Having the right kind of readers

I had written a short horror story sometime ago and I shared it with a few friends of mine for feedback. The responses were usually “good” or “bad”. When I asked them what was good or bad about the story, I was quite disappointed.

Quite recently, I was asked to critique a story by a friend of mine. It was a love story and I told him that I don’t really like the genre and he should find someone else to critique. He pestered me and I gave in and started reading it. Halfway through it, I was forcing myself just to finish reading it so I could give my damn critique. It was then that I realized something I should have realized a long time ago.

You need to have the right kind of reader. All my friends who didn’t like my story were people who weren’t into that genre. Also, the critique they gave me didn’t do much to help me. They said it was too dark or too gory and things like that. While that might have been true, one cannot expect rainbows in a horror story, can they? I felt I asked the wrong people for feedback.

Constructive criticism is an art. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Most of the readers that read your stories say only one or two words in the end. “Good”, “Bad”, “Not bad”, “Great” etc. This isn’t the kind of critique that would help a writer. While telling them that their story is good is fine with a writer, that isn’t exactly what he/she is looking for when they ask for feedback. They want to know both the good and the bad about the story so that they can come out with the best possible story that they can.

The good will help them consolidate and the bad will help them improve. It’s a bonus if the reader can suggest things that can help better the story. Often, the writer seems to be following a line of thought and he might be overlooking a few things that actually need his attention. This is where the right kind of reader can be a huge asset to the writer.

I realized this when I had to critique something I wasn’t really into. Romance is something I can barely tolerate because I find them boring. if I had to point out what’s good or bad with such stories, I’d only be staring at the wall helplessly. Ask me to critique a thriller and I’m going to delve deep into the intricacies of the story. I’m a liability in the first case but in the second, I might just be the angel that you need.

I would like to sum it up with one thing. The next time you’re looking for some feedback, kindly ensure that your critic is someone who can help you create a better version of your story.

**** Thank you for reading :) ****


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