1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

How to deal with negative feedback?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Darkfantasy, Mar 10, 2019.

Tags:
  1. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Sage

    298
    67
    28
    So I love both History and Fantasy, so decided to combined the two, it has been done before. After writing a brief summary for my plot, being a new writer, I wanted to ask for feedback from more experienced writers about the flow of the plot. (Strong enough hook, that things made sense, the character had a clear goal/motivation/conflict) I did give a list of what critique I would like back.

    Instead they started giving their opinions on my idea and rubbishing it. Saying:

    'why would you want to write about something like that?'

    'So basically you're playing with history and just adding magic, what's new and special about that?'

    'Don't expect it to publish because NO ONE WILL READ THAT!'

    'you shoud write something better.'

    I just thanked them for their time and walked away. I tried to ignore it but their comments knocked my confidence, it took a lot to share this idea and I did stress I was a beginner and that was why I needed pointers. Others do it on this forum and people help them. I wouldn't have been bothered if they'd faulted the character or events in my synopsis that was what I asked for, but I didn't request opinions on the concept. I'm annoyed with myself because usually I'm so thick-skinned. Now I don't want to write it anymore. I've taken harsh criticism on my writing before and it didn't bother me. But their feedback just seemed subjective. It's aim wasn't to help me improve anything.

    I've answered questions on this forum for months and haven't offended anyone I know of. This is the first question I've asked. I was polite and clear on what I hoped to get back. Maybe the subject matter upset these people?
     
  2. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

    1,819
    876
    113
    Hey DarkFantasy, sorry to hear you had this experience. Writing requires a lot of willpower and it can be disheartening to read negative feedback even for those of us who have been writing for years, so don't feel too discouraged. Just take a step back, focus on something unrelated to this topic and let the emotions you're feeling slide by. I've been through the motions of becoming upset by criticism of my writing, most other writers have, it's natural.

    However it also seems like you're bringing up a specific thread (which I couldn't find, I could only find this one https://mythicscribes.com/community/threads/review-beginning-of-short-story.19778/ where all people involved gave positive feedback), which would make this question less of a discussion for people to engage in and give their own spin to, and more of a direct address to the forum and a call to specific individuals to behave differently. If this is the case I think it would be better to contact a moderator to talk this through with, so they may decide on the proper course of action.
     
    Darkfantasy likes this.
  3. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Sage

    298
    67
    28
    Oh sorry I should have been clearer. So to clarify.

    NO ONE ON THIS FORUM. DIDN'T HAPPEN ON HERE. You've all been wonderful.

    That was a short-story I wrote a long time ago and that's exactly the type of feedback that should be given, in my opinion.
     
    Black Dragon likes this.
  4. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

    1,819
    876
    113
    Ah I misunderstood you then, I'm glad to hear nothing happened on here :)

    First of all I would not stick around that community if it is as you describe. Proper critique should never become personal and it is a clear sign of disrespect to critique that which was not asked for. Most communities don't behave in that manner and you should not be mistaken that that is the norm. If someone says the equivalent of "this never works", they clearly have no clue how diverse and inclusive the creative field is. In our time there is a market for everything, no matter how niche. It sounds to me like this community you have in mind is an echo chamber if multiple people there repeated the same nonsense. Echo chambers rarely hear the other side, so I wouldn't try swimming against the stream. Just count your losses and move on to constructive environments. That's the great thing about the internet, you get to choose who you associate with.

    What I always keep in mind with critique of any kind is that everyone can notice a problem, but that does not mean that everyone knows the right solution to that problem. You do not need to be a chef to know whether a meal was well-prepared or not. What this means in practice to me, is that whenever proper critique is given to me, I note down the cause of the problem and then try to resolve it by myself in my way. This way I ensure that my work keeps improving, without letting my work be swayed by the opinions and personal preferences of others.
     
    Darkfantasy likes this.
  5. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    2,574
    1,731
    163
    There was an old post on this site about Koontz' idea of naysaying vs critique. Here's something I wrote there:

    I think the kind of criticism you were receiving was naysaying.

    I don't know precisely what you showed them, but it sounds like a summary of an idea? Ideas are rather vague; what matters most is execution. If people are negative about ideas but haven't seen the actual writing that uses those ideas, they're not offering anything you can use. I know this can be disheartening, but the best advice is just to ignore them and write it. Even after it's written, broad brush-stroke negativity will be useless most of the time. On-point negative criticism about how you've executed the idea might be useful. If people aren't offering you anything useful, then it's their ideas that suck—or, if not suck, they're still easily dismissed. Remember, you're in this for your own sake, so you have to run with what will work for you, your own desire for the story and your writing.
     
    Darkfantasy likes this.
  6. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    5,240
    2,265
    313
    Negative feedback is rough to deal with, no matter what. Usually when it happens to me, I go for a walk to think things over, rant about it to someone I trust, or just sit around feeling sorry for myself for a while. I try to allow myself to be sad and upset about it in order to get it out of my system. I don't try and convince myself it doesn't hurt.

    Next up...
    Reasoning.
    I try to figure out the reason for the feedback.
    Who is it from? What are they trying to tell me?

    Is this from someone I know and trust, or someone else?
    Are they trying to help me improve, or are they just complaining because they don't like some aspect of what I've made?

    The examples given above do not seem constructive or helpful. I'm also tempted to say that those comments aren't from experienced writers, but I don't know these people so maybe they are, and they're just douche bags. One thing I like to keep in mind is that ideas aren't really all that important, but that it's the execution that matters.
    Just because something has been done before, doesn't mean it can't be done again.

    If someone complains that your idea is bad/unoriginal, that's probably a good sign they don't really know all that much to begin with.

    I think that to thank them for their time and move on was the right thing to do. Getting into a discussion when the initial feedback is along those lines probably won't lead to anything.
     
    A. E. Lowan, Penpilot and Darkfantasy like this.
  7. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

    1,088
    702
    113
    Don't listen to them. Honor your vision and write your story.

    When we ask others for advice they normally give us feedback on how they would do things. That's not fair to you (and not really their fault either because they have their own visions).

    I've been doing this a long time and have learned a few things:

    -historical fantasy is a ripe genre but it needs to be done right like anything else.

    -sharing story ideas or incomplete stories is a death sentence to creativity. When everyone you've asked for feedback starts going it will become distracting to your creative process.

    -ask for feedback once you have finished the story. As a beginner, you made the mistake of asking for advice without having written anything. You need to be grounded in your story and the vision for it before you go sharing.

    -aside from big plot holes or corrections to your grammar, having others tell you how to write your story is highly unproductive.

    Right now you need to be learning how to write a story from start to finish. That's hard enough to do without getting distracted by the Peanut Gallery.

    Lastly, you will always have people telling you that you suck. I have cried and quit writing because of other writers who have truly hurt my feelings. So now I am way more careful who I ask for feedback from (basically my editor). No one knows my stories better than me. For heaven's sake I write romance and I get reviewers who go apeshit about sex scenes or my characters being bratty. There are a lot more people out there who want you to fail than succeed. However, you will get readers who will fall in love with your work and will be your biggest supporters. They make it all worth it.

    Stand by your vision, your work. Send the negative ones packing and hone your craft. Finish the book then ask for advice from writers who are more skilled than you and write in the same sub genre.

    Edit: whoopsie caps
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2019
  8. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    7,389
    2,942
    313
    I read the headline and whatever it showed of replies in the Recent Activity stream, and I was prepared to defend the value of negative feedback. But, umm, the feedback you've quoted here is trash feedback. Just ignore it and find a better source of critique.

    :edit:

    To be fair to them, it could be there's a real problem they're responding poorly to, but even if that's the case, you need someone to help you identify that problem, not destroy everything just because you have it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2019
  9. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

    1,193
    286
    83
    Some writers are not very good at being a crit partner, or to offer solid advice.

    While something (plot) may not be 'new' (really, how many plots and settings are 100% new?--none), that does not mean it is doomed to failure. In truth, if you give ten writers the same plot summary, each will create a different story, with different characters and events, and even quality.

    If it's something you want to write, write it. While one can be mercenary, writing a genre/story/plot, just because the writer believes it is something that will sell, the result can be both deadening to the writing spirit and the work is bereft of that spark that makes it enjoyable to readers. You will be spending many long hours with this work--research, writing the first draft, revising and editing multiple times. So, having an interest and drive in what you're crafting will help actually see the project through, to the end.
     
    Darkfantasy and Chessie2 like this.
  10. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Sage

    215
    110
    43
    When I self-published my novel I sold 20 copies in total and it was trashed big time. I now cringe when I see it and I will not mention it by name but it also motivates me to do a better job this time around.

    People tell me I suck at writing fiction all the time. Instead of putting me off it motivates me to prove them wrong just to be spiteful.

    In short don't give up. Even the greatest writers had flops, bombs and naysayers who said they'd never get anywhere with their writing.
     
  11. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    2,984
    1,711
    163
    To jump off of a what Svrtnsse said, critiquing is a two way street. What I mean by that is they can critique what you present them, but you are also critiquing what they present to you as a response, too.

    Every opinion should be read and considered. BUT not every opinion should be considered seriously. There are some who don't know how to do a critique. You take what's useful from them and discard the rest.

    All ideas sound silly when they're just bare bones. Eg. A farm boy gets a laser sword and learns magic from a space monk, and they go off to rescue a princess from an black knight and destroy the evil empire's super weapon.

    It's not about the seeds you start with, it's how you grow and nurture them that determines if you end up with something vibrant and amazing or something that's wilted and boring.

    Look at Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series. To quote wikipedia: The inspiration for the series came from a bet Butcher was challenged to by a member of the Del Rey Online Writer's Workshop. The challenger bet that Butcher could not write a good story based on a lame idea, and he countered that he could do it using two lame ideas of the challenger's choosing. The "lame" ideas given were "Lost Roman Legion", and "Pokémon".[1]

    Generally speaking, critiquers should not be telling someone whether they should write something or not. They should be telling that someone what pitfalls they see, and avenues they could explore, that in their opinion, would make things better and more interesting. Any time I hear someone say you should or shouldn't do this in an authoritative tone, like they know better, it sets off alarm bells in my head.
     
    Darkfantasy likes this.
  12. Helen

    Helen Sage

    387
    63
    28
    Ha! I think the skill is to learn how to ignore it, let it slide off your back. A related skill is to learn to overcome the cold sweats it often brings.
     
  13. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Sage

    298
    67
    28
    Thanks for the advice.
    Slept on it last night and have decided to keep going with it anyway. As a writer I need to get used to not always getting the feedback I'd hoped for and getting used to comments that are unhepful.

    Thanks again
     
    Chessie2 likes this.
  14. MrBrightsider

    MrBrightsider Scribe

    34
    22
    8
    Hey man, if it helps, I think that's something we've all experienced. I think it goes without saying, but there are people on this earth who scoff at anyone trying to follow their passions. They're bitter, resentful, and want to make sure any bright-eyed hope and enthusiasm that they can see is snuffed out. Those are the kinds of people who say crap like that. Don't let their negativity get you down.

    Writing is tough; you have to put your heart on the line, and then you have to offer it to other people and hope they enjoy it. Sometimes they don't. But that doesn't reflect on you. Keep chargin' forward, study a few books on writing, and kick ass.
     
    Darkfantasy likes this.
  15. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

    1,088
    702
    113
    The thing about writing is that you're going to suck at first and possibly for a really long time. It takes a lifetime to master this craft. Don't let other people's opinions bring you down. If you love to write and create then keep doing it. Over the years you will get better and better. Also remember that you're not writing for every person out there, and you're especially not writing for other writers who don't read the type of books you write. Everyone's craft is individual. You do you, find your audience, and let time and effort hone your skill.
     
    Darkfantasy likes this.
  16. Futhark

    Futhark Sage

    277
    128
    43
    The problem (in my humble opinion) is that the internet provides a voice to many who, to say it politely, are not qualified to speak up. Now, I am a rather solitary soul and I hate being ‘vulnerable’, but to get better at writing, or any other craft, you need input. But, as Penpilot aptly says, you must critique the critique. I take it a step further and critique who will be my peers. I viewed half a dozen forums before the quality of replies and genuine goodwill of this excellent site convinced me to join.

    However, to answer your question about negative feedback requires a shift in perception. Negative feedback is just that, negative. There is no use for it, therefore it is irrelevant. I try to maintain the mindset that there is constructive feedback, which will help your skills, and positive feedback, which will help your confidence. Feedback must be one of the two, otherwise it is no longer feedback, it is takeaway.
     
    MrBrightsider likes this.
  17. MrBrightsider

    MrBrightsider Scribe

    34
    22
    8
    "The problem (in my humble opinion) is that the internet provides a voice to many who, to say it politely, are not qualified to speak up."

    Holy swag, so much this. 100% of this.

    "Negative feedback is just that, negative. There is no use for it, therefore it is irrelevant."

    Not so much that one. Negative feedback can be useful in a number of ways:

    1) Determining who around you is not worth getting feedback from--If a single person is consistently providing negative feedback that is unhelpful, you can figure they might not be worth listening to. That can be really useful, even though it seems pretty straightforward. It's entirely possible your work is just not for them, and you should avoid them.

    2) Determining whether or not you need to improve--if you post something creative, no matter what it is, and you get nothing but negative feedback, it's definitely not the best way, but it is a way to realize that you're not good enough yet. You need to get better, to practice, to grow. I'll never forget this story of a university student who was just so horrible at writing papers that she went to professors to get their feedback. They all told her she needed to improve her writing, and her response was "You all just don't like my style." What? Are you kidding? How arrogant do you have to be for that kind of response? It's a sign that growth and advancement is needed.

    Granted, those professors probably were giving her constructive feedback, rather than negative, but both can accomplish that goal
     
    Darkfantasy likes this.
  18. Futhark

    Futhark Sage

    277
    128
    43
    MrBrightsider,

    1). Good point.

    2). I think we have a slightly different meaning for negative feedback. I am a pattern learner, so I tend to think in terms of systems. Positive feedback adds potential, negative feedback diminishes it, but I see what your saying about some people being unable to differentiate between constructive criticism and negativity. If many people say it’s not good, then yeah, it’s probably not good, or you have the wrong audience. That can be helpful. If they say it’s not good, but can’t tell you why, is it a critique or just an opinion?
     
    Darkfantasy likes this.
Loading...

Share This Page