Being criticized is something that very few writers are prepared to handle. When you hear someone saying, “I can’t believe you’d write a character like that” or “Oh, that’s clichéd”, it stings to the very core of your being.
Being critiqued isn’t much better! The only difference between being criticized and critiqued is that the person doing the critiquing is trying to help you improve your work, while the criticizer just has negative things to say. It still isn’t any easier to hear.
I submitted the first 500 words of my book to a critique group on Facebook, and the first thing I received was “NO ONE reads the prologue”. I thought my prologue was awesome and gripping, and I had spent a lot of time on it, yet the people critiquing basically tore that notion to shreds. They said, “Eliminate it completely, and start with Chapter 1.”
Over the course of a VERY long, and VERY intense afternoon of trading emails and comments with the critiquers, I finally hammered out the perfect compromise: the important portion of the prologue is moved to Chapter 1, thus leaving in the vital information without keeping the thing people seem to hate.
When I reached out to some of the people whose feedback I respect, they all told me the same thing: “It’s much better now, without the prologue”. Well I’ll be damned! All that pain and suffering of hearing my work destroyed and re-built actually made it come out better than before!
Writers, make it a point to listen to critiques, especially from people whose advice you can trust. There are a lot of people out there who are willing to shred your work into millions of tiny pieces, but there are also many who will help you put the pieces back together into one solid work of art.
If you want to become the awesome writer you have the potential to be, listen to the critiquers and take their advice. You may not take everything they say, but be willing to at least consider it. Don’t cling so tightly to your “baby” that your work ends up being second or third-rate, but let those people and their incredibly painful comments help you make that work a first-rate piece of art it may one day become.