Tuesday, October 15, 2013

You Cannot Ignore Bad Reviews Or Criticism

During my recent trip to the Utah RWA conference, I heard some writers discussing reviews. Let me stress here that the things I heard are pretty common when you get a group of writers together. Along the same lines, the reasons writers make these comments is very human. These author were talking about some bad reviews and feed back they had received on a book. Essentially, the response was this... The readers who slammed the book were complete idiots.

Now don't get me wrong. There are indeed complete idiots out there reviewing books. I get it! The do need to be flogged! But, with that said, who is to say they weren't right and the people who raved about your book were wrong. We cannot simply return to the theory of  "majority rules". Remember there are a lot of things in history that were decided on majority rules that were indeed wrong.

Human nature says we simply don't like when we hear negative criticism. As Jack Nicholson says, "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!" Yes the truth hurts. But we do need to hear it every now and then.

At that conference, I was teaching a session on expanding our approaches to editing. One of the points I brought up was the issue of writing in our own bubble. Too often, writers have tunnel vision when it comes to their writing. We are too close to what we write so there are many times when we simply cannot see the flaws in the story. It is for this reason that we have to listen to ALL of the critique out there.

By looking at both the positive and negative feedback. By truthfully listening to the good and the bad, we have a chance to see how other people view our writing. It is a different set of eyes and can, if you do it properly, add to your ability to reach out to readers.

Instead of disregarding these people. Listen and learn.

You might be surprised at what you can do to improve your writing.


  1. I think critiques by other writers AND readers are important to me. The separate groups usually find completely different problems with my work.

  2. I used to get angry and now I look at it as another step towards being a better writer. For someone to take the time to give you any feedback either good or bad is a gift in a way. I am attending my first RWA in NJ this weekend and I am so excited to get both negative and positive feedback.