Sunday, May 1, 2016

How to handle feedback

by Kristi Belcamino

Receiving criticism and feedback is a crucial part of my writing process.

In fact, with all five of my books, I couldn't imagine sending them out into the world without my writer's group weighing in on them. It took me several writers groups to find the one I'm in, so keep that in mind. But here are my rules of thumb about receiving and using feedback, in case it helps.

* Find the right people to give you feedback. There is a HUGE difference between someone pointing out something that doesn't work and someone giving you feedback on WHY it doesn't work. Some people aren't very good at understanding or explaining why something doesn't work, which is fine. What isn't fine, is people who arbitrarily give some incorrect idea on fixing what doesn't work.

I read somewhere that when someone points out something is wrong with your writing, they almost always are right, but when they try to explain what is wrong, they almost always are wrong.

In addition, some people are just soul-crushing, insensitive jerks when it comes to feedback. They aren't going to help you either. (Although I had an early beta reader who was harsh but helpful. He'd give comments such as "this whole chapter is boring, cut it." And while he was right, his delivery was so awful I couldn't deal with him for another book)

* Read (or listen) to the feedback, but then let it sit for at least a week. Hearing constructive criticism is almost always difficult during those first moments. Let it rest. Then go back to it after a few days or a week and re-read and see if the following rules apply then:

* Use these rules:

Only take feedback seriously if:

1. At least three people say the same thing.

2. Less than three people offer this feedback BUT it resonates with you.

This is what has worked for me.  What works for you?

1 comment:

Al Tucher said...

About evaluating feedback from multiple readers, Stephen King said, "A tie goes to the author."