Lest Ye Be Judged: Writers Nitpicking Other Writers


I'm pretty much a live and let live kind of person if you haven't gathered that from reading my blog. When I talk about writing craft, I rarely state my opinion as edict. There are occasions that call for that--i.e. don't query your first book without having someone who is not related to or sleeping with you critique it. But even then, I know there are people out there who did just that and had success.


So I'm starting to get a little bit tired of seeing writers nitpicking other (usually successful) writers on little things. We're all tempted to do it. I know I have tweeted before about words that drive me nuts in erotic romance--for example, moist. *shudder* The word just makes me cringe. But you know what? I've seen it used well too.

It seems lately I've seen more of this sniping than normal. "How can so-an-so be an NYT bestseller but she has all these cliches?" or "How did this person get away with using this trope?" Or whatever.

We all  have the right to be critical of what we read. We've paid good money to buy the story. BUT, I'm not sure that this critical stuff needs to be announced on the interwebs unless you're doing a review. (And that's also one of the reasons I don't do reviews anymore. I explain more on why here.)

It doesn't really hurt the sales of that successful author you're b*tching about. (Ask Stephanie Meyer.) It hurts YOU. It makes you look petty and, frankly, jealous. That author is selling all those books for a reason. Even if they have ten passive sentences on the page or use the word "weeping" in a make-you-gag way or use some tired device--people are reading their books for a reason. And you shouldn't begrudge them that. Their success does not hurt your opportunity for success, so there's no need to try to cut them down.

And this goes for making general statements where you don't necessarily mention an author's name. Imagine tweeting "If I see another Navy Seal hero, I'm going to poke my eyes out." and then people who follow you are writing the story of their heart and it happens to be about a Navy Seal.

Leave the nitpicking to the reviewers and readers. That's their job. Writers need to have elephant skin--but it shouldn't be because their peers are throwing rocks at them. Writers need to support each other and worry about their own writing--not waste time trying to chip away at your fellow authors.  It only makes you look bad in the end.

And remember that no matter what level of success an author reaches--she's still sitting down and slaving away at her keyboard like you are, she's still as passionate about her characters and story as you are,  and she still feels just like you do when her creation is criticized.

*rant over* :)

So where do you stand on this? When you find yourself picking apart a book, do you tend to share your frustration with the work with the world? What do you think when you see other writers nitpicking successful authors online?