Here i will share my journey of hopefully one day recognising my dream of becoming published writing what i love to read; Romance!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Feedback Sandwich, Critiquing

I was going to blog about something else today - a writing tip about conflict probably, but came across a disturbing post from a fellow Romantic Friday Writer.
She had been given rather bad, negative feedback on her Friday piece.

So, i'm going to talk about critiquing.

My husband is a newly appointed manager and has been doing lots of reading about how to be a good manager. He told me about a 'feedback sandwich', something that i have since read from Nathan Bransford's blog and also from my fellow RFW.

Our writing is rather personal. We spend a lot of time working at it, getting the feelings right, the characters, the conflict, the descriptions, and if you're like me, work painstakingly hard on perfecting dialogue!
We value feedback from fellow writers and readers. This helps us grow as a writer. IF the feedback doesn't completely destroy our confidence and make us feel like we obviously shouldn't be writing!

So the sandwich.
We all want to hear about the things we haven't done right, but isn't it wonderful to be acknowledged for something we have done well at?!
So, start with a positive. It could be something simple like, i really enjoyed the imagery you have evoked through the heroine's tears. Or, your writing voice makes me smile!

Then some POSITIVE advice. An example from one of the comments from my New Voices piece:
i think your writing is strong, and there's lots of potential in this story. but i wanted a little more context (about where they are/why they are there, besides a weekly date). i wanted a little more backstory, but just enough to prick my attention. you also change POV from him to her in the middle, which can be done successfully (yours is pretty close), but it demands more from the reader. nora roberts does it, but new writers (me included) don't have as much leeway with editors. keep writing. you obviously have skill, and your characters are passionate. i'd read more!

Then end with another positive.

As the above example shows (and i am aware that it may not be the best example!), they have started with something positive: my writing is strong. Then some advice: my POV change may have been a bit jarring but i'm close! And final positive: my characters are passionate.
I am left feeling good about my writing, what one person things i have achieved but may need to work on something else, followed by another positive. It's not as bad as it could have been! 
(And it is always important to remember that you can never please everyone. What one person likes another dislikes, so too for publishers. It is for your consideration only.)

How do you critique other writers? Do you have advice to add?


  1. Hi Kerrin
    This comment that you referenced truly was disturbing. I'm glad the author called attention to critique. I have been a moderator for an in person critique group for years and only recently stepped down. I've seen some pretty rough methods over the years, but thankfully, most writers are generous and passionate and won't take the sledge hammer to your work. Your advice is spot on. Always start with a positive. Just because something isn't necessarily your personal writing style doesn't mean its bad or wrong.
    N. R. Williams, Fantasy Author

  2. Good post, Kerrin. I was also very upset by the comments to our fellow writer. Like Nancy says, your advice is absolutely spot on. There is never any need to be unkind in critiquing, that doesn't move either party forward. I like the example you chose as it's constructive, informative and kind.

    Thank you for stopping by mine :-)

  3. Hi Nancy and Margo. I just can't believe that some people can be so critical! There is always a way of offering suggestions that are nice and helpful, rather than hurtful. Always read again (both what you have read and the words you are offering to it).
    And in a community that the author started too! Very sad!

  4. This is a great idea! I'll have to share this with my crit group. Great post, Kerrin!
    Edge of Your Seat Romance