The Journal: Critiques? Um, No.

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* Topic: Critiques? Um, No.
* Of Interest

Quote of the Day

“[U]sing someone else’s idea without using their expression of that idea is not copyright infringement. Copyright protects the expression of ideas, not ideas themselves.” The Passive Guy

Topic: Critiques? Um, No.

Disclaimer 1 — I’ll say up front that if you are one who actively seeks out criticism of your work from readers or from other writers, that’s fine. None of my business. To each your own.

Disclaimer 2 — I’ll also say I’m not talking here about copyeditors or other professionals who “critique” your use of punctuation or pacing (paragraphing) and other mechanics and offer suggestions for clarity or improvement.

I’m talking about those folks who, invited or not, actually believe they know better than you how a story that took place in YOUR MIND should have been written. Seriously?

Not to even mention that they believe they know better than your characters how the story should have unfolded. Head-shaking.

If you’re wondering, I was talking with Matt again recently. He asked my thoughts about the willingness of readers and other writers, uninvited, to offer up a critique of a writer’s work. Apparently this happens a lot in various “groups” on social media sites and “reader boards,” whatever those are.

As you can probably tell from the first few paragraphs of this post, I didn’t have to think about that very long.

My first disclaimer stands. What you do with regard to critiques is strictly up to you.

My own practice is simple:

1. I do the best I can at my current skill level on everything I write. Therefore,

2. I don’t allow even my OWN critical mind, much less anyone else, to second-guess my characters and their story.

I enjoy my stories. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t write them, and I hope others will enjoy them too. But as there is nothing I can do to affect an opinion beyond writing to the best of my ability, I honestly don’t care.

Opinions are just that: opinions. And any opinion that presumes knowledge of what’s going on in someone else’s mind (or what should be going on) is about as pretentious and invalid an opinion as there can be.

The bottom line? If others enjoy my stories, that’s wonderful. I’m glad. If they don’t, well, they’re free to write their own. And yes, I recommend you adopt the same attitude. (grin)

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Making It Feel Real” at

See “7 Common Types of Plagiarism” at The OP sounds as if it were written by an angry 7 year old, but PG’s comments are worth reading. If you’re interested in copyright law, the next post on The Passive Voice might also interest you.

Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among myriad other topics.

4 thoughts on “The Journal: Critiques? Um, No.”

  1. There’s a proverb in Mexico: “Crea fama, y échate a dormir.” (Create fame – what people know you for, a reputation…), and then go to sleep. The rest will take care of itself.

    It also means that people have to know you – which is the fame part.

    But once they do, you get credit for all kinds of extra things you may not even have thought of doing. Followed by a knowing smile from you.

    The answer to unwanted advice? “Interesting thought.” “Huh – I never thought of that one.” And my favorite (because it leads to complete inaction most of the time): “You should be a writer!” Adjust the tone to suit the circumstances. Can be followed up with lots of advice of your own about how they should start writing.

    I don’t handle critique well. At this stage I don’t need or want it. I don’t even want a copyeditor. My beta reader catches the occasional typo and she and I have the kind of relationship where I thank her and praise her because she’s awesome at it.

    But at least I’ve stopped arguing about critique or editing or letting it faze me.

    Fulsome praise happily accepted.

  2. Seems to me that allowing others to critique and change your story would result in stories that might have been written by someone with multiple personality disorder.
    Might be an interesting idea for a story but not how I write (or would ever want to). I have a hard enough time keeping my own critical mind out.

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