My Critic Is Being Too Critical

I might need to put a leash on my digital, and literal, red pen. (Image Credit cellar_door_films via WANACommons)

For my Fiction Workshop class we’re supposed to read our classmate’s stories, and then give them a half-page write up with feedback. This is all well and good, and I know it will help everyone go become more proficient and giving feedback, which will make them better at critiquing their own work. However, I’m finding that I’m being a bit too critical of some of my classmates.

I understand that a lot of them haven’t decided they want to be full-time writers, and that they don’t write all the time. I, personally, am glad I decided so early. It gives me the advantage over everyone else who started writing later in their lives. I just get to physical write for several more years than someone who may have started writing in their 50’s. But that doesn’t mean that I need to break down someone’s work because they do a little too much telling and not enough showing showing. I mean, who am I to judge? I’m not perfect.

Now, I’m not being mean at all. At least, I’m not trying to be. But, for those of us who have received a negative review, we all know how it can sound like the person is being a jerk. So, I always try to end the review with something positive.

I’m not telling them their work is bad, either. I’m only making suggestions on how they could, in my opinion, make it better. For those in the class who want to pursue writing, they’d better get used to being critiqued and having a thick skin.

Do you ever feel like you’re being too critical of someone else’s work? 


4 thoughts on “My Critic Is Being Too Critical

  1. You’re exactly right, Chris. Critical feedback is integeral to progression but tricky, you want to encourage anyone that’s keen and not put them down. But if they’re committed to their work they will want to improve. If you’re saying it’s your opinon and you’re making your to tell them what you do like as well as what you don’t they should just appreciate it. After all if they want to progress they should be keen for feedback. And writers need to develop a thick skin, have faith, absorb what’s useful and ignore what’s not. And as the critter you have to have faith that the person you’re giving feedback to has reached the same realisations. (Cheeky plug:

  2. This is something I struggle with every day since I do a lot of freelance editing on the side. I think being critical is something that is important for novices IF they plan on pursuing writing as a career. If not, then I think it’s important to not scare them away with a heavily detailed review. There’s a fine line between helping someone and just offending them – even if that wasn’t your intention to begin with.

  3. The trick to critiquing is to 1.) Be tactful with your criticism, and 2.) Offer positive feedback in addition to the negative feedback. The first makes it easier to accept the negative being pointed out, and the second helps a writer to know what they’ve done right so that they can continue down that path.

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