Inkpop Blog

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‘Fire up the feedback’

Posted by inkpop on December 21, 2009

It Happened To Me on inkpop #1:

inkpopper storybookauthor talks about how “honesty is the best policy” when it comes to giving writers useful comments

There’s a new movement on inkpop, and it’s all about giving and getting good feedback on projects. For the first installment of “It Happened To Me on inkpop”—in which inkpoppers do the blogging—I asked storybookauthor (aka Anna Lakefront) to talk about what makes inkpop comments valuable to writers. The Virginia high school senior is an inkpop writer herself, but she’s best known for giving honest and thorough feedback to fellow inkpop members. —inkpopAmy


How to Give Good Feedback by storybookauthor

The definition of what comprises a good critique is subjective, but I assume that it explains what is both good and bad to further the work. One or two lines written of pure praise or, worse yet, harsh, unexplained criticism do little to improve anything. Anyone who wants to critique a work has to first realize that it takes time, effort, thought, and balance and that none or few of those characteristics exist in one or two lines.

I edit in an honest and unabridged manner, and empahsize the good aspects in the case that there are too many bad aspects to note. My goal is to be fair and thorough.

Fairness and honesty are the trademarks of any good critique. Fairness is usually easier than honesty. If a certain part of an inkpop project bothers me, it was probably a personal preference and should require consultation from another reader or if the piece overall is not in my genre. Establishing a respectful relationship is important to make sure that everyone involved realizes that you’re expressing your thoughts in a more neutral and therefore more rhetorically valid manner.

Honesty is more of a balancing act, especially when a work is truly terrible. Honesty becomes simpler when I remind myself that each work is probably extremely personal to the writer, and the fact that they’ve shared this work with me can leave some in a vulnerable state, which should never be abused. I recognize what’s there and the potential of what could be there. I’m sure “Critique 101” has covered that good and bad points should be included in this balancing act and consequently keep both honesty and emotions intact, which is definitely a good thing.

On a random note, I think every author looks for proof that the editor has, in fact, read her work. I often skim other inkpop responses to see how others reacted to a piece and add parts to my critique if I disagreed with some of their sentiments. I immediately disregard comments that have no indication that the person has read rather than skimmed. As an author, I find comfort in knowing that someone took the time to truly look at what I’ve written while those who don’t can easily be disregarded.

For longer edits, emphasize what needs to be fixed.  I often talk about many topics, and at the end I like to conclude with positive points and important mistakes. Messages can easily be forgotten if they’re not clear and conveniently located.

All in all, don’t take the easy way out. Looking at what others are doing, especially in your own genre, can help your own writing. Relatively thoughtless critiques lack value and are therefore the ultimate waste of time. So many people can write strong critiques if they only dedicated the time. I think I’ve said what most already know. I think the most important aspect of editing, rather than reviewing what makes a good critique, is the willingness to dedicate time and thought for someone else.

inkpop Forums Topic: How do you give helpful constructive criticism to inkpoppers?

Want to write about your experience for an upcoming “It Happened To Me on inkpop” post? Suggest your topic idea on the inkpop blog.

The inkpop blog is produced by inkpopAmy

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