Feedback on feedback

I’m not very good with feedback. This isn’t to say anyone complains, but somehow I feel I’m not providing something essential to my fellow writers when I provide them my opinion.

In a writer’s group, you often find members providing feedback to one another’s work. In fact, its expected in most.

The most crucial part of providing a critique encompasses the delicate balance of reading as an editor but also as a reader. I think here is the cruix of the matter because reading any story with a red pen tends to make one overly critical at times. I guess that’s what I feel is my issue; I feel I’m trying to errors when there might not be errors.

Plus I forget to ask the author what they’re looking for in feedback. Sometimes they want an overall impression while others want a more page-by-page, inked-up-scratched-out edit.

Elements to look for in a good story;

-Are the characters well rounded and believable? I tend to consider all the people I’ve met in my life to compare (and sometimes include in my own stories!).

-Is the conflict apparent and clear at the beginning of the story? Stories are about conflict and problems. The reader needs to know who the hero is, who to root for, and ride along in the adventure. They also need to understand the conflict the hero faces.

-Is there a theme to the story? Here is where I consider things like man vs nature or a hero’s journey. There are many themes to choose from, and most stories touches upon one or more in a single story.

-Is reading flowing and understandable for the reader? This is where you need to consider word usage, paragraph and chapter length, and other elements to writing to make reading fun and pleasurable for the reader.

-Check your is, was, were, had, has, and other useless verbs. Remove them if they weaken the verb/action. Also remove ‘it’. Ask yourself ‘what is ‘it’?’ and provide clearer description or explanation.

-Does the dialog flow?  Can you understand who is speaking?

-Does the story end with a resolution to the conflict? Sometimes the hero doesn’t win, but you still need to provide a satisfying end for the reader. Its not always a happy ending either.

What do you think? What things do you look for the most in a good story?


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