Love your critic

Love a good critic

 

I have a love hate relationship with critics and like all authors, appreciate a pat on the head but loathe the occasional kick in the pants. Below are two examples of reviews on one of my novels. A review should be helpful to the writer. Some writers do not always welcome criticism but if well intended and accompanied by a helpful suggested remedy for the criticism, the writer should at least show respect to the reviewer for taking the time to read the work. I love good criticism because that is one way I learn to improve my work. At least I have a choice in storing good advice or discarding it because I don’t agree with it. We all know, deep down, when reading reviews, whether the reader has got it right and hit a nerve. Never be afraid to admit to yourself that the reader has a good point. Then remember that the next time you are dealing with a similar issue in your writing. What I hate are the reviewers who hide behind a pseudo name and take great delight in insulting one’s intelligence with badly written reviews that let the writer know what they have done wrong (according to them) but without any helpful hints on how the problems they point out can be resolved (according to them). We should look on good criticism as a tool. I cut and paste some of mine onto a file and believe it or not that is a great way to remember the points without having to refer back to them. They get stored in your memory banks as you write them or paste them. So what is a good review and what is bad. Below I give you the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. It is bad practice to answer a critic whether good or bad. One should quietly thank them or quietly curse them. However, as you will see from the example below, I was tempted to answer this one. The last example here is what I call a really useful review – not the best one I ever had but one of the most useful. Remember, there is a difference between good and useful.

 

2.0 out of 5 stars Free but stupid 2 April 2015

By GLENNIS-WILDDOG1

Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

downloaded as a freebie. Bad research regarding Biggin Hill airport and the ability to just jump out whilst taxying and escaping through fencing, no………..I worked there for 14 years………………. and Piper aircraft???Piper with a canopy??

no! not outside of a one/two seat crop duster! and then this canopied craft apparently takes 4 passengers… all small Piper aircraft have doors, not canopies. Even the registration is stupid, British registered is all letters starting with G….

not G and numbers.

Whole plot and characters unbelievable, especially what they supposedly achieve. sorry author, but get research correct or don’t write about it, and think about just how far someone like a journalist can go, certainly not as far as this guy was supposed to.

Just silly and as previously stated, badly researched in certain parts.

 

Ray Stone says:

Fiction contains a certain amount of ‘suspended disbelief.’ I wonder how this reviewer would get on with all the totally unbelievable plots in James Bond. This book has many good reviews from USA so readers are obviously enjoying it. Sorry  reviewer but you need to get with the plot. Over 3000 sold so far and in top 20 for two months and still there. Go figure. Incidentally, the plane was hired from a German air taxi firm in Germany. It would not have Brit reg. Also, why cant a plane stop at the end of a runway and two people jump out and escape. And has the reviewer seen the latest exploits of journalists from the London tabloids Sorry reviewer but you really ought to brush up on your research. Criticism is always welcome but should be properly written in a non-offensive manner. Perhaps this reviewer might keep that in mind and actually read the next book and not ‘skim read’ it.

 

Spy Thriller

By Roses are Amber on December 7, 2014

Twisted Wire is a complex spy thriller. The prologue introduces us to Nigel Silsbury, a spy who is searching for the mole in MI6, a man known as Krane. Enda Osin is a political reporter for the Herald newspaper, he returns from holiday to a strange message on his phone. He follows up the lead and finds himself involved with industrial espionage and the theft of material about a high-speed experimental air craft.

The storyline involves the Americans, Russians, the EU and the British secret service in a plot line with plenty of twists and turns as spies are exposed, sabotage planned and deals are double crossed. Enda Osin, his wife Jessica and a handy right hand man called Fish sniff out a story and try to help justice win. Determined to be able to get a story for the paper Enda goes to great lengths and takes huge risks as he follows a trail to Germany and Europe.

A good storyline, a little of the dialogue didn’t flow on occasions as much as I would have hoped and I did struggle with the amount of characters and all the names, however a good ending which I didn’t see coming and had me checking back to the beginning of the book to re-read the prologue.

This review is based on a free copy of the book given to me by the author.

 

Do you see the difference? The second review was written by a professional blogger I have a lot of respect for. She has read the book cover to cover – that’s obvious. She is making a couple of criticisms but notice her diplomatic way of telling me. This is well intended advice and I choose to ignore the criticism about too many characters because that’s the way I like to plot with many characters. However, her point about the dialogue is something I am mindful of and will remember it each time I write dialogue. Of the first review…well I think I have said it all in my comment.

Do not discard criticism – embrace it and learn from it and become a better writer and a better person.

Comments

Did a playwriting theatre workshop last week with first drafts of plays written. Professional actors and director involved. It was clearly a collaborative effort to make each one work on stage. This was achieved by criticism not praise in order to make it work. Live with both if your work is in the public space.
Well said, Ken. Unfortunately not all artists can or won't see our point of view and that is what holds them back.