03 May 2012

How Do I Get Feedback?

Like many authors (or at least those I know), I own a lot of books on writing.  They cover such things as how to write a novel and writing craft basics, to those on specific craft topics such as character development.  I have tried many of the suggestions, discarded ones that didn't work for me, and learned a lot about the craft of writing.  I won't get rid of any of these books, but there is nothing like getting advice and feedback on your own writing to help you improve.

This can come in several ways:
  • A group who meet to give feedback on submitted writing
  • Beta-readers 
  • Writing assessments/reports
  • Competitions where a report or feedback may be part of the competition, or supplied for an additional payment.
If you've been reading this blog for a while, you will know I belong to a writing group and have blogged about them before.  It's the second writing group I've been a part of, and both have helped my writing in many ways.

Beta-readers are people who will give you honest feedback, and who read a lot, preferably in your genre or area.  The difference between beta-readers and a writing group is that the writing group sees your work in various stages, and in smaller chunks. Sometimes a problem only becomes visible when someone reads your book from beginning to end.

Writing assessments or reports are very useful as you remove the friendship element.  The person writing the report isn't trying to spare your feelings or stroke your ego, though hopefully they will phrase the feedback in a constructive way.  The report should acknowledge what is good about your writing, and point out the areas that need work.  I'm a member of the New Zealand Society of Authors, and after finishing Driftwood I applied for one of the Manuscript Assessments available through the society each year.  I was fortunate to have my manuscript assessed by a published author, and her feedback was invaluable in a further edit.

I enjoy writing short stories.  There's something satisfying about creating a story in a shorter timeframe than a novel, and sometimes I write a short story for a specific competition.  Over the years I've received a number of feedback reports through competitions.  Sometimes there is an additional payment required, but I've also entered competitions which offer a sentence or two of feedback, written by the judge on the entry, included in the entry fee.  

In whatever form it takes, feedback is essential for writers.  We get caught up in our story and characters, and this makes it very difficult to be objective.

No comments:

Post a Comment