"This was good, but I thought it could use some work..."

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Title: "This was good, but I thought it could use some work..."
Creator: Arduinna
Date(s): May 25, 1999
Medium: online
Fandom: multi
Topic: fiction writing, feedback
External Links: online here, Archived version
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"This was good, but I thought it could use some work..." is an essay by Arduinna.

It has an ironic typo on the title page: "This was good, but I thought it could ise some work..." [1]

The essay was posted to Essays: Rants and Rambles.

For additional context, see Timeline of Concrit & Feedback Meta.


Some people would have us believe that the [title of this essay] is a flame.

I don't get this concept. To me, a flame is a personal attack on someone -- their physical appearance, intelligence, religious beliefs, upbringing, sexual mores, whatever.

Yet there's this idea that it isn't "nice" to say, "spellcheck would have made this even better" or "I liked this a lot, especially x, y, and z. But the constantly shifting tenses were a bit unsettling, and kept throwing me out of the story. Have you considered using a beta reader to catch details like that?" And in saying something "not nice" like that, a person has therefore "flamed". Excuse me?

Has everybody just forgotten about the Emperor's New Clothes? (Apologies to fen from cultures where this reference makes no sense, but this childhood tale explains my point best.) Do people actually read that story and think that his courtiers were being kind, were being helpful, were being encouraging, were being nice, when they decided not to tell the emperor that his "new clothes" were no such thing? I always thought the emperor would've been a hell of a lot better off -- would have avoided completely humiliating himself in public -- if that little kid from the crowd had been the first one to see the "new clothes", and had given the emperor a bit of honest feedback about it.

Saying, "Running this through a spell-checker would have made it better" just plain isn't a flame.

It's feedback. It's helpful feedback.
If people are so fragile that they honestly cannot handle the thought that someone out there doesn't like their story, or cannot handle being told that they spelled something wrong -- and I'm aware that some people really are that fragile -- why on earth are they posting stories where dozens or hundreds or thousands of strangers can read them? Why are they making that fragility the responsibility of all those strangers? I'm sorry if you can't handle being told you spelled something wrong, but it's not my fault that you can't handle it (or that you spelled it wrong, for that matter)... I think it really sucks that people who can't stand the heat are not only staying in the kitchen, they're insisting that everyone else turn off the ovens for them.


  1. ^ ;)