Uh oh…
Uh oh…

That didn’t go over too well…

News: Posted June 16th, 2017 by Alina

^ 44 Comments to “Uh oh…”

  1. ArthurRex12 Says:

    Jodie looks ready to throw down with that arrogant blowhard of an author…

    Posted June 16th, 2017 at 12:12 am
  2. Saying what someone did well and why totally is a critique!

    Posted June 16th, 2017 at 12:21 am
  3. Remus Says:

    To be fair… whenever I ask for feedback about what I’m writing I don’t really consider ‘I enjoyed X’ useful unless I specifically ask if they enjoyed it. Isn’t the point of these sorts of meetings to develop critical skills? Though admittedly it was put a bit rudely.

    Posted June 16th, 2017 at 1:32 am
  4. surfpenguin Says:

    What our long-suffering heroine is going through here is actually kinda important. One of the most important things I got taught when I was chasing my degree in digital media design was not only how to TAKE criticism, but how to GIVE it effectively. If you’re not careful ‘critique sessions’ can turn into mutual admiration societies, and no one improves as a result.

    Posted June 16th, 2017 at 1:46 am
  5. Jade Gryphion Says:

    There really are at least two types of people who use workshops and roundtables like this, and they can have very different goals.

    I see Sara and her group to be of the first kind, people who can use a meeting like this to develop confidence while improving their work, hopefully for eventual submittal. Meetings of that type take on a more… Educational nuance and are ultimately very helpful for people that are still in the earlier development of their craft. I’ll also note that the leaders of these groups are normally published in some form, and it is considered bad form in the circles I’ve been in for them to share work for critique from less experienced writters since it leads to the situation we’re seeing in the comic.

    The second type is normally a smaller group of writters that have already gotten their confidence and are most likely published and trying to make a living either full or part time from their craft. These groups often request a submission before a writter can come to a meeting, not necessarily as an elitist tactic, but to assure themselves that they are amoung peers with common goals to polish the final work for ultimate submission.

    Sara’s idol (sorry, forgot her name, and I’m too lazy/tired to look right now) is completely out of line given that this was an open event meant to include less experienced writers (I assume, anyway, not having seen the flier and going off of the other members of the group). She is expecting a level of professionalism from this group that they have not been initiated to. In other circumstances, like those I outlined above, where there is normally a clear code of conduct, I would probably support her more, but as someone who should be facilitating…


    Ultimately, how I’ve seen this best handled is when someone they respect professionally steps in, pulls them aside and corrects them… I’ve seen events like this turn around after something like that, but it’s rare… Usually, nothing happens, and people who should be participating in an uplifting experience leave feeling defeated, drained and discouraged. ๐Ÿ™

    Posted June 16th, 2017 at 2:23 am
  6. Daniel S. Mountain Says:

    Yeah, pro lady needs to go. This group needs someone a bit more “Easy Mode” before getting someone like that.

    Posted June 16th, 2017 at 2:47 am
  7. “Ok. Now let’s have an answer of someone who’s not a complete idiot”

    I’m pretty sure, this is what Sarah heard.

    I understand the writer to a certain bit though. It’s hard to improve and find challenge if you only get compliments. I have a friend who draws really well and they hate if they just get praised, because it means they don’t know how to improve.

    However, Mrs. Dragonwriter should acknowledge that she is surrounded by People with less experience and who wouldn’t want to sound mean.

    Maybe she also tries to piss them off, so they are angry enough to completely take her Story apart.

    Posted June 16th, 2017 at 3:45 am
  8. dakkagor Says:

    Noooo. . . . that was a perfectly fine response (if a little sharp). The author, and I have to assume, everyone else, is there to improve their craft, and compliments aren’t going to help. Critical feedback is incredibly useful to developing skills. I’ve got a bad feeling about were this storyline may be going. . .

    Posted June 16th, 2017 at 4:20 am
  9. Unrealhero Says:

    Compliments are part of a valid critique of a work as much as the practice of doubting a claim and giving negative feedback. This idea that validation is unnecessary just create a anxious husk of a person that is unsable to properly focus on it’s better points, instead driving it’s energy only on what it is supposed to avoid. If that is your idea with this character, kudos!

    Posted June 16th, 2017 at 5:35 am
  10. queenie lama Says:

    I know this is a comic character, but grow some balls Sara!

    Posted June 16th, 2017 at 6:10 am
  11. maarvarq Says:

    You asked for feedback, and she gave it to you. Jeez, it’s like the time I went to a con where Harlan Ellison was the guest, and said “Ask me anything, I know everything except three things” which I took to be a request for him to prate in a profound manner about what these three unknowable things were, but he was sarcastic about it. He even said “I don’t know why people keep replying like that” … because you phrased it as a trap, a*hole!

    Posted June 16th, 2017 at 6:15 am
  12. Song Says:

    “Anything useful?”
    As if you couldn’t enforce the fact you’re nothing but an intimidating and rude person who uses others’ clear admiration and respect to boost yourself up.

    Posted June 16th, 2017 at 9:18 am
  13. CrackedOzy Says:

    She asked for feedback, not critique specifically. A compliment is feedback. I do not like her. *glaring eyes*

    Posted June 16th, 2017 at 9:31 am
  14. Dominic Says:

    Nothing can destroy someone’s opinion of an author like actually meeting them – except meeting them professionally. I worked at an event for a few years, just making sure we were keeping count of everyone, keeping the drunks away and being sure we weren’t shut down for fire code. Had an author I really admired storm up to the front of the line with her crew of minions and pitched a fit when I told her yes, she and her crew would have to go in next, but they’d have to wait for some people to leave.

    Posted June 16th, 2017 at 9:50 am
  15. Varkas Says:

    Yup. Overcompensating or not, feedback was asked for, not critique. You can learn as much from compliments(at least well reasoned ones like here) as criticism…one tells you what is working or if it came across the way you intended, the other tells you where you need work. I’m interested to see where this goes now that some of that intimidation is wearing off

    Posted June 16th, 2017 at 10:04 am
  16. Eva Says:

    Yea, I feel like we are definitely confirming famous author as terrible at people. :/

    Posted June 16th, 2017 at 10:59 am
  17. LogicMouse Says:

    Augh! This is looking worse and worse. ๐Ÿ™

    But she could still pull it out, if after she finishes asking for critique from everybody else, she tears into her *own* piece, commenting on what she thinks is not working and how she hasn’t figured out how to fix it yet, so that folks see what she means by ‘helpful’ comments. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Not that I expect that to be where this situation is going…

    Posted June 16th, 2017 at 2:55 pm
  18. Jenny Islander Says:

    Good grief, I’m autistic and I can tell that was rude. Better:

    “Thank you, but I’m actually looking for ways in which I didn’t do well. It’s OK to be nitpicky. I won’t think you’re being mean.”


    “I really need you guys to stop being nice! Pretend you’re reviewing this piece for a third party. Be merciless. Come on; I can take it!”


    “I’ll keep that in mind–thanks! But I need to do better. Can you show me the weak spots?”

    Posted June 16th, 2017 at 3:08 pm
  19. Dusty Says:

    I just cant stand when people like Sara’s friend get up in arms about being corrected. Life isnt going to hone you into a sharpened version of your perfect self by never directing you when you are off assignment. Maybe asking for something useful would be a little gruff, but this is what they came for, to learn how to be a better writer. That involves following direction and being judged on your words by those who have already made it in the business.

    Posted June 16th, 2017 at 3:38 pm
  20. Echse Says:

    I can totally feel how Sarah feels right now. Q_Q

    The lady seems very cold. Feedback also includes the positive parts.

    Posted June 16th, 2017 at 4:52 pm
  21. sslrranma Says:

    She asked for Feedback, not for a critique so she is in the wrong here. Sarah pointed out something she thought was valid, and to dismiss her like this is wrong.

    There are different ways to teach, but since this is suppose to be a workshop for newcomers, being sharp like this doesn’t help on the first day. Some people thrive in an environment like this, but for new comers and beginners it’s disheartening. Maybe she’s trying to weed out the weak ones?

    Posted June 16th, 2017 at 4:53 pm
  22. TB Says:

    There are places famous authors can go to get professional critiques, and it’s not a reading where the most likely audience will be fans. The most useful things an author could do here would be a) offer positive criticism of the work of selected audience members b) go over how she writes her own work and point out where she learned things along the way.

    When you’re faced with the equivalent of a roomful of tender, just-sprouting shoots, you don’t pull out the lawnmower.

    To be fair, I’ve never seen any real author at this kind of event do something like this. Of course, I’ve never been to a Harlan Ellison reading, either. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Posted June 16th, 2017 at 4:54 pm
  23. Krystal Says:

    She could pull it out of the guzunder by stating later, “You can’t be afraid to look for flaws. If you’re afraid to point out weak spots in MY work, you won’t be able to see it in your own. And YOU are your own best advisors.”

    Or by telling the group she was demonstrating the ability to accept criticism, which is a valuable skill for a writer.

    Posted June 16th, 2017 at 5:28 pm
  24. Angel Says:

    Lady You might wanna tone down your Body Language and attitude a bit. If you’re truly looking for honest Criticism. Really what I’m getting out of this display is that the moment we say anything potentially negative you’re going to rip us to shreds. At the very least you could ask “why” Sarah liked the things she did. finding out the reasons people enjoy your work can bring out traits you never knew you were using to the surface.

    Shoosh Soosh Sarah you didn’t do anything wrong, that was very brave dear. *Consoling pats*

    Posted June 16th, 2017 at 9:01 pm
  25. I can not help but think that The Author wrote a piece at full authorial power. Considering that the attendees are veriest beginners, it would be better to leave them something. In other words, include a definite weak spot.

    I learned this when I was in Toastmasters International. If I wanted audience interaction as part of a presentation, solving the subject totally was an error on my part. What I had to do was leave a weak spot for people who might not have been so confident to jump on. It was easy enough to then cover that point, but without the weakness, I did not get the audience participation.

    Posted June 17th, 2017 at 12:22 am
  26. Arthur Says:

    This is a workshop, not a hugbox. She was totally in line.

    Posted June 17th, 2017 at 5:24 am
  27. TheOtherDibbler Says:

    I feel like this response would have been acceptable (not encouraging, but not outright discouraging) if she’d just stopped after ‘anything else?’. Especially if she said it in an encouraging tone, which I figure was not the case.

    The purpose of the exercise is to encourage people to share and to develop their critiquing skills (both giving and receiving); outright flattening someone, especially someone who is visibly nervous about speaking up, is only going to completely discourage the person who spoke up and a whole lot of other folks in the room. This is not how you teach and encourage people.

    Posted June 17th, 2017 at 6:15 am
  28. kwak Says:

    And this is why she is a writer, not an speaker.
    should have told them she was seeking critiques, not one sided compliments or critics.

    Posted June 17th, 2017 at 10:34 am
  29. Curt Adams Says:

    @Jade Gryphion That dynamic occurs at Toastmaster’s meetings, where there are both new speaker who mostly need encouragement and experienced speakers who mostly need criticism. The Toastmasters solution is make the primary feedback semi-official by assigning another speaker to make an “evaluation” of each primary speech. A repeating speech at least in the clubs I went to was “how to evaluate”, which included the point that evaluation is about helping the other speaker improve, which usually requires more complements for newer speakers and more criticism for experienced ones.

    Of course an essential part of this system is being polite to new evaluators who may not know enough about speaking to usefully criticize experienced speakers. That seems to be lacking here.

    On a separate note, Osulola’s facing in the first panel suggests there’s plenty more attendees in the other direction, which makes me wonder if this group is a little large because there’s not enough time for each writer.

    Posted June 17th, 2017 at 2:55 pm
  30. Razorvine Says:

    There’s a lot going on here to parse I think. She originally asked for feedback, not critique which are two very different concepts. She’s clearly skilled enough to make members of her audience afraid of engaging with her.

    As a person with social anxiety, this is exactly the kind of thing that makes it difficult for me to go into social situations like this. New types of social gatherings where I don’t know the rules of what’s expected of me TERRIFY me! Because of the exact reaction that Sarah got.

    Because there was an unspoken expectation of Sarah that wasn’t ever clearly communicated with her. And because of that, she was dressed down rudely in front of the entire group. It’s the exact type of thing that would make me personally never again go back to a gathering like that again because of the embarrassment.

    And while some people may think that’s an overreaction. That’s one of the many things that social anxiety does. This strip actually hits me quite hard. I have had moments just like the one Sarah just had. There are things that I avoid flat out because of the fear of these exact type of moments.

    The fear of looking completely out of place, a fear of failing, a fear of reading social cues wrong, and worst of all (in my opinion) the fear of being tripped up by the unspoken rules of the situation.

    Posted June 17th, 2017 at 6:27 pm
  31. Sigurther Says:

    One of the many dangers of hero worship. She’s just a person, no better than anyone else.

    Posted June 18th, 2017 at 12:03 pm
  32. One need not have social anxiety to not like the situation. If one is going to get savaged like that, it devalues any input from the person doing the savaging.

    Posted June 19th, 2017 at 12:20 am
  33. Joe Says:

    I follow someone on YouTube who recently made some interesting commentary about how society lately seems to put more intellectual weight and authority towards cynicism and cruelty over niceness, as if being nice was somehow intellectually dishonest or utterly naive.

    Seeing some of these comments I’m coming to agree with that sentiment, the “not a hugbox” being a clear example. What does being a jaded jerk get out of life? The author could have easily said something like thanking Sarah and saying something along the line of “I was more looking for critique.” It’s not like she was getting anything from anyone else.

    As others have pointed out, she asked for feedback, and only when said feedback was complementary did the author move the goalposts. Positive feedback is still feedback, to show strengths and what to focus on- you’re still going to get positive feedback from an editor or where you’re submitting a piece for publication.

    Another thing to consider was artistic context. The rebuff could have been seen as neutral or even laughing it off if it wasn’t for how the author was drawn when she asked for it. It was clearly meant to be biting and extra gruff. She was meaning to be a jerk about this- this was clearly not frustration here.

    It serves no purpose to be a jerk- in fact it might end up shutting down any actual critique in the mindset that if that’s how she’s taking positive feedback, what if it’s a piece of critique she doesn’t agree with?

    Posted June 19th, 2017 at 8:42 am
  34. Scia Says:

    There’s a lot of good discussion going on in these comments.

    While I understand the sentiment that one shouldn’t try to completely shelter someone from the harshness of reality, I don’t consider that an excuse to be rude, and I don’t think a ‘sink or swim’ approach is really that helpful in the long run. Maybe ‘sink or swim’ works for some, but I think it ultimately does more harm than good.

    I looked back to see what her name was: Ruth Olusola. I can’t help but wonder if that’s a stealth-pun: that she’s RuthLESS. XD

    Though judging by some of the things she says, I do think she’s at least trying to be polite, even if she doesn’t entirely know how. I wonder if she’d be willing to accept critique if it were directed toward her behavior, rather than her writing.

    Although, judging by her saying that her work was rough and unfinished, I actually wonder if she’s experiencing the tendency a creative person has to only see what’s wrong with their work. Maybe she actually has insecurities about her work, leaning toward perfectionism, and this is the way they manifest for her.

    Sometimes, when a person only sees what’s wrong with what they do, compliments can feel like hollow lies… maybe like the person giving the complement is trying to ignore the problem to be fixed. In such cases criticism can actually – in a weird way – feel like validation. It gives the insecure person a reason to go ‘See?! My work is horrible! I’M horrible!!’

    I do wonder how Ruth would take criticism of her behavior. I wonder if she’d just deflect any accusations as if they were invalid, or if by chance she might end up in tears by the end of this arc.

    Posted June 19th, 2017 at 4:29 pm
  35. zmortis Says:

    This is why you shouldn’t give an “idol” the power to hurt you with words. Only you can decide to feel hurt. Constructive criticism works the same way. It isn’t someone seeking praise, it is someone seeking input about how to make something even better.

    Posted June 19th, 2017 at 4:54 pm
  36. Saint_Sithney Says:

    I’ve been in roundtable creative writing discussions many times (hell, I have a Masters Degree in Creative Writing). This is out of line for the level and the event.

    An open forum for beginners is going to have some mutual aid society stuff going on, especially if one writer is at a higher level than the other writers. While compliments are not always useful to a higher level writer, and may be detrimental (I almost never got any negative feedback, and as such, am crippled by self-doubt and anxiety about what I write), they are still valid. They are especially valid when you’re working with beginners. I did some Creative Writing mentoring to a 9th grader – do you think I told him flat out his work was awful and he’d be embarrassed about it in 5 years? It was pretty awful, but the kiss kiss slap method is recommended for a reason.

    This author may be the bee’s knees in metaphor and symbolism, but she’s very rude and condescending. Not everyone has the gift of teaching, but the world would be a happier place if those who can’t teach didn’t try to force the issue.

    Posted June 19th, 2017 at 9:59 pm
  37. agehron Says:

    While she said it a bit bluntly, I would assume that when someone asks for feedback, they want some constructive versus “it was sooo good! Yay you!”. That’s what I want when I ask for feedback at least.

    As for the author, she’s probably so used to a** kissing coat-tail riders that never give her a negative remark on her work, she automatically goes to that line of thought when she hears something positive, especially with such a very generic compliment that Sara gave.

    Posted June 19th, 2017 at 10:15 pm
  38. Jesse Says:

    She’s terrifying them to make a point of how an author’s attitude and demeanor will color a person’s perception of them and their work. Once someone goes off on her, she’ll be sweet as pie. Very clever. At least I hope she’s not like that all the time!

    Posted June 19th, 2017 at 11:38 pm
  39. Karishi Says:

    You can see how desperate Ruth is for substantive feedback.
    Still, she’s breaking 2 simple rules of workshopping that have always stood me in good stead:
    1: Don’t be gentle with your fellow reviewers’ work, but be EXCEEDINGLY gentle with your fellow reviewers. Ruth has lost any possible insights from Jodi and Sarah until they can compose themselves – a process that may take weeks.
    2: When you’re on the receiving end, you shouldn’t attempt to deny ANYTHING offered you as useless. Your job is to listen. “Use of metaphors is good, currently avoiding cliche” is solid data. Even “listening to that made me feel happy” would be valuable information.

    Posted June 20th, 2017 at 5:16 am
  40. Joculari Says:

    I get people wanting to defend Sarah, but I can see where our author here is coming from. Is this specifically a beginners only event? I had the impression that it was just a writing circle. So while maybe not talking ground rules at the beginning was a mistake, telling people you want critique isn’t. It seems harsh because of Sarah’s crushing social anxiety (which I understand, I’be been in her spot before)

    But to be completely honest, Sarah’s compliment isn’t even helpful compliment feedback. It’s a poem. Saying you liked all the metaphors in general probably covers a lot of ground. With positive feedback, specifics are key. Which line, which metaphor, and why? You can mix in that in general none of them got cheesy, but specifics can help.

    As I’m writing I’m more and more realizing that the person running the groups really should have just put down some ground rules to make sure everybody was on the same page.

    Posted June 20th, 2017 at 7:48 am
  41. Dragonhawk Says:

    Regardless of whether she’s technically right or wrong, I think we just learned why nobody else wanted to say anything about her reading.

    Posted June 20th, 2017 at 3:01 pm
  42. Buster Says:

    I’m a chef. I honestly hate all these people saying “Blah, you need to tell people where they went wrong or else they’ll never get better. They don’t need to hear what they did well.”

    No. Screw that noise.

    You need feedback on what you did well, too, or else you end up changing things that don’t need to be changed. If I build a strawberry lemon trifle where the flavors aren’t balanced, I might end up reworking the entire dessert when there was really only one thing wrong with it. Understanding your strengths AND weaknesses is important in any kind of art.

    Sarah provided strong feedback of Ruth’s WIP. “I liked X, because Y” is just as valuable information as “I disliked A, because B.”She didn’t just say “Writing good!” She provided feedback of one particular aspect of Ruth’s work that she did well and why it was well done.

    Posted June 20th, 2017 at 4:10 pm
  43. @joculari
    “But to be completely honest, Sarahโ€™s compliment isnโ€™t even helpful compliment feedback. Itโ€™s a poem. Saying you liked all the metaphors in general probably covers a lot of ground.”

    Reminds me of:

    “Please give me Feedback on my painting”
    – “I really like that you used Colors”
    “yeah…. thank you for the Input”

    Posted June 21st, 2017 at 2:35 am
  44. L Dawson Says:

    She had to know there were amateur writers there. Likely 90% of them were amateurs. It didn’t matter who spoke up first or what that person said, I get the feeling this woman was going to verbally eviserate that peson simply to show her contempt for amateur and fanfic writers.

    Posted June 22nd, 2017 at 1:25 am