The Best Kind of Feedback

As writers, feedback is a huge part of what we do. We write, we edit, we polish, and then we send off to our friends, family and beyond, eagerly awaiting their thoughts on our newest masterpiece.

Generally speaking I think there are three types of feedback: vague, gentle, and critical. What category the feedback falls into isn’t really changed by whether the reader enjoyed your work (of course they did, why wouldn’t they?), rather it’s to do with what their feedback is telling you and what you can learn from their experience.

Vague feedback is when somebody gives you something like “I do/don’t like this” or “it’s alright/pretty good/okay”. Ultimately it tells you very little about the story, and while it can be nice to hear your work is “pretty good”, it doesn’t help you make it great. I should probably note here that this kind of feedback can be very supportive, and is usually the kind that we give each other on social media — character limits are a pain! This is absolutely what we hope to hear of our published works, but in the drafting and editing stages, a bit more meat is a good thing.

Gentle feedback is when you get something with a little more meat on it, something like “I do/don’t like this character/scene/thing” or “it’s pretty good/bad, BUT…” Gentle feedback just gives you something more to think about, a gentle nudge in the right direction, and while it isn’t necessarily as positive as the first kind, it is far more useful when you’re editing.

Critical feedback is, really, the kind that helps us refine our work, where no matter how much the reader enjoyed the book, they are still digging to find those extra points. It’s an easy enough thing to do, too. For every good thing you find, try to find one not-so-good aspect of the story and highlight it — it really does help!

I’ve started a little group amongst my writer friends where we share our drafts, edits etc with each other for the purposes of critical feedback. It’s both daunting and exciting when you open a document and see lots of highlighted text with comments attached, even more so if the comments say “check out this book/post/writer for other ways to do this.”

It’s also worth taking note of what the writer wants you to highlight for them. If they do want a general thought on where the story goes then sending 200 pages of corrections is probably not going to be helpful, but if they’re after something more detailed then go nuts! Personally, I only send my work to other people when I feel it is as good as I can get it (proofread aside), so I always want as much detail as someone is willing to give — and I love doing the same for my fellow writer friends!

That’s about it from me, but what do you think? Did I nail it, or have I got something wrong, or missed something entirely? Let me know your thoughts in the comments, or by getting in touch, and for more posts by me, be sure to check out my blog. If you want a short read, maybe give my own short piece, The Experiment, a go. Be sure to let me know your thoughts on that, too!

The Best Kind of Feedback

  1. I’m not on Facebook, but I think, no matter the platform, there is always an interesting conversation to be had,…

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Published by cbpowellwrites

I'm a writer of science-fiction, fantasy epics, and other speculative fiction works and have a little blog focused on writing and how to become a better writer. Hopefully it is helpful to others, and I'd love to hear more feedback and have more in-depth discussions on all thing creativity. Before turning to writing I worked for a number of years as a chef, following on from my time as a writing and performing guitarist in the South West of England. Perhaps I will upload some music from these days at some point...

3 thoughts on “The Best Kind of Feedback

  1. I couldn’t agree more with the things you’ve pointed out. And recently, I had my first opportunity to help someone edit their book and I absolutely loved helping them. It’s got me thinking about starting an editing business from home. Your writing group sounds like the kind of thing every writer needs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Having a writing group is something I would recommend to every writer, it’s a great way to learn and grow, and you get to experience the joy of helping others as you do it.

      Editing is a huge part of the journey, and having great editors who you trust is so important. Best of luck with your editing venture!

      Liked by 1 person

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