Tag Archives: commenting

How to Deal with People Who Hate Your Writing

2124282684_81ecf64191_mAs great as it would be for everyone to love your writing, it’s not going to happen. It’s like recess in elementary school, when you want to play with anyone that’s doing something you enjoy. Just because you want to play with them, and maybe most of them want to play with you, there’s usually someone who wouldn’t rather not.

This can be harsh. Anytime you get rejected it stings, and when it comes to comments on writing, people can be brutal. They’ll tell you exactly what they think, especially now that social media is so popular. All they have to do is fill out a comment box or write a review. They don’t have to face you, or see that you’re human and have feelings that can be hurt.

Granted, this comes with writing. Negative feedback comes anytime you put yourself out there. I see it a lot on online articles. An article might be on a kid who survived cancer, but most of the comments focus on typos within the article. Or, recently, I read an article about E.L. James’ Twitter Q&A (E.L. James wrote Fifty Shades of Grey), where she was vilified. I’m not a fan of her writing, but the comments and questions some individuals presented to her were beyond rude.

One thing to remember is that writers aren’t the only ones getting negative feedback. Their writing isn’t the only type of work getting bashed. Think of restaurant servers, lawyers, store clerks, doctors, etc. There is always going to be someone who complains, someone who can’t stand what you do.

It’s important to keep in mind that getting upset over someone bashing you isn’t going to help. Nor is firing nasty comments back at them. The best thing to do is to ignore the negative comments, which is very difficult because writing is personal. You pour part of yourself into each piece you write. But, like bullies, the haters will eventually move on if you don’t react.

Since ignoring negative comments is difficult, an alternative is to complain to your family or close friends. Get your aggression out of your system with people you trust. That way, if you do respond to the reader, you’ll be more prepared to respond in a manner that defuses the situation rather than aggravates it.

As a writer, your goal isn’t to make everyone happy. It’s to write the story you envision and to make that story the best it can be.

How do you respond to negative feedback?

(Photo courtesy of Stefan Powell.)

Look Over Here, No Here: The Art of Commenting

Writing isn’t just about writing. Yes, that’s a huge component of it, but if you want to improve your writing skills, you have to do more than write. One way that helps is to comment on other peoples’ writing.

I’m not talking about simply stating whether you liked or didn’t like something. And I’m not telling you to edit someone else’s work, or try to improve their work based on what you’d do if their story were yours. Look at someone else’s work on its own merit. Work on figuring out what that one, individual story is trying to do.

The goal with commenting is to help create well-crafted stories. You want to help other writers improve their work, and in doing so, yours will improve. Be honest…not mean. If you say something that’s a great idea, but makes the writer defensive, your comments won’t be heard.

It’s always nice to say something positive about the work. It’s easy to get on a rant about what’s negative, and though you should be honest, you don’t want to throw the writer into a black hole. Think how’d you feel if someone was so brutally honest with you, you wanted to crawl under a rock and never see the light of day again….Not a great feeling.

There are different types of comments you can give to other writers. I’ve listed some of the areas below:

  • The View From Above. From an overall perspective, how did you feel about the story or the chapter you just finished reading? What aspects stayed with you? What were the best and worst parts?
  • Let’s Get Technical. How was the plot of the story? Of the chapter? Was there a flow from beginning to middle to end? How were the setting, dialogue, and voice? How about the point of view? Where there some parts of the story much slower than others? Was the writing too choppy or flowery? Did the structure of the story or chapter make sense?
  • The Individual Moments. Were there any specific points in the novel that delighted you (this could be a positive emotion, like overwhelming happiness, or a horrible one, like feeling as if you’d experienced a character’s loss first hand – both of these would be good scenarios)? Was there a section that made you doubt the validity of a character? Was there a part that left you wanting more or less?
  • Think About Those Sentences. How’s the sentence variety? How about the word choice? Are there some words that don’t make any sense or throw you out of the story? Is the voice active or passive? Wordy? Too dense? What about the use of figurative language?
  • Why Continue Reading? What makes you want to read on? Do you want to read on? If you’re looking at a chapter, do you have a sense of where the story’s going?

When commenting, it’s important to address different areas. You want to be thoughtful and thorough. Explain why you said what you said. If you only state what was good and what wasn’t, the author won’t know why something works and another thing doesn’t. The author won’t know how to go about changing sections that didn’t work. So take the time and explain your thoughts.

How do you go about commenting?