Criticism: how to deliver it and how to react to it

[Article previously published in Italian here. English translation made by Lowkey Loki, with the revision of JoSeBach and Evgenij.]

Sooner or later, we will all be criticized. I’ve seen and tried many ways to react, and I will now suggest the ones that I think are the best.

First and foremost, unless criticism is delivered by a notorious troll, always examine it. If you can easily break it down, your confidence will improve. If you can’t find an answer, though, ask yourselves what changes this criticism would bring. A minor correction can fix a major plot hole.

An example? Imagine the protagonist seeing a medieval soldier dying in front of him, their sword flies away and then the evil bandit who killed the soldier appears. The protagonist must deal with him while unarmed and the fight is hard.

Someone might ask:“why doesn’t he try to pick up the knight’s sword?” The correction is simple to make: you can simply say that it flew “out of reach”. Three words that completely change the meaning of the

sentence and justify your choices. Alternatively, you can write that the bandit kicks it away.

It’s essential to know how to answer:

– be aware that not everybody can comprehend one’s art;

– be aware that not everybody likes what one does.

These two approaches look similar, but they are very different: the first one points a finger against the audience (claiming they can’t understand you), the other one points the finger against yourselves (admitting you can’t reach everyone). The second one is a much humbler way to reply.

You need to accept criticism as well as to deliver it.

First of all, consider the circumstances: do you own a reviewing service, or have you just found the story and now you want to give your opinion?

If you own a reviewing service, you decide the rules: you can choose how detailed you want to be, if it will be a serious review or a troll-type one. The user enters your territory at their own risk. It is important to make it clear from the beginning.

Also:

– always verify your reasons: if you criticize something that is actually correct, you will just make a fool of yourselves;

– accept counter-replies, it’s possible you will receive them;

– don’t act like you’re some expert;

– don’t attack the user;

– if your judgment is influenced by a personal preference, specify it.

The main reason I’m telling you these things is due to the risk that your message could be misunderstood:

by using an inadequate tone and criticizing correct things, it’s possible that the user who’s looking for confrontation sees you as some bully who just wants to annoy them.

I’ll tell you my personal story. In the past, I had subscribed to some Facebook pages, where I’ve had some

negative experiences: the users were very prickly, almost no one seriously answered the questions and

dozens of people would give criticism without even reading the whole work.

I once spent the entire evening writing:“that’s not what I said, I wrote this thing, give it another read, please”. After a couple of hours I gave up, edited the text, made a list of all the wrong interpretations the other users had made up and specified that I did NOT mean any of those.

No one answered me ever again.

Even if the comments don’t affect you, I assure you these people are truly troubling.

So, my suggestions are:

– better few critics but good;

– before asking any questions, test the waters (don’t think you can change the general opinion of someone or of an entire group just because you show crushing proofs);

– if things get nasty, cut it short and run.

fanwriter91

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