The difference between a snippet and an excerpt and why commenting can hurt a writer


A lot of yo out there realize that writers need feed back.  We need to know if something has an issue with flow or style, if we missed a plot hole or in my case those dreaded commas.  Recently on the writing boards we have started sharing bits and pieces of our work.  Now when we do that it is for encouragement.

You see most writers have a real lack of confidence.  Rightly or wrongly we rarely believe what we are doing is good enough.  Like many artists we edit and tweak our work over and over. So when we share a snippet, or a small section of our work in progress we hope to have people tell us that it works or doesn’t quite work.  A snippet is from that work in progress and is usually fresh and raw with little to no editing done on it.  When someone reads a snippet the author is looking for a comment about is this a good direction to go and not OMG you spelled this and that wrong and where are your punctuations!

An excerpt on the other hand is generally from a completed work.  Like a book they have out to pre-readers.  In an excerpt a little punctuation help is a good thing as is telling them if they have the dreaded plot hole.  But the important thing to be remembered is that comments on either of these should not be a review or critique.  They should be constructive and not destructive.

Now i post a lot of snippets, excerpts and other little bits of my work all over the web.  Generally I am more than willing to listen to what a person has to say about them.  I have wisely learned not to send back snippy comments because in most cases the person sending me a comment believes they are being helpful.  I will generally look at what they have to say and then decide if it is helpful or useful for the piece in question.  I have had people tell me to remove important parts of a story because they did not like the decent into darkness that a certain scene or character death entailed.  Yes I can be considered hard on my characters and no I don’t write light and fun stuff.  I have considered writing both a children’s story and a YA story but they will take a lot of changes in my style to do them justice.

Commenting on a work by and author before it is complete should be helpful if that writer is to continue to grow.  I have commented on a lot of fiction over the past two years.  From help with flow, to plot points, to word choices, I do my best to constructively and positively help other writers.  When it comes to reviews I rarely leave a review that is negative.  Yes I have done a few two star reviews but it takes a lot to get me to do that.  I give reviews on finished work for how well the writer engaged me as the reader, if there is some reason, even the smallest, that I will root for the character and if it is complete.

While many have gotten into the habit of saying that writers need tough skins and if they can’t stand the heat then they should not be writing I disagree.  Telling a writer, an artist, a singer, musician or anyone who is creating that they should not is wrong.  In this world we take way too much away.  We are told we have to succeed, make huge amounts of money and be famous.  If we do not have that drive to be rich then we should go back to the kitchen, the cash register, fast food job and let others who have drive win.  Even if we are just a bit of practice away from being amazing.

So if you can be nice when commenting on a writer’s outpouring.  They are putting the children of their minds out there for the world to see.  They might not be perfect examples of what you have seen before but I bet they have a new take and a new vision that just might teach you a thing about life, love and the world around you.

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4 comments on “The difference between a snippet and an excerpt and why commenting can hurt a writer

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