Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Quotes: Criticism

"Be kind and considerate with your criticism. It's just as hard to write a bad book as it is to write a good book.” Malcolm Cowley

Recently I heard a writer criticize another writer's "terrible" manuscript on a public forum. She was beta reading it and complained the whole way through. And I get that--it can be all kinds of frustrating and cringe-worthy to read work by a beginning writer.

But here's the thing: everyone's got to start somewhere.

When I think back to the first manuscript I asked someone to critique...well, my face turns all shades of purple. But I didn't know it would be so embarrassing at the time! How else could I have learned unless someone told me what I was doing wrong?

Kindness goes a long way. And everyone needs (and deserves) a learning curve!




Sarah Tokeley said...

Why are some people so mean? It takes less effort to be nice. And really, people should know the difference between insults and constructive criticism!

S.A. Larsenッ said...

This is so true, and not just with writing either. I'm so careful when I critique now about what I say and how I say it--mainly privately. ;D

Stina said...

There's a reason I prefer to crit in private. For starters, I've noticed on the MSFV SA contests that if someone says something negative, a lot of other people pick up on is and echo the comment. The thing is, the "issue" usually isn't an issue, and they wouldn't have noticed it if they hadn't read the critter's comments to begin with.

Stefanie Wass said...

Kind and considerate pretty much sums up who you are, Christina!
Thanks for all of your encouraging words. They help me move forward, even on days when I don't quite believe in myself.

Unknown said...

You're so smart to share these!!!! I think everyone needs a chance to improve their writing. I think anyone who puts pencil to paper is brave and should be embraced!!

Matthew MacNish said...

Sometimes brutal honesty is a kindness, but there's also always something worthy of a compliment in every story.

I try to give a little bit of both.

Christine Danek said...

Ahh my first crit. *cheeks turn red* When I crit I try to give both good and bad (but in a nice way).
I agree with what Stina says too.
I need this today. I have a first page session this afternoon.
Have a great weekend!

Christina Lee said...

Matt-I agree, but there's a way to say it (and not on a public forum).

Stina, I think get what you mean--like a feeding frenzy. Which is why I try not to read the comments before responding.

Stef--awww thanks! I definitely believe in you!

Maddy said...

Wow! I can only imagine! I'm very sensitive to criticism - even the constructive kind - so I don't think I have the skin to ever be a writer. I am trying to get better with it. No one wants insincere compliments either.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

A writer might be just starting out, but everyone has the ability to improve. Even if I were reading a manuscript that made me cringe, I would praise its potential and point out *a couple* areas that could be improved. As a teacher, I've learned not to try and get my students to fix everything that's wrong with a piece, but just to target a few aspects and work on it a little at a time.

Christina Lee said...

YES I agree-sound advice, Dianne!

Meredith said...

I always welcome harsh critiques, because I've got fairly tough skin when it comes to my writing and I know my CPs just want me to improve. But someone complaining in a public forum about how terrible a manuscript is--that's awful!