I know the tone of my posts can be a wee bit snarky. If it offends you, I’m sorry. Move on.
This post is for the critiquers in the world.
Writing is a skill, but so is the art of critiquing. Different than mere criticizing, it requires talent to execute to the benefit of all parties, which even professional reviewers can screw up.
When it comes to many things related to the professionalism of writing and publishing, traditional or done by self, I get very serious. Critiquing is one of those “wake the hell up” words for me. I’ve seen these sessions go awry and horribly so, in group format as well as one on one. I’ve been at the receiving end of quite a few of them. I can honestly say, I’ve never been on the giving end.
Abuse as motivation, tough love and the like, can work for some people. Not me. Abuse shuts me off from the inside out, which means the abuser jerked off to pleasure himself/herself in the guise of “I’m helping you.” It is a lie. Bullies don’t help on the playground or anywhere else, especially on the internet because it’s so easy. Bullies always go for easy, a reason why they pick on the smallest and most defenseless kids. Wouldn’t it be interesting if they were required to start at the top of the school food chain and made to work their way down? I guarantee, they wouldn’t make it past captain of the football team. I guarantee they won’t be walking the same for a while.
This sidebar is for the critiquers in the world. For a moment, you have power in your hands, and you have choices to make, usually subconscious ones. You can make it about you, show off how brilliant you are by bashing everything you hated in the story. Or you can make it about the writer by giving a balanced review: what were the good things that worked for you; what were the bad things that didn’t and why?