Giving Feedback

This week on Hide and Create, Jordan Ellinger, Diana Rowland, Moses Siregar and Joshua Essoe talk about giving feedback.

Human beings in general, and writers in specific, don’t especially enjoy being criticized. Thus, as you can imagine, giving feedback can become a touchy process. It becomes an art. In giving feedback, your job isn’t telling the subject of your critique how bad their story is, or to “beat the truth into them,” your job is to make the story as good as it can be.

The flip side of the coin is how to receive that feedback, which can be just as difficult a process.

Here’s our take on it.

7 thoughts on “Giving Feedback

  1. I think it was Jordan who commented on cost effective pro edits, and that made me curious for an episode on when is the right time for what kind of edit, or something like that. Answer questions like what are good types of editing packages (maybe examples of editors you’ve used and why they are recommended, and for those you don’t say why but without naming), including cost and for what stage in your drafting process. For example, I got a substantive edit on a draft that had more content issues and had line edits on a draft I ended up rewriting. Now that I’m done with that draft, I’m wondering what to do. I assume polish another time through, but then either pay for another editor or go to beta readers. Sorry if this doesn’t make sense, typing from tablet before I forget.

  2. That was me. It’s something I gauge for myself and potential clients when evaluating a sample. I like that show suggestion, and will see if everyone thinks they’ll have enough to say about it to make a whole show. If not, we’ll find a place to address it in another show. Thanks, Tim.
    As concerns your question on what to do with your MS, could you clarify a little for me? I’m not sure I understand what has happened so far. You got a content/substantive edit on one draft, then had line edits done on another draft?

    1. Sorry about that. I have had an editorial letter, then fixed the subsequent draft, then had a substantive (including line edits), and then rewrote the next draft. Now, I’m letting it sit after that rewrite. My plan is to give it maybe until the end of the month and then go through and polish, then decide whom I send it to: betas, editor, agent, or publisher. My last draft/rewrite was a slow process of making sure I had only what belonged in the story, as well as ensuring all characters were at their most active, and there was also some growth in terms of showing instead of telling in the high intensity parts.

  3. Wow, you all brought up some great points in this one! One of the things that really struck home with me was Moses’ comment about not giving public reviews as a professional of less than five stars. I have seen authors who give negative reviews, or even caustic reviews, and as a reader and a writer that’s lessened my opinion of them and my desire to read their work. I am curious, though, on any of your thoughts on Goodreads, which seems much more of a reader community than Amazon (for now!). My personal policy there has been not to rate anything less than three stars, and not to review anything unless it’s a positive review, but I’m wondering if even the rating without a review can be seen as negative.

  4. Wow… Joshua, you sound like the perfect editor.

    Thank you all for this advice, especially the bits on taking criticism. I’m waiting for some honest feedback right now (hoping for the 5-7 range on that kid-gloves-to-harsh scale… my skin’s not as thick yet as it should be). I also do beta reading/critiquing, and I think it sounds like I’m doing it right. I make sure to ask exactly what they’re looking for before I start. I don’t want any hurt feelings if we can avoid them.

  5. Thanks, Kate. I really appreciate that.
    It really is a touchy subject and some people are great at being able to put egos and feelings aside . . . while others are decidedly not. It’s only happened once, but I did an estimate for a person one time and declined the job because they simply were not ready for a professional edit — they just weren’t at that step in their progress as a writer yet. Got back an email basically calling me an idiot and asking why I was even working if I refused paying customers.

    Oh wells.

  6. Really and truly, I’m a blood in the water kind of guy when it comes to my own writing. I really do want to know what can survive the sharks in the pool. All I ask is an honest shark. That is to say I’m looking for a critique of my story, not the genre, or of me personally. If the reader doesn’t like, or is not sufficiently familiar with the genre I’m writing in there’s too much to explain before they even “get it” enough to offer a critique, so their comments are of limited value to me.

    When I submit a piece for critique, I’m not fishing for compliments or personal validation. I’ll make exceptions for the compliments that run, “this is so great I don’t even know what you say…it changed my life.” Critiques for me are learning tools, and while the occasional attaboy is nice, I’ve rarely learned anything useful from them.

    Next to the attaboys in uselessness is the fluffernutter critique that only gives a vague emotional response and not any actual writerly content.

    The trick is, I think, in being about to categorize and sift critiques for their value and insight, and not just be bowled over by a negative reaction…or a tepid reaction for that matter. Some critiquers have more of value to say than others. Sift for the nuggets, ignore the gravel.

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