As human beings, we’re hardwired to look for problems. This is a survival skill. It goes back to the dawn of time, where, as small furry mammals, spotting what’s wrong or non-functional or different or out of place might mean the difference between living and eating the poisonous plant or being eaten by the new predator on the block.
We tend to look for problems. When we see the word “criticism”, we tend to look for problems even more.
To give constructive criticism, you need to not only see what’s wrong with a work, but also what’s right, and tell your writer this in a way that gives him something to work with.
There’s a couple of reasons for this…
The first is that, if you give only negative feedback, you may overwhelm your writer and actually stop him from writing. I’ve heard more than one story of a writer who thought that a pile of negative feedback meant that his writing was crap, and who gave up writing for years because of it (and in some cases, the person giving the criticism thought the writing was good, and was only giving a laundry list of items to polish to make good writing great.)
The other reason is that, to bring your writing to it’s best possible level, you need to know more than what’s not working. You also need to know what is. You need less of that. You need more of this. Sometimes, when you’ve been working on something for awhile, you lose the ability to spot what’s good and what’s bad, because you’ve been over it so many times. That’s what constructive criticism can give you- a fresh pair of eyes.
So, if you’re giving criticism, to make it constructive, you
- need to plan to look for what’s good as well as what’s bad (and it’ll be easier to spot the bad…)
- sandwich positive and negative comments, so you don’t dump the bad all in one chunk and bury your writer underneath it;
- don’t just say “this good/bad”. Be prepared to explain why.
There’s no piece of writing that’s so bad that there is nothing good about it (if only that it is neatly typed). When giving constructive criticism, be sure to look for both the bad and the good, and present them so that your writer can perfect his work.
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 latest book “Magick for Pennies”, all from Foresight Publications, click here
and for the new Kindle version of Manifesting Something Better, click here