Wednesday, February 2, 2011

On Getting and Giving Feedback

Yup, it's always hard to get negative feedback on something you've written -- especially when you've spent hours on it and you feel like it's your little baby you've given birth to, bottle-fed and taught how to walk. And now someone is criticizing what you thought you'd done so well. Trust me, I am not being facetious. I've had my writing torn apart three ways to Sunday, only to come home and not be able to sleep that night -- and even worse -- lose my interest in even continuing to work on a particular project.

I will tell you first what is the best way to give feedback to other writers: by discussing first what you LIKED about another's writer's piece. You should talk about what DID WORK, what was good, interesting, caught the attention, etc.

Then you can move on to what didn't work. Above all, when you yourself hear another writer tell you what didn't work with something you've written, you need to listen without argument. Remember, you don't have to make all the changes they want you to. Afterall, it is your writing, and you make the decisions. But it is also so important to consider these critiques, because this is how we become better writers. If all you ever have is someone stroking your ego, then you will never get better -- and everyone has room for improvement -- myself included! You will also not be prepared when you do submit your writing to the big bad world out there, where people are reading a ton of stuff all the time and don't give a crap about how much of your heart and soul you poured into your project.

Nevertheless, when providing feedback on the pitfalls of another individual's writing, it is important to determine what the INTENTION of the writer is and then how that intention is not being met. What I mean by this is that it is each writer's intention for their story that we concern ourselves with, not whether it is how we would write the story, if the writing is our taste or not, or if it's a book or movie we'd see on our own time. If a writer has the intention of writing the bloodiest slasher film, then we want to make sure that she achieves this. If romance is her thing, let's help her write the best romance she can. Et cetera.

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