I’ve been blessed to join a new critique group of amazing ladies. If you are in a critique group you know it can be invaluable in so many ways. I try to have a writing group for each age category I write in if possible. This means I have my picture book pals, my middle grade minions, and my adult adventurers. They are my cheerleaders.
Then their are others… Those folks that I will NEVER ask for a critique from again.
The people who don’t understand the vision or voice in the story. The ones that say, this character is no good, this plot is pointless, this voice is all wrong you should sound more like Paterson (or whatever famous writer). The one’s who don’t give constructive feedback but tear down. The people who try to take your story and make it their story.
Go write your own story then! There are plenty of blank pages to be had.
This week one of my writing pals had an experience like this. A critique came back saying her writing is garbage, the topic is inappropriate for the audience, the story is invalid. I’m furious to say the least and it wasn’t even me! This is a writing bully. They might not have meant to be but my pal is crushed. She thought about quitting writing altogether. I stepped in to be her cheerleader and she’d do the same for me.
If you can’t say what’s good about the story and what needs work maybe don’t say anything at all. You are not the person to help them.
As writers we have to have thick skin. I get it. I (mostly) do. However, as a writer I also know that being a cheerleader is better than being a bully. I can give feedback in a positive way (we are writers so this shouldn’t be too hard). A way that highlights that writers voice, not mine. A way that displays the vision in a different way that the author may not have considered.
But not in a million years would I say this one’s trash throw it out. Never. I know how hard it is to put a story together. The time it takes. The energy it burns. The consuming thoughts that come with a story being stuck in your head. This profession takes heart, persistence, and passion in a big way.
So back off bullies. If you can’t be constructive toward the vision and voice of the author maybe consider not saying anything at all.