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How to give feedback to other writers

Giving feedback to other writers is a useful skill, whether you are a creative writing student, member of an informal writing group or online writing community. Writers are incredibly supportive of each other, but we do want constructive feedback, feedback that makes us think about what we have written. But there are good and bad ways of giving feedback. Here are some of the things I’ve learned, in +30 years of subbing the copy of other journalists, and 10+ years of attending creative writing classes and critiquing the novels of friends. Feedback should be the start of a discussion, not a unit of time comprised of you talking. Start with a ‘Feedback Sandwich’. This is a management technique I learned for handling staff appraisals but it works just as well when critiquing a fellow student’s work at a creative writing class. When asked for your comments, it is good to start with a short summary. The emphasis being on short. The sandwich is positive-negative-positive. The aim is to encourage, rather than to pick faults. Say what you liked about the work you read. Be specific. If there is something in the text which confuses you, point out the particular passage.
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.