Good Morning Lovely Readers!
I’m going to take a few moments to post a quickie while Frank is brewing his own coffee – a new brand called Kicking Horse 454.
Now THAT (Frank brewing his OWN) is a feat in, and of itself. Normally, I’m the one taking care of his every need. However, to be kind, he decided it’d be best if I wrote something for all of you while he took a break. Not a break from keeping me on track. No, he’s been brilliant there. In fact, I’m past 30K words, and now digging deeper into the character motivations to truly enhance the story.
Suffice it to say, Frank is happy. And caffeinated. And brewing his own coffee! A triple win. What could be better?
As a coach, I deal with feedback all of the time, and there is definitely an art to providing feedback. When done wrong, it can lead to some major confidence issues. How many times have you been told, “That’s not good?” or “That’s bad.” or “I didn’t really like what you wrote there. I think it should have been like this.”
Often, that’s the sort of feedback we get when handing our work to others. They focus on the negative, ‘what didn’t work’ and then make it personal, by saying it’s bad. Not they MEAN it to be personal, but anytime a judgement is placed, it can go straight to the heart and we wear it like a battle wound.
Ever experienced that?
What if feedback could be framed in a different way? One that was productive and really assisted you in moving forward in a positive manner? What if judgement could be removed?
Guess what? There is! ::insert loud cheering noises from the crowd::
If comes in two parts, each equally valuable and both stated in the positive. Ready? Here we go…
A. What Works Well
So, when asking your beta reader(s) for creative feedback, have them START with ‘What Works Well’ within your story. Such as, “What works well with the plot?” “What works well with the characters, their interactions, the transitions…” Anything you are seeking feedback around.
Now, many people might find this odd. They might think, “Isn’t feedback supposed to be about what doesn’t work?” I mean, if it works, why do you need to know? Here’s why: By knowing what works, you know what direction to follow as you move forward with your writing. Knowing what your reader enjoys (works well), allows you to continue filling their needs.
Here’s the second part:
B. Even Better If
Let that sit in your brain for a moment. How is this feedback? One, it takes negative judgement out of the equation. Two, it provides valuable information into what your ideal reader WANTS instead of what they don’t. When writing toward something, you make it greater – you make progress. By writing away from something, you move backwards.
Okay. Example, you ask? Sure.
Lovely Reader: “There was one part that gave me pause. You wrote, ‘The space train stopped on the tracks, then backed up.’ The scene would have been EVEN BETTER IF the train had launched into space, maybe with jet engines.
Amazing Writer: “Why would that have been better, lovely reader?”
Lovely Reader: “Well, amazing writer, by empowering the train with jet engines, it would able to launch into space, which is where your story was heading.
Amazing Writer: “So, if I wrote it like this: “The space train stopped on the tracks, powered up it’s jet engines and launched itself into space.’ What that work better?”
Lovely Reader: “Yes! That would be so amazing, I would never stop reading your work.”
Now, that was a wacky sort of example, but certainly explains how it works. The point of the story is this:
EVEN BETTER IF framework allows you to determine what the reader WANTS, instead of what they don’t want. Which would you rather have?
Okay! That’s it for me today. What brought this post forward, was the feedback I recently received from a couple of beta readers around a short story. By asking them to provide feedback in this format, the required changes were empowering and really inspired me to move deeper.
IN Joy, lovely readers!
Stephen R. Gann