Most writers don’t get critiqued enough. True some critiques do cut you, like some reviews. I think KIRKUS reviews can say one’s writing is “shit” in hundreds of ways, some subtle some not, as in from “dross” to “mind dump.” Most critiques are in the vein of what works and what doesn’t work. In a writing class once, a fellow’s short story was about a scene in Vietnam, and then in the dialogue the character used the term “gook” in referring to VC enemy. The critic thought it was distasteful. I’m sure the writer felt his character was true in that dialogue, and while he did not argue, some classroom peer/novice advice has to be weighed.
This came up in another blog site about the value of critiques. See: http://nhwn.wordpress.com/2012/07/19/on-receiving-critique/#comments
It really is invaluable and a learning thing. That’s why local workshops are so important too, not just the conference breakout sessions.