Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Quick Note RE: Writers' Commandment #4

I did say one should not obsess on the negative feedback one gets. This should not be taken to mean that you should ignore everything that isn't glowing praise.

That would be stupid.

Here's the difficult task you are faced with. Take the objective parts of the criticism you receive and apply them as necessary. Let go of the rest.

Now, it can be hard to find the objective point in the criticism. Say, frex, that someone says your story is dull. They might just be a talentless hack who is determined to discourage you so they have a better chance at publication. Or they might be trying to say that there's a lack of conflict or the pacing is just too slow.

Writers tend to be a cranky bunch. Even when we're trying to be helpful sometimes we take the short curt way out. Trying to find that objective criticism in a hurtful comment is hard, but it can be done. And, if it seems valid, it is something to be applied as you make edits/revisions and so on.

Not every comment will yield that kind of fruit. Some people are just mean and they say stupid hurtful things to make themselves feel better. But some just had a long day or not enough sleep or are trying meet a deadline and don't have time to be polite and spell things out.

Learn to read between the lines. If all you see is shit, then let it go. If there's something of substance there, something constructive beneath the patronizing tone, then do something about it.


Jaydee Morgan said...

Aside from just snarky comments, I agree that we have to be willing to take that criticism and make it useful.

A.G. Carpenter said...

Yeah. It's hard sometimes to see the difference. I wrote this after getting a chapter out of my WIP absolutely shredded by one critter. In the end there was not a lot of useful insight in this individual's comments. But I've also had instances where I've had something shredded and there was a lot to what the critter had to say.

I just don't want anyone to think that "let the bad stuff go" means "ignore anything that isn't glowing praise".