No, I’m not talking about personal computers. I am, however, talking about Political Correctness: Which, if you’ve read my blog for a while, you know I think is just a euphemism for lying. As a writer, you cannot walk on egg shells, lie, or smooth over the truth and expect other writers to be ok with it.
Writers tend to rely on our brethren for feedback and comments of our work. We want to know if what we’ve written is dren, totally fracked up, and stupid. Or does it come across in a way that is entertaining, informative, creative, and keeps the reader turning the page. If we each lied to one another, then we wouldn’t be able to publish decent books.
Personally, I am a bit afraid of feedback; especially if it comes from someone who hasn’t any tact. However, I would prefer that my writing friends tell me the truth instead of letting me think that I’ve written something exceptional, only to publish it and have a reviewer rip me to shreds. If you want to be a writer of any success, you have to develop an elephant hide. You have to learn how to take advice and give it honestly, as well as learn how NOT to take the comments personally.
I am blessed enough to have an editor and a few writing friends that tell me the truth and don’t make it personal. Because of this, I know that any feedback I receive is meant to make my manuscript better and not to make me feel like a looser.
If you’ve never given feedback before, or just want to make sure you’re doing it right, here are a few pointers that I use.
- Make sure that the person you are receiving feedback from is actually a writer. I depend on a few people for honest feedback and they have the credentials and education to back up what they tell me. While it’s really nice to have my friends tell me they like what I write, I really need someone to tell me when I’ve written crap.
- Always make sure that you give feedback that is based on the writing craft and not your opinion of a specific genre (or the writer.) For example, I’m not a fan of the romance genre; however, I am able to offer feedback to my friend who is a romance author, by sticking to the facts. I look at things like continuity, grammar, sentence structure, believability and flow. Of course, in her case, I’m a fan of her writing regardless of genre, so she could write the mushiest romance piece and I’d still read it (yeah Yves, I’m talking about you.)
- Give encouragement. I make sure that I not only point out what’s wrong with a piece, but what the author did correctly. Writers are artists by nature, which means that many of us are quite sensitive. While we treasure truth, we are also terrified that no one will like what we’ve put out in the cosmos. If you take the time to compliment the good, it helps the writer to continue pursuing their dream.
- Never get upset if a writer doesn’t take your advice. Remember, everyone is different and each writer has their own way of creating. Also, each genre has its own set of “rules”. What may work for Sci-Fi, might not work for a western (unless it’s the movie “Cowboys v/s Aliens”). Again, don’t take it personally.
Writing is normally a solitary pursuit. However, just as it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a small community to put out a really good book. Don’t be afraid to reach out and give, as well as receive feedback. Trust me; you’ll be glad you did.