Writing Feedback: Dos and Don’ts

As you work on your piece of writing, you probably crave feedback. Feedback can be very helpful! But, this post isn’t about that. :p

This post is about whom NOT to ask. Yes, there are so many ways to give terrible writing feedback that is unhelpful or worse, discouraging. Even though I’ve read thousands of terrible edits and review comments, I can fit almost all “bad feedback” into three buckets. Just three! These are the three types of people not to ask for feedback.

​They are:

1.The Cheerleader This reviewer loves everything you do. They just want you to keep going, keep writing, keep shining! You got this! It’s invaluable to have support from the Cheerleader. Their hype is irreplaceable! But! The Cheerleader can’t offer specifics. “You’re awesome!” It’s a fact, but it’s not specific.

2. The Underminer This reader wants you to fail. Seems obvious: don’t show your work to this person. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, a lot of us DO show our work to this person. When we do, we find their comments (intentionally or not) are designed to make your work feel like a struggle. Discouraging.

3. The Well-Intentioned Amateur This person isn’t an Underminer because they don’t want to see you fail. They just have a lot of opinions and no expertise. #sorrynotsorry. They offer scattershot feedback on everything from the plot to the characters to basic grammar mistakes!

Do you recognize these people?

If you’ve ever given up on a piece of writing after getting feedback from a colleague, friend, or family member, chances are you’ve encountered at least one of these readers.

So. Should you just stop showing your work to anyone?

Here’s what I think: consider doing the same thing you’d do if you’ve tried to get friends to help you move, dye your hair, or fix your car… and it hasn’t worked out.

Hire a pro.

… I have taken my 20 years of editing and review experienced and packaged it into

3-2-1 Review

3 – You submit between 500-1500 words—up to pages

– I return to you 2 sets of feedback: Genuine comments affirming the elements that are working. Constructive questions to ask yourself as you continue to develop the work.

1– in 1 screencast video

Get more info and sign up here.

​3-2-1 Review is for you if:​

  • you have written at least 500 words of original prose
  • you are feeling stuck or
  • you just want a second set of eyes to confirm what you already know is valuable about the work.

Get specific, actionable feedback on your writing from a professional. Sign up here.

Questions? Email me at maggie at maggiefrankhsu dot com.

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