By Jennifer Blanchard
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about how to get the most out of a writing critique. After publishing this post, Procrastinating Writers reader, CathrynG, asked me what to do when you receive conflicting critiques (meaning one person says, “This character is flat” and another says, “I love this character; I really identified with her”).
So I’ve decided to address her very important question.
When you’re showing your writing to a group of people, such as in a creative writing class or a writing roundtable, it’s very likely you’ll receive conflicting criticism. This is because everyone has their own opinion and their own perspective. It’s also because some people will like your writing and others won’t.
I know that may be difficult to hear, but that is the reality of being a writer. You can’t please everyone. It’s just not possible.
So what do you do when you find yourself in this situation? Here are some ideas:
- Read through the conflicting critiques and try to understand where each person was coming from. Doing this will help you look at your writing from different perspectives (other than your own).
- Really think about why each person said what they said. Is it because one of the critiquers doesn’t read your genre so maybe she didn’t really understand? Or is it because that section of the story isn’t clear? Or maybe it’s because part of your story still needs work?
- Use whatever advice you want to use (or ignore both people’s critiques if you want).
The main thing to remember when receiving critiques on your writing is this: A critique is just another person’s opinion. That doesn’t mean he/she is right or wrong.
On top of that, it’s your story. Which means you are in charge. You have the final say so.
Also, keep in mind that criticism you receive should be constructive, which means the person provided you with feedback that will help you improve your writing. If you get feedback that is rude, mean or unconstructive (meaning it provides you with no help), feel very free to ignore it.
While it’s nice to get your writing critiqued so you can find holes in your plot or places where your characters become lame, you have to keep in mind that it’s your story.
So take in all criticism, truly think about each person’s opinion, then decide what (if any) advice you want to use in your story.
Maybe after you read through and think about the conflicting critiques you realize that both people are totally wrong. Or maybe they’re both right and you can incorporate a little bit of each opinion.
But in the end, it’s your story. You have to be happy with it. No one else.
Have you ever received conflicting critiques? How did you handle it?