Feedback and Criticism: Part of a Writer’s Life

By Lisa J. Jackson (Haselton)

List for how to escape criticismYou’ve spent weeks, months, maybe even years, pouring your passion onto the page, refining the words, and having relationships (of sorts) with your characters. The manuscript is now done, and you’re ready to send your child out into the world – whether to agents, publishers, or the self-publishing avenue, you’re now going to start getting feedback on your story.

Feedback that you may end up classifying as ‘good,’ ‘bad’, and ‘ugly’. Or, perhaps, the categories will become words not spoken to a G- or PG-rated audience.

All constructive criticism has its place, and all writers seeking publication are going to encounter criticism of all kinds, not just the constructive type. To become successful as a writer, you have to know what to accept in and what to let go.

Receiving broad and general feedback gives the best value – depending on the source and how it’s presented, of course. Readers of your genre can give you the best information because they’ll notice holes and issues (if there are any) right away. Agents and publishers can be good folks to listen to, also, since they know the market.

If any of these people (readers, agents, publishers) say your story is too slow, it probably is. Other gems worth listening to, again, from people who know your genre, are: too confusing, too many characters, flat characters, typical/vanilla/I’ve read this before, it didn’t hook me, or I can’t empathize with your protagonist.

These are high-level criticisms and worth consideringCriticism cartoon

On the flip side, if someone tells you they don’t like how character X talks, or they find specific words or phrases or other small stuff that is more craft-related, this is when you filter out a lot of the feedback.

If you’re a mystery writer, Sisters in Crime is a great way to meet like-minded individuals to perhaps become writing or critique partners with or start a critique group. There are online groups, like the Guppies, that are very supportive, too.

It would be great if we could coat ourselves in Teflon, but that means the good and the bad would slide right off us. So the best we can do is learn how to listen, digest, decide to ignore or keep, and implement changes or move on from feedback and criticism.

How do you go about getting feedback or critiques on your work?

Lisa Jackson Haselton writerLisa J. Jackson is a copywriter, editor, New England-region journalist, and a year-round iced coffee lover. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton and has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviewsShe is also a member and membership secretary of the New England Chapter of Sisters in Crime (SinCNE). She  has a critique partner for her fiction and uses feedback and criticism to improve her writing.

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About Lisa Haselton

Lisa Haselton has had several short mystery stories published and has a couple of novels in various stages of completion. She always enjoys learning new tidbits about other writers, and takes great pride as an editor when working with writers on polishing their manuscripts. She's living a life around her passions for writing, photography, volunteering, and anything related to New England, particularly New Hampshire.
This entry was posted in Craft, Lisa Haselton, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Feedback and Criticism: Part of a Writer’s Life

  1. Nancy Gardner says:

    You nailed it, Lisa. Myself, My reviews come from a writer husband, two writing groups and an editor helping me push through a mid-novel wall. When more than one reviewer suggests a change, I know they’re on to something.

  2. Lisa Jackson says:

    Great point, Nancy – if you hear the same thing from more than one person, that’s something to definitely look into! 🙂

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