The value of giving writers thoughtful feedback

All too often someone giving feedback feels caught between trying not to dishearten the writer and being honest. If the reader has undertaken to give feedback as a friend, the relationship becomes even more fraught. 

However, if aspiring writers only receive praise without helpful suggestions for improvement those writers will never know what they can do to improve. They won't know what they don't know. 

Ideally a feedback giver will say what he or she liked about the writing, be specific about how it could be improved and then another comment about what appealed.

The aim of giving helpful feedback is not to leave the writer feeling devastated nor to we want the writer to believe he or she is the next J K Rowling. The reality usually sits somewhere in the middle to bottom and to get the writer to a point where their writing  is closer on the scale to J K Rowling requires a lot of editing, re-writing, re-thinking and re-visioning.

Here is an example of feedback that focuses on what worked and what did not.
1.            You captured the character in this one piece of dialogue (encouraging).
2.            However, I couldn’t see this character bashing his fist on the table as he has taken six months to call a meeting with his son. I would expect him to be more considered and his arguments better articulated given the way he has behaved before this point (area to improve).
3.            Your description of the café where they meet was vivid. I could hear the barista working the machine in the background and the general buzz of conversations around him (encouraging).

At The Story Mint we encourage members to give each other feedback.
Making sure that the writer understands that the feedback is opinion is paramount. The writer can choose whether or not to follow it and this ensures they don't take what is said personally. As always, we request that the feedback be constructive. It is posted publicly so reflects badly on the feedback writer if scathing criticism is all that is offered. Sometimes more detailed analysis can be offered off-line in a personal email. However, giving and receiving feedback in a public forum is a helpful exercise for both the recipient, giver and other writers who learn what readers are looking for in someone’s writing.

Sometimes the relationship between a feedback giver and recipient develops into that of mentor and mentee. This relationship can be very special.

There are some feedback writing tips at this following link.




An excellent post that clearly outlines the essential need for a writer to learn from advice given in the correct way. I do hope that members will print off a copy and pin it up near their desk. It is not just important to take advice in the right manner but to give it in the same way. Thank you, Suraya.