Everyone who writes a story whether it be a fanfiction, a book, a short story, a narrative, etc, always wants feedback. They might want someone to edit it while giving that feedback as well, but I have often encountered many people cannot take constructive criticism. A good portion of people I have reviewed via the internet (and for class) have only wanted good or positive feedback. I can not, in good faith, give an “OH EM GEE. Your story was PERFECT. I LOVED IT SO SO MUCH I WANT TO CRY” type feedback. So how, as a writer and reader, can you give and take constructive criticism?
As a writer you want your story to be an instant hit. Who doesn’t? You have to be able to handle criticism, which is really hard. Above all, you want mixed reviews. Someone who can give you a positive point, then a negative one, then a positive one, then a negative one. One with a praise of your magnificent creation, but honest truth if that one part you were sketchy about was just a bunch of filler crap. Granted, not everyone who reviews your work will have both positive and negative points, so just weed out those reviews. You want someone to be able to say “I liked this part, but the other part needs work. Here are some suggestions…” Realize that those who are giving you suggestions just want to help so try not to be offended if someone didn’t like the part you thought everyone would love. Also, keep in mind, Mary might like the romantic triangle, while Sue thinks it’s overdone. Readers will have different tastes and that’s ok. You, as a writer, have to pick what criticism to take in. Do not ignore every criticism you get, though. What I tend to do is write my story. Wait 3 days and let it sink in. Go back and edit. Get reviews from a couple of colleagues. Let those reviews sit in my head for a couple days. Toy with them. Improve on them. Edit my story. I take every feedback I can get with gratitude and see if there’s a way to work suggestions in. If something is just not plausible, unfortunately I disregard it.
As a reviewer, you want to be gentle with the writer, if you can be. Remember, an author isn’t a robot. Authors have feelings, too (unless they”re Steven Moffat or George R. R. Martin). You want to praise them for parts you really liked. If you really enjoyed a plot twist, a romantic scene, or a powerful description: LET THEM KNOW. The more they know they’re good at, the more they will write what they’re good at, the better the story will become (unless it’s literally all romantic scenes and you just can’t take all the pink, fluffy hearts anymore). If something was terrible: LET THEM KNOW…gently. “I think this scene could be done better” and give them what you think might improve it. Of course, it might be hard (or easy) to say “This was written horribly,” but it is a must. If something throws the story off in a bad way and no one says anything because they don’t want to hurt the author’s feelings, then it will continue to be in the story and other readers will probably be put off by it as well.
You want to encourage writers to write, but you also want to help them improve their work. That’s the only way they’ll get better. And to the authors: LISTEN TO THE READER. You’re story is not “perfect. They just don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re just haters.” You’re readers are your success. If a reader loves it, then they’ll tell others to read it. Be open to their suggestions and critiques. They’re helping, not hating.