What is the hardest thing about writing? Coming up with an idea? Turning an idea into a coherent whole. Knowing what to keep and what to ditch? Nope, as tricky as all of those can be, compared to the task of getting an honest opinion of your work from someone, they’re mere child’s play. I’ve heard it said that friends are kind and family is generous yet a writer needs feedback. The reason I’m making this entry is in regards this post which concerns how NOT to give constructive criticism.
Personally I’m of the opinion that it is actually pretty tricky to write something with absolutely no redeeming features. Sure I’ve come across work with good ideas badly executed or that is well written but based on weak ideas. But something that is irretrievably rubbish, that’s hard to do.
So what are my tips for giving useful advice?
1) Find the bad and the good, at least one example of each.
2) Start with the bad. Yes I know every writer wants to hear their work is great but really if any of us are to grow then it is our weakness that need work. If there are a lot of weaknesses, better to focus on one, Rome wasn’t built in a day and no one became a great writer overnight. If a particular aspect is good, well great then we don’t have to worry about that.
3) End with the good. Constructive Criticism is meant to be just that Constructive, you’ve broken them down looking at the bad, now you build them back up.
But what about the writer any advice there.
In a nutshell: Take it.
If people learn that the first word of criticism results in them either attempting to pry your teeth from their throat or you bursting in to tears, then you’ll never get an honest opinion again. Which will come back to haunt you because if or when your work gets out into the world, criticism it will receive and not all of it will be fair.
Until next time.