Feedback: How to Take it and Use it - article

Feedback can help you write a more engaging book. First, thank anyone who takes the time to read your book. Their time and energy deserve appreciation. It’s best to listen to the critique and to not argue. Take notes. Ask questions, but don’t defend your work. Opening up to the input of others will strengthen your work. Your readers will offer many suggestions. Some will be worthy of your time and revision efforts. Some feedback will be best forgotten. The following discussion will help you navigate the emotional feedback waters.

What should you do when your emotions get in the way?

Almost every writer has felt their hackles rise in the face of feedback. You worked hard on that scene. Who dares to disparage the elegance of your writing? You are close to your work. An emotional response makes sense. Take a deep breath and listen. Many writers have to take a cooling off period to implement feedback effectively. Put the manuscript in a drawer for a day, or even a week. After this break, take it out and give it a look. There is nothing like perspective that comes with time.

What kind of feedback should you avoid?

Some feedback is not helpful. This feedback can be given with the best of intentions but it might not serve your purpose. For example, perhaps an author, a romance novelist, is begging you to add some romantic interest to your intense black ops novel. Would a romantic subplot advance the main plot of your book? If not, you should thank the author for the suggestion and move on with your convert operations. Feedback should serve your purpose. Seek feedback from professionals with specific genre experience.

What kind of feedback should you embrace?

The best kind of feedback will help you strengthen your novel. It will address structure and characterization. It will cover authenticity and tension. It may cause you to feel deep emotions. Feedback that makes you dig deeper into the emotional core of your story is always a good thing. It will cause you to simplify and clarify your intent and purpose. A strong indicator of valuable feedback is that it comes from more than one source. If you have 10 reviewers provide out the same suggestion, it would be wise to listen and revise.

Avoid the extremes of never listening to feedback and accepting every word of feedback. You want to find the middle ground. Always consider the source of your feedback. The more professional the source, the more likely it is that you should listen, but never take every suggestion. Weigh each one carefully against your vision and revise accordingly. Finally, be a class act and acknowledge everyone who offers feedback. Many authors choose to do this on the acknowledgement page of their book. It’s a professional courtesy.

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