You might not be as bad as you think.

I’ve discovered that silence does not equal dislike. Even criticisms do not mean that they dislike your writing.

More often than not, we criticize the things we like more because we want them to be even better than they already are. To figure out whether it’s because your work interests someone or if it’s because it’s actually bad, listen to the types of comments.

“This character is unbelievable.” This one depends on the context. If there are some of these other comments paired with it, then it’s probably a symptom of bad writing. If your character is unbelievable, listen to their suggestions on how to fix them. Tone down their actions if they seem too extreme. Make them more lively if they’re boring. Or maybe cut them out so you can work on other characters more. Don’t write down anything that the character does that doesn’t feel natural. What would this person do in this situation if they real?

“I found it hard to read because of your sentence structure.” Bad writing. Work on your sentence structure. Read books and other stories. Copy down sentences that resonate with you. Write a story in that style of writing.

“Your dialogue doesn’t feel realistic.” Bad writing. Listen to how people talk and imitate it. Read your dialogue out loud–does it feel natural? Have someone else read it and tell you if it sounds like something a person (or at least your character) would say.

“That doesn’t fit with the character we’ve seen so far.” Do you need to express more of your character’s personality? Or did you have your character do something because you wanted them to? Write down what they would do, not what you would do.

“This event didn’t make sense to me.” Does it fit in with the rest of the story? Do your characters react realistically? Does it seem like a realistic event for the world you’ve created?

Just listen–does it sound like the writing is the problem, or is it that they want you to be better? They might like your plot but not your characters. If they compliment one and criticize the other, then they probably actually like your writing and ideas. You just have to work on getting better.

Don’t be discouraged. It’s a lot harder to speak up on something people like, because they assume you know it’s good.

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