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The Four Types of Criticism in Writing

Updated on May 10, 2016
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The Four Types of Criticism

Criticism is a gift and a curse, but it depends on one's viewpoint.

Nobody likes criticism because it feels like a personal attack, and it's worse when they're being criticized for something they love to do or believed they were good at.

But not all criticism is equal...

Critique can be divided into four unique types with each having their own special component. They are divided by their effectiveness, the number of people involved, and the results they'll lead to.

Below is a table of four types of critiques that exist and their usefulness, so which category does your work fall into.

Can you handle the criticism?

The Four Critique Types

(click column header to sort results)
Type  
Negative Criticism  
Positive Criticism  
Negative Feedback  
Positive Feedback  
Effectiveness
Trolling (Attacking Without Purpose)
Constructive or helpful
Useful or Helpful
Encouraging/supportive
Number of people
One or a few
Usually a few
Majority
Majority
Results
Unhelpful no results
Helpful some results
Changes/Results likely
Changes unlikely/unnecessary

Type 1: Negative Criticism

Source

Negative Criticism (Trolling)

The worst kind of criticism is trolling because the only purpose of trolling is to make you feel bad without adding anything constructive regarding you or your work.

However not all negative criticism equals trolling.

In fact there are several ways to distinguish constructive criticism from trolling. Below are a few points that indicate a troll may be present:

  • Personal attack of your character
  • Offer short responses like "it sucks" or "it's horrible" without explanation
  • Cyber stalker that always leaves hateful messages
  • Major grammar and punctuation problems
  • Disagrees on everything and start arguments without reasoning
  • Disregards facts, data, and information

I could go on and on but those statements describe most trolls.

Trolls can also be lethal if you're a very sensitive person, and I'd think twice before putting yourself out there if you can't handle the attacks.

To succeed you're going to have to develop tough skin and ignore their insults otherwise they'll win.

A successful troll can turn your masterpiece into a disaster and, in extreme cases, cause you great anxiety and depression that may lead to suicide.

Do not let the trolls win!

Type 2: Positive Criticism

Source

Positive (Helpful) Criticism

This is the criticism that writers need because it helps rather than hinders them. Helpful criticism, known as constructive criticism, isn't meant to attack you on purpose.

This form of critique allows people to give their perspective on your piece and tell you things that'll help make it better through pros and cons.

Below are additional points that signify positive criticism:

  • The criticism targets your content instead of your character
  • Commentary offers a mix of pros and cons
  • Use of proper grammar, language, and punctuation
  • Explain how to improve your piece
  • Present valid points or arguments

There are more examples but those above give you an idea of what positive criticism is made of, but how does negative or positive criticism differentiate from good or bad feedback?

Positive/Negative feedback is a collection of feedback that forms a majority opinion on your content.

That technically makes feedback even more powerful than criticism because it involves a lot more people.

For example anyone can criticize Donald Trump yet it doesn't mean anything, but if a majority criticize him, then it makes an impact.

Type 3: Negative Feedback

How Negative Feedback Makes You Stronger

If you're a writer and your piece has a mixed reaction, then it probably won't affect your writing methods too much.

However if your content receives mostly negative feedback, then chances are you'll try to improve your work or shift things around.

As a writer, I know that if everyone were to tell me my grammar is terrible, then I'd be much more inclined to work on it versus having one person tell me it sucks. It's this mass effect that drives for change.

A consensus helps determine whether something is good or not. You have plenty of examples on that on YouTube with movie trailers, video game trailers, and various uploads by YouTubers.

Here's another good "real world" example of this: Imagine your street has a lot of cracks in it, but only a few people in your neighborhood complain about it.

Will your street get repaired right away?

Probably not! Now take that same cracked street and have everyone in your neighborhood complain, including other drivers who go down that street and only then will it get fixed up.

It usually takes a collective effort in order to fix something, and the same applies to your writing. You won't care if a few people say something bad about it because you'll disregard them as trolls but if everyone has something bad to say, then you're likely going to take a closer look.

You'll become a better writer because you'll actually edit and fix your work to make your readers happy, and that's negative feedback at its finest.

Type 4: Positive Feedback

Source

Positive Feedback Is the Goal

Positive feedback is the type of criticism you must hope to achieve because it signifies that most people approve of your content.

Writers write because they want their readers to enjoy their work, and good content yields more viewers and higher pay. Not all of your articles need to be perfect, but as long as most readers like it, then you've met your goal.

Supportive feedback gives you the encouragement and motivation you'll need to continue what you're doing, however; there's slight drawback to that.

If you become too confident with your pieces, then It's unlikely you'll change your writing content or style, which could be viewed as a slight con. I think a few changes every now and then in your style is a good thing, and it makes things more interesting for your readers.

As writers, why is critiquing so important to us? Plain and simple, writers don't get better without critique.

They'll never explore different options, try different styles, new formats, and introduce creative options without any criticism. If there was no criticism, then writing would be boring and you would have no idea whether your articles were good or bad.

I've critiqued writers in the past because I thought their content was atrocious and didn't make sense. As a reader, I expect quality and want to make a difference through my own criticism either with myself or other writers.

Readers want to be engaged with what they're reading otherwise it serves little purpose and is a waste of time.

If writers refuse to connect with me through their writing then why should I connect with their content.

Criticism Leads to Art

Everything has a beginning
Everything has a beginning | Source

The Importance of Criticism

We are criticized everyday, but we can't ignore it because we don't like it.

I never used to be a fan of criticism but now I encourage it. I challenge readers to tell me how to make an article better because it'll make me a better writer.

I challenge all writers to accept the bad with the good and embrace the negative feedback. I want writers to acknowledge the individuals who left negative feedback, so they know you're willing to acknowledge them.

There's too much bad content out there, which is why criticism is incredibly important. It'll empower the reader and give the writer something to shoot for.

Most importantly it'll establish a relationship between the reader and the writer that'll further more high-end content, which is what transforms a written piece into a work of art.

Who knew criticism could be so powerful.

Critique This!

Do you criticize others works?

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    • Chriswillman90 profile image
      Author

      Krzysztof Willman 2 years ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      I really enjoyed reading about your insights on the matter. I don't want to be petty and would rather be the better person and not let things affect me. The skillful response is a great idea because it provides a different skill set among your writing and the person you are.

      I'm happy you shared your knowledge with me because it gives newcomers like myself a whole new perspective on how these platforms work. I've already discovered new things about myself as a writer from this site, and you're correct that it's a terrific place to learn if you believe in the process.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

      This topic is one I always enjoy exploring so it was interesting to read about your views.

      When it comes to those who disregard facts and attack the character of others, you present some useful tips. However, rising above the attack with a skillful response can sometimes be an excellent opportunity to exercise thinking/writing skills. Glancing through comments on hubs I read sometimes provides real jewels as examples. My motto on responses that can't be ignored is summed up by "always be sincerely polite for they are people, too."

      I can't say that my goal is to have others tell me I am awesome. Nice comments like that are nice, sure, and positive encouragement can be useful, but all that can also be deceptive. It's important to ask ourselves if nice people would really tell us what improvements need to be made examine our own work with a listening ear and critical eye.

      My goal is to communicate something helpful or insightful or entertaining. If a reader doesn't engage with what is written when leaving a comment authors are left wondering if the reader really read the post. A reader who offers some discussion on the topic of a hub (no matter how small or large their engagement is, no matter if it is positive or negative) is a very valuable reader!

      HP is a neat place to learn and grow as a writer. Being teachable and being someone who thinks about dealing with criticism wisely means you have a head start on meeting your goals with the site.

    • Chriswillman90 profile image
      Author

      Krzysztof Willman 2 years ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      I'm sorry that happened to you klidstone. I can't stand people who attack for no reason other then to put you down. Stay positive because you'll be the better person for it.

    • Chriswillman90 profile image
      Author

      Krzysztof Willman 2 years ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      Thank you that's a great way to view things. I'm working to try to be more of a glass half full type of person.

    • klidstone1970 profile image

      இڿڰۣ-- кιмвєяℓєу 2 years ago from Niagara Region, Canada

      Criticism in any form can be difficult. It's all about how someone goes about it. I've had people give me their two-cents worth and most times it's done politely and privately. I have no problem taking their advice to try to improve in the areas that need work. Another time I was ripped to shreds out in the open and it was a bitter pill to swallow . The person was extremely harsh and rude. I would never do that to someone and would only offer positive encouragement. Thanks for sharing! Best wishes, Kim.

    • kristinenorberg profile image

      Kristine Norberg 2 years ago from Minnesota

      Great hub! It was a good read. It's my nature of habit to be supportive, love it! Thanks, Kristine http://www.myblankrecipebooks.com

    • Chriswillman90 profile image
      Author

      Krzysztof Willman 2 years ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      It's not the easiest thing in the world to be completely honest because some people are really sensitive to criticism. I'm glad you enjoyed some of the points I made and thank you.

    • carrie Lee Night profile image

      Kept private 2 years ago from Northeast United States

      Thank you for your honest criticism :) !!!! I do believe negative feedback is needed as long as it is constructive. Thank you for pointing out Trolls. I would critique a lot more but sometimes it is difficult because you try so much to choose words that don' t discourage or hurt the other person' s feelings. I, myself openly welcome feedback of all kinds and try not to allow pride get in the way of improvement :) Thanks again !

    • Chriswillman90 profile image
      Author

      Krzysztof Willman 2 years ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      Yup we sure do.

    • Joy56 profile image

      Joy56 2 years ago

      We all need feed back

    • Joy56 profile image

      Joy56 2 years ago

      Oh heck..... Don't read my hubs..... I love that you are an expert in the making..... Think I am stuck in the always a novice mode

    • Chriswillman90 profile image
      Author

      Krzysztof Willman 2 years ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      There's always room for improvement. I get a bit disgusted with writers who think they know all and are essentially pretentious and better than everyone else. I know we all want to know it all because it makes for better writing but it's not possible. Thank you all again for taking the time to read my piece. I hope it sheds some light on positive or negative feedback.

    • Pollyanna Jones profile image

      Pollyanna Jones 2 years ago from United Kingdom

      When I first started out, any negative or even nasty comments would really get to me. But then I realised, that these people were my greatest teachers. I had to improve, and make sure that my pieces were completely water-tight, so that any excuse to poke holes in my work would be denied. I am grateful for their "help", but it was difficult at first to recognise that such things could be turned into a positive. This is a great article, and well written. Thank you! Voted up.

    • Kiss andTales profile image

      Kiss andTales 2 years ago

      Thanks KWillman I appreciated your hub because I am a repeated pertisapent in forums, you have provided a great mirror of self examination to consider, I can see some room for self improvement, and I thank you personally.

      I realize and admit I do not know , everything , but what I am 100% sure of and what I share is vital . I do love and care about people and this is how I know how to show it.

      Help many learn the truth of the spiritual things of God.

    • gposchman profile image

      Gene Poschman 2 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      I'm glad I read your article. Initially my reaction to the title was if it's negative don't say it. I have read some pretty bad stuff in my career, but I always look for the positive and I try to provide information that will help a person improve. It is better to make positive suggestions than to tear down one's ego.

      To put something into writing takes courage, to publish is a form of heroism of its own, and should be encouraged.

      Gene Poschman

    • Chriswillman90 profile image
      Author

      Krzysztof Willman 2 years ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      Thank you both so much I really appreciate the good and constructive criticism. I'll be sure to read some of your hubs to see the points you've addressed.

      I like the point you mentioned about how even though someone may have written a bad review that they still took time out of there day to read it. For those reasons alone I would want to make my writing a lot better so I don't have to feel like they're wasting their time.

      Thank you for the grammatical advice I tend to struggle with that sometimes and that'll really help in the future. I'm glad some of my points helped and I wish you both luck and success as well!

    • lawdoctorlee profile image

      Liza Treadwell Esq aka Liza Lugo JD 2 years ago from New York, NY

      Chris, this is a really good hub. Nice job on presenting the importance of criticism and how to look at it in a positive way.

      I addressed this issue briefly in a recent hub of my own. In it, I answer the questions: "Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?" My answer was: "Good reviews are always good but bad reviews are fine too. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I'm open-minded; so, if someone tells me my work sucks, I look at why that person thinks so. Sometimes I make changes based on their opinion. Bad reviews can be as well-deserved as good ones. I look at bad reviews as an opportunity to do better work. If I feel a bad review is not deserved, it's okay. I still thank that person for taking the time out of their day to read my work. There are other things they could have spent their time on besides me, so I still appreciate it."

      Hopefully, you won't mind if I point out some minor grammatical errors here in this hub:

      1) When you begin a sentence with a prepositional phrase, place a comma after it. (i.e. "As a writer,...")

      2) When you write two sentences and connect them with a conjunction such as the word "and," place a semicolon before the word "and." ( i.e. "I think a few changes every now and then in your writing style is a good thing; and it ...")

      Because this hub is so well written, I believe these minor errors are typos. It happens to me all the time; so, I always go back every couple of days to review my hubs and fix the typos.

      I voted this hub "up" and "useful." I can't wait to read more of your work. Keep sharing such valuable information with others. Believe me, it is greatly appreciated.

      Wishing you continued success in the new year.

    • MDavisatTIERS profile image

      Marilyn L Davis 2 years ago from Georgia

      Good morning, Krzysztof Willman; excellent. Now there's a compliment. Why?

      Because you wrote well about each type of criticism, pros and cons of critiques and gave us, as readers, several key points to take away; such as: (From your Hub), "You'll become a better writer because you'll actually edit and fix your work in order to make the readers happier. That is negative feedback at its finest."

      This one is important to remember. Thanks. ~Marilyn

    • Chriswillman90 profile image
      Author

      Krzysztof Willman 2 years ago from Parlin, New Jersey

      Thank you and yes there is nothing wrong with letting someone know if they need to improve or fix an error. I would hope they do the same.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Great hub and I agree with your observations. I encourage readers to tell me if they find an error in my work or wish to offer advice on how to improve it. If I find an error etc in someone elses I usually let them know (usually by email..depends on the person). Well written and voted up.