Getting feedback on your manuscript can be a tricky business – mainly because your family and friends are generally not the best people to ask. They will either read your manuscript and say, “It’s good” or “I like it” even when it’s a load of BS – they are trying to be supportive and encouraging when all you want is for them to tear it to shreds. The other thing you need to think about before asking friends or family to critique your work is how their response will affect your relationship. If they truly don’t like your work and say so, will you be offended?
So, where can you go to find feedback?
Whether you are at school or university, there are English teachers or writers in residence that you can go and chat to about your manuscript. They certainly won’t have time to read 50,000 words, but a short piece of say 5,000 words (absolute maximum) they might be able to manage and provide you with some quality feedback that you can then apply to the rest of your manuscript by yourself.
Are you a member of a writing group? Set aside one session weekly or monthly or privately for you to give each other feedback on your various projects. Often it is easier to critique another’s work than your own because you weren’t the one slaving away crafting and shaping, writing and reworking to get it to this form. Be sure your feedback of others work includes plenty of encouragement and positive comments.
Most people aren’t very good at self-critique, but it’s something that, as a writer, you need to get used to. What I found helpful was paying attention to how I critiqued my peers in my writing groups at university and also paying attention to how we analysed the different texts we studied in our classes – gothic stories such as Dracula and Frankenstein, travel writing, children’s writing – Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories, and many more. I took these tips and tried to look objectively at my own writing to apply these same ideas.
Where do you go for critique? Is this even a stage in your writing process or do you skip straight to editing? Share in the comments below.