How honest is too honest?

What do you do when someone asks for #brutalhonesty in a #critique or in #editing? Do you browbeat them, or do you still sugarcoat?

I, for one, feel that sugarcoating doesn’t really serve any teaching/learning purpose. If I don’t tell you where you’re going wrong, how do you find the right way to go about it?

At the same time though, I feel like a total arse whenever I let it all out. I mean, the people asking for critiques are putting their writing out there, all weak and vulnerable, and here I come with my Review function in Word, clicking and typing away, picking apart the style and grammar and punctuation until there’s nothing left but bare bones. Just little red boxes all over the side of the screen.

Not that my writing is perfect. Far from it. That’s why I joined a critique group, and why I plan on paying my mother to edit it for me (, check her out). I know that I need to learn, and that I need to improve if I want to reach publication quality.

So back to brutal honesty. I had someone request brutality. And I was, well, I’d say moderately brutal. Not severely brutal–I could have been worse–but brutal enough to piss off the average person. I tried to suggest ways to improve, and tried to explain how certain things would be off-putting to a reader. It was a frustrating experience, to say the least. I don’t enjoy being brutal, but sometimes it’s necessary. This time, it was even requested. So why do I still feel bad?

I guess I’ll find out in the next couple of days if I was too brutal or not brutal enough. The critique is saved and sent, so there’s no turning back now. I may have taught someone something…or I may have made a new enemy.


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