Monday, May 7, 2012

A Peeve of Mine

"That's obviously your first draft."

"You didn't read the article I provided on how to write a query letter, did you?"

"I hate when people write synopses and it's obvious that they never proofread it."

"If you want to be a writer than you need to study spelling and grammar."

I've heard people use this kind of insulting language several times when critiquing people. If you've done it, then please don't do it again. It is not constructive criticism, it is belittling.

Why are these phrases insultful? Because they make assumptions, like if someone can't write a good query, then they obviously didn't study how to. Or if someone's novel is full of plot holes and spelling mistakes, then they MUST have never proofread it.

The truth is, no one can say that for sure how much work someone put into a story besides the person who wrote it. We're all at different stages of learning. Certain aspects of writing come easier to some of us and not others. Just because someone's spelling and grammar is as bad as yours were before you started studying it, doesn't mean they never took the time to study themselves.

If they have studied or proofread, you'll make them feel like an idiot. They'll become frustrated because they did the work but it didn't show. If all it took was work, then it should be fixed by now. They are lacking knowledge and they've come to you because you can provide it. Take the time to teach them what they did wrong. You'll help them more in the long run by showing them how to do it the right way rather than belittling them.

That's why I've been upset by editors that I've heard say,"I won't read someone's story if it's their first draft."

How can they tell? From critiquing a variety of people who've put a lot of work into their novels, I can tell that some are good at grammar, others not. Some can easily create a story, some need a push. Some write clearly, others have trouble explaining or showing things. We're all different.


Angie Sandro said...

Oh, I totally agree. It is insulting and demeening, and not at all helpful because it's vague. It shows a lack of empathy or patience on the part of the critiquer. Not cool!

Anonymous said...

I have just recently come to know the feeling. I had sought out feedback from someone I knew was generally negative, because I have thick skin and sometimes good can be culled from negativity, though was disappointed to find that most of their comments were in reference to my POV and they seemed to not realize that 3rd person omniscient exists.
They started it off though by wondering if I was new to writing, and then quoting a friend with an English degree. Which can be very insulting to someone who has been writing for a long time and has a minor in English. Though I can't say I could be very hurt by someone who didn't know what omniscient POV was.

Keisha Azzalea said...

Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. no problem no life, no matter did not learn, so enjoy it :)

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