9 thoughts on “Rules of Etiquette for Leaving Feedback”

  1. Soliciting and giving criticism are tough. Michele’s point about the scope of the critique is right on: big picture, text, nits? It’s why we have editors, copy editors, proofreaders…each especially skilled and each with a specific focus. I used to solicit advice from one brilliant woman, hoping for the big picture, but instead getting the nits picked. I should have been clearer, but perhaps she gave me only what she could or only what she wanted.

    Yes, if you ask for advice, you risk getting offended. The advisor needs to be polite, and the advisee needs to be thick-skinned. If we cannot be honest, we are wasting each other’s time. If we cannot be polite, we are inflicting unnecessary pain.

    Thanks to Michele and Holly for their insights.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is quite good. It’s a little confusing, though, when you frame the word “criticism” in wholly negative and destructive terms, then go on to say, “If you are looking for some healthy criticism on your writing, you can seek the help of some beta-readers who might be able to give you some helpful feedback.” By your definition (bullet points), how can there be such a thing as healthy or constructive criticism?

    Pssst…I see an opportunity here to talk about plurals and possessives…

    But back to the point: I rarely offer critique unless it’s requested. Few writers are as interested in critique as they say they are, but admitting that what they want is praise, validation, and unconditional love is seen as insecure or egotistical or silly. The truth is, we all want and need those things, but they’re not always constructive. They can even backfire, if they’re dishonest.

    If asked, or if the writing is posted publicly in a context where critique is expected (not a blog or a book), I try to be specific and honest. I rarely bother at all if I feel it won’t be welcomed or useful. Life’s too short for that.

    When I ask, I mean it – and if I don’t give specific areas of concern, it’s because everything is fair game and I’ll take what I can get from readers who offer critique within their own personal comfort zones. Some prefer to focus on punctuation, while others see the big picture and ask questions about my overall logic.

    I love that you’ve stressed how it’s up to the author to ASK for the type of feedback they want and need, though. There’s nothing more fun than spending hours on grammatical edits only to find out they’ve already fixed those, and just want to know if their protagonist is likable enough. It would be good if authors would at least say what times of feedback they don’t need, in such cases, rather than to be told after the fact.

    When I post something, I may or may not be seeking critique. But at the point where the work is publicly posted, I’ve given it to readers – it is theirs to read, to skim, to critique, or to enjoy. I very much hope they read and enjoy, and consider critique a gift, if it’s at all constructive. It means they spent a few precious minutes of their finite lives helping me to improve my writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Holly,

      thank you so much for your advice and your comment. I reread the post and you were completely right, it was totally confusing. So I removed that paragraph entirely 🙂

      I posted this after making a few of my own mistakes on commenting and asking for feedback. I had to go and do a little research to learn exactly what the correct form of commenting was. There’s nothing worse than offending a writer you are a fan of and even respect. I’ve certainly learned my lesson. Thanks for all of your insight, your comment is truly appreciated 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, never fear if you’re visiting my blog, Michelle. There are only two forms of “incorrect commenting,” in my book, but I’m old-school: (1) not commenting at all; (2) personally attacking others. Anything else is fine by me!

        Liked by 1 person

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