Writers: decode the criticism you get

The Blank Screen (UK edition, US edition) has a particularly popular section on How to Get Rejected. In part because it explains why a ridiculous proportion of criticisms your writing work gets is bollocks.

But you have to read it all, you have to take it all, you have to smile all the time.

Nonetheless, things are moving on in the criticism world. Previously we used to get what were called praise sandwiches. Your critic starts with something great to say about your work and ends with something really fantastically constructive. But you and they know the only thing that is true is the abuse in between the two.

Now the Harvard Business Review is advising critics to cut this crap out entirely:

Never, ever, ever feed someone a “sandwich.” Don’t bookend your critique with compliments. It sounds insincere and risks diluting your message. Instead, separate your negative commentary from your praise, and don’t hedge.

Everything You Need to Know About Giving Negative Feedback – Sarah Green, Harvard Business Review (30 June 2014)

O-kay. You’re thinking that you’re going to miss the praise sandwich now, aren’t you?

Read the full Harvard Business Review piece. Put yourself in the shoes of a critic, see what they’re being advised to do, and you’ll be armed enough to nod politely before you DESTROY THEM AND ALL THEIR FAMILIES.

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