As a Multiple Sclerosis patient, it has become necessary for me to reinvent myself. I have ... and continue to ... refuse to lie down and die, or in this case, follow the normally prescribed drugs and treatments that do nothing to defeat my disease. I am not only surviving by pursuing alternatives, I am thriving. I do the things specialists told me I would never be able to do. I walk and hope to one day even run regularly. I retain my cognitive and creative abilities for the pleasure of my readers. Although you may never see me on my daily walk, you are welcome to read my novel(s) and in doing so, come to ask yourself, "How can the 'out of the box' protocol she has followed, help my loved one with an autoimmune disease like Multiple Sclerosis?"
How to Excel at Constructive Criticism
Let's face it folks, I'm not real good at constructive criticism, it is a big reason why I decided to be a reviewer and even landed a job as a professional. (Reviewers don't get to be snarky, but at times being painfully honest is a plus.)
In contrast, critique-rs in the writing world are generally acquaintances of the author and because you are often friends, you need to be nice. Easier said than done at times when the project is something you have little or no interest in. Many published authors have been burned and even abused when offering to help because the new-bie to the writing field assumed the 'pro friend' had a magic pill of sorts. Not so. Getting published, the first time is difficult. So it is the third and fourth time as well as the umpteenth time (unless the author managed to land one of those rare contracts that fits both the writer and the publisher like a glove.)
So, back to constructive critiques (Someone needs to sit on my shoulder and keep me on task.)
The long and the short of it is KISS for want of a better acronym (by-the-by, thank you to my military friends for sharing this with me over the years--the acronym, that is.)
KISS Keep It Simple Stupid (okay, so I softened the language and made it my own.)
So how do you KISS when critiqu-ing a 400 page manuscript? Other than one line at a time, I mean.
Give 'em a knuckle sandwich, and by that I mean...just like when you are breaking-up with that special someone and don't want to hurt their feelings. A sandwich has two sides of bread. The bread is soft and often sweet, might have a little spice in it but the bite is what you put between the soft kindness.
In the case of the critique:
1) Tell the author, and put it in writing because writers need the written word, something nice. For example: I really like this character because... Or I like the overall story line.
2)This is a sandwich so here we generally put a condiment or gentle 'I'm not sure what you are saying here', or the like before slapping a few, if needed, pieces of meaty, but savory, comments on what needs fixing.
Sometimes the fixes are a sweet meat but sometimes even the glaring chunk is easier to put down when sliced thin.
3) Don't forget the second slice here. Be sure to top the sandwich with the savory bread that holds it all together (and in the case of the fragile writer, may be what holds them together.) In the case of the critique, an honest compliment that will encourage the writer and exhilarate, or at least inspire, the author to continue writing and creating.
I truely hope this helps...and in my own case, reminds me of how to do a better job at his often painful task, but a very necessary one.