Monday, May 23, 2011

Sorry To Say This But Critiques and Reviews Are Not Always Warm Fuzzies

While I do believe we all know this in the back of our head, and while I might be stating the obvious, this is a good thing to be reminded of. Critiques are not always warm fuzzies. Reviews might not say what you want, but that IS the nature of this business.

I always find it interesting (although I understand why people do this) that when a writer receives a critique that tells them the story is great, then apparently it is the truth. But when something bad comes in, when the critique is less than perfect, apparently the reviewer had absolutely no idea what they were talking about. Obviously the same goes for reviews.

I bring this up because I have had in the past, situations when I have provided critique for a story that is far from great. There were a lot of issues and things that needed to get fixed. So I told the writer. Unfortunately, the truth hurt and I was bombarded with an amazing number of emails and criticisms of every reason I was wrong. Probably not the right approach to take.

I will say that maybe I was in the minority of the criticism. That doesn't mean that the comments I made were not justifiable. Now don't get me wrong, I am not simply justifying the idea that if an editor or agent tells you something, it is automatically correct. All I am saying is that a writer needs to listen to those comments.

I guess the last thing to consider here is another simple truth. You have to have a thick skin to be in this business. You will not always be able to crank out a 5 star book EVERY time. You will write garbage. We don't want to, but we will. Deal with it. Learn from it. And please, move on. Don't spend the time blaming the messenger.


  1. It's a difficult thing to accept negative criticism, but your advice is sound- cry over it at home for a day then learn from it!

  2. This is why I've learned to put that letter/email aside for at least one day before I even try to deal with it: to let the emotions do their thing. At some point, on some level, you may come to agree with what the reviewer says, or at least to understand what they were getting at. Whether you ultimately change your work or whether you decide to stick to your guns is up to you as a writer, but that decision will be based on reason, not bratty kid stuff.

  3. Yup, crits can suck and I also step away and bemoan about it. Then I jump into it and notice how some suggestions that I initially cringed at were spot on. I find it a bit like riding a roller coaster, my emotions go up and down but when I get to the end, it was worth it.