Feedback How-To

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Feedback How-To

Post by Admin on Thu May 02, 2013 4:57 pm

Here are some tips on what to look for and ways to provide good feedback to the other members of your group. (Hint: You can also use these techniques before posting your own work! I always read my writing out loud before considering it finished. You’d be amazed at how much your ears will pick out that your eyes did not catch!)

I find it easiest to copy the submitted work, make my suggestions in a different font color, and resubmit the piece. That avoids any confusion when trying to describe which “Sally siad” you are referring to.

Initial read:

Read through once just to get a feel of the piece. Most people will notice typos and inaccuracies as they read, but ignore them for now. Just read as you would read a book you’ve picked up at the library.

Feedback:

When providing feedback, there are a couple of general areas to focus on, listed below. Giving feedback can be difficult. Remember to be considerate and helpful. Avoid absolutes like “always” and “never” when pointing out a negative, and refrain from making it personal.

Don’t: You always type “there” when you mean “they’re”! Did you graduate high school??
Do: I noticed several places where you used the word “there” and I think you meant “they’re”. This is very common in writing! Here is a link to a site that explains some of these types of mix-ups.

1. General edits – Do you see any misspelled words, grammatical corrections, punctuation mishaps? Make note of these on your second read.

2. Storyline – This gets tricky. There are several types of feedback that can really help an author develop their story. When providing this type of feedback, it’s easiest to comment within the text in a different font color, preceded by “note”: Note: Didn’t Jamie go home in the last segment? When did she return to Isaac’s house?

  • Pacing: Did the story drag somewhere and make you lose focus? Or did an important piece of the story seem to happen way too quickly so that it might go unnoticed? Or was there a sudden change in pace?

  • Continuity: Was the action or story unclear and hard to follow in a segment? Did the girl with the long blond hair suddenly have short brown hair? Look for things that don’t seem to belong or contradict earlier parts of the story.

  • Logic: Does everything make sense, from the setting to the characters to the timeframe? This is SO easy to miss when you’re writing! For instance, I wrote a story set in Arizona and the kids spend a great deal of time in the attic. A friend read it and asked if there was air conditioning because otherwise it would be too hot in the attic. (It seems so obvious now!)

  • Character “Voice”: This is similar to consistency and logic but relates to the character(s) specifically. Does the bully in the story inexplicably start whining? Does the snooty, self-confident teenager suddenly become clingy and insecure? Does the mother of the 13-year-old boy hand over the car keys and ask him to run out for milk? Is it appropriate to the story for the 8-year-olds to be hanging out at the mall without adults?


3. Interest – This can be the hardest part of all in providing feedback. We all have different tastes and interests, so remember that just because the topic or writing style doesn’t appeal to you, it may be exactly what someone else loves to read. Hopefully we’ve all read enough of a variety of writing over the years that we can differentiate between what is good, what isn’t, and what we just don’t care for personally. My philosophy is that, if you love to write, you can improve your writing with feedback and editing.

  • If you are providing feedback, be constructive. Would the addition of a love interest help? Perhaps the antagonist needs to be a little more evil? Is the storyline too implausible? Is the story just uninteresting? Whenever possible, provide suggestions to improve rather than just pointing out faults. Keep in mind though that if you see something that really needs to be looked at, you aren’t doing any favors by avoiding giving feedback.

  • If you are receiving feedback, be receptive. We are all here to improve and find out what others see in our writing. Don’t take feedback personally, and take in the feedback from the group as a whole. Keep in mind that you never have to make any changes, but if many are giving the same feedback, you may want to consider editing. And please, try not to let feedback from another writer cause you to be overly critical of their work. Keep it all in perspective.


And the last piece of advice: Relax and enjoy! If you write, chances are good that you love to read. We have the opportunity to help each other learn and grow, to make friends, and possibly get ourselves published. Who knows? Maybe you will be reading and providing input on the first-draft of a book written by the next Stephen King, Isaac Asimov, Ernest Hemingway, J.R.R. Tolkien, Stephanie Myers, Edgar Allen Poe, Herman Melville, James Patterson, Louisa May Alcott, or (insert your name here!)

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Re: Feedback How-To

Post by jennyrose on Fri May 03, 2013 4:20 pm

This sticky will be very helpful when providing feedback. I felt a little in the dark before, but now I have a good base to start. Thank you! Smile

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