The path of the critic, as we all know, is the hardest road of all. To critic (this ought to be a verb, for nothing else can adequately express the notion) is to rise above the chaff and ascend the corn stalk of glory, eventually taking residence among the celestial ears. If you are to reach it, this Valhalla of critics, you will find yourself among some of the greatest persons in history: Moses, the lifestyle critic, Brutus, the political critic, Marie Antoinette, the food critic, and T.S. Eliot, the critic’s critic.
Of course, that is easier said than done. All too often, it is the folly of a young critic to think that she or he, simply by tearing down with ruthless and trenchant insight, builds a wondrous monument to taste, so easily do they become incensed with the divine nature of their mission. Though there is an ascetic pride to laying down criticism, the sort of hard-nosed purity that comes from a life time wandering amid the putrid favelas we call contemporary literature, one cannot let it go to the head. A critic must be aware at all times, like a furry woodland creature alert to the myriad dangers that lurk in the forest.
A true critic knows that each and every judgement handed down might be her or his last. Nevertheless, to show fear or hesitation will bring doom as well. It is in this precarious space, teetering between the threshing maws of death and disgrace, that the critic, the proverbial gadfly of decorum, must survive.
This noble and hazardous calling, which we call criticism, is more art than science. It lives in the blood and consists of a primordial and sardonic instinct, an inspired tendentiousness, if you will. A guide to criticism, some might say, is nearly oxymoronic, certainly profane, and possibly fatal. Yet, we all must begin somewhere. So to you, the avaricious reader and aspiring critic, I say, “Read on!” and perhaps you shall find in this guide the daemon that visits all of us who assume the heavy mantle of critic.
1. Ctrl + F
It’s time to cut your teeth. Don’t mince words here, just look for the ones that spin a web of raunchiness and titillation. Any good literotica worth its weight in hits should be brimming with references to genitals.
The count should number roughly the combined age of your parents per page, give or take 20 long-winded metaphors about sex and sexual organs. You can’t go wrong with cock, or, for that matter, any permutation of penis. The vagina is a bit thronier of an issue. The lack of historical consensus on the literary merits of pussy and its synonyms bears heavily on all critics. Use your instincts here.
If you find an author’s pudendal patois relying too much on the anatomical, do not be afraid to castigate her or him. Then again, you should be wary of overly idiomatic parlance as well. Few things are as damaging as an ungainly metaphor about feminine sexual arousal. A novice might do well to stick to gay erotica and avoid the problem entirely.
2. Read into the Pseudonym
The greatest author of the next hundred years will probably be named something like Randy. In consequence of this, and as contemporary convention dictates, pseudonyms are standard practice on Literotica.
As a critic, it’s important to judge this book by its cover. A pseudonym can be extremely revealing, and also immensely practical should you ever find yourself beset by an aggrieved author. There are no strict guidelines for interpreting a pseudonym, nor for the judgement by proxy of their work, but pay attention to these warning signs.
Does the author allude to the genre she or he uses in her or his nom de plume, i.e. VampStamp or BonnieBonnieBondage? Does the name sound like it could potentially be the name of the main character in the story? If so, it most likely is. Be bold, make assumptions, and then tie them, however tenuously, to your feeling about the story. Remember there are no wrong answers here, only objective opinions.
3. Read the Logline
Industry secret! The logline is a valuable tool for every critic. Make sure to read this every time.
A snappy logline shows that an author can write. If the line is bad, scribble out a scathing review. Let them know that this was their one shot to hook you and they goofed up royally. If it’s good, you have a tailored made zinger at your disposal for your upcoming critique. Give credit where credit is do and don’t let gems like “Starship crew is ready to be milked” go to waste.
4. Are You Horny?
This is the ultimate barometer for some, but, as a critic, you have to rise above earthly pleasures in order to pass judgement with a firm, even hand. You have a duty to be objective. All those souls clamoring in ignorance about the profundity of this tale are owed as much. Still, its one hell of barometer.
Ask yourself this question at the beginning, the middle, and the end of the story. If you are thrice, twice, or once horny, the story is at least partly successful. As the saying goes, a concupiscent critic is rarely as acidic.
5. Use the Internal Rating System
Literotica, in all their brilliance, have developed a hierarchy based on popular vote. Stories are ranked from 0.00 to 5.00. The stories are designated with an “H” for hot if their aggregate score exceeds 4.50.
Unfortunately, to rely on popular opinion is anathema to us. Should you succumb to the vox populi, you would be immediately cast out of the venerated rank of critic. Your voice would become lost, a mere squeak in the vulgar babble of the masses. That said, there’s nothing wrong with agreeing with the people on occasion, and who is to say whether you were influenced by the score or not?