How to Give Helpful Feedback

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Because it deserves to be said and read - and if we're lucky, taken to heart. And if you want to be a good writer, you should take it seriously.

Submitted: January 03, 2012

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Submitted: January 03, 2012



How to give Helpful Feedback

This is something I've noticed on many writing sites where there is a lot more "Me, me, me!" then "writers" trying to help each other out with feedback and comments. If you are a good writer, then you should not only be able to write excellent poetry and stories, but also deliver helpful feedback as well.

This pertains mostly to stoires, as most people don't have a problem actually reading and commenting on poetry.

There are three ways to receive “feedback” on a story.

1) The comment - this is a usually generic, 1 or 2 line that usually reads as follows. “Omg I love this story!”/ “You did a good job, nice grammar, nice plot, I saw no mistakes” (this one I  see a lot)/ “I really enjoyed reading this please update!”/ “Wow you really don’t read something like this every day.” And the lowest of the low, "I read your story, it was great. Can you read mine!"

The definition of a comment is something that can be copied and pasted to just about ANY story on this site. It is essentially good for nothing but inflating the ego of the writer.

2) The review - this is the type of “feedback” any reader who actually wants to help the writer should give. Examples: “Wow, when Anna picked up the gun, I really thought she would shoot him.”/ “The details of the palace were amazing, I really felt like I was walking inside and smelling the incense.” / “Haha, the way Dave told that bitch off, oh that made me so happy.”

These are simple “one liners” but they are considered “review” because they actually talk about something UNIQUE to the story. The writer can tell this person actually read the chapter. This isn’t something that can be copy pasted to any other story on the site, unless they had similar story plot and characters. This, ladies and gentlemen, is Real Feedback!

Now some of you lazy bastards might be thinking, oh hey, this is all I have to do. We’ll I’ll just comment on something in the first paragraph and I’ve given ‘Helpful Feedback’.

*Smacks you upside the head with her laptop* (Poor baby - the laptop, not you)

These are examples, meaning a real review should probably be more then one line, cause usually more then one ‘notable’ thing happens in a chapter…. And if someone only remarks on something from your first paragraph. Say, that a storm is coming. But says nothing about the rebels invading the city, and the danger, action, and excitement close to the end of the chapter….

*ding* *ding* We have ourselves a loser. AKA a fake commenter…

3) The critique - Most of you know the definition of criticism. That’s usually what a critique is. Unfortunately a lot of people think this means that they only have to point out the negative parts of the story. Not true. A critique can give detailed descriptions of areas that can be fixed; or areas that worked really well. I’ll give you one example.

“Okay when your character, Robert, heard the news about his parents death - I don’t think there was enough emotion there. It seemed to happen to fast. Instead of being shocked, or grief stricken, he seemed mildly sad. On the other hand, the way Sarah reacted definitely fit in with her “gold-digging” personality. She was clearly happy that Robert was going to inherit all that money.”

A critique will generally be longer then this, a couple paragraphs if your critic has any experience. They are usually unbalanced, more bad than good, but that should be expected.

Now that I’ve broken down the different types of feedback you can give. I’ll break down the writers that give them. “Oh boy,” you’re thinking. Chill, I think you’ll agree.

The causal reader - This reader usually reads for their own pleasure. They don’t often vote, or they vote more than they comment. They usually only comment when they want an update on the last chapter, or in the middle of the story, when I guess they feel guilt pricked into at least leaving you one message about the story. This reader will typically use “The Comment”

The dedicated reader - This is a person who not only follows the story and enjoys it, but also associates themselves with the writer by encouraging them with “Reviews”. They want the writer to keep writing, and thus they keep voting and commenting with a “friend-like” dedication. Usually they will continue to follow the writer, and other works they produce.

The reviewer - This is typically someone who has agreed to review a story in exchange for another. Now, if you have a terrible reviewer they will only give “comments”. But if you have one who actually wants to give helpful comments, so they will receive the same you will get “reviews”.

The critical reader - this person generally only comments on a couple chapters of a story. Usually because they have been asked to “critique” it. They will, obviously, leave “critiques”. They want to help the writer improve, but if the story doesn’t catch their interest, they’ll will move onto another story to critique.

Now, the point of this rant. If you are a writer out there looking for feedback, as in “reviews” that are unique to your story and helpful - you should be able to give the same feedback to others.

Otherwise - brace yourselves - you are a lazy, selfish, self-centered, ego driven, deceptive, immature writer.

Care to disagree?

I realize some of you have innocently fallen into the habit of giving “comments” because that’s all you get. I’ve done it a few times myself, but only when someone’s left me a vague comment. Then I will return likewise, but I always warn them ahead of time I will do so.

But don’t do this. Editing, reviewing, critiquing - are all infinitely valuable ways for you to learn from others mistakes and your own; and become a better writer.

~ Here Ends The Rant ~


© Copyright 2018 Shea Ryhai. All rights reserved.

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