How to Give Constructive Criticism to Another Writer

As a writer, particularly if you’re just starting out, it’s imperative that you have someone else look at your work. It’s important to get a pair of ‘fresh eyes’ to tell you what’s good and where it goes wrong and how to make it better. A writer should always encourage readers for feedback and constructive comments.

When I did work as a content editor, I always had to phrase my feedback in such a way as to be polite, constructive and encouraging. I want to help make my client’s writing the best it can be, and also, I want my clients to return to me for work.

I always start by saying what is good. What I like and why I like it. If I think something is really great then, unfortunately, my client is on the receiving end of my ‘this is great and I want you to do more of it’ rant.

Never ever say ‘it’s not very good.’

Instead say what needs improving and how.

To be constructive you need to be analytical. They need specifics. You want to help them improve their writing whether it’s pacing, characterisation, or anything. Tell then specifically what needs improving and how.

I often give examples of books, areas of research or writing courses that I think will help them and they can choose whether or not to look at them.

Those writers came back to me again and again, so I must have done something right!

 

 

5 thoughts on “How to Give Constructive Criticism to Another Writer

  • December 18, 2011 at 9:18 am
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    I find your feedback to be constructive, encouraging and very useful. On top of that, you're very open to keeping a dialogue open about the revising process, which I've been finding really useful 🙂

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  • December 18, 2011 at 9:22 am
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    I love bouncing around ideas with people and I like to know how they're getting on (partly because I'm nosey) but I love working with other writers and want them to succeed so I do the best I can. I try to take a very friendly and relaxed approach instead of a rigid business like approach. It's much better that way 🙂

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  • December 18, 2011 at 9:24 am
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    Also Clare, you've personally been on the receiving end of one of my ‘this is great and I want you to do more of it’ rant 🙂

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  • December 19, 2011 at 3:43 pm
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    I know, lol! And I hope I managed to do more of it in the new draft 🙂 Still ploughing through the type ins 😉

    Reply

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