Tag Archives: critics

Authors Answer 151 – Tough Criticism

Authors will never please everyone. They have their fans, but also their critics. Check out some of the reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, and you’ll see some pretty negative reviews, including for books that are widely loved. Authors need to develop a thick skin when dealing with criticism, whether it’s from readers or publishers.

Question 151 – What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

C E Aylett

Do you know what? I can’t think of anything I’d consider really tough. I mean, sure, I receive ‘harsh’ critiques on workshop pieces but in a constructively harsh way, so i don’t really see that as tough. More like helpful. When I was a Noob I got a bitchy critique from someone but I soon found out that they had some rather ugly and deep psychological issues. It was such a long time ago I don’t even remember what was said now.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

To be honest, I don’t take too many criticisms to heart. I learned a long time ago that most criticisms are based on personal tastes (which I can’t control, so why worry about it?) or peoples’ desire to be jerks for no particular reason (which I also can’t control, and those people aren’t worth my time anyway).

That said, there was one criticism that really bothered me, mainly because it was very public. I’d sent out a few free books to a service that passes those books on to reviewers with the stipulation that they rate and review the book on the platform of the author’s choice (in my case, Amazon), and I received entirely positive reviews except for one. That last reviewer completely demolished me, on Amazon, for the world to see, with a 2-star review and a major bashing of my writing style, wording choices, and claims of grammatical/formatting errors that not one other reader has brought up yet, so I’m not even sure what she was talking about. All in all, I felt it was an unnecessarily cruel slamming, and because of the wording of the review I felt like she was purposely being harsh simply because it’s a zombie story and she felt that zombies are “over”. I would have just brushed it off as someone who doesn’t like zombies and probably shouldn’t have even been reading the book in the first place, but it bothered me for a while because it kept showing up on the book’s Amazon page as the top review, and it frustrated me that that would be the first thing people saw if they scrolled down to see what people were saying about my book.

Jean Davis

To date, I would say the hardest thing to hear was confirmation on issues I suspected with one of my published books. You know, those nagging issues that you ponder in the night, but your publisher and critique partners assure you it’s all good. Then you begin reading reviews and realize you should have trusted your gut. Trust the gut, it’s there for a reason.

H. Anthe Davis

In the past, I’ve been told that I’ve tortured the English language. That’s part of the reason I’ve been going back over my early books to see where I can un-torture certain phrases and paragraphs — because honestly I can’t deny that sometimes my sentence structure and concepts get a bit over-complicated and knotty. I’ve had a lot of success recently in fixing those problems, and thus the flow of the stories.

D. T. Nova

Even the most negative criticism I’ve received has been given respectfully and constructively, at least.

The toughest was probably the (largely correct) observation that characters were spending too much time discussing important issues unrelated (or seemingly unrelated) to the plot.

Paul B. Spence

Hmm. Criticism vs vitriol… I suppose the toughest legitimate criticism is that I am a little sparse and dry in my writing style. Vitriol is another matter. I’ve been told that my characters are unbelievable because life is fair and someone can’t be tall, good-looking, and competent.

Gregory S. Close

The toughest criticism I’ve received as an author was probably the review of In Siege of Daylight on Creativity Hacker.

The reviewer didn’t find it engaging, was totally confused about what was happening (based on his description of what he’d gleaned of the plot) and he objected to the “proper noun salad” of people, places and things and thought the prologue was pointless .

It was tough to read, particularly because I made an effort not to fall into the bad prologue trap or the info-dump trap. Disappointing. But I actually like critical reviews. You can learn a lot from them.

Jay Dee Archer

For my serious writing, I haven’t received anything particularly tough, but the one that popped up often was my tendency to use infodumps. I told too much, and didn’t show enough. That’s fair criticism, because I completely agreed. But as for some less serious writing, I once published a parody online when I was in university that made fun of the writing style of younger people who don’t seem to know grammar or spelling very well. It was well-received by a lot of readers, but it was completely bashed by one who thought I actually wrote that way. He didn’t realise it was a parody until after I told him.

How about you?

If you’re an author, what was the toughest criticism you’ve ever received? Let us know in the comments section below.

Authors Answer 65 – Convince Me to Read Your Genre

You know the kind of person who says they don’t like your favourite genre, even though they’ve never read it before? The kind of person who says, “Oh, that’s stupid. Why would anyone read it?” I’m sure you’ve met a few. I know I have. If you are one of those people, these answers are for you!

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 65 – What would you say to someone to convince them to read the genre you write in?

S. R. Carrillo

“Gay angel.” No, seriously. You’d be surprised what an uncommon word combination can do to intrigue someone. And it sums up my genre pretty well, I’d say – queer fantasy. One and done.

Gregory S. Close

If someone is convinced that they don’t like genre x,y or z then it’s hard to convince them to try it.  I’ve found the better approach is to find out what kind of stories a person enjoys (character driven, drama, romance, adventure, etc) without the label of genre attached, and then recommend a specific work that matches up nicely with that preference.  Some people think that they don’t like “fantasy” but they absolutely love Greek mythology, for example.  So I might recommend a sand & sandal epic that would appeal to them.  Someone might say that they don’t like lots of magical “nonsense,” so I could recommend something that lowers the reader gently into magical elements, like A Song of Ice and Fire.  Ultimately, I don’t worry about trying to be a fantasy/sci-fi evangelist.  Not everyone is going to like it, even the really good stuff, because it’s just not their cup of hot steaming steeped leaves in water.

Jean Davis

Do you find people interesting? I write about people. Sometimes those people are dealing with things in a science fiction environment, and sometimes as more of a fantasy world, but it all pretty much boils down to people making choices and interacting with one another.

Elizabeth Rhodes

This one’s difficult.  Usually if someone tells me they don’t like sci fi or fantasy I let it be.  There is an exception where I convinced my boyfriend to give Game of Thrones (the TV show, not the books) a chance based on the quality of the story alone.  So I guess that’s my method.  If I’m in love with the story, I’ll sell someone on that above its genre.  (And despite not liking fantasy stories, he’s just as addicted to the show now as I am.)

Eric Wood

I would tell them that there is more to children’s story than the simple plot. Often, there many underlying messages, lessons to be learned, and hidden meanings. The stories can often be interpreted so many different ways. The stories are short, but they can be full of intricacies.

H. Anthe Davis

Fantasy: Not Just An Escape!  Read fantasy novels to see a reflection of our world, stripped of many of the divisive labels and visuals in order to present real conflicts and concerns from a fresh perspective!  Like science fiction, fantasy can expound upon modern issues, taking them to a variety of logical or illogical conclusions — but unlike (most) science fiction, fantasy has dragons!  Though much fantasy of the past has been regressive, in that it focused strongly upon European medieval themes, it has become far more expansive and inclusive in recent years, embracing all manner of settings and time periods as the basis for its flights of fancy.  The time to start is now!

Paul B. Spence

I would hope they wouldn’t need convincing. Science fiction is the history of the future. All of our hopes and dreams, and sometimes nightmares, reside there. The best of science fiction has subtle social commentary that transcends the ages. I recently reread Heinlein’s Have Space Suit, Will Travel, and was surprised at how current some of the social commentary is.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I don’t specifically stick to one genre, but I’ll answer for the two genres that I write in the most often.

For horror, I’d explain that there is something very thrilling in writing about ghosts and ghouls and nightmare creatures. I’d describe how it’s both challenging and very fun to try to establish how each particular character reacts to different situations; for instance, one of my favorite scenes from “Nowhere to Hide” to write is the one in which Nancy is first actually faced with zombies. I loved describing the strange way her brain almost short-circuited – how she’d be freaking out one second and considering completely random, unimportant information the next.

For fantasy, I’d say that it’s all about good, old fashioned imagination. In a fantasy world you can do practically anything and everything. You don’t have to worry about being able to explain something scientifically, or describing real-life places accurately, or any of that nonsense. You can start completely from scratch and throw in whatever you damn-well please, and while you still have to consider whether what you’re doing is good for the story or not, that huge, blank pallet is something that is wonderful to be able to work with.

D. T. Nova

The only thing I can really think of is to point out something else that they like which does fall into the genre that they say they don’t read. However, this doesn’t actually convince people very often.

Allen Tiffany

Oh, not sure I’d ever try this. And I write in two genres: Historical military fiction, and Sci Fi. If pressed, though, I’d speak to Sci Fi and I’d argue that Sci Fi will show you universes that you would never see otherwise.

Linda G. Hill

At the moment I’m writing paranormal romance. I would say, perhaps, that romance is something almost anyone can relate to. The paranormal part of the genre I write in, however, might be impossible to convince someone who reads only practical text to enjoy. And what’s the use in reading something you don’t enjoy?

Jay Dee Archer

Fantasy and science fiction can offer readers many things. Of course, they can offer entertainment and escape to another world. But I think that’s what many critics of the genres think is what’s wrong with them. Well, they are actually quite intelligent genres. Science fiction usually deals with contemporary issues, such as racism, terrorism, war, climate change, and disease. It can show a possible consequence of our actions, and maybe offer a way to avoid it.

Fantasy, on the other hand, is an examination of the human condition. Much of the genre looks at human behaviour, especially when confronted by immense pressures. It looks at the dark side of humanity, and what we are capable of. It may provide a look into your own mind.

How about you?

What would you say to someone to convince them to read your genre? Let us know in the comments below.