When you’re nearing your manuscript’s completion, you feel an urge to hand over the completed work to someone and seek their feedback. Not only that, even when you are still working on your script, you may want to pause a bit and take feedback on the work-in-progress. You need to know what is working for you and what is not. Receiving direct advice is a great way to address issues and understand what your content is lacking in.
Who to ask for manuscript feedback?
Well, first things first — your instinct will tell you to go to your family and friends to get their opinions on your writing. While this may seem a more comfortable way out, you may not always get what you need from them. They will only tell you what you want to hear, not what you need to hear. This is because they want to see you happy, so chances are their suggestions may be biased. Therefore, these people need to be the last ones you should approach.
Some people will give you genuine feedback. These people are:
- General Readers: These are the people you know, but are not close to — the ones that read. These may be strangers/acquaintances. You can handover/mail your manuscripts for feedback to these people and get genuine feedback.
- Developmental Editors: Editors can point out big picture issues that are overlooked by others. Developmental editors provide feedback that serves as a useful tool for learning and improvements.
- Writing Communities: There are various groups and communities for writers. You can tap into those groups and request people to read and review your manuscript.
- Professional Beta- readers: Beta readers are professional readers that provide feedback on your manuscript before your book gets out in the market. They are a form of quality control that authors can make use of.
Manuscript feedback helps you to progress as a writer. There are a lot of good critics who can provide you with constructive feedback on your writing. However, sometimes we are left wondering how and where to apply this feedback. You may not know which feedback to address first or if the input is worth stressing over. Therefore, in this article, we have provided you with some tips on applying the feedback received for your writing.
The first and foremost thing to remember is not to make any hasty decisions while applying feedback. Just let it sink in a little, analyze and then decide.
Use the below pointers while applying feedback
- Keep an open mind: Certain feedback could be disheartening. Remember, feedback is not a reflection of you as a person; instead, they act as a helping tool to make your writing worthwhile. If you receive negative criticism from your readers/beta-readers, do not ever take it to heart. No two readers think alike. For that matter, readers and writers also do not think alike. There may be differences of opinion, but that does not mean one is right and the other is wrong. Therefore, keep an open mind and receive all feedback in good spirit.
- Sort and Categorize: Read each feedback well. Sort them out and list them according to the category they fall in. You could categorize your feedback into two categories, that is, bigger concerns and smaller concerns. This way, you will be able to prioritize and get an idea about how and what to approach first. For example: Bigger concerns: Story, style, paragraph development, facts, etc Smaller concerns: Sentence formations, grammar errors, word choice, etc.
- Think deeply before making changes: Let us suppose you have received feedback on the story plot. The suggestions included cutting some scenes from the story. Or, let us say, there is a critic who is fond of a specific minor character in your story and wants to see more of his or her part in the story. However, constructive these suggestions may sound to you; they may not align with the story’s intent. If you apply these changes to your story, your main message may get lost. And you do not want this to happen. Therefore, in such cases, it is advisable to contemplate a little more and think about how and if these changes should be applied to fit your intent.
- Ponder over rewrite suggestions: Many times, critics may suggest that you rewrite a significant part of your story because they don’t find it good enough. Give such recommendations deep thought. Ask further questions to discover why the critic wants you to change or rewrite that part. Asking further questions will clarify the critic’s thinking and clarify why they are requesting such a change and if it aligns with your story and thinking. Always remember this is your work. You do not have to change or modify everything your critic asks you to.
- Ask questions: Feel free to ask follow-up questions from your critic. There may be a difference between what is meant by a particular piece of manuscript feedback and how you perceive it. To avoid such confusion, it is always advisable to communicate properly. And the best way is to ask questions. Unless you ask, you will not get any clarity.
- Remember that it is a process: At the end of the day, applying feedback and revising your draft is an ongoing process. There is no harm in going through several rounds of revisions until it reaches perfection. Whether your work sells or not, know that working on a script takes a lot of hard work.
- Always be positive – even about negative feedback. Leave your ego out of it and keep your emotions aside while editing based on the suggestions given by your critics. Never forget to thank your reader/beta-readers/editors/critiques for taking their precious time out and letting you know what they feel about your work.
Start learning the act of processing feedback in a healthy way because this will transform your writing into your best work.