Post-Writer Feedback: What I Do

July 20, 2017

“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:

  1. 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.
  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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Organize comments. Once I have all comments in a single doc, I organize them by loose categories – individual characters, specific plot points, etc.
  7. 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!