Giving constructive criticism
Hi again everyone! I just want to give a quick thanks for the 2 people willing to be my co-authors HeartTaunter and LittleWhiteLies13!
Okay, so, ever wanted to give someone feedback on their story, poem, lecture etc? Writing helpful comments on someone’s movella is one of the best things to do to help other writers feel proud about their writing, to build movellas friends and to help yourself to improve by practising your skills of identifying what works well and what doesn’t in writing. Writing little comments like “I loved this!” or “Can’t wait for you to update this!” never fails to make a reader feel happy that someone out there appreciates their writing.
Having said that, if you want to go all out and write detailed constructive criticism on someone’s movella, I am yet to find someone who wouldn’t be eternally grateful for it. But how do you write constructive criticism that’s actually useful? Here are some top tips when giving constructive criticism (Please note: I am by no means a CC expert, very far from it, but I still hope this can be of some use to you. If not, feel free to skip onto the next chapter on how to delete stories, Chapter 7 on how to get more reads or Chapter 8 and beyond for the interview with Scott Westerfeld)...
1. Use an improvement sandwich (sorry, I don’t know why I called it a comma sandwich of all things, but I’m getting hungry…) - positive, improvement, positive. In other words, write something the person did well, then something that they could improve on, and then another thing that you liked about it. Of course, it’s okay to just write “I loved this!!!” if you liked it and want to show your appreciation, but if you want to help the writer to improve then you’ve got to write something that you didn’t like about it. For example, you could write: I loved the description in this (the ‘positive’) but sometimes the paragraphs are too long, which made it difficult for me to read (the ‘improvement’). But overall I love the idea of it raining mangoes! It’s really original!!! (ending with another ‘positive’). So voila! You would have written something that will not only make the reader feel amazing about their writing, but will also tell them how to improve, which most writers will really appreciate if they want to become better writers.
So, how do you write effective ‘improvements’? Simple:
2. Be specific with your feedback
How to make your feedback specific (and actionable):
Focus more on objective points than subjective opinions. Just saying “I Hated this! It was soooo confusing!” is not helpful. On the other hand, stating the specific things you do not like, is helpful.
For example, you could write: “The sentences were really long, which was sometimes confusing. For example, when you wrote ‘the mangoes flew like birds from the sky and landed on Bob’s head in a mighty boom that broke his neck and sent his head flying across the playground and everyone thought it was the end of the world.’ I got confused because it was such a long sentence without punctuation. Maybe you could use colons, semi-colons, full-stops etc. to break up the sentence and make it clearer.
Break your feedback down into key points. Don’t give your feedback as one big lump. Break it down into various key points, then give your feedback point by point.
Give specific examples of each point. What are the exact situations or examples where the person writes in a way that could be improved? Point them out. There is no need to highlight every single example – just pointing out 1-2 key examples per point will be okay. The intention here is to (a) bring the person’s awareness to things which he/she may be oblivious about (b) illustrate what you mean.
Hope this helps everyone!
~Uniqua Niques xox