There are two essential factors I feel need to be considered when it comes to seeking feedback. The When and the Who.

I’ve heard some differences of opinion on this one, so in the spirit of getting feedback, I want YOURS. I want you to tell me what method of seeking criticism works best and why.

1. When should you seek feedback? Should you have people read it as you go along? Or only when you have a finished product? Maybe after a couple revisions?

2. Who should give you critical feedback? Your spouse/significant other? Someone from your intended audience? Best friend? Other writers? A freelance editor?

Why?

I’m really interested to see what you all come up with so please share your thoughts and experience.

Peace out,
Liesl


8 comments

  1. I think it’s a dicey thing. Bring something too early on, and you’re getting feedback about things you already know how you’re going to fix. That, or your own vision isn’t solid enough to resist everyone else’s vision for your book. Too late, and your vision is so solid, you don’t appreciate suggestions for major changes.

    I’ve been spoiled in the past by a fine group of writers that gave great feedback. Our general guidelines were that we didn’t show our work around unless we’d taken it as far as we felt we could go on our own, or if we had specific questions we wanted to have answered before we got too far into a project (I’ve written chapters in first person and third, and I’m not sure which way is better for this story.) This was new to me, but by far my favorite way to work in a group format.

    I also have a friend who is a big reader, and she lets me send a late draft a few chapters at a time. Know that someone is waiting for the next installment helps keep the momentum going at a point in the process when I’m swinging back and forth on the This Is Great/This Is Crap pendulum daily–or even hourly.

  2. I am a very private writer and never share my work until I have a complete first draft. As Richard Peck said at his workshop, “Writing is not a committee process.” I believe that. I have always regretted sharing something I hadn’t finished because feedback -negative and positive- can derail me from what I’m trying to get done. I have enough private demons without giving them voice through someone else!

    But when I’ve finished,I let people I truly, truly trust read it. I have two I go to first: my husband as a reader (and he’s really good at this), and a friend and fellow writer for observations about the my craft. Their viewpoints are invaluable to me. My husband the reader will say “I didn’t get this part” and my friend the writer will say “Maybe it will work better if you…” and point out something I missed.

    So yes, I seek feedback but only at a very specific times and only from very specific people. Thanks for asking!

  3. As for when: I like earlier opinions as well as opinions on what I feel is the finished product. I do believe in stating where I am in the process when an early (and I don’t mean sloppy first draft) version is shared with my crit group. I understand what Ophelia (and Richard Peck) are saying about writing by committee — I’ve heard of critiquers trying to “rewrite” plots — if it happens, find new critiquers. (It doesn’t mean we never make suggestions to work through plot flaws.)

    As for who: People who will be constructive, honest and supportive. Plus, they must have a good working knowledge of the craft of writing for the genre involved. Fellow writers have best matched these requirements for me.

    The main advise is to find what works for you.

    Jim Danielson

    • Diana

    • April 20, 2010

    • 10:39 pm

    I actually just blogged about this. When I’m in my creative phase (ie: still writing) I love critiques from my cheerleaders. People who are eager for my success but willing to give some good feedback–my sister, for instance. But when I’m done with being creative and I’m looking headlong into the gaping maw of the Revision Monster, I need some serious medicine. After my own revisions have beat me to a pulp, I have to get some fresh eyes from those in the game–my writers group or a trusted writing beta friend.
    If you want to read more: http://fromwhatihear.typepad.com/adventuresinwriting/2010/04/beta-readers.html

    Good luck! I enjoy your blog

  4. Hmmm, I’ve always thought that you shouldn’t get crits until the book is done and you’ve gone over it a few times. But then I just sent out the pages I wrote last night to my crit group. So maybe I’m changing my opinion on that.

    I think you should only send your hard work to people you trust. That’s super important or you might get feedback you can’t trust and/or isn’t useful.

  5. I’d say manuscript readers definitely need to be other writers. No one else can critique a work-in-progress the way a writer can.

    (P.S. If you ever need a reader, Liesl, I’d be happy to.)

    • Liesl

    • April 23, 2010

    • 6:49 pm

    Thanks Krista, I might be taking you up on that offer very soon!

  6. I like Diana’s idea of having different beta readers at different stages in a manuscript’s development. Whatever the case, it really makes sense to save the most discriminating, nit-picking readers for the final touches.

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