Alternate title: I’m like Simon Cowell; my critiques sting. Only I’m nicer and I give you a band-aid.
To Whom It May Concern,
If you have received a critique from me and are not in any way offended, good for you.
If you have received a critique from me and feel quite the opposite, then this post is for you.
Please note the following points.
1) When critiquing I do not use the voice of a friend or familiar. When critiquing I simply look at or read the material in question, and break it down in my head. This is an involuntary compulsion, and I cannot not do it. I proceed to describe what is negative with the material, provided I can provide enough information on how you might go about improving that problem or fixing that element to balance it. I do not tell you that you suck and leave it at that.
Professional editors might possibly blank out your name and edit the story without knowing who that person is. I cannot do that, seeing that I will require people to submit their work to me directly – but I still mean business when I critique, so deal with it. I’ll be as impersonal as possible, clinical as possible, and harsh as needed. I’m here to help you get better, and if it involves shearing off your appendages, I’ll do it.
2) I refuse to tell someone that they suck and leave it at that. I am in the business of improving and helping, no matter how harsh my tone or stern my words. My intentions are friendly, even if my words say otherwise. If you don’t like it, question, and listen to my reply which is usually toned down* from my initial critique because I am no longer in critiquing mode.
(*Unless you’re being a dumb, annoying idiot who isn’t interested in learning or improving and insists on behaving childish until someone comforts you with teddy bears and lollipops and promises you that you are the best thing since J.K. Rowling and that you’re going to be the most successful human being of all time and are better than all the other kids, which is the only thing you are interested in hearing. In which case I’d fry your words and dance upon their ashes.)
3) When I praise an element, any element, I am dead serious about it. I am not going to lie to you. If I think it’s good, I think it’s good, and I’m not trying to make up for anything negative I’ve said. Again note, I mean all things well.
4) I will never pull out “that’s awesome,” or “I love it,” or any such thing if I don’t mean it. If that’s all I have to say, I’m definitely not in critiquing mode. If I am, I will praise it for specific aspects, and find the one negative flaw in it and point it out but let you know it doesn’t detract at all from the overall product. Also my critiquing voice is never going to come out on someone I greatly admire (because I greatly admire them for a reason, and that being their products don’t cause my brain to explode with analytical functions) unless I am asked to do so.
5) If you want unjustified lavish praise, not a critique or opinions or advice, don’t ask for critique or opinions or advice. Really, don’t. I’m not in the business to be sweet and sugary. If you want me to help you deconstruct something and point out every single bit of the story that can be improved, then by all means pass it to me. But if I get flames because you couldn’t for a lack of a better term, ‘handle the fire in the kitchen’, you jolly well get yourself out of here before I come after you with a meat cleaver.
In Summary: I sound like a right-up mean guy, but I don’t want to be. What I’m saying basically boils down to “this is where you are, I see where you want to be and what you’re going for, it didn’t quite work here’s why/here’s how you can get there.” I only praise where I feel praise is actually deserved (if something genuinely amazes me, I see a lot of growth in a particular person, etc) and I bloody well mean it when I praise something. I lavish praise on the people I admire because I so wish to have their skill set and knowledge, and I look up to them. And don’t waste people’s time asking for critiques you don’t want.
And this is what I’m going to refer everyone to as a general disclaimer before any of you submit work to me to critique. A ‘Submit Your Critiques’ page will be up by the end of the week with what I can accept and what I will critique.
I sound absolutely lovely, don’t I.