Learning how to give constructive feedback on writing is a valuable communication skill. Understanding the difference between helpful and unhelpful comments is wisdom that you can apply in other areas of life – in relationships; When a friend asks you for your honest opinion. Learn how to provide sensitive and helpful criticism (plus strategies for receiving feedback on King write better):
How to give constructive feedback:
- Remember the purpose of writing notes
- Understand Helpful vs Unhelpful Feedback
- Prioritize your suggestions
- Use the “slug sandwich” to cool off the cash
- Match the criticism style to the writer’s level
- Criticize the writing, not the author
Remember the purpose of writing notes
Why give writing notes to others in the writing group, in the criticism circle, or as an empirical reader? give feedback:
- It helps others improve their writing so that they can reach their goals.
- Improves your problem solving (developing critical thinking skills that you can apply to your own business).
- Builds rapport with writers who maintain fruitful collaborations (when presented in a tactful and supportive manner).
The purpose of writing comments depends, of course, on its context.
In the classroom, feedback is intended to help language learners develop skills such as structure, clarity, style, and general use of language.
In a fiction writing suite or editing process, feedback provides uses such as having an external soundboard, collaborating, and developing your writing toward another goal (such as publishing).
Understand Helpful vs Unhelpful Feedback
A helpful comment is a comment that helps the writer make the text a better version of itself.
Don’t tell the recipient “you’re bad” or “I’m better.” Instead, it is driven by the ethos of “Let’s Make This Stronger Together”.
Useful written review tends to provide:
- Comments in line with the author’s stated or implied goals (For example, if the author is writing romance, implicit goal is that the central conflicts in the story involve romantic relationships, mores of the genre)
- Specific and actionable Suggestions (compare “This part might be more interesting if you…” to “This part is boring”)
- Examples – Compare “Ah that’s full of commas” with “You have a comma pasted in between [two given words]”. The second Identifies actionable improvement
Types of feedback that are not helpful in writing Include comments that use:
- A low/unkind tone is likely to discourage you (for example, “You should stop writing”)
- Comprehensive suggestions lack precision (for example, “This is not fun”)
- self bias Presented as a universal value (eg, giving negative criticism because the feedback giver doesn’t like the genre, regardless of one’s own writing qualities)
Let’s look at how to provide good writing feedback, given the above:
Prioritize your suggestions
A great strategy for critique is to prioritize your suggestions.
George Mason University has a helpful guide for making notes on “higher-order concerns” (issues such as general clarity and efficacy) and “lower-order concerns” (minor sentence-level problems like SPAG, also known as spelling, punctuation, and grammar).
Leadership with the most important and distinct aspects. for the first time Hassan Items, then areas that need improvement.
Our manuscript evaluations are organized in this way (the first two sections highlight salient positives and broad areas for improvement).
This means that the writer leads with encouragement that he can move as a “buffer” to any more important notes. There is an aura of positivity to beat through, through any rough patches.
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Use the “slug sandwich” to cool off the cash
This is a classic method of criticism (the word “curse” is often replaced by the word “ingot” – this is the appropriate version for the classroom).
What is a “slug sandwich” in writing notes? You are:
- praise (or rather sincerely and without exaggeration, acknowledgment) Writing Most effective Aspects – what gave you the most pleasure or what seemed most effective.
- Then, you move on to areas that (in your opinion) require more work, preferably with specific, actionable examples.
- End with sincere words of encouragement.
Example of constructive criticism
An example of writing constructive notes using this approach in the classic Cinderella tale:
[The ‘top slice’ of kudos]
I enjoyed how you demonstrated the complex family dynamics between Cinderella and her husband, husband and sisters – and this applies to the stage of adaptation that often occurs in blended families.
[The ‘middle slug’ of suggestion]
The fairy godmother can read like a God of the machine For some – something that comes and saves the day, making success sure or easy for Cinderella. Maybe another challenge she might face where the godmother can’t help her, like a “dark night of the soul”, is something that really tests her and she has to stand up on her own and “figure out” for herself?
[The ‘bottom slice’ of encouragement]
She has captured the relationships within the family very well. Perhaps consider cutting the godmother’s support in the upward movement towards the end so that the stakes and excitement are higher. Keep moving forward!
An example of a three-part constructive reaction
Common criticisms of this feedback approach (often shared in the business world) are:
- People come away just remembering the “bread” of fame and encouragement (criticism gets lost in the mix).
- It may seem unoriginal due to a somewhat “typical” format that can appear impersonal.
These are valid objections to this approach. However, if you keep every part to the point, and strive for it Fill your notes with empathy, purpose and tact (in other words a real connection), your feedback should still be effective.
It’s better than harsh reactions that shut down openness and discussion.
Match the criticism style to the writer’s level
In the criticism circle or as a junior editor, you will likely find yourself criticizing writers who write at all different levels.
Some writers may be ready to publish or have already published. Others may have written or just started their first ever story.
Match your notes with where the writer is.
If a writer mentions, for example, that English is not their first language, work hard on usage errors. Instead, suggest a generic grammar source that they can use for self-study if they like rather than accidentally tearing up their typing error – unless you are assigned as a copy editor for that particular role.
Criticism best helps people where they are, not where the reviewer thinks they are should to be. Great editing rises, never concedes.
Criticize the writing, not the author
There are times when you can read the work where the characters are objectionable, or the topic is obnoxious to you.
It is important to criticize writing rather than jump into it for the man (personal attack).
For example, if an author writes a story where all male characters are arrogant chauvinists and all women are simple “bimbo” metaphors, then that could Reflect the author’s limited awareness or sensitivity to gender issues.
They may also hold opposing views of their characters or may think that they provide excellent social criticism or satire, unaware of what they might be up to. I misread.
When providing good feedback, it is safest to focus on the text itself. Frame criticism in terms of the writing itself. Swipe to write.
You’re more likely to get to the author if you say, for example, “Female characters sometimes look two-dimensional, as if they existed only to meet the needs of male characters, like when…”.
Compare this to writing notes that say, “Overall, you are a sexist pig”…
Microfeedback opens the dialogue instead of stopping the communication (when the giver and receiver are open to it). This allows for real improvement and learning.
How to take constructive feedback better
Giving good written feedback is one of the challenges. Getting it without affecting your motivation is another thing entirely.
At a recently opened webinar on novel writing, an attendee asked in the Q&A section how they would receive feedback.
You can try:
- skewed tone; Is writing notes given tact, care, accuracy and purpose? If not, don’t give him too much weight or force over your belief in yourself. Don’t read it to the end if it sounds too lively.
- Suppose you are reading the editorial notes of another author. (An active breakup can help make it less special.)
- Find supporting data: Does your reference support any suggestions or statements with examples from your own story or other?
- List the exact type of feedback you’re looking for up front. For example, if you are having a hard time getting a detailed description, you could say “Please suggest how I can improve my descriptions.” If the comments don’t meet your summary, you have a reason to skip them.
Do you need constructive feedback? Get a free sample edit when you request a quote for our fictional editing services.
Angela Ackerman offers excellent advice on how to deal with criticism of your own work: Evaluate Criticism Comments.
KM Weiland offers a brief pointer on sorting the good notes from the bad: How to get feedback on your writing (and sorting the good from the bad).
Although its scope is geared toward business, Scott Halford’s piece for Entrepreneur It raises how important it is to create an atmosphere of safety in giving feedback.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever gotten? Tell us in the comments.