When you another writing friend who wants you to give them feedback on their story, be it on a writing community or an actual friend, you’ll want to know how to give good feedback and not discourage the person when you give them your corrections. It can hinder their productivity and make them not feel very good about their book. When I was eight and I had just completed my first ever short story (I was extremely proud of it and thought it was perfect), my mom offered to edit it for me and then we could look over it together. I totally agreed, thinking it would be a few minor corrections and then the book would be even more perfect than it was now. Well, when my mom showed me all the highlights and all the ideas she had, I was just about ready to cry. Now I can take feedback way better now, but you get my point. Taking feedback, especially for the first time, is hard, and you feel like the person who is critiquing is ripping away that beautiful story you have just created and completed. Now in the long run it’ll make the story much better, and that person is a friend, trying to help you, but it doesn’t look like that when you first get feedback, so here are some ways you can soften the blow of feedback and instead of hindering the person’s excitement for the story, see that you are trying to help, and make them even more anxious to begin editing and making the story better!
1. Praise, Correction, Praise
A good way to give feedback without completely bowling the writer over with it, is to give praise, then make a correction, then give them more praise. So here’s an example.
Ooh, I like this description! I think you should cut this sentence. Nice quote!
So you give them a praise, then a correction, and then more praise, then do it over again. Praise, correction, praise, correction. It gives the writer seeing your feedback something to feel good about, then something to correct, and then something to feel good about! It’s a great way to give them feedback as well as keep them going.
2. Gentle but Firm
When you hit a scene or a giant plot hole that really should be fixed, it’s gonna be hard to use the praise correction praise method, because it’s such a big correction. So now all you can do is be gentle but firm. So don’t just be firm, like:
Hey, this is so horrible and you really need to fix this or it’s a horrible story.
But don’t be completely gentle either:
Hey, there is this teeny tiny little plot hole that could be easily fixed right here, all you have to do is this.
Mix the two together:
Hey, there’s a pretty big plot hole here, but it won’t be super hard to fix. My suggestions are, ect.
3. Always Encourage
The number one thing you want to do while editing someone else’s work, is always encourage. Now it doesn’t mean you can’t tell them what’s wrong, but you always have to encourage them as much as possible. Keep telling them what you like about the story, praise them about how well they are doing, and all that.
With these three ideas, I hope that you will be able to go forth and help someone out with feedback, not to crush their dreams, but to enhance them!