Post-Writer Feedback: What I Do
“Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.”
~ A. A. Milne
So last Friday I met with my writer’s group to get feedback on my NaNoWriMo YA novel. It was an insanely crazy roller-coaster ride of feedback, but incredibly powerful and helpful. Going in I knew I had a lot of work to do—the meeting confirmed I have even more. 🙂 Here are some things I’d like to share about the experience:
What I Learned
Much of what I knew needed work was validated: main character needs to be more sympathetic, I need to explain how the magic works a little better, some of the chronology is off, my flashback experiment needs to be revamped. All good stuff!
Receiving Feedback: General Advice
So, here’s what I do after I get a massive amount of feedback:
- Review all feedback and identify any questions or holes. I need to do this 1-5 days after a meeting so that I have everyone’s thoughts in my head for #2.
- Let feedback marinate. I usually sit with feedback for a novel anywhere from two weeks to a full month before sitting down with it again, turning different ideas over in my mind while I walk, drive, run, etc. Caveat: With picture books, I actually get to it sooner so I don’t lose any threads or ah ha moments because of the short, quick nature of the picture book.
- Separate the wheat from the chaff. Review all the comments and note which ones resonate, which ones raise my curiosity, and which ones just don’t do feel right.
- Compile written comments. I open a new doc in Word and transpose or copy and paste all resonant comments and questions, including any notes I took during the meeting.
- Compile in-line comments. I then go through any page by page manuscript notes and pull out those that resonate, adding these to the Word doc.
- Organize comments. Once I have all comments in a single doc, I organize them by loose categories – individual characters, specific plot points, etc.
- Brainstorm and implement new ideas. Now I can brainstorm new ideas and think through whether they will work or not. Depending on the scope of the changes, I may start a new doc for a rewrite—something I will probably do with this manuscript—and then bring in scenes and such from the draft as needed.
Just as in receiving comments, I remember that it’s my story. I take what feels right and leave the rest.
Wish me luck–it’s a MOUNTAIN of work that I need to break down into manageable chunks so I don’t feel overwhelmed. Whew!