Criticism versus Critique – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

by Tiffany Yates Martin

No creative soul likes receiving negative feedback on their work—no matter what we might tell you, beloved crit partners, beta readers, editors, agents.

Yes, we may admit we need it, and that it helps immeasurably to get objective input on what may not be as effective on the page as it is in your head, but as one author I work with memorably put it, having someone offer positive, constructive critique of your story is like an Orange Theory workout: You dread it going into it, hate every second while it’s going on, but afterward you feel great having done it.

But receiving negative, destructive input—criticism—can do more damage to your writing, and your creative efforts in general, than almost any other pitfall of writing life. I’ve heard too many horror stories—one just this week that inspired this post—about feedback that shut down authors’ creative impulses, filled them with self-doubt about their story and their writing in general, and in one awful case decimated the author’s confidence so badly that she told me she was giving up writing. (Don’t worry—ultimately she didn’t.)

“Positive” feedback in this sense doesn’t mean all praise, or empty flattery. It means framing feedback as the carrot, not the stick. “This scene isn’t working” feels a lot different from, “This scene might be a bit stronger/have more impact if…” Just like in a marriage or any relationship, as soon as someone feels under attack, they shut down.

So how do you solicit useful critique, and perhaps more important, how do you assess the input you receive to determine what’s helpful for you and your story and what isn’t?

Read the rest of this post HERE.

7 thoughts on “Criticism versus Critique – From the Writers in the Storm Blog

  1. Good article, Don! If one works in a collaborative job where normal give and take is par for the course, then getting constructive criticism is much easier to accept. The best thing that I’ve done in two years of writing has been to find a critique group that is supportive but completely honest. I would estimate that over 90% of the time their critiques are right on the money. When we develop trust with others, we don’t take their suggestions as criticism but as help.


  2. It is difficult, I do not mean to down play this at all but people just have different tastes. I have received many bad reviews, many of which I believe are justified. Thankfully I have also received many good reviews. Many years ago I wrote a romance; I thought it lovely. First review read something like, “crap, I hate romances”. I would possibly review a “bodice ripper” in the same way, it is not my thing.
    I read a great deal, sometimes I pick up a book that I fancy and it turns out to be “Not for me” that does not make it a bad book, simply one that I have not enjoyed. I cannot then review it honestly (other than the quality of the writing and again that comes down to personal taste) as a classic of its kind. Rather I tell the truth and review it badly. Another may love the same book.
    We all have our own tastes. Do not be put off by this, It is simply being human.

    Liked by 1 person

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