Day 4 – Constructive Criticism

4 Nov

I was speaking to an author-friend of mine today about constructive criticism. Often as writers we receive criticism from others about our work, both positive and negative, but is it constructive? And what exactly is constructive criticism?

As an author, I love feedback. How else do I know if I am moving in the right direction or not? That doesn’t mean feedback, especially when it is negative, is always easy to hear. But what is most important is that the feedback is useful and it helps us to grow.

In determining whether or not the criticism you are receiving is “constructive,” I suggest considering the following:

  1. Who is giving the criticism? Sometimes you have got to look at your source. Is it an avid reader who knows a lot about what readers want? Is it another author whose work you enjoy reading? Is it someone who always has something critical or negative to say? As I said, look at the source.
  2. Does the person provide examples or specifics? A comment like “this book sucks” is too vague. Even someone saying that they don’t like it is not enough. What don’t they like? The whole thing or just a part of it? Why not? More information can help you decide if the comment applies to your writing or not.
  3. Are they being extremely picky? Of course, you want someone to analyze your work, but there is a such thing as over-analyzing. If someone is harping about some minor detail that is unimportant to your story, they are searching for something wrong. Most likely, many of your readers don’t care about tiny matters.
  4. Do you feel torn down? With the exception of the few people out there that are overly sensitive, you should not feel completely torn down after receiving constructive criticism. Even if someone doesn’t like your work, you shouldn’t feel like they are beating you down and kicking you over and over again. If you do, it may not be constructive (like I said, unless you are too sensitive).  

 These are just a few of my suggestions for assessing feedback. If you love this, great, but if you don’t tell me constructively! (smile)

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3 Responses to “Day 4 – Constructive Criticism”

  1. Norlita brown November 4, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    I think this information is very helpful to determining how to receive constructive criticism. I would like to know how criticism in any form can be viewed as positive. I understand what you do with the information once received can move you forward to positive things, but does that make it positive criticism?

  2. drawilson November 4, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

    I believe positive criticism is feedback that discusses the “good” or the “right” of the matter while negative criticism assesses the “bad” or “wrong.” We all need both positive and negative feedback/criticism in order to grow and develop. However, how one receives criticism, whether it be positive or negative, does not reflect whether the actual feedback is positive or negative. For example, someone might say, Your book was really good for a debut novel. Well, they may have intended for it to be positive criticism (discussing the good aspects of your work), but you may see it as negative, feeling that the comment limits your work because it is “debut.” (smiles)

    • Norlita brown November 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

      Okay, I like this forum because your information comes from intelligent and enlightening perspectives. However, I do not believe you have enlightened me on what positive criticism is? Feedback can be both positive and negative and that is completely understandable. I do not equate feedback and criticism in the same light and therefore, can only see criticism as being negative or constructive.

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