How to Accept Literary Criticism

Often writers don’t know how to be critiqued. I find myself biting my tongue when acrid comments come my way, but I know this is all a process. Here are rules to live by for critiquing.

1. Don’t Argue with the Critic
Whether you agree with what the person says or not, keep quiet. Don’t say anything about the criticism.

2. Don’t Try to Justify Your Plot, Logic, or Style
You can’t speak up when someone plucks your book off a shelf or downloads it. If it doesn’t make sense, live with it. Keep quiet and move on.

3. Don’t Say: “What I meant here was…”
If you didn’t communicate what it was you meant, then folks will call you on it. You need to rewrite.

4. If You Don’t Understand, Ask
If a criticism doesn’t make sense, ask the critic to explain it. You can’t fix the writing if you don’t understand what’s broken.

5. Take Complete Notes
Even if the critic hands you his or her notes, write down your own. Your thoughts on the criticisms are invaluable. Plus, you may not be able to read the critic’s writing.

6. Decide Which Criticisms to Follow
Make the changes you think are right and in line with what you wish the story to reflect. Ignore the rest.

7. Dig In and Keep Writing
Just because the critics found flaws doesn’t mean you need to give up. Push on and keep writing.

Tim Kane
Adapted from the rules set down by Chet Cunningham

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About Tim Kane

Tim Kane is a young adult fiction writer.
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6 Responses to How to Accept Literary Criticism

  1. You forgot the most important one: DON’T WHINE! All kidding aside, I like your rules, too bad some writers have selective memory when it comes to them, because I think that we all know what they are. For me, criticism is like writing, it gets easier the more you are open to it. The first time always smarts the hardest. The more you invite feedback, the easier it is to take it in the — usually helpful — spirit that it is offered in. Hugs!

  2. teschoenborn says:

    Reblogged this on teschoenborn and commented:
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  3. TheOthers1 says:

    I need to print this out and hang it up somewhere near my computer so I can remember it. I’ve noticed that getting used to criticism is difficult, but I think accepting compliments is hard too. Nice post.

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