Writer Wednesdays: Take criticism like a man

The worst part of writing is by far the criticism. It hurts so bad hearing someone talk trash on your baby, your blood, sweat, and tears. But if you can’t take criticism, honestly, you’ll never be a good writer. And you’re in the wrong field, flat out.

Writing is weird in that, being a good reader doesn’t make you a good writer. Being a good editor doesn’t make you a good writer. Because when you write, you’re in a whirlwind of creativity, and you lose all perspective. Sure, you have the background to understand what makes a great book, but it’s hard to apply that knowledge to your own book. You really need someone else to tell you what’s working and what’s not. What really makes you a good writer is being a good criticism-taker.

The biggest complaint people in the electronic publishing industry have against self-published writers is that self-pubs can’t take criticism. That’s why they self-pub instead of polishing, rewriting, and resubmitting, ’cause they’re big babies who hear a word of criticism and and can’t take it. I don’t agree, being self-pubbed myself. When I was working on my book,  I did a massive rewrite based on publishers’ comments, adding 20k words to it, adding a major character, and adding an entire subplot. And I was excited to do it! I wasn’t at all insulted — they were helping me make my book better.

Now, some comments were less than useful. We got two rejections the same day, one saying the plot was a little thin but the writing was great, the other saying I wasn’t a great writer, but the plot was wonderful. Sigh.

So what is constructive criticism? You’d be surprised. It depends on how you look at it.

Your characters are cardboard cutouts. That means they’re interchangeable. You need to add details and backstory to make your characters unique to your book. And don’t rely strictly on quirks. A character being clumsy is not character development.

Your dialog is weak. Read it out loud. Does it sound like something you’ve heard real people say? In fact, read it out loud for someone else and check for the cringe factor.

It’s boring. It would be nice to have a little more detail, so ask someone you trust to read it. Does it just start too slow? Remember, most people stop reading after the first three chapters unless you knock their socks off. But don’t polish the first three chapters and quit. You might also have saggy-middle disease, or you might end with a whimper. You know you have a weakness somewhere in the book; find it.

Too derivative. We all tend to jump on bandwagons, but if you hear this, you need to ask yourself, what can I do to make this plot different from all the rest? What would be completely unexpected? Am I relying too heavily on time-worn myths? Are my characters too much like a character in a famous book?

It drags. If you hear this, you probably have a lot extraneous detail. You love that section about the character’s childhood, but does it move the plot forward? Does it really support the characterization? Is it interesting but just too long? When someone tells you to prune, get out your shears and check your ego at the door. As much as you love a section, if it doesn’t help the book at large, you have to cut it. Even if you feel like you’re cutting yourself.

If you’ve received any of these comments, count yourself lucky. The fact is, most rejections are purposely vague: “Not for me,” “not a good fit.” Publishers/agents don’t have time to tell you what’s wrong with your book. They reject tons of books every day. If they tried to really get personal with each one, they’d never do anything else. Almost anything short of “This just sucks” can help you improve your book. So take what looks like a tough critique as a gift, and make your book better.

About alisaacarter

I am a writer of young adult novels, wife, mom of three, lover of animals, former magazine editor, reader of anything paranormal, and coffee fanatic.
This entry was posted in Writer Wednesdays and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Writer Wednesdays: Take criticism like a man

  1. buy my car says:

    Hey, wonderful blog site write-up. It’s got
    me stimulated to go through much more on it.

  2. Many thanks for a wonderful article. Truly fascinating.

  3. Many thanks for a tremendous blogpost. Seriously captivating.

  4. Just how did you set-up your own site. I really wish to
    start one up regarding cars, though never know how to actually get cracking.
    Virtually any assistance is drastically valued :

  5. Exactly where did you go to learn to write as well as you do.
    I plan to create my own personal blog and start earning money from this.

  6. Wonderful remark. Could not agree with you more.

  7. Ok, entirely agreee. You might have struck the nail
    on the head completely

  8. car buyer says:

    You on Google plus or YouTube? Don’t want to miss out on your next posts

  9. Hope you don’t mind that I’m bookmarking your web site. in again!

  10. Have you ever considered I’d like to sell my car online?

    There are lots of possibilities, so it may be daunting unless you are
    shown who you can trust.

  11. 3ipka.net says:

    Офіційна Україна 3ipka.net

    В Украине сходные оценки за удельным весом передовых технологий в экономической динамике с начала реформ
    представлены фрагментарно.
    Научно-технологическое эволюция отдельной страны обусловливается, прежде всего, действующими в ней
    приоритетами, средствами их достижения,
    которые измеряются результатами и масштабом их
    использования. При формировании ориентиров научно-инженерного развития для создания обещающого производственно-технологического потенциала значительную роль
    играет государственная научно-техническая политика, который
    разрабатывается в рамках стратегии
    национального и межэтническая
    развития (например, Европейский Союз).

    Механизм конкурентной битвы на
    внутреннем и внешнем рынках заставляет компании формировать стратегии развития с использованием передовых достижений собственной и мировой
    Важным шагом в реализации ресурсо-инновационной стратегии будет признание
    государством нужды перехода к инновационному развитию экономики, определение целей стратегии, ведущых условий и последовательности действий
    при ее реализации, а также
    ожидаемых результатов. Житель и коммерсанты должны сформировать
    социальный заказ правительства, а государство
    выработать необходимый механизм по его реализации.
    Государство при разработке стратегии непременно
    должна опираться на сохраненный потенциал отечественной науки, поскольку реализация активной инновационной политики
    возможная только на основе национального научного потенциала.
    Для этого государство должно отказаться
    от безразличного отношения к роли и месту науки в эволюции экономики,
    перейти к общей разработке с
    научным сообществом стратегий развития Украины и их комплексной экспертизы, При этом потребуется изменить негативное отношение населения страны к науки и новых технологий, усилить престиж работы ученого, обеспечить приток
    молодых кадров в науку.

    Отношение власти к науки
    Правительство формирует и реализует свою политику, опираясь
    на плоды науки.
    Наука не является основой формирования государственной политики.
    Доля бюджетных ассигнований в финансировании инновационных работ.

    Для перехода отечественной экономики к активному инновационному становлению необходимая правительственная поддержка
    освоению новационных технологий.
    Государственную поддержку в освоении должны получить только те технологии, которые явным образом лучше существующих и одновременно имеют многоцелевой, многоотраслевой
    характер применения, а технико-экономические характеристики за всеми показателями превосходят отечественные аналоги.

    подобной вид поддержки возможно делать через конструирование
    Государственной целевой программы,
    финансированной чем счет бюджетных денег.

  12. I’m curious to find out what blog system you’re working
    with? I’m experiencing some small security
    issues with my latest site and I would like to find something
    more safe. Do you have any recommendations?

  13. Hi would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re using? I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m having a difficult time selecting between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique.

    P.S Apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s