So, as my friend so bluntly put it, “As a critic you’re kind but as an editor you’re kinda a b****”. I’ve come to realise that she’s right. I’m sweet as can be when I’m reviewing something basically because I choose what I’m reading and it’s already caught my attention because it feels polished to me. I pick up a book for many reasons. It’s been recommended to me. It’s got a cool cover. It’s by an author I like. It’s title is rather spiffy. The pen name of the author makes my brain go “Wow, nifty name”. The list goes on and on. But no matter what, there is something about the book that has made me pick it up and go “This is what I’m reading next.”
As an editor I’m incredibly harsh, though never rude. I will absolutely tear a piece to shreds if I think it needs to be. Every line can literally be cut to pieces. It can be bleeding coloured pixels or ink (depending on if it’s emailed or given to me in ms format) and I won’t feel bad about it. I think this comes from a combination of several things. 1. I am a writer myself and a perfectionist so if something doesn’t work I want to hear it. I may not change it, but I want to hear it. 2. I’ve been a part of this wonderful group called Other Worlds Writers’ Workshop for something like 6 years and we’re incredibly harsh with each other’s work because the goal is to get it published.
OWWW (both the sound you make when you read your first crits and an acronym for the group) is near and dear to my heart. Short Stories in a Week, the Crazy Crit Challenge, and other such silly and writerly stuff make me smile. They also frustrate me, aggravate me, and make me want to take a flying leap on occasion. The general guideline there is to shred something with kind intentions. Basically, tell the author what you really think but keep in mind that they wrote it and love their work as much as you love yours. From this stuff I’ve gotten a much thicker skin and the ability to see all feedback as just that, feedback. I don’t take it for the Holy Book, nor do I completely discount it. I use what I want and don’t take the rest personally.
Now, I was asked by someone to critique his work who is not in the group. I did so in my frank way and met with a bit of backlash for it. Apparently, that style of critique was not what he was looking for though he said he wanted straightforward thoughts and opinions, comments and questions, and edits and adds. I feel a bit bad for that. If I had known that he didn’t want me to be that frank I wouldn’t have. Now, my overall comments are generally good with my thoughts on characters and plot but my critique I’m guessing felt a little harsh as the line by line is generally things that need to be changed in my opinion with only the really stand out good things mentioned. What I’ve realised through criting the first couple of chapters of this guy’s book is that I need to remember that someone who isn’t in a serious crit group online or in person doesn’t have the same level of toughness about a crit that I do and I need to remember that. Poor fella. I really do feel bad, even though I’ve never met him.