How do you deal with criticism?

XianPiete

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Apr 16, 2019
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As an author, when you write a novel and release it to the public, you'll start to get people expressing their love of your work when they like it, but at the same time you'll have people who feel the need to make sometimes scathing remarks when they dislike it. The reason that they feel the need to express their negativity can be anything from dislike of the plot, the story, the style of writing or even because it is popular. There is no way as an author for you to cater toward everyone's preferences, you can only write the way that you write. If it's a correctable error, such as grammar, punctuation or simply forgetting to write half your thought out (guilty of this on many occasions) it's easy for us as authors to make the corrections, but when someone is critical of your writing style itself, there really isn't a way to please that critic and also retain your readers. So what is your personal strategy for dealing with that sometimes very negative feedback?

Personally, I prefer to accept the criticism and see if there are areas I can improve in my writing. I will often thank the person who made the comment, even when they are rude. I feel like most criticisms are coming from expectations that weren't met, longings the reader had while reading the story to learn more about some aspect or maybe they felt that something you as the author were interested in was just boring. I often wish I could hear more about what those expectations were to see if there are some areas that I could improve.

I am interested to hear what others think on this topic.
 

lnv

✪ Well-Known Hypocrite
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Dec 24, 2018
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As an author, when you write a novel and release it to the public, you'll start to get people expressing their love of your work when they like it, but at the same time you'll have people who feel the need to make sometimes scathing remarks when they dislike it. The reason that they feel the need to express their negativity can be anything from dislike of the plot, the story, the style of writing or even because it is popular. There is no way as an author for you to cater toward everyone's preferences, you can only write the way that you write. If it's a correctable error, such as grammar, punctuation or simply forgetting to write half your thought out (guilty of this on many occasions) it's easy for us as authors to make the corrections, but when someone is critical of your writing style itself, there really isn't a way to please that critic and also retain your readers. So what is your personal strategy for dealing with that sometimes very negative feedback?

Personally, I prefer to accept the criticism and see if there are areas I can improve in my writing. I will often thank the person who made the comment, even when they are rude. I feel like most criticisms are coming from expectations that weren't met, longings the reader had while reading the story to learn more about some aspect or maybe they felt that something you as the author were interested in was just boring. I often wish I could hear more about what those expectations were to see if there are some areas that I could improve.

I am interested to hear what others think on this topic.
Well, yes, you can't ever please everyone. And even when someone criticized rudely, it is important to understand where they are coming from, even if you ultimately don't agree with them.

That is of course if they are willing to have dialog, many simply post something negative and don't respond back, others who like the series but don't like a part shrink back afraid to "fight with the author", either due to not wanting to discourage them or waste their time that could be spent on writing more chapters, I have no clue.

The ones that we can have back and forth with are the most appreciated forms of comments even if we ultimately don't agree with said comments.

Even when taking advice and suggestions from readers that one feels is correct, it is also important to view it from your own angle as part of your own story. I know many authors tried to "please their readers" and lost control of their stories. Thus a lot of aspects ended up as a total mess. Thus, my belief is the best way to please readers is to write what one thinks is the best story possible, even if certain parts may anger readers, when the whole thing is taken as a whole, it can create more value. Kind of like one must know sadness to appreciate happiness.

But I don't mean ignoring what the users have to say either, it is important to understand where people are coming from to get a wider view of your own work from all angles. Because when we write our story, it is turned into a different story by every reader who reads it. Everyone has their own interpretations and everyone has their own experiences that align with the story. These experiences also create expectations.

And it's not like the author's interpretation is the only correct one. Our interpretations are tunnel visioned by our own hindsight. As you view the opinions of readers, you can expand the story as a whole and make it more complete.

Letting readers expand and create their own interpretations is an important part of creating an interesting story. But to prevent incidents of complete destruction of expectations, I try to give hints so that they don't deviate too far. But it is extremely interesting to view readers discuss their interpretations between each other. It kind of makes me want to create another account and discuss with them privately. (Cause a lot of readers think the authors interpretation is absolute, which it isn't, writing is a form of art, and art is open for interpretation that makes it art)
 

GDLiZy

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Dec 23, 2018
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I'm all for constructive criticism. However, it kinda tipped me off when I see "If they are this stupid, then how are they still alive?" without any context. I mean, I was trying to add some logic in my story and felt like it is working. I honestly can't see why the scene is illogical. If you see that it is stupid, please elaborate.
 

Llamadragon

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Jan 19, 2019
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I’m always interested in constructive crits by people with good points. Always. It’s how we did it back at art school - we’d get critiqued several times a day by instructors and once a week we’d critique each others work. It sucked at first because I wasn’t used to it, but it wasn’t personal, and because I also gave critiques I hoped would be useful to my classmates, I learned pretty quickly that the people who critiqued me had my best interest in mind. Now I really appreciate it, if it’s for something I want to improve.

However, as the author you know the point you’re trying to make. This is a site for light novels, so the stuff I’d upload here will likely be something similar to a rough edit that could probably use a final layer of polish at the very least. For something like that, I’d happily appreciate a crit of the plotline and the characters but I might be less inclined to care much about changing my writing style, you know? That’d be for that final polish. As for rude people... well I write for my enjoyment. I can overlook and ignore a lot, but someone who seem like they just want to insult people.. that’s not something I enjoy lol. So toodles to them, I hope they’ll enjoy their block and have a nice life
 

Llamadragon

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Ofc, you’re right. If someone is rude, it’s not unlikely because they feel let down about the story. If several people are sying the same thing, there’s something there that I’d need to look at and change. But, still, I write because I enjoy it. I’m not a professional author who needs to please an audience so they can pay their rent. I don’t need to accept repeated insults.
 

thepundit

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Mar 30, 2019
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As an author, when you write a novel and release it to the public, you'll start to get people expressing their love of your work when they like it, but at the same time you'll have people who feel the need to make sometimes scathing remarks when they dislike it. The reason that they feel the need to express their negativity can be anything from dislike of the plot, the story, the style of writing or even because it is popular. There is no way as an author for you to cater toward everyone's preferences, you can only write the way that you write. If it's a correctable error, such as grammar, punctuation or simply forgetting to write half your thought out (guilty of this on many occasions) it's easy for us as authors to make the corrections, but when someone is critical of your writing style itself, there really isn't a way to please that critic and also retain your readers. So what is your personal strategy for dealing with that sometimes very negative feedback?

Personally, I prefer to accept the criticism and see if there are areas I can improve in my writing. I will often thank the person who made the comment, even when they are rude. I feel like most criticisms are coming from expectations that weren't met, longings the reader had while reading the story to learn more about some aspect or maybe they felt that something you as the author were interested in was just boring. I often wish I could hear more about what those expectations were to see if there are some areas that I could improve.

I am interested to hear what others think on this topic.
For me, I usually just brush it off if its something like super negative. At least, they even bothered themselves just leave such comment. Just thank them like you mean it. Never But if its something like a constructive criticism, I always try to note it down as much as possible. It is really nice to have some grammar nazi or plot nazi reading your work. It throws you off from your seat of complecency, making you strive more (at least for me tho). Anyways, I just treat as something cute to look at after work, a nice change of pace. I just saw your novel, I'm going to run through it within the next few days.
 

Chiisutofupuru

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Mar 12, 2019
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A lot of the criticism I've received has mostly been about questionable situations (or they don't understand why something happened) in the fiction.
Those, in my opinion, have been very helpful.
Sometimes I'm just not very good at making things very clear for the reader I guess >_>
 

flucket

Green Tea Bitch
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Feb 25, 2019
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Most of the crit I've received so far has basically been due to a lack of information, leaving readers to post comments asking for clarification/to have things explained. Many of these comments I basically ignore because it's information I plan to release at a later date within the story. Maybe I'm explaining things too slowly for others' tastes, but I feel like it's an endemic problem of WN storytelling where often information is explained in one very precise, but very boring, dump, and so readers are accustomed to having the story halt in its tracks in order to have a character explain all the specific worldbuilding information of a story directly to the reader. But sometimes I get questions that are either touching on side information I have worked out for my own personal notes, but don't plan on sharing because it's not relevant to the story, or questions which bring up aspects I didn't think about, in which case for the former I will respond directly in the comments with an answer as I don't feel like adding superfluous fat to a story just to explain how an unimportant side thing operates, and for the latter I make a note in my drafts to respond to that later.

While I think reader feedback can be valuable on technical aspects or catching things you, the author, didn't think about, and most importantly for offering a fresh perspective on things from outside the knowledge of your own brain. But I also think you have to be willing to ignore reader feedback, even if it may be valid. This may only be semi-relevant, but I recently watched an interview with GRRM (the GoT discourse is strong on twitter and this floated up onto my feed in response to a theory that D&D, the showrunners of GoT, are reading fan theories and changing the twists and events of the show to subvert them), where he explains he doesn't read fantheories and whatnot, and I think in terms of narrative feedback (not technical re: grammar mistakes, syntax errors, etc.), the things he has to say has weight - I jumped to the relevant part of the interview.

The takeaway is - sometimes your readers will give you feedback on the story ("that decision by the MC is stupid, it made no sense, I think his character is more like blah blah blah" or "it would have been better if you resolved things this way, that way was anticlimactic" etc), and while their views or comments may be valid - the decisions of the MC may have been poorly thought out, or the resolution to a tension may have been anticlimactic and disappointing - unless you're basically writing your story freeform with no outline or plan for what you intend to happen in the story, I'm going to assume you made those narrative decisions for a reason. And you should stand by the story you intended to tell. And I don't mean that as a "ganbatte, live your best left" sentiment, I mean - if you didn't find the story you were telling important enough to you to stand by the narrative as you wanted to tell it, then whyyyy are you telling it at all. Yes, being open minded to understanding why people have criticisms, not just the criticisms themselves, can help you think about the way you're telling your story and if you are telling the story you want to tell in the best way, but also like. Have a little faith in your story as it is.
 

ars

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Jan 29, 2019
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I wish I could say that I'm above the worldly struggles of having an ego, but...

Like flucket says, I try to be open-minded about criticism, especially if it breaks open a flaw in my writing that I myself hadn't noticed. I'll try to absorb and act on the criticism, even if it means restructuring my entire story in order to better show what I really wanted to get at.

But if the critique is an attack on the story I wanted to tell, then I end up feeling pretty miserable and defensive. I once made a game that revolved around a touchy subject, something dark that was based on my own personal fears and experiences, and one of the first reviews on it was from someone I heavily admired tearing into it and saying that my use of that subject was cheap, immature, and just for shock value, and that I was belittling the entire subject. It trashed everything I wanted to convey, and basically said I was slapping other people in the face for fun... it was the worst reception I ever got to something I made, made even worse by how personal the story was. Ugh, that was a bad time.

Nowadays I'm only writing casual fluff stories, so the criticism I get is really reasonable - stuff like that the pacing was too fast and too many things happened in a short period of time, or that there were too many time skips (because I was too lazy to write in-betweens :sweating_profusely:). When it's true, it's not a big deal if it's pointed out.
 
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Most of the crit I've received so far has basically been due to a lack of information, leaving readers to post comments asking for clarification/to have things explained. Many of these comments I basically ignore because it's information I plan to release at a later date within the story.
That!

stuff like that the pacing was too fast and too many things happened in a short period of time, or that there were too many time skips (because I was too lazy to write in-betweens :sweating_profusely:)
And that too!

The first is the bigger problem for me but the second one ties into that a bit. My first side-project (RMN) has massive time skips at the beginning (so many that I turned them into an extra-extra :blob_facepalm:) so there were some people asking about stuff that would have happened in that time frame. I might add some stuff in when I do the first rewrite but I guess some questions will just have to remain unanswered in the novel itself.
In the comment section, I tend to answer all questions (and explain other things that I feel might have been misunderstood) though and just mention before the explanation that it'd be a spoiler or ask them if they want to hear it first. Several of them never respond so I'll take that as a No but like this, the readers can decide whether they'd like to know or not. Some people want to read spoilers, after all. Although nobody should quote me on things I say in comments. It might not be true three volumes later :sweat_smile:

I once changed some part of one of my stories since I felt the feedback I had gotten back then was valid but it didn't work out and one of those things came back to bite me four volumes later and now I have to worm my way through that somehow. So now I'm juggling two versions of the series (it's OMF btw): The one with the dumb edit in-between that still has another 5 and a half volume to go and the version that I am currently rewriting. So whatever happens in version 1 has to be as close to version 2 as possible so I won't have even more work to do in the future. It's a total mess :blob_blank:
 

sak-chii

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Mar 16, 2019
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If its rude criticism, just ignore them

But if it's a constructive criticism, learn from their criticisms and it will help you improve your skills as an author.

Personally speaking(opinion). Its criticism from readers that make us authors grow. Without them, how do we even improve. We learn from criticism given to us and improve our skills slowly

Kek thats my own opinion and what I do...

(Didn't read the other comments tldr... and yes my grammer sucks so shush)
 

sak-chii

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By criticising himself, he could scale endlessly towards the peak. :blobthumbsup:
Well, true. But reader's view is also important since they have different views and opinions

Their criticism may also have factors that the authors don't see...

Although I try to explain myself at times, I also took note of theit criticism since their views may be different from the author view :blob_salute:
 

gaylolis

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i just try to see how it can benefit me.

when worst came to worst, i probably would remind myself--at least i didn't pay money for this.
 
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Chaaruzu_Corner

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Well I'm pretty proud to say I can take in criticism well. If it's 1 informative I'll gladly have a discussion and stuff and even admit faults when I feel that they're right.

But if 2 it's not, I'll troll.
If it's 3 trolling me, I'll troll back.

Kinda dumb when I see authors shitting the reader when they make comments criticizing their work. Even if it's the 2 & 3 kind, I mean they still click and read your story so that's enough for me and tell them just that. I mean they commenting at all is all fine for me since I like looking at statistics XD
 

Jemini

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Well, I actually have had an incident of rude criticism, but it also had some specific details to it and I am actually quite happy with how I responded to it. (You never know how you are going to react to a situation until you are actually in it.)

My reaction was to keep a perfectly friendly and professional tone as I asked for more details, which were given. Several of the details mentioned were actually criticisms I agreed with, and I implemented the changes. (the thing being criticized was actually my synopsis rather than a chapter content, so it was a little easier to just up and change the whole thing.) I changed the things I agreed were issues, and kept the things the reader criticized but were actually important from my perspective to my objective with the story.

After I implemented the changes, I used as friendly a tone as possible, while thanking them genuinely for their feedback, as I also pointed out how their choice of words in their original post might have not been the best way to approach a person. Similar to my reaction to them, they completely agreed their tone was wrong and apologized.

Being friendly first actually goes a long way, and keeping up such a tone is important for your image. It is not good to get into a fight with your readers in the comments section, even if you don't like what they're saying.
 
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S-Scherr

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May 22, 2019
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Lots of good advice above. I, too, thank anyone for bothering to critique my work whether I agree or not. Sometimes readers get invested in your story so much that disappointment is inevitable when a story doesn't go the way they expect. I can accept that. I just watch out for 'trolls'--those readers who just want to start arguments and controversy for the attention. I don't waste a moment on them. Also, I try not to let anyone put me in a corner where I'm defending my work. Nothing good usually comes from that either.
 
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