Criticism is a good writer’s best friend and a bad writer’s bane of existence. Some people use it as an excuse to just be an ass about your writing. Others legitimately want to help you. So let’s play a game. Is the following excerpt an example of constructive criticism or being an asshat:
Woah, okay. Your pacing is way too fast here. What happened? Why does everything feel wonky here? You were doing okay before. Slow it down some.
Let’s try another one:
You suck! This is hardly even a story!
Pretty easy to tell the difference. Good criticism tells you “This is what you’re doing wrong. This is how I think you should fix it.” It is a sign of respectful readers who appreciate what you’re making and want to see you better yourself in your craft. They’re offering you suggestions, not making an attack on your personal character. If you lash out to someone offering you critiques or advice, you will risk the respect of your readers and will not grow from the experience as you should.
What about flaming? When someone starts talking to you like you’re a bad person or otherwise blatantly insults both you and your story, you can let them have it then, right?
Not really. You should just ignore people like that. If anything, you should be laughing and giddy when you get responses in this manner on occasion. If you get them constantly then something might be wrong. But if you get hate sparsely, it usually means you’re doing something right.
I personally like to ignore them, but giggle and print out the hate they sent. I have a cork board at home labeled “love mail” that has all the hate comments I’ve received on it.
Critiques never tend to feel very good, but they help build your skill as a writer. If you make a huge mistake and the readers point it out, it’s something you can learn to avoid in the future. But if you only get “nice!” Or “Cool!” in response to your work you learn nothing but to feed your ego. Want to see a bad storm? Tell a writer with an overinflated ego their work is bad.
You don’t have to listen to criticism. That’s your prerogative. All it is meant to be is a suggestion for you. Whether or not you take it is at your discretion. But treat your readers with the proper respect, and you should especially be grateful to those going out of their way to offer you advice on your story.