Image: Guian Bolisay
How to Deal With Critique in a Constructive Way
One of the main issues the main character in the Self-Help 101 series deals with is her writing insecurities. In the latest installment, Self-Help 101 or: How to Select a Costume to Help You Deal With People, Dani has started a blog. While some of the feedback she gets from her readers is good, she also gets her share of negative critiques. It’s a reality all writers must be prepared to encounter.
First of all, it’s crucial to understand not all critique is equal. There are some people who take joy in hurling vile insults at anyone they can reach. When you put your writing out there for the world to enjoy, you’re also exposing yourself to people like this. It can be frustrating to read abusive comments about your work that offer no constructive criticism, but it’s important not to let things like this stop you from writing. If a comment offers nothing valuable, it’s not worth your time.
I’ve also seen authors deal with one-star reviews that make you wonder why the person chose the book in the first place. An example of this would be someone saying they hate reading books with teenage protagonists while reviewing a book that was clearly marketed as featuring a teenage protagonist. Reviews like this can also be quite frustrating, but these can also be safely brushed to the side. They are not an indictment of your work. This person was never a part of the book’s target audience anyway, and you’re never going to be able to write something that everyone loves.
The critiques that a writer should take to heart are the ones that make thoughtful observations about the material. If enough readers say that a particular part of your story doesn’t work for them, then you should consider what they have to say. Learning to analyze and make use of good constructive criticism is a vital skill for any writer to have. Ultimately it’s up to you to decide which suggestions you’re going to take into account in the future. Just remember that this kind of feedback is valuable, because it’s how you learn and grow as a storyteller.
Seth was silent for several moments as he read the despicable comment. “I wish I could punch whoever wrote that,” he finally said. He was seething. The prospect of Seth rushing off to defend my honor was both laughable, because the guy may be many things but a fighter is not one of them, and sweet, albeit in a somewhat barbaric way. Not that I’m any better. I know I’m not. If anyone gave Seth too much of a hard time, I’d be right there plotting revenge.
“You shouldn’t bother yourself too much over this comment,” I said lightly. “This person’s suggestions, while intriguing, would involve violating several known laws of physics.”
I could have deleted the comment. I’d been tempted to go that route on multiple occasions, but I kept deciding against it. If the nasty comments were going to keep coming anyway, I’d rather wear them as a badge of honor. The fact that someone took the time to write such vile drivel meant that I had a growing audience with which I’d struck a chord. That couldn’t be all bad.
Title: Self-Help 101 or: How to Select a Costume to Help You Deal With People
Author: L.G. Keltner
Length: 29,000 words
Cover Art: L.G. Keltner and Jamon Walker
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Book 3 in the Self-Help 101 series.
Dani Finklemeier is adjusting to life in college and the realities of living away from home for the first time. She’s also learning to deal with the criticism that stems from sharing her writing with the world. Some of the online criticism is even spelled correctly, which somehow makes it worse.
Fortunately, she has a Halloween party, a group of friends, and a supportive boyfriend to distract her from the things that are bothering her. Of course, a holiday celebration wouldn’t be complete without something going wrong. Between an unpleasant confrontation with an infuriating classmate, some shocking costume choices, and a bizarre fraternity stunt, the evening will be anything but dull.
Dani’s detractors may not like it, but she’ll definitely have enough material for another book.
L.G. Keltner spends most of her time trying to write while also cleaning up after her crazy but wonderful kids and hanging out with her husband. Her favorite genre of all time is science fiction, and she’s been trying to write novels since the age of six. Needless to say, those earliest attempts weren’t all that good.
Her non-writing hobbies include astronomy and playing Trivial Pursuit.
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How do you handle writing and/or receiving critiques?