17 March 2022: Feedback Partners
Happy St. Patrick's Day! ... Now that's out of the way and everyone not wearing green has been pinched, onward to the real topic.
As a writer, the one of the most important resources (aside from our writing utensils and research and coffee and...) is feedback. Whether we get that feedback from beta readers or critique partners or writing groups or friends and family, what matters is getting that input. Without it, our work cannot reach its highest potential and we cannot improve as writers.
In my experience, having that outside opinion really helps you to consider ideas and questions that you wouldn't have thought up on your own.
I've had a few different experiences in getting feedback. Way back when, before I had officially decided to be an English major or pursue writing, I used to post "articles" for Sparknotes. When I got to college, I was in a fiction workshop, where my peers and I submitted stories to the class and professor to critique, then revise. Before I fully comprehended how publishing a story works, I posted my fiction online for readers to enjoy and review (and I still have a few stories up on Inkitt and Wattpad). Now, I work with my critique partner Rosalyn Briar, as well as my local writing group and a couple trusted friends for feedback.
You may ask, "What kind of feedback is useful?"
Obviously, that's a very subjective answer. Whenever working with someone, it's important to establish what it is you want to accomplish. Remember: this person is not your editor (unless they are) and you shouldn't expect them to do all the heavy-lifting. Here are some things you can ask them to look out for:
Areas of too much or too little detail
Spelling/grammar issues (but don't expect them to catch them all!)
If you don't have anything in particular you're worried about, sometimes just having an extra set of eyes giving you general "I liked this" or "I don't think this works" can be extremely beneficial. I know that I tend to give Rosalyn a lot of "great description" comments and general swooning over the story and characters. Very helpful, I know.
What we have to remember is that the person giving you this feedback is just like any other reader. They're entitled to their opinions and you are entitled to the choice of accepting or refusing their suggestions. Just keep it kind, constructive, and encouraging.