Written by A Guest Author December 8th, 2022

How to Get the Best Feedback for Your Work

By Aliya Bree Hall

After finishing a new project, whether it’s for a fiction story or article, it’s always important to get another set of eyes on your work. If you happen to have a really strong support network of other writers or colleagues, this is a great resource to tap into; however, sometimes you have such a large pool of perspective critics to choose from, it can be tricky to narrow down your options.

At a certain point, involving too many voices will overwhelm your piece and make it impossible for you to sift through any meaningful feedback. This is why you will need to select a handful of people who will provide the most useful feedback for your work.

Someone familiar with the topic or genre

The best place to start out with when evaluating your creative network is picking the people who have the most knowledge on whatever it is you’re writing about. Not only does it make it easier on you because you don’t have to go through the extra length of explaining the background context, but you can ensure that everyone is starting off at the same place. There’s already a level of familiarity that your readers will have, which allows for a deeper level of feedback.

Even though you can receive useful insight from writers working outside of your genre, there needs to be an extra level of attention to ensure that they will be a good fit. If you’re working on a sci-fi story that has an important romantic subplot, enlisting the help of someone with a background in romance novels may be useful in making that relationship believable. That said, if you were working on a contemporary middle grade  story and a potential critique partner solely writes adult horror — there’s probably not going to be any useful crossovers.

Someone with a unique perspective

Although these people don’t need to have a different worldview from you, having people involved in the process who brings a unique or differing perspective than your own may help you find gaps in your story or research that you hadn’t seen yourself. Perhaps you’re working on a fantasy novel seeped in political intrigue and you have a friend with a political science degree — their insight could help you strengthen your system or find flaws that your characters can exploit later on.

This is also why it’s important to include a diverse range of voices when you’re seeking feedback. If you’re only getting critiques from a specific segment of the population, whether it’s white, heterosexual, neurotypical or abled-bodied, you’re going to be missing important perspectives. This isn’t meant to be used as a “cover your bases” situation, however. Diverse insight isn’t intended to prove you didn’t write something problematic. Instead it should be used to help you open your mind to a new point of view you hadn’t considered before, which could in turn strengthen your work because it’s making the piece more nuanced.

Someone whose feedback you trust

While this may seem obvious to some, it can be easy to be so focused on getting the “best” input possible on our piece that we can sometimes forget that you need to actually believe in the person who’s offering the critiques. For example, if you’re working on a nonfiction paper and there’s multiple professors in your department who have experience with the topic you’re writing on, but you have a better rapport with one of them — even if the other is technically more qualified — go with the one you trust more. They are more likely to give up their time for you and will provide better feedback because of that connection. Even if someone seems like a really good fit for your piece, if their critique style isn’t one that works well with your own, that feedback won’t actually be conducive to improving your piece.

As a writer, it can be easy to fall into the trap of finding the “best” critics for your work that you devalue your actual needs with the feedback you’re looking for. At the end of the day, you ideally want someone who is skilled at providing constructive feedback in a positive way, who can point out what is working as well as what still needs some extra attention.

Bio: Aliya Bree Hall is a freelance journalist and writer based in Portland, Ore. She is currently editing her first novel, an adult F|F science fantasy. When she’s not writing, she’s hosting Sapphic Stories Bookclub (and Other Queer Tales) or cohosting the podcast Shit We Wrote.


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