Okay. So I realize I’m not a famous author with a shitload of novels under my belt. Or one, even. So who am I to judge or criticize, right? But I am so tired of playing nice.
Personally, when I write something, I’m not looking for a pat on the back and a “Good job!” That’s kind of like writing Have a great summer! in someone’s yearbook because you have no fucking clue who they are but somehow winded up with their book in your hands. I want feedback. Genuine feedback. No one can ever stop becoming a better writer. And part of that is relying on your audience, whoever it may be, to give you their honest opinion. Good or bad. So when people flatter others with dishonest feedback just to be nice, they’re only doing harm instead of good. Its giving a false sense of confidence and for some people that’s enough for them to think they have nothing to work on.
I’ve had the saying “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all” shoved down my throat since I can remember. But in this aspect, it’s a real Catch 22. As a general rule, it crosses my mind almost every time I read a post on the internet. But when I see posts that are written so badly I can’t even stomach finishing them with comments like “nice job” or “well done” or some general claim about the character (ie: “wow, I don’t know if I’d have the guts to do what they did) because they don’t want to flat out lie with even a nice job or a well done, it kills me. Especially when I want to scream at them that their grammar was atrocious, their punctuation ridiculous or that three adverbs in a row does NOT a descriptive setting make.
Don’t lie to me. Don’t tell me it’s good when it’s not. I hate fake flattery. I want people to let me know that my dialogue was weak, my characters didn’t feel genuine or the writing was perfect but the story was downright boring. You can mix the good with the bad, but I want the truth and all of it. The more you tell me, the more I know which areas I do or don’t need to improve on.
So herein lies my problem. I’ve developed a close relationship with some of my readers and others in the writing communities I participate in and I don’t want to lose them or others by seeming critical (even though its NEVER meant to be mean or hurtful, strictly constructive). If I offer advice, it’s because I think you’re worth the time. If I say I liked your writing, I genuinely mean it.
I don’t want to say nothing at all just because I’m not boosting their egos into outer space. And because little white lies aren’t my style, I want to be able to say, “Hey, the story was neato-skeato but the writing felt way too technical. Like I was reading an educational pamphlet instead of a work of fiction” and not come off as a bonafide byatch.
To speak or not to speak… that is the question.