I’m lucky to belong to four amazing writer’s groups (one is online).
One of my groups meets for four hours every week, and it’s fabulous. We’re all serious about our craft, and work hard not just on our own writing but on helping each other achieve our goals.
We’re an ecclectic mix of novelists, screenwriters, playwrights, short story writers, poets and YA and kidlit authors. Having such a diverse group means that feedback is always unique and fresh.
But in the early days of our group, the feedback could sometimes be overwhelming.
When it’s an early draft and you get pages and pages of ‘track changes’ it can be a bit disheartening and sometimes confusing – especially when those ‘track changes’ are contradictory.
Our group discussed this at length and talked about how we could make the feedback more constructive.
We all agreed that you don’t actually need a detailed edit on your first draft. All you need to know is the big picture stuff … things like, does the reader engage with the character, does the story keep the reader turning the pages, are there logic problems or inconsistencies?
ASK FOR THE FEEDBACK YOU NEED
So now when we’re doing a first draft, that’s exactly what we ask for – only the feedback we need at that point in the writing process.
In fact, no matter what stage we are in our work, we always ask for specific feedback.
This has two major benefits. The first one is that it makes us think critically about our own writing. The second benefit is that it allows us to focus on revising certain aspects of our story rather than being overwhelmed by the feeling that that everything is wrong with every part of the story.
Different drafts really do require different kinds of feedback.
It’s also just as important to give positive and complimentary responses to a writer’s work. This helps them know what’s working in the story so they can keep doing it.
I’m going to be discussing giving and receiving effective feedback in more detail at my workshop at the upcoming CYA Conference in Brisbane on July 2.
If you have special critiquing methods/processes that work for you and your writer’s group, I’d love to hear about them.
Feel free to share them in the comments section of this post.
Happy writing and critiquing 🙂