How to spot a bad critique in 3 easy steps

Not long ago, I posted this tip about being open to criticism. I stand by it, because I believe in order to be successful in the writing world you have to be able to face criticism.

But I have an addendum to that tip.

Be open to constructive critiquing, not opinionated slights against your prose. There’s a big difference.

There are writers who will pick apart your piece because it’s different. Maybe they don’t like your tense, or your flowery words, or your sentence construction. Maybe there’s tension between the two of you, maybe this person is jealous of your talent.

Regardless of the reason, some people will try to fix what’s not broken in your book. If you want to know how to spot a bad critique, here are three things to look for:

1) They are using words like “you should do this” or “never do that”

Writers who are looking to heighten your skills will use phrases like, “I don’t want to squash your voice here, but this phrasing is confusing. Maybe you can clarify by saying it like this….”

2) They don’t give you a Critique Sandwich

The Critique Sandwich looks like this: A positive remark is made about your writing. Then come the things to work on. It’s finished off with another positive word about the piece.

3) Based on your knowledge on the genre in which you’re writing, you have never seen what they’re telling you to change

This is where reading comes in handy for a writer. Sometimes, the best way to get published is to emanate the pros. Is the person giving you writing tips you’ve never seen in a published work before? Ask them to back up their critique—how do they know what they’re saying is true? Challenge them kindly.

If all else fails, just nod your head, thank this person for their thoughts (even if you don’t agree), and move on. This is your piece. These are your words. No one else’s.