Chasing my crazy dream in the writing world…

The Good, Bad, and Spectacularly Evil Critique July 29, 2013



Critiques are a necessary part of becoming a writer.  In fact, I look forward to getting a manuscript or short story done just so I can share it with some of my trusty CPS and get their feedback.  I know I’m too close to the material, and will never catch  things like passive voice, plot holes, dialogue issues like they will.


But lately, the critiques I’ve received have been REALLY brutal, honest and mostly correct, but still brutal.


Now, don’t take this the wrong way, I’m NOT in any way angry about the critique ( or with my CP). I asked for truthful feedback and I got it.


My point is that not all the work you churn out is going to be top-notch the first time out of the gate.  You may think you’ve got a good handle on this “writing gig,” but there is always more to be learned.  Yes, I’m published, but I still can’t get away from filter words or over the top description sometimes. I’m still learning and that’s okay.


But let’s be honest, the harshness of the feedback still punched a whole in me for a while.  Self-doubt crept in for a few moments, and I wondered if I really knew what I was doing.  Maybe I was fooling myself about being able to write something an audience would enjoy.  This response is TOTALLY normal.  It is usually followed by the “maybe I’m going to stop for a while” phase, which then usually (at least for me) turns into the “I’ll show them” response, where I sit down and write something I know will prove them wrong.


Here’s the thing, it’s normal to be down when you get a rough critique, but you can’t let it eat you alive.  Step back from it for a few days.  Think about what your CP said and weed out the comments you can and can’t use.  Digest the words, and then go back to your work and see if you can apply what you have learned. Your writing can only get better if you work at it and push through the rough moments.


One thing that helped me through this recent rough patch was an article posted on Tumblr.  It brought to light so much of what my trusty CPs were telling me about my writing.  I want to share it with you, in hopes you will see where you can make your writing better, stronger –


And don’t be afraid of the tough critique – it’s only through these moments can we learn as a writer to improve our craft. It’s what may keep us from being an “almost published” writer to a New York Times Bestseller!


How do you deal with tough feedback from your CP? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.


6 Responses to “The Good, Bad, and Spectacularly Evil Critique”

  1. […] The Good, Bad, and Spectacularly Evil Critique ( […]

  2. […] The Good, Bad, and Spectacularly Evil Critique ( […]

  3. deshipley Says:

    I fuss, fume, whine, and essentially become a defensive grouch for a short while. Then I suck it up and implement changes to make the writing better. “Noisily brave”, my close friends have dubbed me. X)

  4. Love the Chuck Palahniuk tumblr! But now I’m terrified to go through my writing and find all the thought verbs! Haha! Critique is hard. My first and most trusted CP is my biggest cheerleader, but after a recent reader report from an editor, she worked with me to do a huge revision in a short amount of time. She warned me by saying, “Look, you already know I love this story, so I’m not going to waste our time complimenting. I’m just going to help you edit.” That’s what I wanted. It’s what I needed. Still, every time she sent me back a chunk of pages with all the margin comments telling me stuff to change or delete or fix or whatever, it was hard to swallow. It was necessary, but let’s face it. Criticism, no matter how lovingly given, is never going to be easy to take. But, if we get this help from our CPs and trusty beta readers, then when we get to the querying stage or the publishing stage, we are that much stronger. Plus, this trusted critique is good practice for putting ourselves completely out there when we publish. As much as we love our mss, as much as our betas and CPs hopefully feel the same, when it comes to the public, to the readers, not everyone is going to be our biggest cheerleader. As much as I want it, not every reader is going to love my book. And I have to be ok with that. It’s all part of the journey.

    • Thanks, Amy. You always make such great comments! I agree that not everyone is going to get you or your book and it’s part of the process. The key I think is believing in your work and knowing someone else will too some day!

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