How to Deal With Constructive Criticism and Destructive Criticism

First, let's separate constructive criticism from destructive criticism. What's the difference?

Here's an example of constructive criticism:
"I noticed that you tend to use periods in your dialogue when they should be commas instead. Try to fix this!"

Here's an example of destructive criticism:
"This story is really awful. You don't even know how to use correct sentences!"

Do you see the difference? If not, let me try and explain. Constructive criticism is still criticism; don't expect it to be all happy and make you smile. But it is meant to help you as an author and fix your writing mistakes. Embrace it, because it'll help you! Destructive criticism is different because whoever is dishing it out has no intention to help you improve whatsoever. They're simply bashing your story because they have nothing better to do or they don't like you.

The actions you must take between the two are simple as well. Listen to constructive criticism with an open mind. Report destructive criticism.

And yet, even if you know the differences between the two, and even if you know not to listen to destructive criticism, you will need to listen to constructive criticism. So... how do you deal with it? What should you do? How should you feel?

Here are the steps to dealing with constructive criticism:

Step One

Don't close up or get defensive when you see a comment that contains constructive criticism. Ponder over what they have to say. Check your writing and see whether you agree with what they've pointed out or not. Don't become angry or stubborn to change your writing! It may simply be an honest mistake on your part. In the end, you'll be glad that they pointed it out.

Step Two

Figure out what they are telling you to fix or change. If it's just a grammatical error, simply change it and move on. But if it's something you are unsure whether to change or leave be, look it up. Gather facts from a couple sources. Is the commenter correct, or are you? Once you find out, you'll have a better idea on how to fix your mistake and why you made it in the first place.

Step Three

Fix the mistake(s) to your best ability. Make sure everything is grammatically correct and sounds good, then re-post the chapter. If you're still unsure about whether you changed it correctly or not, contact a fellow writer or friend and have them look it over for you. Be confident about your changes!

Step Four

But what if your mistake isn't just something you can change without causing problems? Say you receive a comment about how your character is unoriginal or that your plot is cliche. You can't just change it easily like a spelling error! One thing you can do if this occurs is to message the commenter who pointed out this flaw. Ask them how they would fix it. They're the one who noticed, after all, so they should feel obliged to give you an answer. If you are still unsatisfied and worried about your story, don't panic. Just keep writing. You don't have to go back and change everything if you're too far along, but if you're only a couple chapters in... then sure, go for it! Do what you think is best.

Step Five

Be thankful for the constructive criticism. Some people believe that it is a negative thing. Although it points out flaws, constructive criticism is not negative! If you never receive any constructive criticism, your writing will not improve. Or it will improve much much more slowly. Thank the commenter for their thoughts and the time they took to help you out. Be pleasant about it, because they've done you a favor, not a misdeed.

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