On this blog every Tuesday and Friday I write about story techniques, structure, and/or publishing. Comments and questions are welcome. I also have a personal blog, Amy Deardon, on which I write about a variety of topics purely as they catch my fancy.

I've written one novel, A Lever Long Enough, that I'm honored to say has won two awards. In my life BC (before children) I was a scientist who did bench research.

My book, The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story, is now available in both hard-copy and e-book formats. I also coach would-be novelists and screenwriters to develop their story. YOU CAN CONTACT ME at amydeardon at yahoo dot com.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


As writers, we have probably all experienced negative responses to our work. Heck, not even writers, everyone gets criticisms from time to time. They can be true and helpful -- as the Bible says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another," (Proverbs 27:17) and "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy." (Proverbs 27:6). Sometimes the criticism is motivated out of jealousy or misanthropy. Sometimes the criticizer is simply not qualified to give a good opinion.

Doesn't matter. IMHO the best way to respond to criticism, no matter what, is to say, "thank you." Period. Don't defend yourself, since you're not going to change someone's opinion anyway. Take the words back with you, and study them. Try to maintain an objective stance (it may take a little time to get there). If the words are pointing out something true, then internalize the message and learn from it. If the words aren't relevant, for whatever reason, then discard them.

This is difficult of course. I have learned that when someone criticizes my manuscript, often what they think is wrong isn't the problem. For example, it may not be a character issue but simply that I'm truncating an emotional scene. However there is probably SOMETHING there. When more than one person points to the same passage, I scrutinize it with a microscope. I am so grateful for the comments that people have given me to help improve my writing. Even the mean ones can be helpful.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, the mean ones can be helpful at times, even if they don't want to be!
    Agree, Amy. Well said and needed to be said.

    One interesting thing about the internet and blogging and responses to posts and rants, etc. It can really reveal the person. The anonymity and/or physical distance must embolden people to speak what's in the heart.

    And yes, a thank you is the best response. And I try not to defend myself, since learning that wise tactic. God is the best defender, anyway. Better to forgive people their unholy intent, though that's often tough.

    And yes #3, learn from it, learn from it all. I don't particularly like the terms "free will." Because our will really isn't free, certainly not totally so. I like "personal power of choice." But I believe that all that God allows to occur to us is with a loving purpose: to grow us in strength, wisdom and ultimately love, not to mention faith. I like the wisdom of praising God for the problems--it seems so crazy that it quickly turns joyful.