where the writers are
What Kind of Feedback Do Writers Need? What Helps Them Most?

Our last post had me offering to put your name and Bio and web link in a Special Listing in my forthcoming book.

All it takes is getting the free copy of Notes from An Alien and giving some feedback.

I need to quote part of C. M. Marcum’s comment on that post:

“But we’re such good friends now. Why spoil it?

No, seriously, I have run the gauntlet of writing sites and I have found the relationships to be dreadfully one-sided.”

I think part of that one-sidedness is folks not knowing what writers really need when it comes to feedback. Though, I think C. M. knows exactly what kind of feedback to give, even if it’s not appreciated :-)

People who give feedback on a WIP [work-in-progress] are sometimes called “beta readers”.

I’ve even known writers who only let beta readers have their WIP if they follow a prepared outline of what questions to answer about the piece.

Personally, the very worst form of feedback is, “Great job!”, and its many variants.

If they meant those words, fine, but what was “great” about it? And, if they didn’t mean it and were thinking they “protected” my feelings, the faux-comment is actually an attack against honesty and fairness. “This sucks!”, is much more welcome…

There’s an interesting discussion about what writers want and need in feedback at the Absolute Write Water Cooler.

One of the most interesting comments was: “Beta readers should be used to critique story effectiveness.”

Exactly! What effect does the writing have on you? What did it make you think? What did it make you feel? What was your response to various characters? Was the storyline understandable? Where did the piece disappoint you? Why did it disappoint you?

Another person in that forum thread said: “…’train’ your beta readers to read with a pencil in hand. Have them mark any section, phrase or word that pops them out of the story, even if they have no idea why it did. Sometimes that’s all you need to see a problem.”

Now that is some excellent advice :-)

I’ll end this post with some quotes about feedback and critiquing:

“A guest sees more in an hour than the host in a year.”
~ Polish proverb

“Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.”
~ Christopher Hampton

“Constant, indiscriminate approval devalues because it is so predictable.”
~ Kit Reed

“Don’t judge any man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins.”
~ American Indian saying

“It is easy – terribly easy – to shake a man’s faith in himself. To take advantage of that, to break a man’s spirit is devil’s work.”
~ George Bernard Shaw

“He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.”
~ Abraham Lincoln

“When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself.”
~ Oscar Wilde

“Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee; rebuke a wise man and he will love thee.”
~ The Bible

“To escape criticism – do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.”
~ Elbert Hubbard

Please, leave your feedback and criticism in the comments :-)
[ The Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-]
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