Don’t judge! Criticize instead.

Use all the semantics you want, but the fine line between judging, criticizing and constructive criticism doesn’t have to be so fine.

Don’t know the difference? Well here’s your handy guide:

  • Example #1: You suck! (Judgement)
  • Example #2: Wow. It’s incredible how much you suck. (Criticizing)
  • Example #3: If you’d say something positive every once in awhile… you probably wouldn’t suck so much. (Constructive Criticism)

Judging vs. Criticism vs. Constructive Criticism

  • There are legitimate reasons to judge:

Who doesn’t love the power trip Judge Judy and others must feel every time they tell the plaintiff  “You’re lying!”.

Fun reasons to criticize (taken from review of the new Nicolas Cage film Season of the Witch) :

  • Finding online examples of constructive criticism was though. Hmmmm. Maybe we can consider humourously constructive in a back door sort of way:

    Steven Colbert’s ‘The Word’ (video link)

    • We also judge the celebrities in the media:

    umm..I didn't have a superbowl party either. Is THAT considered news too??

    • We even criticize strangers we see on the street (Glamour Magazine just does it with more fashion credentials):

    Glamour Magazine's infamous 'Do's and Don’ts

    Judge on

    Which brings us to the task at hand.  In a post written a few weeks back titled “The Follow Up”, I asked anyone willing to participate to read a non-fiction passage and to judge freely, to criticize uncontrollably and to be constructive as much as possible. I facebooked the challenge, I tweeted the info and then I stopped (I do have a life you know). I’m thick skinned so I was prepared for the worst. Unfortunately, you thin-skinned folks were so easy on me I ended up with loads of unadulterated praise (Not complaining though! I have no problem with y’all stroking this ego):

    “I like it, after reading it I want[ed] to read more.”

    “… it’s pretty good”

    “I like where this is going.”

    “It’s good and intriguing.”

    To more critical appraisal:

    “Personally, I thought it was alright, I’d give it around a 6.5/10”

    To helpful advice:

    “What you need is development. Think about who these characters are, try to get into the furthest depth you can about who they are…”

    The Last Word

    I think deep down I was secretly hoping for lots of ‘You’re great” and “Wow, I would buy this story today!” responses, I realized I was happiest reading the constructive feedback. It brought up many good narrative and character development points I hadn’t originally considered. The characters are all formulated in my head but that’s not whats coming across on paper. Plus, the feedback shows me that I need to get an outline in place so I can visualize where I’m coming from and better articulate on paper where the story should go.

    Bottom line: loved it all! Most feedback came via email and it was interesting and encouraging to read all the comments.

    As one critic soothingly expressed:

    “If there was nothing of merit in the piece, I wouldn’t have bothered writing… a…critique.“

    To dumb it down: I wouldn’t have wasted my time if I thought it was crap.

    I appreciate all comments and feedback and see that you all did wonders in determining the fine line between useless judgment and helpful (aka constructive) criticism. Thank you!

    You all deserve a $25 VISA gift card in my opinion, but, based on my contest rules, I can only give out one and so the random winner is…

    Ryan @!!

    Luckily Ryan, I have already used your $25 VISA gift card as down payment on my yet to be written debut novel!  Expect delivery within 1 to 3 years.

    Just kidding of course. I will contact you shortly and get your prize to you this week. As for what you can spend your gift card on, that’s completely up to you. You can buy whatever you want with your big prize! From a higly regarded literary magazine or even a copy of Teen Vogue. Don’t worry,

    I’m not going to judge.




    …but I may need to offer you some constructive criticism. 😉

    One thought on “Don’t judge! Criticize instead.

    1. Pingback: Creatively Giving « Living, with 'Nelley

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