“I think it would be therapeutic for me to write a post for our blog where I tear the shit out of movie x.” Zach said.
I smiled and nodded, happy he planned to contribute to our NAWG blog.
“But would a negative post benefit our blog in the long run?” I wondered.
Another group member and I resolved we would keep our blog a positive constructive place. Then again, Zach is our resident curmudgeon, if anyone can get away with a grouchy post, it’s him.
As I‘ve been viewing more content, I keep coming back to wondering if critical content is part of a healthy blogging habit. And if “negative” or “rant” content has a place, what’s the correct ratio to add it into a blog? Should ever blog or blogger share all opinions whether negative or positive? Am I as positive as. I portray, or is that a persona shown for approval? Even in some of my perky posts, on the edges lingers this acknowledgement of themes I don’t like.
Today there will be no dodging the question. Should we blog critical, negative, snarky, or tea spilling posts?
-Being seen as petty/mean/opinionated/loud/aggressive/bossy
-Being seen as a person who views writing as a competition and your review as a way to tear down the competition
-Risk of hurting the feelings of another human being
-Burning through the community’s goodwill for you
-Bringing you own work forward for scrutiny as you’ve scrutinized others
-Making an error or oversight in your analysis could cause you being on the end of critical content. Or you may see your own oversight, go to adjust your post and learn you’ve created an audience not open to evolving opinions.
-Negative attention is still attention and if a book/technique is damaging, you may choose not to mention them at all so you don’t accidentally drive sales to something you don’t support
-Closing venues for conversation and becoming a place to come bash an idea
-Crossing the line and getting personal in an attack (and this is NEVER) good.
-Depending on what you don’t like, risking the chance you’ll stand in the company of other opinions you find offensive or wrong
-People love drama/controversy. There is a reason videos and posts labeled “spilling the tea” or “throwing shade” rank so high and it’s because everyone loves to watch a fight.
-As Zach said, rants are therapeutic
-Sometimes critical or negative reviews are a person’s truth and I believe authenticity is more important than being nice.
-Others can misinterpret silence as approval and I don’t want to support something I didn’t like.
-Bringing critical opinions forward presents a whole and balanced person. Not someone full of eternal praise
-A negative element of an otherwise good work should be called out. A person can love something that isn’t perfect and acknowledging flaws is part of a full discussion
-The things I didn’t like may help a crowd of people who like those elements find a new favorite. What I didn’t like might be something you love about a book
This conversation is more personal than the other #bebold articles because I present as a positive person. Get to know me better and I’ll spin out into a rant on X or Y and I like to think it’s funny. People laugh, whether from the shock of me going from sunshine to dark in a blink of an eye or because I have a strong delivery, is hard to tell. The thing is, I like to read a room before sharing, and you can’t read a room in the internet.
Unlike the “silence is approval school” I’m from the “if you have nothingnice to say, then say nothing” school. I’m sensitive to even small gestures of disapproval in others and worry over their reactions if they find out I don’t enjoy their favorite show. In the past, I’ve compromised under the guise of kindness. I post all reviews to Goodreads but don’t make blogs from bad books. Recently I’d considered writing a bottom 5 books of 2018 and dismissed the idea. Three of the books were from a single author and it struck me as excessively mean spirited to single out an author this way.
I’m dipping my toes into critical reviews while blogging. First, I wrote a post on why I stopped reading Daily Science Fiction. It’s not mean, but it expresses that I didn’t like the site or most of the stories on offer. My 2018 book year in review shares both positive and negative thoughts on books. Even then, most of my critical feedback revolves around non-fiction books that present bad/dangerous science. I feel like giving them lower scores is a public service. Do your research world!
I wrote a critical review on a writing class I took. There I spoke out because I’d paid money for the class. If it had been free, there would be no post. The posts gathered the low end of average views.
Currently I’m brainstorming a series of posts called “Writing Cliches” where I discuss overused techniques in genres and why they bother me/what else you can do. I think it will be snarky fun with a goal of helping writers avoid played out scenarios and offering other ways to move the story.
Should you write a critical post? I don’t really know.
I love reading critical posts where the writer explores what worked, where they suggest how idea x could come across better, or where they pitch a “better” story. Occasionally, I even enjoy a certain level of mean snark. That said, I’m not comfortable with the format. Even as I enjoy consuming some of this style of content, I prefer to create the helpful, glass half full kinds of posts. More than the other posts discussed in this #BeBold series, I suggest moderation. A few critical posts go a long way after all.