Let’s talk honesty. Let’s talk kindness and respect. Let’s talk about how we should use both of them when sharing our opinions.
When someone asks for our opinion about their writing (or really anything), I firmly believe that honesty is always the best policy. Period. However, I also believe that we should share that honesty in a kind and respectful way. For example, if we read a book and we don’t care for it, I don’t think we should say something like: “Your writing is awful! or “Your plot makes no sense!”. Rather, we should find a nice, but honest, way of expressing our feelings.
Honesty is the best policy for many reasons. Most writers and authors (including myself) want to know how they can improve their writing. We take our work seriously and we don’t want people to say they like our writing just to spare our feelings. Simply being kind without honesty does not help us become better writers, it merely makes us feel that there is nothing we need to work on. For most of us, we want to be the best we can be. This doesn’t mean we have to point out every little flaw to each other, but it does mean that if we don’t like something and we think it’s relevant to mention, that we should.
Honesty, however, is very different from going out of your way to be hurtful. Like I said, there is a huge difference between being honest in a kind, helpful way and just being cruel. So when someone asks for your opinion or a review, tell them the truth, but try to do so in a considerate manner. Chances are that the writer will appreciate you taking the time to discuss any issues with them while also, of course, appreciating your kindness while doing so.
The bottom line is this – don’t be afraid to be honest. Just do so in a way that is respectful.