Loving Criticism

We Want Our Work To Be Loved

We’re authors. Of course we want our work to be loved. Therefore, anything that seems like criticism shrinks our ego to the size of our withered thymus gland. We crumple into ourselves, hang the “Out to Lunch” sign on our front door, and mourn.

Criticism is the Most Loving Thing for Your Work
If we want our work to shine, we must accept and react to criticism. We can’t be expected to see everything that could be wrong with our writing; we’ve lived with it for so long it makes sense in our minds. We can’t be the reader who sees it for the first time.

Criticism has a bad name, because we think of it only in its most negative sense: the harmful, useless “This book sucks”. But we should make room in our lives for the more constructive “This doesn’t work”, “I don’t understand,” and “This frustrates me” as well as the “This works great”, “This makes me laugh”, and “I really enjoyed this”.

Different Levels of Critique
In writing, we can get critiques at several levels. We may not need all these levels for smaller works, but novels and novellas would benefit from all these levels. These are the most usual levels:
Developmental edit: Exploring shape and meaning
The developmental editor deals with the readability and strength of the work. Character development, theme, and plot fall into the dev editor’s responsibility.
Line edit/Copy edit: Ensuring readability and accuracy
The titles “copy edit” and “line edit” are used interchangeably. Their function is to make sure sentences are grammatically correct and words spelled right. They also look at whether the individual sentences make sense.
Beta readers: Conveying the reader’s experience
Beta readers are casual readers who read and comment on the book that has gone through developmental and line edits. They convey the reader’s experience of the book. In a way, they are the freshest set of eyes because they don’t have the expertise one expects from editors. 

If we invite critique into our writing process, then the criticism happens in a way that we can respond to it. Then, when the random critic decides they don’t like the book, we know we’ve done our best. We may not love criticism, but we can at least value it. 

If you have any favorite “oopsies” in your works, found by an editor, please let me know in the comments here.

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