Friday, March 16, 2012

Writing a Book - Feedback



Last session I talked about the invaluability of CPs. Feedback is crucial to a successful book. What about other forms of feedback?

Betas. I consider betas equal to CPs, especially if they are writers. But friend and relative betas can go either way. Some will give awesome, productive words of advice, constructive critism, and praise, of course. But I have found that sometimes they don't say anything. Either they didn't read it, didn't like it, or don't know what to say. When my 17 year old niece read a few chapters and honestly said she liked it - that was an awesome feeling! Teenagers are the most readable, they can't hide their attitude.

Source
Reviews. Oooo. Extremes are good here because they get noticed, average reviews don't sell books. Again, the friends and relatives usually give the best ratings. Then there's those who just can't give a positive review. But I'd say most reviews are honest opinions. Honest is what we need. We have to accept that not everyone is going to like our stuff and not everyone is nice. Easy to say, hard to hear when it happens.

Comments. Who doesn't love comments! We encourage, give kudos, and pass on advice. As for feedback, comments are sweet, but how helpful are they? Like when we put up pieces of our work? The thing about comments, we all want to be positive and nice. We want to be liked, we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, so we keep negative opinions to ourselves.

I want honesty. Tell it like it is, but say it with kindness. Constructive criticism. On the blogs I hold back from negativity and can be guilty of over-praising sometimes, because I like to be nice, too. Is that bad? What do you think? Can we be honest? Really! Don't sugar coat it!

22 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It's called tact and consideration. Yes, criticism can be said with kindness!
I use two test readers including my critique partners. They aren't writers, but they read science fiction, and since they are my target audience, their feedback is important.

Margo Kelly said...

When it comes to MY writing ... I want honest feedback. I'd rather have brutal honesty than sugar coated kindness.

When it comes to giving feedback on other people's writing, I have two different approaches. 1) My formal critique partners want my honest feedback - so I give it. 2) Writers who post their work on their blogs don't necessarily know me or want my honest advice, and so I *try* to be a lot nicer with my comments for them.

Have a great weekend!

Laura Marcella said...

Criticism online is tricky because in you're head you're saying it kindly but the other person could see it as a personal attack. That's why if I have something sensitive to talk about or mention I'd prefer to do it face-to-face.

mshatch said...

I think you can be kind and honest but I think laura has a point, too. Sometimes we think we're being kind but the person on the receiving end doesn't take it that way. CPs are great because after a while you get used to their style of critting and know they aren't attacking but actually trying to help make the work better.

Tara Tyler said...

i love these comments! really! i appreciate the honesty and hate making anyone feel bad if they take something the wrong way. i guess sometimes i should just keep me mouth shut!

Cortney Pearson said...

I know my CP's honesty has helped me immensely!!

Carrie Butler said...

Ditto what Alex said. Tact and consideration can go a long way. :)

Jenny S. Morris said...

I agree that there is always a way to say something nice. And that there are people that don't know how review without being harsh.

But getting feedback is so important.

I love the connected water drops that almost look like a web in your background. So cool.

Christine Rains said...

We can criticize and be nice about it too. I've met a few folk who have been pretty brutal, but they had no tact. A tough yet considerate criticism is a fabulous thing! :)

Anonymous said...

How we say it is so important, like when Simon on Am Idol, speaks, he's just plain cruel a lot of the time, even though some of it is the truth. I much prefer Jimmy, who works with the contestants, who gives a lot of corrective criticism without being hurtful.

McKenzie McCann said...

I like to be very frank in my critiquing, but also acknowledge the other side.

I've been known to say,'I think you're trying to hint at x, but it's not coming out that way. Maybe try this?'

I also comment on places I've skimmed. It's probably a bit harsh, but I think it's more helpful than harmful.

Laura said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laura said...

I think honesty can go missing in the bid to be nice to everyone - but then that's not too helpful really! I agree with Alex - it's possible to give useful, honest criticism and feedback tactfully!
Lxxx

M.J. Fifield said...

If people are reading my book, I want them to be honest. If a scene isn't working, I want to know they think that.

It is possible to give honest feedback in a respectful manner and I always strive for that when critiquing something for someone else.

Mark Koopmans said...

Thanks for signing up for the Blog O'hop:)

PS... you're not late :)

Hayley N. Jones said...

I think it's vital to be polite and tactful, but it's also essential to be honest. If I don't like something, I won't say I do. I might choose to be silent, however - especially if I suspect the person being critiqued won't take the criticism well. Most people who are serious about their work take criticism well, though.

It works both ways: if someone gives me criticism, I will respond politely and honestly. I say 'thank you' and mull it over if I don't immediately agree with it. If I don't understand what the critic means, I will ask for clarification. Usually, I agree 100% with them and just needed someone to point it out!

I like getting constructive criticism - as much as hearing 'it's good' is great for my ego, I want to know what would make my story perfect. Would it benefit from cutting/adding a subplot? Do my characters need to be stronger/more complex/more idiosyncratic? Could the structure be improved? I rely on others to point out flaws I overlook.

I'm my worst critic anyway, so I've never had someone say anything worse than I've thought about my own work!

JoLynne Lyon said...

We all say we want raw honesty. It's just hard to take when it happens. That said, the roughest pitch session I ever had was the kick in the pants I needed. Since then I've looked for a balance in crit partners--ones I can trust to love me and ones I can trust to beat me up when I need it.

Kelley said...

Constructive Critisism is the way to go. I don't give my MS to others so they can tell me its perfect. I want it to be the best it can be.

Medeia Sharif said...

My early readers were friends and family, and that didn't work out. They didn't tell me what was wrong with my writing.

On the other extreme, years ago I was in a critique group where people were rude and harsh. That didn't work out either.

Currently I'm in a critique group and I have beta readers who give me the good and the bad, in the nicest way. What they say might sting at first, but I get past my sensitivity to see the weakness of my work.

Annalisa Crawford said...

I'm very bad at using betas - I tend to write and submit my shorter work. I recently used betas for a novel and got some good feedback. My hubby was the most critical and wanted me to change so much it would have altered the genre, even - I haven't touched the novel since, his comments have made me question everything I do!

Tara Tyler said...

Thank you again for your truths and productive input! I love it!

Best comments!

QueendSheena said...

Yes CPs are extremely important. Honesty is the best policy.I'd rather know I'm bad at something than wrongfully think I'm good at it.