Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Feedback: The Good, The Bad, and The "Oh, come on now!"

Hello my lovely followers! I'm back from my unintended blog silence, so let the posts begin!

Let me start by saying that I truly am sorry for just leaving my blog updateless. It's not something I was meaning to do, but it happens sometimes. The good thing is that my blog silence wasn't because I didn't want to blog, but because I was busy doing other life and writerly things. Not only was I critiquing pages from a few of my Fab Squad CP's wips, but I'm also working on writing two of my own. You know, cause the muse and plot bunnies can't possibly survive just working on one. So yeah, that's what's new.

And before I move on to the topic of this post, I need to do this.

There, that's better. Missed you guys!

I had originally written a different post, but after reading over it decided to toss it out. Maybe it'll show up sometime down the road, but now isn't its time. Right now, I feel like talking about feedback. Better yet, feedback that comes from critiques or other places. Tumblr, I'm looking at you right now.

Let's begin with the good part of feedback.

The Good:

As you can see, I have nothing against critiques and feedback. If I did, I wouldn't have CP's or offer to do critiques for others. Honestly, feedback is a very important part of the writing process and without it who knows what a John Green, Leah Clifford, or (insert every author ever here's) books would look like. Getting another pair or pairs of eyes on your MS can bring to light mistakes or details that you as the author may miss. We're too close to our work to see that that character just went from a boy to a dog, but your CP, beta reader, and even agent isn't. Without them, you wouldn't know that dog boy even happened because the switch was so minor it didn't even make a blip on your radar.

Okay, so maybe a dog boy would make a blip, but you get my point. The important thing to remember is feedback is one person's thoughts. You don't have to take every suggestion someone makes, but you should listen to why they suggested it. Maybe something about your plot wasn't clear enough for them or your MC's voice didn't make sense. Look at what they said and ask questions if you want. No one's going to bash you for wanting to know why they said what they said. At least I hope they wouldn't.

Yes, feedback can make you want to curl up in a ball sometimes and cry. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that it won't. I'm going to share a secret with you. If your CP's aren't tough and you haven't felt like this before:

Well, then you may need to add another set of eyes. I'm not saying you can't be nice. In fact, nice is wonderful! What I am saying is that you have to be honest and actually point out the flaws that you see. That's the best part of feedback. Finding the cracks in your work so you can fix them before someone you wouldn't want to see them gets their hands on it. Also, you also get to feel like this whenever you read little notes sprinkled throughout your MS.

And for the tumblr part of the good: Fandoms. Oh, how we love our books, movies, and TV shows. I've seen so many posts from people showing their love for what they consider the best-thing-ever! This kind of feedback, I'm sure, has to feel amazing to those whose work has touched so many. In fact, I'm sure it feels pretty dang awesome! Things like tumblr have even helped shaped the stories we see played out on TV. Well, sometimes they do. So thank you tumblr for loving characters as much as you do. You give me and others hours of something to do while we're procrastinating instead of working on something a little more important and worthwhile.

The Bad:

This part's not going to be too long because there really isn't much that's bad about feedback. At least not the kind that I've seen and heard of. So, let's discuss the bad part of feedback.

Waiting. Yep, that's one of the bad parts of feedback. Waiting for your CP's, beta's, agent's, your 2nd grade English teacher's, and so on's thoughts on what you've written. It can make you nervous wondering what they're thinking and if they like it. You know you should be working on something else, reading a selection from your TBR pile, or cleaning the places in your house you forgot existed until now; but you can't. Your mind's stuck on refreshing your email until that golden email arrives.

And when it does you open it and immediately start running through a roller coaster of feels. I know we've all opened at least one email filled with feedback and looked like this:

It's the face of, "How did I not see that?" Or the, "Oh, God! I'm going to have to burn the pages and just pretend they never happened. I'm better off writing a different story," face. But don't worry my dear followers. After those gut-punch feelings go away the solutions to the problems will appear! 

Another thing that goes in the bad section of this list is also being tied into the tumblr part: Things that have nothing to do with your story. I'm happy to say that I have never had this problem, but I'm sure it happens. Using tumblr as an example, I'm sure we've all seen those posts where someone goes on and on about something that never happened in the story they're talking about. Sometimes we point it out to them, but mostly we just shake our heads and ignore them. It's not worth the hassle and arguing won't change their mind anyway.

If you receive feedback that has absolutely nothing to do with what you've written, I suggest maybe asking if they sent the email to the correct person, (if it is an email.) If they insists that it's meant for you, then I suggest finding someone else to give you feedback. Again, arguing isn't going to change anything and you'll feel much better just moving on and letting it go.

The "Oh, come on now!"

Let's talk about the other side of feedback: The person giving it and sometimes the person receiving it.

As you've seen above, the person giving the feedback can make you feel all happy and gushy mixed with dread. But mostly I hope that it fills you with excitement to dive back into your MC's world and implement the ideas the feedback has ignited.

But sometimes the person giving or even getting the feedback can turn into a monster that spews hate and rage everywhere they go. Tumblr can be used as another example, but I'm going to go with the example of an outraged author who was rejected by an agent that was kind enough to include reasons why. If you've been lucky enough to receive a rejection with thoughts from the agent, I hope you said thank you and didn't do something like this:

Anger has its place in this world, but not in this case. The agent took the time to give advice and thoughts when they didn't have to. Anything other than a thank you is really unacceptable and should never be done. Rejections are tough, I know, but those that come with feedback is super rare and super awesome! So be kind to those agents who do this, please. I and others will appreciate it if you do.

For those giving feedback to authors, movie and TV writers: And here is the tumblr part of the "Oh, come on now!" section. I know sometimes we can get wrapped up in our favorite books, movies, TV shows so much so that we want to tell the people who are part of them what we think. That's great! By all means, go on ahead. I know I've shot off a few tweets to authors such as Leah Clifford and also the writers/actors of The Vampire Diaries saying how much I love what they do. There's nothing wrong with that. Even constructive feedback is great. You know what isn't great? Threatening someone's life just because the story or feedback didn't go the way you wanted. For those who do that, all I have to say is this:

It's not okay and I'm begging you not to do it. Not only is it a career killer if you're doing it to an agent, but it's just a horrible and creepy thing. Just don't do it! Yes, you can be peeved over a plot not going how you thought it should. I'm not going to tell you that you can't feel how you want because that's what stories do. They bring out your feelings and that's part of the reason why I love writing. Just don't go overboard into cray-cray land and everything will be all right.

To sum things up:

There are many types and sides of feedback. Some good, some bad, and some can make you want to head desk. The thing is, I wouldn't trade the feedback I've received for anything. It's helped me grow as a writer and I hope the feedback I give does the same for someone else.

What are your thoughts on feedback? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time, happy reading and writing everyone!