The Honest Feedback Challenge

A Pen In Each Hand

By Beaver

  1. Select a piece of writing that a) you’ve submitted at least once and b) has been rejected at least once. For best results, choose something that you like and are puzzled as to why it’s not been accepted.
  2. Find three people who are willing to give you an honest, but harsh, critique. For best results, try to find people who will give you different perspectives, e.g. a friend who reads but doesn’t write, a writer familiar with your genre, a teacher or editor who’ll focus on the technical aspects.
    • Remember: when asking for a critique, you’ll have more luck if you give as well as take. If this is someone’s job (e.g. an editor), pay them. For fellow writers, offer to reciprocate by critiquing a manuscript of theirs. For friends, do something nice (e.g. give them a book you know they’d like) or promise to help them out when they need a favor.
  3. These are the rules: Skip the pleasantries. You don’t want to hear what is working, what they liked. You already know these things, because they’ve been mentioned in the gentle critiques you’ve received, the kind where the critiquer avoids saying anything critical because they don’t want to hurt your feelings or are afraid you’ll go kazoo. You want to know what isn’t working, what they disliked. You’re looking for honest feedback that doesn’t sugarcoat the problems.
  4. Make it clear that you will not be mad at them if their feedback is harsh.
  5. Don’t get mad when the feedback is harsh.
  6. If you absolutely must be mad, get thee to a private place, rant until you’ve got it out of your system, and let it go. Under no circumstances should you vent your anger in the presence of your readers.
  7. If any of your readers find themselves unable to say anything critical, find another reader. UPOP isn’t going to take your writing to the next level. Harsh feedback stings a little at first, but time and acceptances soothe the pain.
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