CRITIQUING KNOWHOW Using your feedback

So you've found your crit group and taken part in a structured feedback session. You've heard some great things about your work and of course, you've had some thoughts on what to work on... But how do you decide which bits of all that feedback to put to use? Paula Harrison gives us some tips.

Getting feedback can be immensely helpful for improving your story but it can be difficult too. So how should you approach editing your work after getting feedback?

Firstly, give it some time. The story is your baby. You might have put mental barriers up against altering it. Put the story aside for a short while. In the meantime, you’ll be subconsciously mulling over what’s been said and you’ll be more open to re-writing when you return.
Your story is your baby! Image: Jess Stockham

Secondly, reflect on the feedback carefully. If your critique partners are fellow writers they may bring their own prejudices to your manuscript. Even professional editors can give different feedback on the same piece of work. Being a reader is subjective so if you’ve reflected and a piece of advice still doesn’t chime with you don’t be afraid to follow your instincts. On the other hand, if a number of people have identified the same issue with the story you need to pay attention!

Remember that it's up to you how to fix a problem in your story. Editors are particularly likely to suggest a certain idea. This can be great but you don’t always need to follow their advice. You know your story best and you can sometimes look at the problem they’ve identified and find your own solution to it - one that matches your vision of the plot and characters.

If there’s a lot to do to improve your story, break it down into manageable chunks. Address characterisation during one round of edits. In the next round, focus on theme, and so on.

Lastly, there are a lot of opportunities to pay for feedback these days and these can be great if that’s what you want. BUT be aware that you can often get really great peer feedback by joining a critique group (SCBWI has a page to help you get started) and all it will cost you is some time spent reading other people’s work which will, by the way, also help improve your writing. I favour a face-to-face group but there are also e-critique groups out there.

Happy editing!

Header photo: Nic McPhee
Thanks to Jess Stockham:

Paula Harrison was first published in 2012 with The Rescue Princesses, her best known younger series, which has sold a million books worldwide. She's written two further young series and five middle-grade novels, including Robyn Silver: The Midnight Chimes. She lives in Milton Keynes with her family and a black cat called Inky.

No comments:

We love comments and really appreciate the time it takes to leave one.
Interesting and pithy reactions to a post are brilliant but we also LOVE it when people just say they've read and enjoyed.
We've made it easy to comment by losing the 'are you human?' test, which means we get a lot of spam. Fortunately, Blogger recognises these, so most, if not all, anonymous comments are deleted without reading.

Words & Pictures is the Online Magazine of SCBWI British Isles. Powered by Blogger.