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How to Get Constructive Criticism on Your Writing

Updated on November 17, 2009

I like to read hubs on writing. In fact, I desperately need to read hubs on writing so that I can improve and I am just barely smart enough to know that. I was reading one a while back by Michael Ray King and after finishing it asked him if he thought I should put the first chapter of my book on a hub. He didn't think I would get the criticism I needed on hubpages. Then he wrote a hub suggesting I write a hub on how to get constructive not cruel criticism.

His idea was to create a hub about getting feedback on my first chapter, to include a link to my web site, and to invite hubbers to go there to check it out. They could leave criticism without having to worry about hurting my feelings. On my site you do not have to leave your name. Well, you still might hurt my feelings but I would not know who did it!

Having read all of Michael Ray King's hubs, I decided he knew more than I did. So here goes.

I suppose there are writer's groups online in cyberspace that might fit the bill here. I have a couple of problems with going that route. First, I don't know where they are and second I don't want to waste my time hunting them down and checking them out. I would prefer to get feedback from people whose opinion matters me. If any hubbers out there know of a good one send me a link and I will add it to this hub.

I know I don't want to give it to my wife to read! I made that mistake a couple of years ago with the first version of this chapter. Now granted, I eventually agreed it needed work and have written it over about 57 times. But, (drum roll please) she said it was "banal". Banal. My wife. I took that in the spirit it was intended and put my divorce lawyer on speed dial.

My 101 english professor at the local college asked me to look over a book he had written and give him some suggestions. It was a murder mystery and I went through it and gave him a few pointers from a law enforcement background. I took several hours reading it and making notes for him. Then he took my first chapter and never got back to me. I think he lost it. Or possibly his dog ate it. I'm not sure,  but at least he didn't tell me it was banal.

My success rate on feedback on this novel is not too good. I have the chapter on my web site and those folks who have read it are not writers. Everyone who has read it has liked it and wants me to put chapter two on there. Not one single person has made a comment on it. At least no one said it was banal.

If you live in a large town there are probably writers groups that meet somewhere near you on a regular basis. That is not an option for me. The closest thing we even have to a book store here is Wal-Mart. We drive into Charlotte, N.C. just about every Friday night and I observed a writer's group there once at a Barnes & Noble. Pretending to read a book, I listened in to their conversation then realized I was studying the Pictorial Guide to the Karma Sutra and quietly slinked away. Their conversation was banal anyway.

So here we are at the end of my hub. If you would be so kind as to follow me to my link, you will find the first chapter of my novel waiting for you. Justice @ Sunset is the working title of my book. It is the story of ex-cop turned private detective J. J. Justice who lives at Sunset Beach, North Carolina. Justice struggles to solve his first case while establishing a code of conduct for himself in a world where he makes the rules.

Please leave any comments you might have that would make the story and the storyteller better. I will take what I can use and discard the rest. And please, don't be banal.


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    • resspenser profile image

      Ronnie Sowell 5 years ago from South Carolina


      It's been so long since I wrote this I had forgotten that Apple canceled the blog it was on. Several of my short stories concern a P.I. JJ Justice who resides near Myrtle Beach, SC. I would suggest you try the story White Buffalo...

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • Maralexa profile image

      Marilyn Alexander 5 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

      I am unable to find or enter your site. Would love to read your work. Is it still available?

    • resspenser profile image

      Ronnie Sowell 6 years ago from South Carolina

      Thanks, bud! I thought I had taken that version down. It's been revised about a hundred times. Appreciate the comments.

    • buddhkist profile image

      buddhkist 6 years ago from State of Somewhere

      I really like the dialogue between each character. The first paragraph doesn't seem to fit in much with the rest of the story. It could use a little more descriptive narration but that can be put off until the final editing process. I actually got hooked on the main character. Not a bad start.

    • resspenser profile image

      Ronnie Sowell 8 years ago from South Carolina

      Thanks, Tammy. Feel free to give advice, hardly anyone does and I could sure use the help!

    • profile image

      Tammy Lochmann 8 years ago

      I will take time to read it but I am no critic so I won't comment. I enjoy your articles though. Very interesting and entertaining. Great Hub this one!

      Happy Holidays! Tammy

    • resspenser profile image

      Ronnie Sowell 8 years ago from South Carolina

      Brilliant? I wouldn't go that far!


    • profile image

      Best CD Rates 8 years ago

      This is a brilliant writing. I think you have a good website.

    • resspenser profile image

      Ronnie Sowell 8 years ago from South Carolina

      Thanks, Judi. I have got some good feedback which I am going to use soon to write the 58th version!


      I sympathize with you 100%. It would seem that if strangers will read what you write that your family could at least be tolerant!!! Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Chiyome profile image

      Kara 8 years ago

      It's good to have somebody to commiserate with over something such as this. I nearly flipped out at my mother a while ago because I asked her if she'd ever be interested in my book and she made a face, shook her head and said, "I'll read it, but I don't like fantasy so I probably won't like it." I was speechless at the remark, and never asked her anything book-related again. I mean, I don't expect her to love fantasy but I mean, really. Just tell me you're not interested at all. I think that would hurt less. Jeez.

    • Judi McClellan profile image

      Judi McClellan 8 years ago

      Bravo! I like it... going to read your "first chapter tonight" I am glad to know you. p.s. (thanks for your comments)

    • JaShinYa profile image

      Josh Musser 8 years ago from Harrisburg, PA

      Also, if you want to check out my writing, I have a story going on in the forums:

      It's all off of the top of my head, based on people's votes, but I'd love to hear any general writing suggestions you may have!

    • JaShinYa profile image

      Josh Musser 8 years ago from Harrisburg, PA

      NO problem! :) Glad to help out a fellow writer!

    • resspenser profile image

      Ronnie Sowell 8 years ago from South Carolina


      I do so appreciate the comments! Now I have to go back and look at the story.

      The line "The next time I saw him he tried to kill me." was the end of the chapter in one of the earlier versions and I agree it does not exactly fit here.

      Dialog is tough for me and it is only going to get harder when I introduce the other characters.

      I have to run now and check out what you said. Thanks and I will make some changes! I appreciate you taking the time to do this. It is the first and only comment I have gotten to the story itself!

    • JaShinYa profile image

      Josh Musser 8 years ago from Harrisburg, PA

      That's no problem. I just wasn't sure if you were private about these things.

      Here's a few things I noticed:

      The first two characters, Justice and Wheelan, were a little hard to pick up on. Wheelan specifically was hard. The way you wrote his dialog made me think of him as a Russian mobster, but I didn't think that's what you wanted. I think you were trying to expose his cocky nature, but an American almost always uses conjunctions no matter how stuck up and intelligent they are. Justice, you did fine with his dialog, but past his tough street cop demeanor, there wasn't a whole lot of depth. I know this is the first chapter so I realize it could come later.

      Some smaller things were "wordiness" (Words that aren't needed)a few awkward sentences... things that some good editing will fix.

      Also, to get more of a hook in the reader on the first paragraph, I was thinking it might be better if you took the 2nd paragraph and turned it into the first while spreading the information from the first throughout.

      Finally, one thing that bugged me was the sentence, "The next time I saw him, he tried to kill me". I know that you were pulling the reader into what was coming next, but it felt kind of sudden and out of place. I feel like there would be a better place to mention that.

      Overall, I really love your voice and I felt like I was listening to the character tell me a story rather than reading some pages. I think that with a professional editing, this would be great!

      And just so you know, all of these are my opinions and by no means do i claim to be an editor. haha. You may have something planned out that i didn't take into account. Keep up the great work!

    • resspenser profile image

      Ronnie Sowell 8 years ago from South Carolina

      Here is fine. And thanks for taking the time.

      If it is easier to email them go to it, which is the easiest?


    • JaShinYa profile image

      Josh Musser 8 years ago from Harrisburg, PA

      I have some critiques for your story. Would you rather me put them here, or email them to you?

    • resspenser profile image

      Ronnie Sowell 8 years ago from South Carolina

      You are welcome, eyeofh.

      Let me know if you have any trouble finding it and if you have any thoughts about improvement!

    • eyeofh profile image

      eyeofh 8 years ago from New Jersey

      Gonna check out that chapter...thanks for the good advice.

    • resspenser profile image

      Ronnie Sowell 8 years ago from South Carolina

      Got any stories on your pages in particular you want me to look at?

      I am getting little to no involvement on my web site from this hub which does not surprise me. I don't much care about leaving hubpages to go to someone's web site unless I have a strong reason to do so. Others probably feel the same. There is plenty to read here!

      Good luck and thanks for stopping by.

    • JaShinYa profile image

      Josh Musser 8 years ago from Harrisburg, PA

      I too am a fiction writer. I've been thinking about doing hubs of chapters, not to get criticism,but to entertain.

      However, when I have tried to get some commentary, I have also found it hard. One thing that I've learned with writing is that fellow writers are the best to have read your material. They are or were int he same position. Just be careful because sometimes they can be a bit too picky. If you ever want to swap, let me know! I'll be sure to stop by your site too

    • resspenser profile image

      Ronnie Sowell 8 years ago from South Carolina


      Thanks for checking it out. I have been to your web site and I can imagine how busy you are. So no hurry, but do stop by the web site when you have time. I value your opinion for sure!

      Hope you don't mind my linking one of your hubs. It was the inspiration for this one.

    • resspenser profile image

      Ronnie Sowell 8 years ago from South Carolina

      It is not finished and I am glad. I can fix it as I go. Hubpages has got me fired up to work on it and I hope to finish the rough draft before the end of the year.

      Thanks, Lady_E for stopping by!

    • Michael Ray King profile image

      Michael Ray King 8 years ago from Palm Coast, Florida

      Great post! I'm swamped the next 48 hours, but I intend to go to your link and take a look. I loved the post you put on Hub Pages. That was excellent. The only things I noted were minor. You have a nice writer's voice. I'm anxious to read more.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 8 years ago from London, UK

      Well done on your Novel. I will visit the site.

      Wishing you lots of luck with it. :)

    • resspenser profile image

      Ronnie Sowell 8 years ago from South Carolina

      I tend not to be outwardly critical of hubs. I think the way to approach criticism is to be supportive and try to give helpful advice. It is also important to take what you can use and forget the rest. (I got that from a hub by MIchael Ray Knight.)

      Blasted for a spellin eror, shirley knot!

      I don't believe I am qualified to give advice, criticism, etc.

      Thanks for the comments!

    • Its Angel profile image

      Its Angel 8 years ago from Charleston, SC

      Excellent Hub, I am writing for NaNowriMo I am hoping it improves my writing. Getting criticism is important, but not just anything something, you can use and incorporate.

      I had a person blast me for a spelling Error, I just thanked him, he had used so many nasty, angry words I knew there really wasn't anything else to say. One of the other commenter's came back and posted he had errors all though his posting while I had one. It was clear the original poster disliked the subject matter, not the grammar. I just shrug. People are people. Someone should teach a Class on

      proper criticism. Are you up for it?

    • resspenser profile image

      Ronnie Sowell 8 years ago from South Carolina

      Thanks, MissE. Please stop by. The hub is self serving, I know. But I enjoyed writing it.

    • MissE profile image

      MissE 8 years ago from Texas

      Great writing. Funny. I will make my way over there soon! :)

    • resspenser profile image

      Ronnie Sowell 8 years ago from South Carolina

      Thanks, Putz. I appreciate it.

    • Putz Ballard profile image

      Putz Ballard 8 years ago

      Great hub and great information. Thank you.


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