Another point is that constructive criticism needs to be clear. For the feedback to be useful at all, it has to give information that the writer can understand and do something with.
For example, “This book sucks” is not helpful at all. It is unclear about what the problem is. There’s no way to get something out of this that a writer can work with, unless you hunt down the commentater and shake him until he gives more details.
“I found this book confusing and hard to follow.” is better but still limited in how helpful it is. What’s confusing? What makes it hard to follow?
“I found the amount of professional jargon made this harder to read. I frequently had to stop and look up terms in the dictionary to figure out what you were talking about, and after awhile, I ended up getting so discouraged that I just stop reading it.” is very helpful. It gives specific and clear information about what interfered with the reader’s ability to get something out of the writing, and the next steps (cut down jargon, use clearer language) are pretty obvious.
To make sure your criticism is constructive and clear:
- Assume the person receiving the feedback doesn’t know you and how you think (even if they do)
- Avoid jargon or long words. Use the simplest words you know that will say what you want to say
- Understand that the person receiving the criticism may come from a different cultural, family or social background, and may put different interpretations on things than you do (as an example, in the US, white is the color for brides, but in China, that’s a color for mourning)
- Avoid making statements based on opinion (ie: if you don’t like romance novels, don’t say a romance novel is bad for following the patterns of romance) Instead, say things that are based in fact as much as possible (ex punctuation missing/ character pops up with no warning/ there seems to be a missing scene that characters refer to)
- Write your criticism. Put it aside and then re-write it, simplifying as much as possible
- Don’t act like your writer is stupid, but do act from the assumption that they may not “get” everything you say.
- Re-read your critique before you send it out. Is there something there that could be interpreted more than one way? Then you need to re-write and clarify it.
Unless criticism is clear to the recipient, it’s not constructive and won’t help them much.
And that’s a waste of your time and theirs
For more information on Catherine’s books, “Adventures in Palmistry”, “The Practical Empath – Surviving and Thriving as a Psychic Empath”, “Manifesting Something Better”, “The Psychic Power of Your Dreams”, her urban fantasy “The Lands That Lie Between” and her new book “Magick for Pennies”, all from Foresight Publications, click here
and for the new Kindle version of Manifesting Something Better, click here