Organising Feedback

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I’ve had a few rounds of feedback on Vengeance Will Come and have been mostly diligent in filing responses in a sub folder of the project as soon as I receive it. (If your inbox is anything like mine, things get lost in there like a grain of dirt swept up in a mudslide).

Sadly, that’s about where the organisation of feedback ended. (In my partial defence, I intentionally wasn’t processing the feedback straight away: I wanted a balance of opinions and some time to pass).

Here is what I’m going to do now, and in the future, before starting the revision process.

Compiling the Feedback

Create a Feedback Compilation document, which has the same structure (chapters and scenes etc) as the novel.

Go through each (feedback) document/email:

  • Where it’s a typo, grammar or obvious error (e.g. wrong character name), fix it in the manuscript immediately.
  • Where the feedback is incontestably wrong, ignore it. (If there is any doubt, don’t ignore it).
  • Where the feedback relates to a given chapter/scene place it in that location in the document. If it’s thematic feedback or has broader application than a single section I’ll add it to the top of the document.

    I’ll add three-letter initials of the reviewer in brackets at the end of the comment, just in case I want to know who provided it. Some reviewers opinions should hold more weight than others and it’s always helpful to be able to later clarify comments.

Colour Coding

  • If the tone of the comment is positive, change the font colour to something less stand-out than black. I’m leaving it in the document so I don’t accidentally “edit out” the bits people like. And, inevitably, there’ll be days when I need a motivational boost.
  • Where I disagree with the feedback I’ll add a comment in brackets as to why, and colour the font a grey. (It’s still there, but less important).
  • Where I agree with the comment (or enough reviewers pick up on the same issue) and it’s a major problem, apply bold and red font.

Summarising

  • Once I’ve added all the feedback from all reviews, I’ll group my related dot points (to see the weight of opinions). This might result in grey text I disagree with becoming black text. I might also paraphrase a collection of dot points down into a concise problem statement.
  • If reviewers disagree with each other then I’ll either side with one, or put both opinions in a table with two columns (pros and cons).

After all this work I should have a single document to use as a reference when editing each section of the novel.

If you write, what are your strategies for managing feedback?

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2 thoughts on “Organising Feedback

  1. Hi Ben!
    What I do with feedback is separate and immediate. First I take the email responses and copy/paste them into a Word doc and then highlight the sections that I do something with. When I make a change in the manuscript, I copy/paste it back into that doc so I remember why I made the change. I don’t compile everyone’s feedback into one place; I keep them separate. And I keep all of them so I can refer back to why I made changes.

    I also learned to LIMIT the number of beta readers to five. Any more than five and it gets too complicated and one person will say the opposite of another, etc.

    I also do something with the feedback right away so that I am always working on the ‘most recent’ version of the manuscript. Especially if I’ve made a major change. It is a little difficult to explain, but that is how I have done it.
    Shari

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Shari
      Thanks for the comment.
      Surely with some feedback though you wait and see if multiple people agree? E.g. respondent 1 hates situation x. Surely you wouldn’t change that straight away?

      I could certainly appreciate having a smaller reader group, but I don’t yet have a go-to group. If I put it out to 5, I might only get 3 responses.

      Hopefully in time I’ll have a better set of tools and techniques for gathering and organising feedback.

      Interesting to hear your approach, thanks for sharing.

      Like

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