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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Beta Readers!

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That’s how I feel about beta readers right now. They are a wonderful breed of people.

Today I received some surprise feedback on Vengeance Will Come from a beta reader. I’d assumed I wasn’t going to be getting a response, but the email had been left and forgotten in their “draft” folder. Needless to say; every beta reader’s comments are precious, so I feel like I’ve just found a $100 note on the pavement.

It also doesn’t hurt my mood that their comments were largely positive. I can’t begin to express how that spurs me on to continue writing – both to finish this project and others.

You mean I haven’t wasted hundreds of hours writing? You mean you’d willingly pay money for it and be happy you did at the end? Music to my ears.

Of course not every beta reader is so complimentary, and I do genuinely also appreciate the constructive criticism. I know some of my beta readers have picked up on weaknesses – because I had those same doubts. What’s even better is when they detect a problem which I hadn’t seen without their perspective.

 

I’m still looking for a few more readers for up to five chapters of my novel. More details on the previous post.

Back on the Saddle

Work and personal commitments have been completely swallowing my time and vast quantities of my mental energy.

After many evenings of getting my computer to behave itself, tonight is the first night where I have a modicum of energy to use for writing and the time in which to do it.

I’ve already had one beta reader send in her feedback of my first novel Vengeance Will Come and so now I am going through the process of responding.

My personal opinion is that if individuals give up their time to read and comment on my work, it is only fair that I respond in-kind.

In most cases I respond point-by-point. It may be that I agree with the feedback or it might be I choose to ignore it. Not all feedback is going to be good feedback. Normally I would not do anything on the strength of one piece of feedback; I would wait for several so that I can gauge between the impressions of many vs impressions of one.

However, I am taking note of this advice and rectifying the issues raised because:

  1. I agree with the issues she has raised (and have always done so). Her feedback confirms my own strongly held thoughts, and more importantly
  2. It is very important feedback: it highlights what I consider to be a fatal flaw in the story design. I want to re-dress the issue before I show it to anyone else.

There’s a lot of writing-work to do and I’ve been feeling pretty depleted.

My beautiful wife did this cross-stitch for me, which is very precious. She knows that The Little Drummer Boy is the only Christmas carol I actually like, and what she wrote underneath is very apt.

Cross-stitch