Let’s talk about this: what do you wish you had known before you first handed your manuscript to another human being?

Just when you thought the feedback discussion portion of this year had concluded, the monster returns…but the monster always returns, so you were expecting THAT plot twist, right?

Actually, you have bright long-term reader Dave to thank for this one: he posted a comment yesterday suggesting that the next time I attack this topic, it might be interesting to ask readers what they wish they had known before they started soliciting feedback. It’s such a good idea that I’m going to stand it on its head and ask that question now.

So, tell me: what DO you wish you had known before you printed out that first set of pages and asked someone else to comment upon them??

A corollary for those of you who have done time in writers’ groups: what do you wish you had known about them before you joined? Alternatively, what did being in a good group teach you about giving and receiving feedback? (Hey, we might as well maximize our discussion time here.)

The usual rules apply, of course: keep it G-rated, please, as not everyone who reads this blog is old enough to vote (and I like it that way). Bear in mind that comments on a blog post are more or less immortal, so using full legal names may not be the best strategic move for you. And if you are new to posting comments on this blog, please be patient, as I need to wade through a whole lot of spam each day to approve new comments.

I’ll start, to get the ball rolling: I wish I had figured out sooner that a group of talented, nice people who happen to write does not necessarily a viable writers’ group make. I’ve found that it’s genuinely helpful if everyone concerned either writes in a similar genre or is a habitual reader of other members’ genres. I learned this one not because I was the odd man out in a group of literary fiction writers, but because someone else was: he wrote mysteries. Very different stylistic expectations, and I fear that he got over-critiqued.

Now it’s your turn. If you could travel back in time and tell your former self something about the feedback experience, what would it be?

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