500 Post Special: On Criticism

Fuldapocalypse has reached five hundred posts. To mark the occasion, I figured I’d do a post on something that was the reason this blog even exists at all-criticism. Here goes.

  • Critics have the right to be as sneery and abrasive as they want in their reviews. As a writer, I’ve found valid points which I’ve incorporated from harsh, bad-faith reviews. The signal can be separated from the noise. Even as a reader, one of my favorite authors I found from a harshly negative review.
  • Writers have the right to ignore criticism they consider invalid. If you’re writing a literary romance and someone complains that the book doesn’t have enough explosions in it, you know that’s not what you’re writing.
  • However, both should ideally hold themselves to a higher standard.
  • Some works of fiction lend themselves more easily to criticism than others. This is why I have such a big insistence on creative control over what I review here. I don’t want this to become a chore, and knew that if reviewing was mandatory, it’d lose its quality.
  • The ideal work to review is something that’s flawed in an interesting way. Something flawed in an uninteresting way is arguably the worst type of fiction to review.
  • Perspective matters. My absolute favorite Bill James essay of all time, Inside Out Perspective, is a beauty. The difference between inside and outside is the difference between getting angry at one repetitive World War III timeline after another that you don’t see much direct criticism of on its website, and realizing that there are more action hero thrillers released in one month than there are conventional World War III stories overall-even with the most slanted accounting.
  • Basically, from the inside, you see things as being bigger than they actually are.
  • I’ve said repeatedly-being a critic has not made me a better writer in my eyes, but being a writer has made me a much better critic. Me the writer has written things in my books that me the critic would denounce if done by someone else.
  • Remember: Sample size matters. A lot.
  • Fuldapocalypse has been eye-opening, enlightening, and a lot of fun.

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