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  • Jordan Keller

What I Learned At Writing Group: Giving & Reciving Feedback

Updated: Apr 1


Writing tips from fantasy author Jordan S Keller
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My writing group is the best thing to happen for my craft. After every meeting, I leave with a bucket of new tricks and skills, and a few more laugh lines. These fellow writers have become my closest friends, but it didn’t start out like that.


Let’s be honest: Receiving feedback can be scary. You’ve created this wonderful work of art in your manuscript and now strangers are going to read it, and they might not get it or even like it.


In the five years of hosting my writing group, these are general rules we have about feedback.


Giving

Some things won't be for you. If you're in a multi-genre group you will see things you wouldn't naturally read, but just because it's out of your normal reading habits doesn't give you any right to be nasty or uninterested about it. When you step outside your preferred genres you will learn a lot.


It's constructive criticism for a reason, give examples. If a sentence isn't working for you, offer a suggestion to fix it. If a description feels off, let the author know where it lost you. If you think a word choice is out of place offer a new word.


Don't rewrite the book. Your job isn't to remove the author's voice, style, or vision. Your job as a reader is to elevate the author and their work.



Receiving

Any feedback about your work is not a reflection of you. I know it'll feel personal, but if someone doesn't like a part in your book that doesn't mean they don't like you.


Some readers won't be for you and they may never be. When you get feedback from someone like that, sometimes all you can do is smile and nod. Don't be ungrateful for their opinion, but you don't have to use anything they say if you don't like it. You are the author and it's your work.


However,


If two or more people bring up the same thing, it's probably something you should look at. If only one person makes a comment about it, it's most likely a preference. If two or more make the comment then it's more likely a serious concern.



Every writer is still learning and improving their craft. It's important to go into both giving and receiving feedback with an open mind. Lower your shields to hear what your critique partners have to say, and offer any critiques of your own with the goal of elevating the author. Writing can be lonely, but being a writer shouldn't be. Find a group of people you trust to give you their honest feedback on your work.


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