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On Giving Feedback

November 4, 2012

Good feedback helps the writer clarify the narrative — who and what the story is about, and what the protagonist has to gain or lose — and to see if the writer’s intent meets the readers’ understanding.

Feedback should inspire the writer to do better by identifying whether the goals work and what doesn’t. After many struggles, discussions, and lessons learned, our group has come up with some key practices for feedback.

On the 1st reading

-Read once through without any editing or note-taking.

-Put aside the story, think about what you’ve read and jot down thoughts and questions.

On the 2nd reading

-Keep the writer’s questions beside you as you read.

-Read through carefully, jotting notes in the margin.

-Develop a detailed summary at the end of the story.

-Avoid speaking to the author. Use language like “Here, I’m not sure about the intent…I think…” Critique the work, not the person.

-Take it to the page – when you have a comment, show evidence for it on the written page.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Valerie McDonald permalink
    November 6, 2012 10:17 am

    I confess, I sometimes add check marks of approval to phrases or scenes that are particularly vivid on the FIRST reading!

  2. November 16, 2012 11:16 am

    I’ll be contradictory and say that a piece should be read only once. Much like first pressed extra virgin olive oil — feedback on snags, holes, ambiguity, over/underdevelopment, and themes should be based on first impressions. After all, the writing should stand the same scrutiny it would were it published.

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