do a guide on turning critique into a dialogue (from both sides). Thoughts welcome, and remember that we invite news submissions!

  • Lucy-Merriman: Alright, basically, I'm concerned about a few of the lit groups--particularly #adopt-a-writer and #Writers-Workshop, because they both used to be really standout groups, and now they're kinda limping along like a half-dead lizard. Should we attempt to revitalize these groups, or have people just moved on to other groups?

    • futilitarian: I think there's got to be an impetus on us all to note the admins of those groups and offer to help out, though.
    • neurotype: I think admins also need to be better about backup, there's this attitude of 'this is my baby' which makes it really hard for others to assist.
    • LadyBrookeCelebwen: Real life is a huge problem. And part of me says that in the long run, it's hard to keep things alive.
    • :star: IrrevocableFate's Love dA Lit series lists groups that need help, and you can crosspost journals to CRLiterature!
    • :star: Also think about what you're doing with your group: Lucy-Merriman mentions House-of-Playwrights as a great genre-specific group; other prompt-specific ones like ScreamPrompts have had a lot of success, too. If you're only using groups for exposure, don't expect a lot of return.
    • EclecticQuill: If an experienced writer founds a group with a good team of admins, then they wouldn't need to devote massive amounts of time to it.

  • Tense: People complain about fragmentation in the community, but I think it's something that should be embraced. It's pretty obvious that people throughout the community want different things from their experience of the site, so in my opinion the goal should be to help likeminded people find each other rather than to try and make changes to attitudes on any large scale.

    • neurotype: This has been a theme a few times: casual vs serious writers. The serious writers need to not assume everyone wants the sharp stick of critique jammed up their arse, and the casual writers need to not expect the serious writers to tone it all down. (casual like 'oh I just write to get my thoughts out' - closer to journaling - serious like really cares about the craft)
    • Beccalicious: That's kind of what we want out of CRLiterature—it is supposed to be a "see what's out there in lit for you" and hopefully the appeal reaches to different people—which is why we want to really encourage groups and individuals to CROSS POST THEIR JOURNALS :star:
    • LadyBrookeCelebwen: How do you get a sense of unity and common ground for everyone though? Not everyone is coming to lit for the same reason, and quite frankly, it'd be like expecting everyone in any other group to have a sense of unity.
    • futilitarian: If everyone in this room participated in one awesome lit group and entered one contest a month and posted one awesome forum thread a month and suggested one DD a month, the lit community would be in pretty good shape, imo. I think those things are ways of promoting the community and getting it visible and out there as much as about fostering a sense of community. (:star: Beccalicious and I are pretty dry on notes. Seriously, I get 5-10 a week maximum.)
    • PinkyMcCoversong I'd like to see fewer contests and more challenges/prompts.
    • Beccalicious: I am a little hesistant about using contests to "entice" the community into doing things. At the time they work well but as soon as they are over, the incentive is gone and everything goes back to white noise.
    • BrokenTales: contests with critiques as prizes have a little more potential, but only if the winner is of the kind to engage with the critiquer.
    • Tense: I kind of think making use of the chat is key.
    • toxic-nebulae: If you've just started out and aren't sure whom to watch, I'd suggest looking at the galleries/watch lists of anyone who comments on your pieces, or watches you, since chances are they have the same type of thing.

  • PinkyMcCoversong: I focus a lot of my energy on providing information and resources for writers interested in publishing. I'm wanting to know if this is helpful to the larger community, and whether we need more, and if people in general know where to find this kind of information on site.

    • neurotype: Beccalicious mentioned this earlier, why don't we make a bigger deal about good advice? :P
    • EclecticQuill: The problem is, that 99.9999% of the time, the message stops with you...because those that hear it don't pass it on.
    • Beccalicious: Why aren't people faving, commenting and spreading the word on good articles anymore? We spend a lot of time planning things like our PE weeks and then when an article has spent a long time being put together, its sad to see it garner 5 favs and 1 comment. :star: +FAV/COMMENT PLEASE.
    • HaveTales-WillTell All we can do is encourage our friends to pass stuff on. If a few do, it keeps going: like a nuclear reaction that just won't catch, but doesn't quite fizzle out either.  :nerd:
    • (General consensus: For those of us who are interested in publishing, being able to find accurate resources easily would be great. Here's a good starting point. Also, SadisticIceCream, apocathary, Lit-Source.)
    • doughboycafe: A hub would be great, or, of there already is one (I kind of feel like Love dA Literature is great for that). But also a realistic couple of articles about publishing. I agree with a lot of comments that publishing is great, but also writing because you like it is great. Perhaps it would be good to discuss the fact that publishing isn't the end all be all, but a great goal if you want to pursue it...and to be ready to publish. Because I also feel like besides knowing how to find good places to sell yourself, there are a lot of steps that lead up to even being ready to submit.

  • LadyBrookeCelebwen: I wonder if in our quest to fix dA Lit, we're running off a lot of people. It's fine that a lot of us want critiques and detailed comments but I'm not sure that openly complaining about comments that are just "I love this", for example, is the best way to go about it. I know that we want to fix things, but I worry about driving off people that don't want to hardcore invest in it.

    • futilitarian: I don't think that's the aim and I don't see how it will be the effect of making the lit community tighter.
    • neurotype: I think the issue is that people want more critique, but it gets phrased as 'I don't like what I'm getting now' sometimes.
    • SilverInkblot: I don't think the complaint there is about casual commentary—the complaint is about the lack of anything aside from casual commentary.
    • Tense: I think we should encourage people to be more communicative about what they want in general.
    • doughboycafe: I think it's pretty natural to want just a sentence or two about *why* someone liked something, even if it's a comment on visual art. But it's not as though a three word comment should be discarded. Still it seemed to me like the problem was that lit community members wanted more of an effort from other lit community members. It's really easy to tell people what you want. You can just put it in the artist's comment and ask if certain things are working or not working.
    • Nichrysalis: Maybe the problem lies with the anticipation for feedback and high expectations that aren't satiated?
    • (Some commentary on feeling like you don't deserve critique because you don't give it out.) :star: Don't forget the Lit Forum's monthly crit thread, and that you can post in the Thumbshare Forum! Easy ways to find people who say they want critique if you don't know anyone particular already.
    • Tense: I think specifically asking someone for critique implies that you really value it.
    • DailyBreadCafe: The only time I really feel annoyed about a very short comment is when it's supposed to be an exchange and I write a mac off detailed critique sandwich and then I get "I like this, there's nothing I'd change" in return... because I always think that's not true, they're just being nice! :star: Don't be afraid to ask that people return a critique, maybe by note if you're shy.
    • Beccalicious: Also I often think people think critique giving has to be a 4000 word essay, when sometimes a few pointers can go just as long.
    • (Discussion of theWrittenRevolution's successful practice of requiring members to submit a critique when they send a deviation to the group gallery. Also, questions for critiquers to respond to specfiically.)
  • BrokenTales: This might sound arrogant (it probably is), but I do feel that journal/group features get thrown around like candy with doing much good. A little exposure, maybe a comment from an onlooker (maybe), but other than that nothing of benefit for the author. I would like to see more features that have at least some feedback for the author attached. Can we encourage this?
    • BrokenTales: Well, if we agree that it should be this way, we could lead by example. Perhaps if someone asks for advice on a contest, or feature lists, or just generally chatting, we can try and encourage a little description when they feature things.
    • PinkyMcCoversong: I wonder if the scheduling thing will help this. :star: Hey, beta testers! Try scheduling your posts!
    • Tense: As for the features thing, I think if your features were thoughtful and regular, people would keep coming back to see what you were sharing. The trick really is for individuals to make their profiles somewhere worth visiting and exploring writing from, as opposed to just hoping everyone will improve their features, which is just not realistic.
    • Beccalicious: I discussed with someone in the journal about people making better use of their journals and artists comments to sell their pieces to the reader.

Discussion Questions

  • Do you think the topics covered are things we can or need to change?
  • What do you think you can do as an individual to improve the community?
  • Is there a topic NOT discussed here you feel needs addressing?

Someone asked what members are supposed to do with #CRLiterature, and I finally thought of a way to put it: some groups are places to feature art; this is a place to feature opportunities.

Results of the Literature community chat we held on Sunday. Please use this as a place to further discussion, especially if we didn't have time during the chat. :)

Tina Fey GIFs from here.


Don't forget to comment, favorite, and share this article!
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intricately-ordinary Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
:star: in response to your questions :star:

I really enjoyed reading other people's concerns and tips. I tend to be a little absent-minded when it comes to the big picture and imagining things outside of my own vantage point so this put a lot into perspective.

There was a lot of talk both about critique and deviants' responses to it. I would say, just as a rule of thumb, even if you think you can offer critique kindly as in the case of young authors who may have no idea what they're doing, don't offer unless they have asked for some form of feedback. It is often negatively received or it can sometimes crush the recipient who isn't used to any critique at all.
If you would still like to help them, I do have personal experience that worked for me! Starting on this site, I was just awful as a writer, to put it bluntly. The most wonderful =deinktvis took me under his wing and did a few collabs with me, as well as offering advice. Not only that, but he helped me get more exposure to literature groups. So, my advice is to talk to people. Be friendly. Offer only what they are willing to receive.

If you are looking for critique, just keep your eyes open. Plenty of groups and individual deviants offer critiques. And, if all else fails, go out and critique others yourself. It helps you become a part of the community.

As an individual, I am going to try to
:bulletblue: create more features
:bulletblue: get back on track as an admin for groups
:bulletblue: continue looking out for new writers who are struggling
:bulletblue: suggest more DDs/ DLDs

neurotype Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Woo :dance: Glad to hear it!

Yeah, seriously, ask first is the best. I also will just leave a relatively vague statement to start with that they can then follow up on if they want to.

jamberry-song Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2013  Professional General Artist
Really sorry I had to bail out early! Looks like you all had a productive time. :)
neurotype Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah, if you have any followup thoughts please leave them here :D I know we didn't hit everything you had in mind.
xlntwtch Featured By Owner May 26, 2013   Writer
I enter any contest and event (though I can't do chats because of my pitiful computer) that sounds interesting. #ScreamPrompts has provided me with plenty of challenges, and two of them got a DD.

I never think the work I put here is "professional" (I do that offline) or "great" but I'm often surprised to find out I won a contest or two. Once that's done, I try to read every other piece that was up for that particular contest.

I also read those features and contests put up by writers I 'watch' so I keep busy with "not that great" but surprisingly passable prose for those.

"Read, read, read" is a good thing to do. Lit crit is a good thing to do for any writer you have on a devwatch, any who ask for it. Even if it's poetry- (and I'm strictly a prose writer, though I dabble in so-called poetry) -yet I write lit crit for it because it teaches me to look more closely at how poetry works or doesn't work for a prose writer.

I also volunteer to judge prose contests because it's a fantastic experience to read all the pieces entered and compare them to one another. Read, read, read. ^^
neurotype Featured By Owner May 30, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
SP is amazing for pushing people to their limits :nod:

Hear, hear!
EclecticQuill Featured By Owner May 24, 2013  Student Writer
The article looks good, you've covered some points I missed during the chat.
After reading some of the feedback on the article though, I do have a question, will this topic become a regular point of discussion, or will it only be revisited as and when the community and/or CR team feels it's necessary?
neurotype Featured By Owner May 24, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Good question, and one we'll have to take to the backroom!

Planning this kind of thing ironically cuts time for acting on the suggestions, so yeah probably not that often. :B
EclecticQuill Featured By Owner May 25, 2013  Student Writer
I see, I figured that would be the case.
neurotype Featured By Owner May 25, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah. :P Do you think it needs to be on a schedule?
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