Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Here's to Feedback

Feedback. Gotta love it. That's why I love having a critique group. Feedback. As a writer it's hard to catch everything. I'm good with voice, but sometimes miss important details. I'm also inclined to overwrite. I say too much. As a picture book writer, I've had to work at being succinct. When it feels just right to me, I need to start cutting. At first it seems impossible, and then as I trim away the fat and make the story lean, I am amazed at how much stronger it becomes. Sometimes I don't see the fat, until someone else mentions it.

I've had to develop the ability to take honest feedback. People are sometimes reluctant to give honest comments. They don't want to hurt my feelings. It can be hard at times, because we become so attached to our words. It's easy to take it personally and to become defensive. When I feel defensive, I know that I'm missing the point. I try to be still and just listen. If it doesn't feel right at first I wait, because often they're right.

Honest feedback is priceless. I take every comment seriously, because it represents what an editor may notice or what readers may feel. Not every comment drives me to revisions, but every comment deserves reflection. I don't want someone to make me feel good, I want honesty.

I think L. C. Lewis, author of the awesome Free Men and Dreamer series, showed great insight in the following comment.

"I am always amazed how six or seven different people can read the same
manuscript and pick out different errors no one else saw. Also, their
questions and insights tighten up the books. I have a pool of people I
use. Some are better at grammar and punctuation, catching errors there.
Some read just to give me a barometer on the story's quality.

I ask them to give me three basic bits of feedback, each on a scale of 1
to 5--- Did the story hold your interest? Was it easy to follow? Was it
well-edited. Chapters that get consistent fives I feel good about and
leave alone. Chapters that score weaker numbers send me back for some

They've saved me a number of times, noticing some small story element I
missed, or an inaccuracy. I appreciate their feedback so much."

I love my awesome critique groups. Here's to Feedback.

Linda Garner

P.S. To find out more about Laurie Lewis and her books visit www.laurielclewis.com


Carolyn V. said...

That is such an awesome quote by L.C. Lewis.

Feedback is not always pleasant, but it's necessary in this business. Great Post Linda! =)

Dawn said...

Great quote and awesome post. I have an incredible critique partner who provides just the right balance of honest and ego-stroking / deflating feedback. I am always amazed at what she picks out that I have CEARLY missed. Indeed, cheers to feedback and crit groups :-)

LeishaMaw said...

I love the 1-5 rating system. Thanks for the post!

Clarissa Draper said...

I love my critique group as well. I think they are so helpful at catching things that don't make sense, timeline errors and stupid grammar mistakes.


Jolene Perry said...

I love feedback but my reader needs to have some nice things to mix in with my little goofs.

L.T. Elliot said...

Feedback is awesome and crit groups are invaluable. That was a really smart rating system by L.C. Lewis. Thanks for sharing and glad to see you sounding so much happier!

Laurie LC Lewis said...

Linda, great blog! I'm glad my plan seems a good fit for others. It works well and isn't too taxing for readers willing to proof for a friend. And I have been amazed that even seasoned editors will leave a few errors hehind that someone else's eyes will catch. So lots of eyes seem to be the trick.
Good luck to everyone. If you become as blind to your own work as I do, grab a few friends!

Elliot Grace said...

...going through that right now. Getting tidbits of info from an avid reader, her attention hopefully buried in my manuscript.

She's also caught a number of errors, and pointed out her likes and dislikes along the way. She's been priceless:)

Lynda Young said...

I love feedback and it doesn't always have to be good. In fact, I'd prefer someone to give me their honesty. I love c s Lewis' rating system for feedback.

Ann Best said...

Feedback is crucial. Honest, objective feedback, which is the only kind that will help us see the weaknesses in our manuscript.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm sorry you were sick last week. I feel really miserable tonight, but I'm hoping I'll get a good night's sleep. Hope you do too!!