Raise your hand if you've experienced criticism that was not, ah, quite so constructive.
Yeah, I thought so.
If you're getting your work out there, bad critiques are unavoidable. But you can take steps to make sure your notes on others' work are as constructive as possible.
One method is the sandwich technique. This means to buffer each piece of negative feedback with two compliments.
Another important point to remember when critiquing is to be specific. There's very little worse than getting notes back on your chapters or manuscript like "I just found the main character very unlikeable" or "the plot seemed unbelievable."
Of course, it's great to give the writer your gut reactions, but then follow it up by pointing out specific parts in the manuscript that caused that reaction (e.g. "After he punched his grandmother in the face, I found that I didn't like him much anymore"). Rule of thumb: specific feedback gives the writer things to fix.
|Be specific. Very specific.|