Brittle Skillet

Sparks of passion and items of interest.

The Good Critic: How To Critique

with 2 comments

By PresleyJesus

Everyone’s a critic all right. Sometimes that can be helpful, but most of the time it’s a drag. Especially when your a writer. Who are these people with their slicing comments and degrading suggestions? Why would someone actually say, “This sucks,” even if they don’t like it, or “Why don’t you just slit your wrists now?” It’s nothing but hurtful.

Writing is a process. It doesn’t always come out right the first time. That’s why we need feedback. It helps correct course and approach. But blatantly thrown rocks and knives do nothing but destroy us.

It’s not that we only want to hear the good things, but the difference between constructive criticism and a cruel blow is the difference between an improvement to a manuscript and a really crappy day, wherein we may want to slit our wrists.

So if you are ever asked for your opinion about someone’s writing, be thoughtful and truthful, but also be kind. There’s no need to say, “Well, my friend, you may want to stop with this writing fantasy of yours. Besides you don’t really have time for a hobby.”

Instead, why not suggest that you’re not the best critic for this job because the story is not generally the type you like. Or perhaps you could just smile and pick the one thing you did enjoy about it, like how cool the title is, or how well you like the font.

In her blog post from July 4, 2009, Anne R. Allen lays it out perfectly and offers great advice to writers everywhere, no matter what they write. Her suggestions of how to deal with a self-appointed critic are golden. Anne also tells us where to solicit a critique and where to avoid it. This is the good stuff.

Photo by PresleyJesus

© Julie Pierce and Brittle Skillet, 2009-2011.

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Written by Julie Pierce

July 25, 2009 at 6:52 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Thanks a bunch for the link, Julie. This is one of my pet peeves. I think it’s even harder to be a good (useful) critiquer than it is to be a good writer. Many excellent writers are useless when it comes to commenting on other people’s work.

    That’s because it takes a non-narcissistic adult human to say “this is good, even though it’s not to my personal taste.” We have a growing shortage of adults in our culture, I’m afraid.

    And there’s another bunch of critics who don’t’ know the difference between “following the rules” and “good.” People need to learn to say “you broke a rule here, but I see why you did it.” Then say if it works for you or it doesn’t.

    Hmm. I may see another blogpost coming on this subject…

    Anne R. Allen

    July 26, 2009 at 1:41 pm

  2. It’s always good to have a reminder that criticism and critique are not the same thing, and that criticism says more about the person dishing it out than it says about our writing. Thanks for adding another millimeter of thickness to my “writer skin.”

    Rachel Stumme

    July 29, 2009 at 2:35 pm


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