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Everyone hates a negative Nelly, right?

Well, technically, yes—if you’re blasting things people happen to like.

But life still invariably comes with big, old disappointments: That movie whose premise you loved but it just didn’t move you. That one book that sounded excellent but fell flat.

Did you realize you can use all of that to make you a better writer?

I’m not talking about typing scathing, Dickensian (“it was the worst of times”) reviews on Amazon. Don’t be a dick; anyone can be a dick and it’s tiresome.

I am talking about your internal analysis of the writing, plot, and characters.

Why didn’t the book (or movie) work for you? Ask yourself questions and note the answers:

Was anything about the characters (dialogue, actions, etc.) relatable?
Was the plot believable? Exciting? Interesting?
Was the dialogue repetitive?
Was the grammar up to snuff?
Why or why not (yes or no is not a sufficient answer; elaborate)?

Now you know what you like and don’t like; it reveals a bit about what your writing style is (even if you think you don’t have one).

After you’ve performed your analysis of something someone else created that disappointed you, go back to a piece of your own work with a critical eye and those same questions.

It’s all about perspective.

Give yourself a fresh one, and you just might learn something important from it.