Getting input on your writing is so important, but so many writers are hesitant to give constructive criticism, or don't know how, or don't feel qualified.
In this series, I plan to discuss pitfalls to avoid as well as things you can do to make your advice easier to understand and more helpful to the writer.
Some subjects we'll be covering:
- Why you shouldn't just rewrite the piece you're critiquing.
- Using common sense when applying writing "rules."
- How to avoid vagueness and unhelpful blanket statements.
- Why you don't need to constantly qualify your advice.
- What to do if there is a huge discrepancy in skill level.
- Humor (why it usually isn't worth it).
- What to do, what to do?
Mistake: Trying to be funny.
This isn’t always a mistake, but humor is really subjective, so one person’s playful needling is another’s “bring me to tears.”
Sarcasm and mocking in general should only be used if you have a very good rapport with the writer and know they’ll get it.
If the humor isn’t related to the writing, that’s another thing. And it’s okay to keep it light. Some advice goes down easier with a chuckle. Especially online, though, it is easy for tone to be lost or misinterpreted. Make sure you’re clear and just use common sense.
This is kind of ironic advice for me to give, because I love to slip something clever into my critiques. A writer once typo-ed harmless as armless and I got a lot of laughs out of that ... but I think she knew how to take it.