There's nothing wrong with criticism!


#1

Recently, I noticed a lot of people calling out and flagging others for criticising stories if they’re not Featured stories on Episode. I have read a lot of threads which basically tell people “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”.

While that can sometimes be sound advice, it is not the case with writing. You see, there is a massive difference between constructive criticism and hate. Criticism helps you to grow as a writer and become better.

Frankly, I find it more mean and cruel if people find my story awful and are just too “nice” or pressured by the community to say anything. If you really like authors on here and you want to see them grow, you should be promoting criticism, not trying to silence it.

And if you’re a writer, you put your work out there in the world. Surely, you expected some kind of criticism? As soon as it left your mind and was published onto the app, you’ve given people the right to say what they want about it - within reason, of course. If you want to grow as a writer, it’s up to you to be able to take creative criticism and use it to grow instead of always seeing it as a direct attack.

People need to stop seeing criticism as a direct attack! Episode is full of amateur writers and the feedback we give one another is one of the best ways to improve the quality of your work. That’s where we’re going to get the bulk of improvements from! Sometimes that criticism can seem harsh at first, but give it a chance to make sense to you and give the person the benefit of the doubt. We don’t all speak English as a first language and so some of us can mean well but say it in a way which might come across as a little harsh because of the nuances of English. Don’t jump on the “don’t hate” bandwagon straight away! You could be missing out on some free editing.

On the other side, make sure that you’re not actively trying to be rude when you’re criticising the work. No, you’re not obliged to say one hundred good things before you get to the bad. However, make sure you’re polite about your criticism and always open to talk about it if you’re going to give it.

If we want to improve as a community, we need to start by improving our communication skills. Sometimes that means we need to stop being rude. Others, it means we need to stop being so sensitive.

I know this might seem harsh to some of you, but criticism is an important part of the creation process, and depriving people of that because we accuse people of hate too quickly is counterproductive!


#2

@ShanniiWrites You are every right about that. My parents also taught me about constructive criticism. To be honest I hated criticism because I thought that people hate my work and just want to point out what I haven’t done well. The truth is, constructive criticism is good. People who criticise your work have good intentions. There’s nothing wrong with complimenting, but criticism is much more efficient than compliments if you want to improve your writing.


#3

Agreed!! Although it is really hard for writers, including me, to accept criticism, because it is basically someone telling you everything that is wrong with what you spent time to doing.


#4

I completely understand that. It can be very difficult to take criticism about your work. It’s like your baby, after all! However, I think changing your mindset on the subject will help:

If people are able to pick out specific things with your work that you need to work on, it means your story isn’t so terrible that there’s not a singular or particular thing to point out. It means the basis of your work is fine, but you just need to build upon it.

If it were truly terrible, people wouldn’t know where to start when criticising!


#5

I am one of those people who don’t like criticism at all. I’m really weak (sensitive?), and even if it’s good criticism. How would someone like me, stop being sensitive? ;-;


#6

Respectfully, I think that someone like you who is aware that they are hypersensitive to any and all criticism (including good/constructive criticism) should probably refrain from asking a stranger to review their work. I think if an author is to the point where receiving “good” criticism still seems distressing to them, they should seek out a review from a trusted peer irl. In my opinion, even the most accommodating stranger on the internet can’t truly understand the nuances of a person’s particular sensitivity in the same way a trusted peer can.


#7

Are you speaking about reviews or just in general?

If the feedback is unsolicited, then I think there has to be a line somewhere.
It’s a little different if there’s a discussion thread (like what’s on the forums about weekly shelves). If you don’t like a story then constructive criticism is fine (e.g “It wasn’t my kind of thing because x, y and z” or “The plot is interesting however there were quite a few distracting grammar errors and I couldn’t continue” etc). Saying outright that a story is crap or bad however, I don’t think is alright. This is a general statement, not targeted towards anyone. Just on featured stories like “In My Bed”, people don’t hold back on their opinions lol. I think when it comes to user stories, you should be a bit more tactful, particularly if the feedback is unsolicited.


#8

I agree on all accounts. I find constructive criticism/feedback very helpful. I’d be annoyed if people told me my story was good and it wasn’t and I had the wrong information and couldn’t fix it.


#9

You are speaking straight facts. I completely agree with you. Personally, I can say that I love criticism. I love it when people within the Episode community corrects my mistakes and errors within my stories. It’s how I’ll grow as an author. However, sometimes criticism can be a bit harsh. Basically, people will read a person’s story and point out all the bad things instead of the good things.


#10

I’m speaking about it a little more generally than reviews, but I think there’s a massive difference between criticism and hate. I’ve noticed people getting annoyed with criticism in the forums when speaking specifically about cliches and not even about individual stories.

However, I don’t think it’s fair for criticism to only be allowed when asked for by the reader. I think people should be allowed to say “I didn’t like story x because…” when speaking anywhere as long as they know how to be respectful. Telling an author that their story is just bad is hate, in my opinion, but when you start acknowledging the weaker points and saying how it can improve, I don’t think it matters if it was solicited or not.

I mean, people welcome unsolicited praise of a story. I think it’s unfair to have a problem with constructive criticism.


#11

I think it’s naive and childish of us to try to silence the readers’ opinions. We wouldn’t be anywhere without good readers and it’s only fair that we give them some autonomy.

I like to treat Episode writers with the respect that they deserve, which means treating them and their stories as I would a real author and their book. When a book is produced, a writer has lost most of the autonomy. They are still important, but now it’s down to the reader to interpret and review - and they don’t need the writer to specifically ask then to do that. They do it for other readers.

The same should apply for Episode. We should realise that we don’t have control over how a story is received and we certainly shouldn’t try to censor people’s opinions. Instead, we should be promoting polite and respectful conversation about a story. That includes when the writer is not involved.

If we’re going to take Episode writers and the app in general seriously, that means giving features stories and community stories the same treatment - and then trying to extend that by holding stories in the same regard as regular novels.

Once all the writing is done and the story has been published, it’s really mostly out of the writer’s hands and time for the readers to take control. If we’re going to try to control how they respond to and discuss your story, I don’t think it’s fair for us to expect our story to be read.


#12

Otherwise all the people out there who say they want to be “real writers” are gonna be in for a few shocks - some nasty and some less so.

  1. They’ll realise how cut-throat and mean the world of publishing can really be.
  2. They’ll realise that the internet is full of places where people are a lot more mean than Episode when talking about a story.
  3. They will realise they were always “real” writers, but now they will understand the responsibility that comes with that.
  4. They’ll feel powerless and out of control when it comes to a real book because they’ve spent time trying to control how people respond to their stories online.

After all, there’s a person behind featured stories like It Starts With a Bra. What makes them different? Why are we holding them to a higher standard and allowing ourselves to criticise when, let’s face it, community writers have proven time and time again that they can write better than that? Community writers: you deserve to be treated like real, honest-to-God writers. That does, however, mean realising you don’t have as much control over your story as you’d like.


#13

Oh, no. Although it is hard to accept criticism, I still ask for it. It is one of the only ways to grow as an writer. :joy: I do not think my mindset needs to change. :sweat_smile:


#14

Fair enough! That sounds healthy to me! It’s good to put yourself out of your comfort zone from time to time :blush:


#15

I totally agree with y’all on constructive criticism. I believe that it’s very essential and helps us to grow. One time, I gave one writer some criticism on her story. (This wasn’t on Episode, though.) After giving criticism, she called me out, saying that I was giving her hate when I was only trying to help. I hate when people do that, mistaking constructive criticism for hate.


#16

Definitely! And criticism doesn’t have to be solicited. If writers weren’t expecting people to have varying opinions on their stories, and for readers to share these opinions, they shouldn’t be writing for the public at all. Otherwise, it can appear as if they’re writing to feed their own ego instead of to share stories, be part of a community and grow as a writer.


#17

As a reader with no published stories (On Episode at least) I feel I have a fairly unique opinion on this whole situation. I’m not a professional critic by any stretch of the imagination and I don’t think I would entirely want to be. However, I do think it’s important to be critical of the media we consume. I’m critical of films, books, comics and the like and hold them all to very similar standards.

Episode to me is a professional work for one simple reason. I paid over £14 for all the passes I currently have. This is about as much as Kindle Unlimited or the like. As such - I’m going to hold Episode stories I read to the same standard I would any other novel or short I would get with such a subscription. And thankfully, I’ve found several that surpass these standards completely. Which I’m more than happy to say has kept me on this app and reading. This also means, anything that falls short of this standard for me… I’m not gonna keep quiet about it


#18

I didn’t mean that it ONLY has to be solicited.
I meant that if it’s not, it 100% should be constructive, not just negative.

That’s what I meant.


#19

But that’s exactly what I’ve been saying all along.


#20

Wasn’t talking about you or saying that you weren’t?
I was just stating my general opinion on the topic. :woman_shrugging: