Conceptual Critique and Burnout, A Guide
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Hello. I am Shanor, a junior staff member of the forum crit team (εїз), and I will be giving tips for how I critique concepts and how I avoid critiquing burnout.

Concept Critiquing:

Concept critiquing is extremely important. It gives users a chance to get critique on their ideas before creating a full draft. This lets you have a solid idea before you start drafting a 10,000 word essay, gives reviewers fewer drafts that are conceptually flawed and will need major reworking, even if the clinical tone is perfect (which means your draft could likely be checked out faster) and help site staff save time due to them not needing to delete conceptually flawed drafts (meaning they have more time to help writers improve conceptually-interesting drafts). So make sure to go to the Ideas forum before starting that sprawling space-opera on SCP-682 to make sure you know what the audience wants before starting.

To start out, I will give an example for a piece of writing that is somewhat fleshed out and promising.1 (note here that what you talk about can change depending on the kind of article that is written. Use common sense here. Don't waste time talking about how there isn't an actual anomaly in an idea if the idea is for a tale):

"I am thinking of an idea about a vampire with the ability to produce ultrasonic waves and fly through rapid flapping of its wings. This item's story will be about how the creature started off as a simple generic vampire in containment, but due to it being dehumanized by the foundation it became more and more like a bat than a vampire. I hope to make it seem like an allegory of how dehumanizing people makes them feel like an animal then a human on equal grounds with everyone else."

I personally like to break an idea's anomaly (what the thing is) and story (why the reader should care about this thing) into separate portions. It is easier to follow, and simpler to write.

  • (1) For the item portion, I like to start by talking about any tropes the item follows.2
  • (2) Then I warn the writer about how and why the trope could make the idea harder to write.
  • (3) After this, I suggest any ideas you would have to fix any big issues you see.

(1) Vampires are a very overused trope both on this site and in popular media. (2) If you write it with this monster, you will have to be much more careful with how you execute your idea, because you don't have an original idea to fall back on. That fact you should feel sorry for them also feels similar to the core sentiment of works like the Twilight series and other popular media. This will make the idea feel far more generic. (3) If you made this being a different, less popular kind of monster (say a were anglerfish), it would make the overall idea feel more original.

By doing this, you give the writer an upfront opinion on the article.

For the story portion I look to see how I react to the idea.

  • (1) I check to see if that reaction appears to be what the writer intended.
  • (2) If it isn't, I suggest ways to change the story to better fit the vibe they want to go for.
  • (3) I then just think about how much I overall enjoyed the story and give any opinions or suggestions I feel about it.

(1) You were attempting to make me feel bad for the creature, but I honestly felt more grossed out than sorry. (2) Possibly you could have the being make vocalizations to add some empathetic qualities. Something like "I just want to see my family. Is that too much to ask for?" (though obviously a little less generic of a quote). (3) But overall, I think the story feels interesting and with some dedication could become very interesting.

After this I check to see how the story, item, and actual anomalous feature(s) fit together.

If I feel that they are disjointed, I take some time to find a way to make them feel more cohesive or I just tell them I can't really think of a way to fix the issue.

I believe having a vampire mixed with a sappy story could possibly feel a bit generic. You may want to make the being start with control over its powers but slowly lose control over time. This would let the being start out as fairly unlikable, but slowly make it into a being you can empathize with.

Finally, I think about my overall opinion on the article.

I look at the culmination of the ideas and see what I like and dislike about it. Then I just give my opinion on the idea as a whole.

Overall, I think this idea has a lot of promise. While it is true you need to work on the actual anomaly and the cohesiveness of the idea, I think you have a lot of potential with this idea with the right execution.

One important thing to note however, is that just because you have finished your first review doesn't always mean you're finished with that idea.

Many times an author with this good of a draft will reply to your review with fixes or questions. You should be ready to look at the what they have changed, and give them your opinions on these changes. This can back and forth for multiple days (and on rare occasions, weeks), so make sure to look back at the Ideas Critique forum to see if they have replied.

How to Avoid Burnout:

So, I have been on this site for a good few months at the time of writing this. Yet other than times when my IRL responsibilities kick up or I am writing something, I am almost constantly the one posting the most on the Ideas Critique forum (other then Zyn on some days. However I don't try to compare myself to someone so completely talented and/or insane). This has been a constant throughout my time on this site and especially as a staff member. This can get a little tedious at times. So I found some ways to avoid burnout and the boredom that can come with reviewing the same 2 sentence threads over and over and over again:

Ask Questions

While you obviously should give critique as well, asking the writer questions helps immensely with getting rid of boredom. You would be surprised by just how many terrible ideas can become interesting with a little back and forth between you and the writer. This helps the writer immensely, and gives you something new (and many times interesting) to read concept-wise.

Critique When You Feel Like It

The easiest way to burn out is to continuously critique. If you don't feel like critiquing for a day, don't. You are only gonna give worse critique if you force yourself to continue. Focus on what you enjoy doing! And if you just can't find time to critique, take a break that day. There will be others who can take over for a day!

Critique What Interests You

If biology bores you to death, don't force yourself to give a full-length critique of an SCP based around biological processes. You may think this is obvious, but there are many users who believe they need to critique everything they can. It's fine to want to challenge yourself as a reviewer, but on a low energy day, you might as well take some time to review ideas that you'll enjoy reading about rather than stressing yourself out.

Take Breaks

If you have just critiqued 6 ideas, go watch a video, read on the site a while, do something to refresh your mind before you start critiquing again. Take your time, you don't have to review multiple threads in succession.

Treat Disagreement as a Possibility

You aren't ever going to have the "best" opinion. So when someone thinks your idea is bad or that they have a better idea, listen and work with it. You will be much less stressed out if you aren't constantly arguing why your idea is superior to someone else's. Integrate the idea into yours if it seems interesting. Try to listen to their disagreements and fix what people think may be wrong or uninteresting.

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