Earlier this week, or maybe late last week, I got a very interesting comment on one of my stories. Now this story has been getting very positive comments full of enthusiasm and gushing and I was starting to get a little big-headed about it. Then suddenly, I came across a forum post and decided that the author of that post seemed like a very honest person. I promptly decided that I had to ask them to read my story and critique it as honestly as possible. I might have mentioned how I loved helpful and brutally honest feedback. She replied saying she wasn’t sure her comment would be much help etc. etc. I assured her it be. So she agreed.
The next day I got a nice long comment. There was no gushing. And if there was enthusiasm it was strictly contained. Some might say she really was brutal but in truth she was perfectly blunt and it was oddly helpful. She pointed out the fanciful holes in my story and really made me see it in a different light. I’m not saying I didn’t get a little upset. Of course I did. I mean seriously, I found myself arguing back with almost all of her points but then I stopped. I accepted her criticism and her advice and I really examined my story. While I might advertise it as a short story, it’s actually part of something much longer. I decided I could use her advice to make my longer story better so that the shorter bit might also become better.
This critique also made me think about the reviews that I and so many other bloggers write. Some of us love a certain book and some of us hate it. We review the book accordingly and others can read our reviews to come to a decision about whether they’d like to read this book or not. The unfortunate thing for author is that once their book has been reviewed there is little they can do to change the book for the better. However, they can always make sure that they don’t commit the same mistakes in the future.
The long and short of this post is that critiques really are important for writers. A bad critique exists not when it states that the critic did not like the written material but when the critic had nothing helpful to add, nothing to indicate why the piece did not move them. Writers need to learn to accept the less desirable aspects of writing such as the prospect that someone will not like your next. We need to take what we can from the criticisms so that we are continuously getting better. And that we are continuously getting stronger.
K, the Popinjay.