Noelle Pierce, who’s been an active Book Country member since it’s beta-days, won a one-on-one manuscript feedback session at RT14. We chatted at the convention about her Regency Romance REACHING FOR THE MOON, which began as a NaNoWriMo Project.
I love the premise of this novel: Lady Anne Marwood is to marry Thomas Oakes, a noted ladies’ man with far less noble birth. Thomas and Anne were once friendly acquaintances–in fact, in another novel by Noelle, set in the same world, the two of them conspired to make a match between each of their best friends. But due to an embarrassing incident at a ball, they’re now engaged, however extremely wary of one another. Thomas doesn’t believe he’s good enough to marry Anne, and Anne believes Thomas feels she’s trapped him–and now hates her. Additionally, strong-willed Anne is completely horrified at the prospect of her husband having mistresses, common to men of the era. Continue reading →
Let’s be honest: when we give a friend, instructor, or editor our writing and ask for “feedback,” what we really want to hear back is this: “Wow! You actually are a bloody genius.” Or maybe this: “blah blah blah… next great American novel…blah blah blah.” Or simply, “It’s perfect. Don’t change a word.”
Usually — inexplicably — we get something else. Maybe some margin notes (“nicely observed,” “infelicitous” or “confusing?”). Maybe we get a friendly pat on the head (“I’m so proud of you for trying this”) or an entire rewrite (“…too interior. I’ve reimagined it as a space western.”). Perhaps this is because we are not a bloody genius, or writing the next great American novel. But partly, it might be due to how we ask for feedback in the first place.
The key to getting useful feedback is knowing what kind of feedback you want, and being transparent about what you want and why. The challenge is that the word “feedback” can mean lots of different things. If you don’t tell the person you’re showing your writing to what would be helpful to you, they have no chance of giving you something useful.
In general, it’s useful to make a distinction among three kinds of feedback: Appreciation, coaching, and evaluation. Each has a different purpose, and each has a role to play in improving our writing and craft.
Appreciationsays, “I see you,” and “I value what you’re doing” and serves to encourage us and keep us motivated. We need to hear that someone believes in us, is on our side, cares about what we’re struggling so hard to create.
Coaching includes anything intended to help your writing or manuscript improve – comments on writing style or grammar, questions about word choice, voice, character, plot, theme, suggestions about length, subject matter, etc. You may or may not agree with the coaching, but it’s important to understand it before you decide to accept or reject it. When they say, “Needs tightening,” do they mean fewer words, more action, or closer juxtaposition of two key ideas? You need to ask “How would you ‘tighten it up’? And why do you think I should?” Too often, coaching is vague and even if we wanted to take their coaching, we wouldn’t be sure how to do so.
Finally, evaluation. This is what you get from an agent or an editor or publisher when they choose to accept or reject a piece of work, and it’s what you get from a teacher who is required to grade you. Sometimes we get evaluation from friends and colleagues, but if that’s the beginning and end of the conversation (“This is great,” or “This isn’t ready”) then it’s probably not going to be very helpful to you.
Traditional publishers have to evaluate you; what you want from friends and fellow Book Country members is encouragement (or appreciation), especially at the beginning, and then a lot of coaching. The following examples will show some different strategies to get the writing feedback you need at different stages of the writing and revision process. You can use these as you use Book Country to develop a book for submission to traditional or self-publishers. Continue reading →
Readers have millions of choices when it comes to choosing a book to read. Without getting feedback, it’s extremely hard to see if your book is as interesting and smooth to read as the rest of the work that other writers are putting into the marketplace.
What are the best ways to give writing feedback on Book Country?
While we have offered you “Dos and Don’ts” for giving feedback on Book Country, we believe that there really is no wrong way to give writing feedback (as long as your feedback stays within the bounds of the Community Guidelines, of course!). However, if you’re unsure about how to craft a review that will really help other community members make their books better, try one of these three ways to give great writing feedback on Book Country:
Be specific, and don’t be afraid to have opinions.
Internal dialogue shouldn’t be in double quotes, it’s too easy to be mistaken for actual spoken words, except in the (hopefully) rare occasions the characters are genuinely talking out loud to themselves. Usually you use italics or single quotes, or just state ‘they thought’ for internal dialogue.
Along those same lines, when the book is in third person POV, “I” is going to be inside quotes almost always or it’s awkward. It feels like you, the writer, lost track of your POV when we’re reading it.
The dialogue was good but occasionally difficult to follow. Not all dialogue had clear tags or point of origin. Continue reading →
You’re new to the site. Perhaps you’ve already checked out our post about how to get started on Book Country, browsed through our FAQs, and you’ve checked out our video tutorials. You’ve given writing feedback to one project on Book Country and have uploaded your own. Now the waiting game begins. “How do I get people to read and review my book?” you wonder. There are several ways. Read on.
If you’re like me, it can be completely overwhelming to be tasked with giving feedback on a whole novel, especially if I am the first person to review. Not every BC member has posted a whole book (nor is that a requirement for posting), but lots of members are posting very long manuscripts that deserve detailed, professional-level feedback. This type of reading takes a large amount of concentration (to explain why certain things in the prose are working for me—or not), and it takes courage to post those opinions online, where others can see them and possibly disagree with you. There’s also the fear of hurting the author’s feelings if you think their work needs quite a lot of editing.