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