One of the fastest ways to progress as a writer is to receive feedback. Here’s how to get more of it.
A writer’s task is to create a virtual world inside your reader’s mind and then take them on a journey. To create powerful writing requires insight into how your reader will react to each word – both emotionally and intellectually. Being a writer is a naturally insular pursuit, so gaining a deeper understanding of readers’ thoughts and feelings can only come from listening to other people’s feedback.
The function of feedback
Good feedback can answer these questions: Does your writing leap off the page? Does it pull readers in? Or does it badly need another round of editing? Of course, feedback only works if you digest it and act upon it.
Useful sources of feedback
Unfortunately feedback from friends and family is not particularly useful as they might be nervous of hurting your feelings. Feedback is not for the faint-hearted. It needs to be:
- Brutally honest – you need feedback, not praise.
- Structured – from somebody who understands writing and can explain their reactions to your work, not just spot typos.
- Timely– received soon enough that you can remember why you wrote what you did.
Online writing communities for feedback
The growth of new online tools means it’s now possible to give and receive feedback from anywhere in the world, within a couple of days. As well as receiving feedback, writers are encouraged to critique someone else’s work. Analysing your own reactions to other writer’s work is a wonderful way of building further insight.
Some feedback systems assign reviewers rather than rely on ‘karma’ or popularity, which means that they are quick and fair. A writer can receive several structured reviews on an extract of writing within 48 hours.
Going online for feedback can remove the hassle of searching for writing peers in your neighbourhood. What’s more, critical feedback from a stranger, on the other side of the world, can sometimes be easier to receive if you’re unlikely to bump into them in your local supermarket!
About the Author
The Pen Factor is a feedback and discovery engine where every submission receives 3 reviews in return for reviewing 3 others. A computer algorithm, affectionately referred to as Ophelia, analyses all reviews and is able to identify true writing talent. The Top 25% of writers are showcased to readers and overall winners receive a professional manuscript review worth over $500. www.penfactor.com