Author Topic: Feedback: Is it good?  (Read 1968 times)

Dangerbutton

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Feedback: Is it good?
« on: August 03, 2008, 06:33:12 PM »
Okay, here's a question for Brandon or anyone else who could be considered a writer.
I am in the process of writing a novel, and I have found myself wanting people to read the chapters as I go, to give me feedback on them. The idea is that I will know what I should fix while the book is still in progress, and be able to do so more easily.
While talking with a friend who is currently working on his fourth novel, he voiced his opinion that such was a bad idea. His argument was that feedback while the book is still in progress could change it away from the book you were writing. Just get it done, and then let others read it.
I've been thinking about that a lot, and would like your input on it.
Thanks

Chaos

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Re: Feedback: Is it good?
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2008, 06:56:44 PM »
I think Brandon went over this on one of the podcasts on www.writingexcuses.com

I believe he said feedback is very important. It allows you to know when you need to cut some material out (I'm pretty sure that's stated in episode 3, or whichever is about Cutting Your Darlings) that you may think is great, but is really unnecessary.

He also said that when in writing groups, it is vital to not comment on the feedback. Don't try and defend your works--it just leads to argument--but he also said that no one can write your book better than yourself. This part may have been from his blog. I don't exactly remember, but that's the gist of it.
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Andrew the Great

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Re: Feedback: Is it good?
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2008, 07:38:51 PM »
Whenever I write, I always find that it's best to write a chunk, then have someone read it and give me opinions. I try to keep it small enough that it's fairly easy to make changes, but large enough that they can do quite a bit at once. Not that that should affect what you decide at all, just it's what works for me.

Basically, what I'm trying to say is that while advice from friends can be a good thing, if you don't like it, you don't have to follow it. Find what works best for you, and don't let anyone tell you that they have a better way. Listen to advice, but don't think you're required to take it.

So try it both ways. Do it where you write lots, then get feedback, or where you get feedback as you write. People do it both ways. Just do whichever works better for you.

But do get feedback at some point. It's very important. In fact, most of the things that I've written without feedback tend to go in the trash. I would recommend getting feedback before you finish, but it doesn't have to be as soon as you write something either.

And writing excuses, mentioned by Chaos, is an excellent resource for aspiring authors. I love the tips and advice, and have found it to be a great help.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2008, 08:36:11 PM by Andrew the Great »
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LoneWulph

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Re: Feedback: Is it good?
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2008, 05:15:56 AM »
Just to throw my two cents in here, as I am in a similar situation as yourself, Dangerbutton. I have found that while writing my novel, its come to more of a core group of friends ( only 4) that read what I write, but each get a different approach. One gets an upcoming concept for my character(s), another gets only that page, the rest get the whole thing in update patches.

Hardest part, for me (hence the separation) is that in the beginning everyone was given a copy of the first half of the book and the suggestions I got from most were minimal and feedback positive. Others see it as, unconsciously, a way to express their take on things and that really causes issues.

A good friend, who has since become the one to  only receive the conceptual aspects, in the beginning would rally against my ideas or direction. In essence, he wanted to write an entirely different book than I was. It did cause some strife internally for me, but in the end I went on with the story how I saw it developing.

As in many things, there are no right or wrong answers, but personal solutions. Mine was to create a select focus group, yours maybe different, but the goal should be to create the literary vision you have and allow THAT to be dynamic Allow that to change and grow, shift and move by itself not by the hand of someone else.

But then again, that's only my humble opinion. :)


WriterDan

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Re: Feedback: Is it good?
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2008, 05:34:53 PM »
I tend to follow Stephen King's process myself.  When writing something, I get it all out first and then let people have a look at it.  I do this with short stories more because I can write them faster, but I think that doing this gives me a good idea of what kinds of things are good to include in stories, be they long novels or short shorts.  He also suggests putting things away for a while once you've finished them as a way of removing yourself from the "darlings" stage that has been mentioned below.  I think that's a great way of giving yourself a fresh look on the way your story is put together.  As always, beware of two things:
     1)  Those that criticize everything and would make your book theirs if they could (this is good reasoning for writing the whole thing out first, and THEN having it critiqued)
     2)  Those that say that everything is good and they don't know why you're not published, like you mom.  (Okay so I'm not suggesting that you avoid letting your mother read your stuff, just avoid letting good opinions of things you have written give you a big head)
That being said, there is some good to be had from running conceptual ideas past someone else, whether that person be a co-author or a good friend with a solid background in the genre that you're writing.  I think that you can hammer out the details of the idea before you start writing anything and then make up the little stuff as you go.   That way, when you have to edit on the back end you don't have to make colossal changes to a story that you finished before letting anyone else read.
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Re: Feedback: Is it good?
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2008, 05:22:44 AM »
Can be good, can be crushing, but you will learn more by being crushed.

I started writing at fifteen and had a Sci-Fi trilogy done by 21. I did not let anyone read it until it was finished. Bad idea, in my opinion. I have had professionals tell me that my samples of it were a waste of pages. I know what's wrong with it now, and it can be fixed...but three books man...that's going to take a while.

Then I tried an experiment. I had someone read each chapter of my newest novel as I wrote them. I had an idea for the main character and thought it was awesome, but she disagreed, big time. What would have happened if I finished the whole thing without fixing that problem in the beginning? Thanks to her feedback, and others, I actually have something worthy to hand into a publisher, I hope.

Many good writers today have a reader network. Brandon Sanderson and Mull, even C.S.Lewis. The best feedback I receive are from current avid readers that I work with or know by close association. Joining a writers league and going to as many workshops as you can will also be helpful. And this I have learned just this year.

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Re: Feedback: Is it good?
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2008, 05:25:19 AM »
Yeah, I think at least SOME feedback is good no matter what your writing.

Also - Welcome back Dia.  Haven't seen you around in a while.
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Re: Feedback: Is it good?
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2008, 06:45:33 PM »
You're friend is right that feedback will change your story.  That's kind of the point.  I've written both ways, but only more recently had the access to chapter-by-chapter feedback.  I found it invaluable.  Questions like "Does this concept need another scene to explain it?" or "Does my character come across as whiny or sympathetic?" can be answered as you go.  Then you can correct as you go: I think this is easier than correcting an entire book (done that: it's doable, takes a lot of time, and you have to cut/change more scenes that you're already fond of).  I'd give it a try, at least.  If you have good critiquers, the only downside I see is that you'll be having them read a rougher kind of draft.  Or I guess it might not work well if you don't write chapters in order...

Peter Ahlstrom

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Re: Feedback: Is it good?
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2008, 06:08:09 AM »
I started writing at fifteen and had a Sci-Fi trilogy done by 21. I did not let anyone read it until it was finished. Bad idea, in my opinion. I have had professionals tell me that my samples of it were a waste of pages. I know what's wrong with it now, and it can be fixed...but three books man...that's going to take a while.
Not a waste of time. Your first million words will be crap. That was a lot of good practice.
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Reaves

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Re: Feedback: Is it good?
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2008, 05:17:00 PM »
Not a waste of time. Your first million words will be crap. That was a lot of good practice.
thats reassuring. And the scary part is that i mean that literally; when i look at what i have written i know it is bad. its reassuring to know with time it will get better  :)
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Miriel

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Re: Feedback: Is it good?
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2008, 01:36:53 AM »
The fact that you can look at it now and see it's bad means you've matured as a writer, especially if you can see why and where.  Congrats.

Dangerbutton

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Re: Feedback: Is it good?
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2008, 11:25:30 PM »
Wow, thank you everyone for the response to my question. From what has been said here, and a bit of my own thinkingness, I have decided that I will go ahead and let others read and critique my book while it is still in the works. It should help me see where I need to improve, but if anyone does suggest some serious changes that I don't like, well, they can eat poo because its my book. I like that.

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Re: Feedback: Is it good?
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2008, 02:07:03 PM »
I have a little writer's group of about 5-8 people (depending on the week) and for me at least, it really helps to finish writing bits and have them look it over. In fact, it tends to spur me on to write more because I know I have an audience. :D

Like has been said before, the book/story is yours. Do not let anyone else try to make you write it their way. However, that does NOT mean that you ignore any criticism you don't like. Take each comment you get and mull it over. Think "Would this strengthen or weaken the story/world/character"  even if you hate the idea. Sometimes we can be so attached to bad plot/world ideas that we don't want to relinquish them no matter what. So even if you initially hate the comment, think it over. It may just be that you will discover something that will improve your story.

But, never just change things all willy nilly. That is a sure-fire way to flush all your work down the tube (especially when you get comments from many different people). I've seen a sentence which broke several rules of grammar (on purpose), and yet was provacative and original, be 'corrected' down to mush. Boring stinky mush.

Try to look at all comments objectively.
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Miyabi

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Re: Feedback: Is it good?
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2008, 03:34:08 PM »
OK maybe I'm just grouchy from lack of sleep, but the only thing that ties this thread to EUOL is the fact that they asked for 'Brandon or someone else' to answer their question.  Even in that case it belongs in writing groups and it keeps popping up saying new posts so I click on it to get rid of the blue thing and then next time I log on BAM there it is again.

Can it be moved . . . please.
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Re: Feedback: Is it good?
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2008, 02:08:59 AM »
I'd suggest having an outline of how you want it to turn out, and give it to people to give feedback in chunks.  If you do it that way, you can get suggestions on what needs to be changed without needing to change the entire story, but you still have something to keep you from straying too far from what you wanted to write.  (Wow, I'm a hypocrite.  I never use an outline.  I agree with miyabi; it should be moved.)