Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Taking criticism on creative writing

My philosophy has always been that if someone makes the effort to comment on your writing, it is a gift - even if the comments are negative.

But how to interpret those comments?

If someone makes a negative comment it is almost always because they feel a genuine disquiet. (The exception being if you are unlucky enough to have found a malicious reader. Very rare but not unknown). So take that - the disquiet - at face value.

But as to your critic's diagnosis of what is wrong and their suggestion of what to do about it - this you do not need to swallow.

Implicit in any specific suggestion is the idea of an end point. Your reader has read your work, felt it was not quite as it should be, imagined it different and made suggestions that would take your writing to that place. A different reviewer might well give opposite, but equally valid suggestions to take it to a different end point.

But you are the only person who knows the end point you want to achieve. The only thing to do is listen to the comments, sincerely thank your readers and make your own decisions.

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