What’s in a Review? Tips for Taking Criticism on your Writing

As I’m about to send my novel out to several beta readers, I’ve found myself thinking an awful lot about how prepared I am, or am not, to take on their feedback. I remember vividly when I sent the first fifty pages out to a few key people. One of them in particular is a voracious reader (you know who you are), so I really wanted her feedback. When I opened her email response, I remember my gut dropping. There was the first paragraph talking about how much she loved it (yay!), followed by two full screen scrolls of things that could be fixed or edited.

It’s so funny, because despite her saying up front how she loved my writing and that I reminded her of Sophie Kinsella (which STILL makes my day), for a good few days I wallowed only in the negative.

I’m a year on from that experience now, and as I look back, I can only think of how grateful I am that she was the first person to give me truly honest feedback. I now look at her two pages of bullet points and see all the ways in which my writing has improved by simply sharing it with one person.

That said, I know that I’m in for a fresh new wave of feedback and constructive criticism. To start with, I’ve given my beta readers some very clear instructions.

Now I need to give myself a pep talk and some pointers.

  • Writing does not happen in isolation. If my target audience does not identify with the book, it is not where it needs to be.
  • See feedback as a positive, even when you fear otherwise. Every bullet point, every comment is a way for me to improve.
  • Decide what to take and what to scrap. Not every piece of feedback needs to be followed. If you give your book to ten people, they might react ten different ways to one scene. There are times you need to go with your gut and stick to your guns.
  • Remember the praise. Inevitably there will be one fantastic comment (we hope!), so when you’re sifting through the edits and the critiques, keep hold of that comment as an anchor.

And with that… I am ready to send my ‘finished’ book out into the world.

For my fellow writers out there, what advice do you have for taking on feedback?

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2 Responses to What’s in a Review? Tips for Taking Criticism on your Writing

  1. paulettemotzko July 11, 2014 at 1:21 am #

    Reblogged this on Writer's Work Lab.


  1. Professional Development for Aspiring Authors | Girl Tries Life - August 1, 2014

    […] yourself a pep talk. While I had only just written a post on how to take feedback or criticism of your work, it’s a whole different thing to have an hour and a half with an agent. I’ll be […]

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