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Tips for giving feedback?

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wisemel View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wisemel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Nov 2022 at 8:55am
Great discussion! 

Giving and receiving peer feedback is the best part of this whole process. I try to read lots of stories and always comment with something I like. Sometimes I comment on an area that I feel could be improved or where I need clarity, and sometimes I feel like I don't quite have the time for that OR I don't have anything that feels super constructive or hasn't been suggested. 

I think for many of us this is the only place we're sharing and certainly the place where we're able to get the most reads, and having someone highlight something good can be really inspiring and encourage us to keep going. That's a real gift. So mostly I see the feedback exchange as an opportunity to encourage and highlight the lovely bits.

As to the earlier comment about not getting feedback and folks who get the most feedback having a following... I disagree. I don't think anyone has a clue who I am, but I have loads of feedback this round *because I read lots of stories and provide loads of feedback*. Leaving feedback--and providing a link back to our stories in our signature--is how we get feedback. And when I'm reading a thread and I see feedback from other people, I click on those stories and that is how I decide which story to read next. So if anyone finds they're not getting feedback, I definitely think you should start by giving some. There are many of us that will return all reads and always leave a comment after reading.

 

Edited by wisemel - 27 Nov 2022 at 8:56am
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NMiller View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NMiller Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Nov 2022 at 9:14am
Originally posted by wisemel wisemel wrote:

Great discussion! 

As to the earlier comment about not getting feedback and folks who get the most feedback having a following... I disagree. I don't think anyone has a clue who I am, but I have loads of feedback this round *because I read lots of stories and provide loads of feedback*. Leaving feedback--and providing a link back to our stories in our signature--is how we get feedback. And when I'm reading a thread and I see feedback from other people, I click on those stories and that is how I decide which story to read next. So if anyone finds they're not getting feedback, I definitely think you should start by giving some. There are many of us that will return all reads and always leave a comment after reading.

 

Yes! This is what I did back in 2020. I looked for people who posted "return all reads" and got honest reactions to my first ever fiction piece. I have grown so much from the advice given on my story as well as the stories of others. Sometimes learning more from other peoples critiques on another piece! 
I genuinely love reading the forum stories and commenting. 

I always am surprised with how many different reads result in people questioning different parts of my piece. It has shaped how I tell a story as much as the judge's comments...sometimes even more. Often times it is the feedback here that's the most valuable. 

I also value that this is a welcoming and encouraging place. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote JanetM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Nov 2022 at 3:46pm
Very interesting thread. 

About the comments of people being intimidated to leave feedback: your opinion as a reader is valid. As much as anyone's. (As long as you read the story at least twice. Easy in micro!) Sure we have master writers and editors on here, but your feedback as a reader is just as valuable. Was there something confusing? Did it work as a story?

I have a friend who always apologizes before reviewing, saying that she's not an English teacher.  She's an awesome reviewer, because she focuses on the story first and foremost. She enjoys reading. What's the most important thing in these contests? a story that works for the reader. not just for the genius writer. Wink 

***

And about reviewing: If I find anything confusing, I do the sandwich method. 

Also, I don't suggest changes to people in my group. I changed to this after reading someone's point on here that it comes across in a loaded way, since it's a competition. That's just my general rule now. 

((Sidenote: The stories in my group were great and I personally appreciate anyone's story suggestions who cared enough to give them. ))

I know some people say they always want critiques and don't want the driveby-I-LOVED-your-story. Sometimes I don't have anything negative to say. Only gushing.

 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mrsnetpro Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Nov 2022 at 4:34pm
Originally posted by wisemel wisemel wrote:

Great discussion! 



As to the earlier comment about not getting feedback and folks who get the most feedback having a following... I disagree. I don't think anyone has a clue who I am, but I have loads of feedback this round *because I read lots of stories and provide loads of feedback*. Leaving feedback--and providing a link back to our stories in our signature--is how we get feedback. And when I'm reading a thread and I see feedback from other people, I click on those stories and that is how I decide which story to read next. So if anyone finds they're not getting feedback, I definitely think you should start by giving some. There are many of us that will return all reads and always leave a comment after reading.

 

I said it and I'm not referring to active threads in general and certainly didn't intend it as a comment about every thread with a lot of responses. There are people who do have a following on a consistent basis. Those who have done well in the past, those who have relationships as beta readers, those who are friends IRL and even those who admire others, that's who I'm talking about. 

I actually wish we had a better way of discussing feedback, ie a zoom/webex type environment where we could discuss our work. The written word is very harsh. How many times do we get emails and completely miss what the writer intends because they couldn't articulate what was in their head? I am reading "Digital Body Language" as are my IT colleagues because these days very few people connect in person which makes how/what we write more important. 



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wisemel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Nov 2022 at 5:05pm
Originally posted by Mrsnetpro Mrsnetpro wrote:

Originally posted by wisemel wisemel wrote:

Great discussion! 



As to the earlier comment about not getting feedback and folks who get the most feedback having a following... I disagree. I don't think anyone has a clue who I am, but I have loads of feedback this round *because I read lots of stories and provide loads of feedback*. Leaving feedback--and providing a link back to our stories in our signature--is how we get feedback. And when I'm reading a thread and I see feedback from other people, I click on those stories and that is how I decide which story to read next. So if anyone finds they're not getting feedback, I definitely think you should start by giving some. There are many of us that will return all reads and always leave a comment after reading.

 

I said it and I'm not referring to active threads in general and certainly didn't intend it as a comment about every thread with a lot of responses. There are people who do have a following on a consistent basis. Those who have done well in the past, those who have relationships as beta readers, those who are friends IRL and even those who admire others, that's who I'm talking about. 

I actually wish we had a better way of discussing feedback, ie a zoom/webex type environment where we could discuss our work. The written word is very harsh. How many times do we get emails and completely miss what the writer intends because they couldn't articulate what was in their head? I am reading "Digital Body Language" as are my IT colleagues because these days very few people connect in person which makes how/what we write more important. 





Yes, I see that you did mention that there was also lots of feedback for those that left lots of feedback, so I know you weren't suggesting it was all about following. And yes, I agree that there are some folks that attract more views because of their previous stories. Though for me, it's more that I recognize a name that I have seen a lot, not so much remember whether or not their stories did well or were particular favourites of mine. So I might click on a story by someone 

But the key point here is that the best way to get feedback is to leave feedback. The forum moves so fast that a story will be pages away from the top within minutes of being posted, and even someone commenting will only bump it to the first page for a brief moment. If anyone feels that they didn't get enough feedback, I suggest giving more. It's kind of the only way this works.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote nod1v1ng Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Nov 2022 at 6:28pm
Ha! I came to the forums to see if folks were getting excited about Rhyming results (and see if I was delinquent on any returns) and found this thread. The topic of feedback comes up from time to time and I think it is always a worthy conversation to have.

When we talk about feedback, I think we need to talk about who is it for, and what's its purpose.

For example, I have a writing group that likes to share contest submissions, but we usually only give positive feedback in the thread. No one blows sunshine up anyone's backside, we all just comment on the things that we genuinely liked about the stories. The purpose is simply to share and encourage.

Complete opposite, I have a critique partner who we only highlight what needs work when giving feedback. But we know each other very well, our styles, our weaknesses, our strengths. He knows I'm all narrative and world building; I know he's Mr. action and dialogue. We have an understanding that if we don't comment on it, it's working. We're never cruel about our suggestions, but we are honest and direct. No one's feelings are ever hurt. But it takes a lot of trust to have that kind of relationship. 

So, different people, different purposes for feedback.

Historically, folks here have generally treated the forums as a workshopping space. Of course, different folks have different reasons for sharing here, but I think most of us old skool kids kind of have that mentality and that seems to be the typical type of feedback we see here.

Workshopping is different than beta. When you workshop you talk about what is working in the piece and what could be improved. It's not line level critique, unless you are calling out a certain line as an example of a greater <this is an example of your excellent descriptions> or <phrases like this are wordy and can be reworked with more precision to save you words>.

I think, in a workshop space, it's worth telling the author what works in addition to what doesn't so they know where they are on the right track.

I've seen a number of people say that don't think they are an experienced enough writer to give critique. If you feel that way, try just giving feedback as a reader, not as a writer. You don't need to tell the writer how to fix their story. Just tell the author how you experienced the story. Remember, specifics have more value. I didn't quite understand X, is more helpful than your story is confusing. Also, your character made me feel Y, is better than this story is emotional. (I often fail at this one, so good advice for myself!)

Something important to remember, and I've said this before, giving feedback is a skill, but receiving feedback is also a skill. One we rarely talk about. You need to be able to reign in the knee-jerk hurt when someone critiques something you have poured your heart into. You also need to learn how to filter through critique to identify what has value and what does not. Accept that not all feedback is created equal. 

I love the idea of people specifying what kind of feedback they are looking for. I actually participate in a group who does a bi-weekly writing exercise and everyone notes what kind of feedback they would like to receive - 1 for workshop style critique, 2 for just tell me what works, or 0 for reviewer's choice.

Anywho, it's worth remembering that there is a huge range of people on these forums. It is almost impossible to know who the person is on the other side of the screen. But they are a person. Honest, but kindly delivered feedback seems to be the best choice if you do not know the writer personally. Kindness to others will never hurt you...


Edited by nod1v1ng - 27 Nov 2022 at 6:30pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SumFemina Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Nov 2022 at 9:03am
This is a great thread. 

I used to give a mix of both positive and negative feedback, but lately, I've reverted to only positive feedback because of my own (sad) reaction to negative feedback. If something really didn't work for me in a story, I will mention it though. I try to balance it by saying something nice about the piece. Not quite full sandwich, maybe more an open faced sandwich. Or I will soften the message by talking about my own biases which may color my reaction to the piece. And limiting the negative commentary to a single item, instead of a list which can really bring a writer down.

I had a teacher at Gotham who said only positive things. But you could figure out what you needed to work on by looking at the stuff he didn't comment on. So I found that a very nice way of doing things. 

nodiving brings up such a good point that receiving feedback is an important skill. Although critiques can hurt, they've taught me a lot about how to get better.


Edited by SumFemina - 28 Nov 2022 at 9:04am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote BobbieJ Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Nov 2022 at 11:26am
Just a flurry of random comments:

-- There is always SOMETHING positive to say, a particular phrase, the take on prompts, the title, a word choice, etc. So I try to mention that.

-- If there were multiple things that I thought needed work, I usually just pick one. Sometimes I have read other reviews, and if an improvement has already been addressed, I try not to repeat.

-- I try to preface if a particular genre is not my forte, so the author knows any confusion I have may could be due to that. (I usually don't gravitate to those genres, but on return reads ...)

-- I am guilty of sometimes reading entries (particulary micros) on my phone with plans to comment when I get to a full keyboard and then don't follow-up. I assume others do this to my stories, too.

-- Some of the contests have fallen during less hectic periods of my life, allowing for lots of time spent in the forums. Some, like now and around holidays, are the opposite. I assume this is true for everyone.

-- I don't feel obligated to provide "answer/solution" to something I point out critically, as I'm not trying to be an editor, just a reader.

-- I aim for (and appreciate from others) specificity over generalizations. And I'd rather have (and am able to give) a larger quantity of quick reviews than fewer, more in-depth ones. Better to get more, brief "Loved the xxx part, but the yyy part confused me" than fewer, lengthy responses where reviewers felt obligated to pad/cushion candid comments.  This mostly applies to MF contests. The longer pieces could certainly garner a more in-depth review -- I gave fewer and received fewer (rightly so).

The bottomline and some commonality to all of these points is that (in most cases) we know NOTHING about our fellow writers in this forum, so all reviews, amount of activity, lack of activity, etc. need to be taken with a grain of salt.

Seriously, the fact that YOU are on here at all, trying to better your craft, or just having some fun is worthy and should be commended.
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