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Anticipating negative responses, and the pre-emptive strike against criticism

Anticipating negative responses, and the pre-emptive strike against criticism

A Lesson by Mike Lamb

Find out exactly what you're doing wrong so that you can stop and ask yourself whether or not you give a s**t. If you don't, make it known.


Now I should start out by saying that most of this is bad advice. It's risky and it won't work for everyone. There's a lot of good advice out there that you should listen to. However, sometimes it just doesn't work for what you want to do. If you write something that you love and are given suggestions on how to make it better, then you have some decisions to make. For one thing, how do you define better? And according to whose standards? Now, before you get too cocky, accept the fact that you just might suck. So don't go mouthing off at everyone that makes a suggestion to you. Here's what you do: make the changes and compare the old version to the new version. Which one do you prefer? If you like the new version, then keep it...not because other people say it's better, but because you agree with them. Put your ego aside and thank your critics for useful input. On the other hand, if the new version doesn't feel right or takes the story in the wrong direction, then don't feel like you have to change it to please others. 


Now, when someone gives you criticism that you feel is irrelevent to your goals (whether it relates to plot, mood, characters, dialogue, or whatever), they've actually given you a powerful asset. You now know--in advance--what your more critical readers are going to complain about. This means you have the power to write a comeback straight into the story. Think about reading a book that gets really weird and confusing, and you stop and think "What the f**k is this crap?" You don't expect the next sentence to be a smart a*s retort to your unspoken complaints. But if the author knew you would think that, they could address the issue in any way they wanted. And you would stop and think, "Holy s**t...I just got into a psychic arguement with a book and I f*****g lost!"

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Posted 11 Months Ago

I feel like I'm listening to myself. It's funny and absolutely true. Thank you!
Facebook Page - Let's Wake Up Billy

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Posted 3 Years Ago

Amazing, your attitude is inspiring!

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Posted 4 Years Ago

This was the most helpful thing I've read here. Thanks.

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Posted 5 Years Ago

After my last review, taking advice I cut my story to pieces. I felt really bad doing it, but she was right, it wasn't relevant to the story. That didn't stop me from mourning the loss.

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Posted 6 Years Ago

An example from Jack's Inferno: a friend mentioned that I was doing too many cheesy Hell jokes. That was absolutely true and I cut out the weakest ones, but then I threw in a joke about having too many Hell jokes. ("I wasn't kidding about the Hell jokes. I got thousands of 'em. Half of 'em aren't even that funny. I don't care.") I like to think of this as the David Letterman approach to comedy. For some reason, he's always at his funniest when he bombs a joke.

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Posted 6 Years Ago

lol. I lose that argument frequently. I experienced critique classes while getting my art degree. I experienced critiques "on the job" as a musician. In either venue they were immensely helpful because they motivate you to ask questions about your work that you forgot to in the process. This reflection develops more depth to your creativity. I welcome incisive critiques. Thanks Mike
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Added on September 12, 2010
Last Updated on September 12, 2010
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Mike Lamb
Mike Lamb

greenville, NC

Artist, writer, and a drunken lunatic prophet. I am the author of Jack's Inferno, a dark comedy bizarro/horror novel about Hell, previously published through Wordplague (now defunct). I am also a pro..