On Criticism

How do you handle criticism?  I don’t handle negativity well and have never understood how anyone can be a troll.  Why the hostility?  Answers on a postcard… hang on, maybe not.  (Might need more than a postcard!). 

Say it on a postcard, then again maybe not.  Image via Pixabay

Being a fairytale fan, I always did like how the biggest of the Billy Goats Gruff tackled trolls but the method used was not Christian, forgiving, or available to most annoyed writers!

How do your characters handle criticism by others in your stories? Getting depth into a story means it needs layers and well developed characters are key to this.  How they react to being criticized will reveal so much about them to your readers.  I build my characters up a piece at a time.  Yes, you can have layers in flash fiction.  There is always more to my characters than appears at first reading! 

Do your characters think things through before reacting to criticism?  Do you?  Image via Pixabay
Firstly I have a rough idea of what their major trait is, secondly I work out appearance, what clothes they wear etc, and lastly I know their relationships.  I also know what state those relationships are in.  My characters’ attitudes will be key to whether those relationships stay the same, improve or decline.   Isn’t that true for us all?!

With flash fiction, most of what I know about my characters never makes it into the story.  There isn’t the word count available but this preparation still helps as it isolates those crucial points the reader needs  so I know what I must include. I still need to know why a character has this attitude to something or someone before I can write the story showing you that.
A clean sheet can lead to fascinating characters as you develop them.  Image via Pixabay.
I put what I’ve written aside before I evaluate my story.  I ask what would readers make of this?  One advantage of flash fiction is you must grab people’s attention quickly and “hit the ground running”.  Unlike a novel, you’re not in for a marathon, or a standard short story where I’d say the reader was in for a “sprint”.  With flash, it’s the dash and that’s it but the story must still grip people for long enough.
When you review your own work, you need to be as objective as possible.  Image via Pixabay.

The elapse of time makes it easier for me to see my story as if I was reading it for the first time.  There must be a psychological reason for this - any thoughts on that please comment, I’d love to know - but the gap means I pick up things missed on first read through.  As you read through your story, ask yourself is this too wordy? Does the reader absolutely need this?

Will your story have the impact on your readers the way you think?  The images they conjure  up may not match yours! Image via Pixabay.
I have found when I’ve done this and the story is out there, online or in a collection, criticism from others, where it is well written and thoughtful, helps me improve what I do for next time.  There is always room for improvement for next time!  As for criticism that puts other writers down, as long as YOU know you have put your all into what you have written, nothing else matters.

Happy writing!
Judging your work objectively enough means giving yourself enough time away from it.  Image via Pixabay


  1. I always welcome criticsm from my writing buddies, as I know that they're trying to help. With others I confess my response can be mixed!

  2. Know where you're coming from there, Patsy!


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