Interesting thoughts from Jay Lake on the responsibility of critiquing — http://www.livejournal.com/users/jaylake/296995.html
There is a very specific and well-known school of thought which holds that aspiring writers ought to be discouraged at all costs. And I agree with Jay — this is a bunch of hooey. There are plenty of writers who persevere and get published, sometimes apparently despite the quality of their work. *cough*not-gonna-say-who-but-I-know-everyone-can-think-of-one*cough* I say those who are on the cusp should be encouraged by all means. How else am I to get more victims, er, I mean clients. Lovely, talented clients who have worked hard to become so. Seriously, we want the good writers to become better; to try harder. They need to hear what they’re doing that’s working. However, this in no way means that people should be dishonest or reticient in their critiques. That does a writer no service either. As many of my clients can surely confirm, I will always tell them where I think improvement in their work might be gained. Hopefully, I will do this in a way that is constructive and helpful, and not hurtful. To sum up: Writing is hard. Getting published is hard too. If you can’t take the heat… go to the mall… and find some other way to contribute to society.