How to be a Great Wattpad Critic (In 5 Easy Steps) 

For this weeks post I’ll be focusing on something that has been a big part of my Wattpad journey: critiques. They’ve helped me not only teach others, but gain friends, followers, and feedback for myself. While it is tons of fun, being a Wattpad critic isn’t as easy as it sounds. Here are 5 steps to get your critic journey going, and going well.

1. Advertise! 

Wattpaders won’t know you’re a critic if you aren’t advertising! Head straight to the designated help thread and post an advertisement. Here’s mine, made from a simple photo editing app. Picture advertisements will help you stand out in a long thread. 


2. Ditch the Complicated Sign Ups

I’ve mentioned in past posts about how much I hate special forms when seeking help from other Wattpadders. Forget forms, special passwords, etc when having others request your service. Keep is short and sweet. Explain what you’re willing to help with and your payment. Don’t ask for story descriptions, titles, or say, “what you’re looking for help with” etc, either. I’m going to get real here. If you’re a critic, you should be helping with everything, not ignoring some things and pointing out others. 

3. Don’t Sugar Coat, but Don’t be Mean Either

ALWAYS be polite and honest when performing a critique. Even if the book is literally the worst thing you’ve ever seen and every sentence makes you want to rip your eyes out, don’t resort to saying things like, “this sucks.” But don’t only point out the positives either. Our job as critics is to help others improve their work. Even seasoned writers feel hurt when getting negative feedback. It’s part of the writing process. 

4. Always Re-Read Your Feedback

Having a sophisticated, grammatically correct feedback post or comment will not only improve your reputation with the author, but can even attract others to seek your feedback after seeing your post in the comments section. Always re-read your feedback before posting to make sure there are no errors, and to see that you’ve said everything you meant to. 

5. Respect the Author’s Feelings

Many times, authors will be very unhappy with even the slightest amount of negative feedback. They may say things like, “Thanks, but I disagree.” Or “Thanks for your feedback, but I’m not changing that.” And you know what, that’s OKAY. Never feel like you wasted your time doing a critique for someone who doesn’t want to listen right now. Eventually they may change their minds and fix their work, and your comment will still be there for reference. 

Why Real Critics Shouldn’t be “Sugar Coating”

A while back when I first started doing critiques on Wattpad, I noticed a common trend in the posts of the advertising critics. This trend was usually at the bottom, and was under the caption “Sugar Coating.” These critics wrote in their post things like, “I will sugar coat” or “Please let me know how much sugar coating you would like.”

I was baffled. If they weren’t going to be giving honest reviews, then what were they doing? Well, when you look at it, being a Wattpad critic is a great way to get follows or reads on your own story.

Then again, I’m sure that many critics know the backlash we receive when someone doesn’t like what we have to say. I’ve been called a “bully” and a bunch of other names by Wattpadders.

The thing is, we shouldn’t let that stop us. There is no way on earth that I’m going to stop telling people what is wrong with their story because I don’t want them to get upset, or hurt their feelings. I’m not saying you should be a jerk when you go out and critique someone’s story, but you definitely shouldn’t be super nice.

By doing this “sugar coating” and giving them nice feedback when their story actually stinks, you’re only damaging the writer. That doesn’t help them improve and could even lead to cockiness. Because let’s face it, when people tell us our stories are really good, it bumps up our ego a notch.

Ending point: Don’t sugar coat. Be yourself when you critique. If you’re not giving helpful feedback, you might as well not give it at all.

 

When Even Friends and Family Won’t Read

I was going to write a post about beta reading, but I figured, what’s the fun in writing something I’ve never had experience with (but hopefully will soon.) So, I’ll start with a story. 

I wrote a lot when I was in my last two years of high school. We moved to a different state where I went to a small school and had no friends–a big difference from where I came from, where I spent the fall and spring on the varsity crew team and summers at the mall with friends. I had nothing to do, so I wrote, and it took me out of the world I was living in and brought me to where I desperately wanted to be: someplace else. 

Back then, I did have people I was close to that read my work. My dad read a few chapters of my first ever completed book, Living Brighter, and so did one of my friends from back home. But over time, no one else felt like reading. In fall of 2012, I finished Euphoria, my least popular book. My sister asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I said, “All I want is for you to read Euphoria.” The story was about 80 pages long at the time, and being a fast reader, I figured it wouldn’t take her more than a few hours. Christmas morning, to my disappointment, I was given a Spongebob DVD. 

Two weeks ago, my mom had surgery and couldn’t leave the house. She told me before I left for work, “What am I going to do all day?” 

“Read Saving Flight 926. I need feedback before doing the rewrite,” I said. “You know how to get on my Wattpad.” 

Nine hours later when I returned home, she had not even gone through Wattpad, and was instead playing Cookie Jam. And don’t even get me started on how much I have to beg my boyfriend to click through a chapter. 

At the end of the day, I mostly feel disappointed. All I think is, “Is my writing that awful?” These are the people who encourage me constantly. Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense. But then I realized that there are probably a million other fellow writers who are having the same problem. 

So, what do you do if no one wants to read? Here’s what I learned. 

1. Don’t Beg

Begging can lead to people being forced to read if they don’t want to, and the classic, “I’ll check it out right now.” While you sit there awkwardly and wait for them to finish (which has happened to me way too many times.) 

2. Try to Understand

Maybe my mom just wanted to play Cookie Jam instead. Maybe your friend and relatives are actually busy. Or, try putting yourself in their shoes. Personally if it was me I’d be reading my friends’ things like I always do, BUT maybe they just don’t want to. I mean, everyone has things they don’t want to do. 

3. Come to Terms With It

While it does feel upsetting and insulting, I’ve come to terms with the fact that some people may just not want to read your stuff. Why would my boyfriend want to read a gooey romance? Or why would my sister want to read fantasy when she loves horror? And you know what? If they don’t want to read it, that’s OKAY. As authors, we know that tons of people won’t like our work, and our friend and family are just a handful. 

4. Don’t Let it Stop You

Long story short, don’t let anything stop you from going after your writing dreams. 

It really stinks when people we’re close to won’t read the work we’ve put so much time into. While it may be hard to understand why, it is possible. 

When a Loved One is Your Biggest Critic

Last night I asked my boyfriend to read the first chapter in my newest story, Saving Flight 926. After a lot of begging on my end, he finally caved and read up to chapter 3. When I asked him what he thought, he said, “It’s not very good honey. I’m sorry.” This has happened to me on several occasions. Out of everyone who has read my work, the person who I’m closest to is my biggest critic of all, nitpicking at my stories down to the repetition of a word. 

I’m sure this has happened to some of you fellow writers out there. The question is, when someone your close to is your biggest critic, how do you deal with it? Try remembering these 5 things. 

1. Everyone has their opinion. 

This is very true. Everyone who reads your work will have a different opinion about it. And at the end of the day, that’s all it is: their opinion. Unless of course they’re one of your beta readers, in which their opinion is extremely important. But if you’re just showing them your first draft, relax. Even we know that first drafts are never our best work. 

2. It won’t change their opinion of you. 

Loved ones will always support you, even when you have a bad day or write a story that just doesn’t have the potential to be something great. This is why we call them “loved ones”. At the end of the day you love eachother no matter what. So even if they are harsh, they only want to help. 

3. Don’t let is discourage you. 

Remember why you write: because it calms you down, because it makes you feel good, or because it’s just plain fun–it doesn’t matter! You write because it’s something you enjoy. I’m never going to stop writing just because my boyfriend isn’t a fan of most of my work. Just keep typing away. If they don’t like what you come up with, that’s their problem. Know that you’re never writing to impress a loved one. At the end of the day, it’s our work. Not theirs. 

I need to start trying some of these things out for myself. 

Critic vs. Critique

Being someone who is in the desperate race on Wattpad to gain followers as I near my longtime goal of 1,000, I am once again running a critiquing service.

Time and time again, I see people, some as old as 16, mess up the word “critic” and “critique”. This got me thinking. Maybe it’s not stupidity, but just a common mistake.

So, to eliminate ANY confusion for anyone out there, here are the actual definitions for these two words from the Webster’s Dictionary:

Critic (noun): one who expresses a reasoned opinion on any matter.
Ex. She is a harsh critic.

Critique (also a noun): a careful judgement in which you examine the good and bad parts of something.
Ex. Hans gave a critique on Elsa’s meatloaf. He said it was dry and salty.

Another example: I am a critic who leaves critques on fiction stories.

So please, never ask someone, “Can you please leave a critic on my story?” Or post an advertisement saying that you “will critic any genre.” These are two different words with two different meanings.

Young Teens and Their Publishing Dreams

Earlier today I was asked to critique a story for a fellow Wattpadder. She said she was getting it published with Simon and Schuster. Of course, she had not sent in her manuscript yet.

Also, she is 14.

After being on Wattpad for 3 years, I’ve come across a lot of young teens, aged 12-17 who think that because their story is a hit on Wattpad, it will be a hit with a major publishing company. They also have no literary agent and don’t know the difference between a hyphen and an em-dash.

Obviously, lots of reads mean a BIG ego. But big enough to think they’ll be accepted she given a contract by a major company? Maybe some kids just have big dreams.

Yet, even when I was 18, already having a publication with Chicken Soup for the Soul, I didn’t think I was ready for the big leagues. My story Hype was #2 in a category of 22,000 stories, picking up a thousand reads a day, and instead I went for self publishing, (which was a failiure as said in an earlier post).

Right now, I’m caught between wondering if these kids just need a reality check, or if the teen audience on Wattpad is responsible for making them think they’re the next Stephanie Meyer because their Harry Styles fanfiction has a million reads.

What Happens When Writers Don’t Research

After a long day of looking over the stories of others, I once again find myself frustrated.  This time, not because of their plot holes or horrid grammar, but because I realized that people are writing about things they have no idea about, but not bothering to educate themselves.

Today, one of the stories I looked at featured a plane crash which made no sense.  Another featured kids in the year 3,000 still writing with pencils (and to think that kindergarteners are using IPads in class).  Another had teenagers in the 90s using smartphones.  One from last year had a girl moving into a fully furnished dorm room, completed with a flat screen TV and mini fridge.

But of course, how could anyone forget the many, many college stories written by highschoolers about girls moving into their rooms and not knowing that their roommate was actually a hot guy/bully from the past, or thinking that college students have the same setup as high school classes.  I even reviewed a story once where college students moved from class to class with a school bell like in high school!  Imagine that.

I just don’t understand why people don’t take time to research these things.  Not doing research could completely ruin a book.  I had to completely trash my first novel, Runaways, after actually doing research.  Maybe people just don’t understand that although a story can be fiction, it still has to be accurate?