Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Giving Feedback

In yesterday's post, I mentioned how nervous I get about giving feedback to other writers' work. And in my comments section, I found an absolute piece of gold. I didn't want anyone else to miss it! Because it really is good advice.

Even better - the advice is from an award winning author. So you KNOW she knows what she's talking about!  (And now she knows we know she knows... Friends, anyone?)

Thanks so much to LK Gardner-Griffie, author of the Misfit McCabe series. Her website can be found here. And if you're in revision stages - I highly suggest you check out her editing tips found in her Young Writers Series.

Here is what LK commented on the matter:

...When I hand over my work to be critiqued that's exactly what I want - someone to tell me where I've gone wrong - even if it is the smallest detail. You don't want to be mean, but unless you provide an honest, frank assessment you are not doing the author any favors. Even if you absolutely loved the work & it did its job, there is always something you can comment on to help the author improve either the work in question or future works. In reading my own stuff - even after being "done" I always find things that need to be changed.

When providing feedback, you are one voice, one opinion that provides YOUR perspective. The author then chooses whether to act on your feedback or not. I have received contradictory feedback from different people, and then decide which feedback best applies to my work. Any feedback is good - even when negative - or maybe I should say - especially when negative.

I started off with a writing teacher who didn't believe in sugar coating, & I learned that lesson well. My husband frequently refers to me as Mrs. Simon Cowell (now aren't you all clamoring to have ME read your WIP's? he he)

See? Brilliant, right? I mean - it's something we all probably knew, but to see it in writing makes it really sink in! So for those of you who have asked me to look at your work - I promise to try not to be so nervous after hitting send on the docs back to ya!

Thanks for your words LK! Now they'll help more than just me :-)

♥ me


  1. That's great advice! :) Thanks for posting it--I probably wouldn't have seen it otherwise.

  2. Awww - you'll make me blush or worse give me a swelled head.

    One other comment I didn't leave yesterday was the value I have gained from critiquing others work. I think I learn more from reading someone else's piece and having to put into words why I felt a certain phrase or passage didn't work. Then when I go back to my own and see I have done the same thing (or something similar), I shriek and scramble to scrub it out of my own stuff. I'm incredibly blind when it comes to my own writing, so any means to help me improve is a welcome thing.

  3. Excellent advice! As a writing teacher, I also employed the no holds barred in a soft cage method. It helped to switch from a red pen to a blue one. Or better yet, pencil. For some reason, that was a pill easier swallowed. I wanted my students to be better writers & to make the work they love even better. The key is to deliver the criticism constructively--i.e. in a way that they understand you're not trying to belittle them (so it helps to find the strengths in a piece, too).

    By the way, you are fab at giving feedback! Thanks for posting LK's comment, too. I missed it!

  4. Great advice, indeed.

    Without constructive feedback we have nothing to go on.

  5. Great post, Sara! I feel exactly the same way when giving a critique. A part of me thinks I might offend the other person, but I try to ignore that. After all, the whole point of giving feedback is to help improve their writing. The opposite is true, too. I get nervous when getting a critique of my work, but the suggestions are always dead on.

  6. lkgg always has great advice!! We have to grow such tough skin as writers :)

  7. This is great! I am always a little nervous about critiquing people's work, as well - especially when it is a friend. I want to be honest, but tactful at the same time - which can be really hard to do if I want to get my point across!

  8. This is very true and very good advice. It definitely takes practice to learn how to give advice like this and a lot of thick skin to learn how to recieve it, and then intuition to know when to accept it. Quite a dangerous game which is why I like to get as much feedback as possible. Different people will always see different things, but its when you get the same feedback across the board that you know its time to change things.

  9. I'm not sure if this has come through yet in my blog, but I'm, uh, kinda opinionated. My struggle in giving critiques isn't with what to say, it's in how to say it so I don't sound like an @$$h01e. I really do respect and like my fellow writers, and I want the best for their work. So I have to be sure and give critiques that help them, not make their work fit my own aesthetic style.

    It's all about sensitivity, I suppose. But I'm a man. So I'm lacking in that department. Not sure what to do about that.

    Either way, I agree with what Madam LKGG said above: critiquing others' work makes your own better. Anything that teaches critical reading skills is good.

  10. Yep, I agree with LKGG. And while I want to help, I have found that I can come across as.... cold? I edit for a living (nuts, innit, considering my abysmal, unproofed blogs) and I hate giving feedback to my own writers. It hurts their little feelings.

    That said, when someone has my work? I want 'em to be brutal. :D

  11. Thanks for pulling that out of your comments for us. Brilliant advice.

    Your blog is beautiful, by the way :)


Yay! I love when you have things to add :)