Sunday, January 20, 2013

Rants, Revisited

Yesterday my local writing group critiqued a number of pieces, some long, some short. Yes, one of them was mine. I appreciate the feedback the other members give me, the "this doesn't work for me and here's why" or "I'm liking this more all the time".

One post, however, was labeled an essay. It read more like a blog post...or a rant.

Now, I'm an apologist for rants. I believe constructive ranting can clear the air; can find like-minded folks and maybe inch a step further toward rectifying the ranted topic; can open one's eyes to the view that's a hundred-eighty degrees off yours; can generate, and nuture, mutual respect.

But a rant, like other pieces of writing, must do Job One: communicate. This rant didn't. Most of us seemed to feel the same way, and the writer of this rant made the mistake of defending it.

That should be a no-no in all writing/crit groups. You don't defend. You may ask questions about someone else's viewpoint, but you may not defend in the strictest sense.

Our colleague defended. When we told him his post made several points that he did not support with proofs, he said they were opinions and didn't need support. Well, then, we said, you should cite examples. No, he said, it didn't need examples.

You get the drift. It deteriorated from there, and we ended without a meeting of the minds or with any idea our fellow writer left inspired to make his piece better.

If you're not ranting to make something better -- why rant at all? And if you don't come to a writer's group and take away something constructive -- why come?

Just wondering.