Tuesday, May 24, 2016

U Is For Understanding

Jennifer takes a look at criticism...

I like to think of myself as a reasonable person. If someone gives me advice or tells me something is wrong, I visualize myself listening and taking to heart what they say.

I suspect, however, my visualizing my reaction and their witnessing of that same reaction is quite different.

As a writer, the same holds true. I have critique partners who offer suggestions about my writing. Sometimes I take it well, other times I don’t. I try to at least demonstrate that I’m accepting what they say, although internally, it’s a different story. Inside, I’m railing against their lack of understanding for what I’m trying to do.

And that’s the very crux of the matter. If I can’t convey what I’m trying to do, it doesn’t work. I may think my story is full of tension and conflict, but if someone reads it and says, “Hmm,” my job, no matter how hard it may be, is to go back and look at it from their perspective.

Sometimes they might be wrong—we’re all human, after all. More than likely, however, they are at least a little right and their suggestions should be taken for what they are—assistance to make my books the best they can be.

No matter how personal our writing is to us, to others it’s just a story, and that objectivity allows others to find flaws that we will never see.

So my goal going forward is to appreciate from where the criticism comes, to try to understand what it means, and to do better at expressing myself. Because that’s the only way I’ll ever improve.

Oh, and maybe a few less tantrums. J


  1. It's not easy accepting criticism, I agree. But it is helpful because we, as writers, are always too close to our work to see its faults. Whenever my critique partner picks me up on something I always wonder why I never saw it myself.

    1. I know, it's so much easier to see it in others!

  2. I think it all depends on how the criticism is given. If it's constructive, then I'll usually rethink a chapter or scene. If it's destructive/negative then I probably won't!

  3. I agree with both these comments and sympathize with your feelings, too, Jen. I love my crit group, and embrace their critiques of my chapters most of the time. I huffed a teeny weeny bit yesterday when one wonderful writer forgot my WIP was historical and suggested the hero pick up a phone.
    I tend to think others know better.

    1. That's a pretty funny comment, though, Ana!

  4. Critiquing and taking advice from it is such a fine line. I definitely have a hard time taking to heart the things that are 'wrong' in the story. I definitely need to do a better job of being open to changes. After all, a reader's perspective is very valuable.