My decimated garden calls me today, dear friends, begging me to put its squashed hellebores and bifurcated tulips to rights. Rather than waste a posting day — or, to put it more cynically, a day of web-surfing whilst avoiding filling out those tax forms — I’m going to ask you to add beauty and grace to this feedback-incorporation series by sharing YOUR thoughts on what kind of feedback makes the most sense to you.
The question du jour: what makes feedback good? How can feedback-givers present it in such a way that it is most useful to you? What practices should be avoided like the proverbial plague, in your opinion?
I can already hear some of you chortling, eager to launch into this one, so I’m going to let you get right to it without further preamble. Readers have been posting some great observations on what makes for great feedback throughout the series, but I’m curious to hear more. (Also, not blog-browser habitually goes back and reads comments on past posts. If you don’t: this would be a great time to make an exception, because this series has engendered some fantastic commentary.)
Usual cautions, of course: please avoid profanity, so underage writers can continue to visit this site from their school library computers; avoid naming names, no matter how tempting it may be to out a terrible feedback-giver, and remember, things posted online tend to turn up in web searches years later.
I will get the ball rolling: one of the most useful ground rules I’ve ever encountered in a critique group is a ban on ever simply saying, “I liked X,” or “I don’t like Y,” without further explanation. Unless a writer knows the particulars of why a first reader responded to a particular part of the book, s/he can’t really implement the information in a useful manner.
I would also vote for banishing one-word responses from feedback altogether, for the same reason. Perhaps I’m a suspicious soul, but whenever a first reader says, “Great!” or “Brava!” or even “I loved it!” without further comment, I immediately start to wonder if the commenter just can’t think of anything useful to say. (Or didn’t finish the manuscript.)
Okay, it’s your turn: knock my proverbial socks off. I promise that I’ll respond with something more than, “Ooh, I liked that.”