Constructive Criticism – Part I: Who to Choose

You’ve got a solid draft and now it’s time for some feedback. But who to ask?

There are advantages and disadvantages to each group. You’ll have to decide which one (or combination of) is best for you.

Family / Friends
First ask yourself if they are readers. Ask yourself if they are willing to tell you the truth or if they’re afraid of hurting your feelings. Would your feelings be hurt if they didn’t love it?

A good way to determine if a family member or friend is a good person to ask, is to think about the last time you asked for advice. Was it helpful? Did they understand what you needed?

Many writers use teaching as a way to supplement their income, but not all writers make good teachers. If you are taking a writing class be sure to listen to what your teacher says about the works of others as well as your own. Do you agree with their assessment? Remember – you want someone who will be objective, who wants what’s best for the work. If you liked the teacher don’t forget to keep that contact once the class is over. They may not have the time to read an entire piece if you are no longer their student, but they might agree to analyzing the first page.

Writing Group
This one can be tricky if you have different personalities in your group. Just because you don’t like a writer personally, does not mean you should discount their suggestions. Pretend someone else gave you that same advice. Would you take it?

Some writers believe they will receive more “honest answers” from strangers than they will from someone they know. Perhaps. But be warned, those who give opinions via the internet are less likely to be tactful since they will never have to face you in person. Try looking for blogs or websites that give feedback on a regular basis. Although I have not submitted to her yet, I enjoy reading Janice Hardy’s Real Life Diagnosis. Writers can submit a page which she will then post and critique. You can also ask other writers to comment on your work in exchange for looking over some of their pages.

Next week – Constructive Criticism Part II: Questions to ask your reader


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