A Guide to Constructive Criticismbyjoshy029©
I know how very few people comment, much less provide criticism on stories online. Giving criticism, however, easy for the reader and helpful to the author.
This guide isn't just for stories, I've found it useful in almost anything I've ever read, watched or played. In fact, I've even used it on food. That's just how versatile criticism can be. However, for the purpose of this guide, I'll focus on stories.
Many people reading this might say "I gave you criticism. I said it was good!" The problem is, that this is bad criticism. I know, you said it was good, so that's positive, right? Wrong. No matter whether you're giving good or bad criticism, a simple "good" or "bad" is bad criticism.
Sure, a nice "This was good" is a positive comment, but as criticism, it's bad. The point of criticism is to express your opinions in detail. If a story is good or bad, it benefits the author and the readers if you explain how it's good or bad.
For instance, on my most recent story, I received this comment: "The chapters have gotten too short and sloppy." Let's break that comment down.
The chapters being too short is the best part of that comment. It explains exactly what's wrong to the author: now I know that for the enjoyment of my readers, it would be a good idea to try and lengthen my story chapters. Maybe not all of them, since the occasional short chapter isn't a bad thing in most people's eyes. Now I know what to do about this aspect of the comment.
The chapters have gotten sloppy. How? I need to know how my writing has gotten sloppy. Give me examples with reasons and explain how it effects the story in your eyes. With that information, I can work on this portion of the comment. I can't do anything unless I know where I've gone wrong.
Now that we've gotten a fairly negative comment broken down, with information on how I can deal with the problem, let's look at positive comments.
Some positive comments, as it stands, aren't meant as criticism. I have had a fair few with simple praise (some of which involve sexual acts the writer of said comment wants to do to me). These comments are fine how they are. What we're looking at is comments like "This story was great."
As with the "sloppy" part of the negative comment, I need to know how it was good. When writing that kind of comment, it's a good idea to explain how the story made you feel, what it made you think and any other reactions you had that turned it into a positive read.
A better comment would be: "This was a great story. The description was good and gave me a really clear mental image of what I was reading. The premise was interesting and once it was introduced, it paced the story well. Your story has turned me on and I'd love to read more."
This is a good comment. Not how it not only explains that it was a good read, but it allows the author to know how they have effected the reader. It allows the reader to know that it made the reader think in an entertaining way about the story's content. Even the part about being turned on is useful to an author: it allows them to know what sort of things are popular in the erotic literature we all love here.
There are also comments that are somewhat ignorant. I have gotten comments, a lot of them, saying that I've spelled a lot wrong. Now, I understand that most readers on this site are used to reading in American English. However, I'm sure that they know that British English (which I write in, being British) exists and would register to them as spelling errors.
Now, this kind of comment isn't so bad. In fact, it's understandable. I know that may people read in a slightly different form of the English language. However, I can easily read novels and short stories that have been written in American English.
I guess that might be easier from me since all mainstream novels and short stories are published in American English, But it'd be nice to not get comments saying "spelling errors" when my profile states I'm British and it's widely known that we Brits write in a different format.
I guarantee that if you use constructive criticism right, those authors with potential will only get better and better. It will, as Stated several times, allow them to write much better.
I hope that this has been helpful in writing constructive criticism to authors. I hope you consider using it when you comment on stories around the site, as it'll be a big help to us writers when it comes to writing good, engaging material for all of you.
Thanks for reading this guide and happy commenting.