Concrit. Everyone wants it, everyone asks for it. Providing constructive criticism shouldn’t be that hard. I was taught if I can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all. While that’s generally a good motto, it doesn’t mean we can’t be truthful.
As with most things, being truthful comes with a caveat. If someone asks for unvarnished truth, fire away. If they don’t ask, it’s generally far kinder to provide constructive criticism. What is concrit? It’s being honest about the flaws while also applauding the things done well.
I read a lot of manuscripts. I used to edit professionally. It’s never difficult to applaud a great turn of phrase but still correct grammatical errors. Neither is it hard to give honest feedback highlighting both what didn’t work and what did work. I’ve never met most of the people who trust me to give feedback on their work, but that doesn’t give me carte blanche to be cruel simply because I might not have a face to go with the name.
The trend right now seems to be blunt regardless of the cost. I realize that the Internet is a big place filled with a lot of people, and when we don’t know those people it’s easy to forget that every writer has worked hard on their story and believes it’s something to be proud of. It can also be tough to remember that there are actual people behind the names on pages, and those people have feelings, wishes, dreams, good days, bad days. Why is it acceptable to focus solely on tearing them down without offering a hand to help them stand again? This happens in more areas besides editing, although that’s where I’ve noticed it most of late.
The silver lining is still there, though: when I see an editor behaving like an entitled ass online, I know not to hire or recommend them. Writers go to editors for help, not for wholesale mud-flinging. I’ve got my list going of people whose behavior has been elitist and reprehensible. To those people, I provide this piece of constructive critcism: you’ve saved me the trouble of ever having to consider working with you.