Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Criticism and Writing

"When it comes to reading, I love it. Giving or receiving criticism, constructive or otherwise? Not so much.
My main love is fiction - mainly romance novels. I do read other fiction as well, if I find something that just sounds too interesting to pass up.
After I read it, I give it a rating on Goodreads and you have the option to write a review. Most often, I pass up this option and simply star the book. The reason is...I am not sure what to put in the review and if I didn't like something, I find it difficult to tell the person why I didn't like it because it is often just the way I feel.
I don't feel that it is my place to tell people what is wrong with their writing. Sure, I could see informing the writer of grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and basic information that is wrong that perhaps should not have been gotten wrong. Anything else and I feel like I am stepping on the person's view of the world - or even the world they made up, if that is what they are interested in.
Those romance novels I mentioned reading? I can't count how many times I've been made fun of for reading them. Tripe, ridiculous garbage, 'it is just porn for women except it's not images, it is words', 'romance novels are not real writing', etc. I've been asked why I don't go read something with more substance.
I instantly ask them...'Have you ever actually read a romance novel?' Better yet, have they ever tried to research to write a romance novel based on historical times in say...Victorian England? It is a lot of work and reading and getting all the facts straight. Hours and hours of it, in fact. I think if you've never even read a few different items in a specific genre, you have no business commenting on how stupid you think they are.
Don't get me wrong. It's not wrong to dislike something that another person wrote. You can dislike it and think it is stupid but you can just say 'this is not my cup of tea' and move the heck on. I don't like horror - at all, period. What do I do? I don't watch it and I don't read it. If it doesn't sound interesting, I don't spend time on it. Heck, I am even choosy when it comes to who and what reading I will do in romance novels. I have my faves, I admit but I will give new authors an opportunity and if I don't like it, I simply don't read them again.
I have to say that for the most part, people who read someone on a regular basis are very constructive and do an excellent job of telling the author why this book or writing didn't stand up to the other things they've done and they are not the people I am speaking of. Then you have those who said they chose this book because of the description but it was misleading.
These are not the people I am speaking of. Being respectful and telling someone simply why you didn't like their story is fine - I'd say that in my opinion, most authors would want to know what you think or what they could improve on. It's the blatant disrespect and making fun of other people's work that is disgusting.
Sometimes, a book just doesn't do anything for me and that's okay. Honestly, if I really didn't even read the whole book or knew from the beginning that I wasn't going to enjoy it, I don't rate it. I have experienced disappointment by authors I normally read and it is usually a feeling of 'well, this story wasn't as good as the others' but there isn't necessarily something wrong with the story.
Really, I wrote this because I'm afraid of this kind of response to my writing but for an entirely different reason. When people criticize something I do, I have always taken it personally. Of course, I want to know how I can improve, what didn't work and what did work, etc. I expect to receive these kinds of things in response to my writing.  I just don't want to be told it is stupid by people who really aren't into it but read my writing or book anyway and feel they can tell me what tripe it is for the heck of it.
I think if you want to be respected for your work, then you should always be respectful of other people's work."
Follow me on Twitter @CassJaney

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