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You know the one - you've poured your heart and soul into the keyboard and you're rightly proud of what you have written.  You summon up the courage to give it to your loved ones to read and wait on tenterhooks, hovering around them whilst they read, dying to know what they think..

  • "It's the best thing you've ever written."

  • "I can't wait to read the next one."

  • "It moved me to tears."

I don't know if you're the same as me (unpublished and ever hopeful), but there's part of me that wants to believe them and bathe in their admiration and then there's part of me that translates their praise into:

  • "Compared to that story you wrote when you were 15, where you ran out of time and killed off the heroine, it is the best thing you've ever written."

  • "It's taken you about ten years to finish this novel of yours, I can't wait to read the next one, maybe before the kids leave home?"

  • "It moved me to tears, your sentences were so long, with insufficient punctuation, it made my eyes water searching for a full stop!"

Your loved ones will always support you and tell you what they think you want to hear.  There's a big difference between friends and family being nice and you wanting and needing positive feedback to help you improve as a writer.

If you're a writer who wants feedback, then you have to let your reader know, whether it's your best friend, your mum or a work colleague.  Tell them you appreciate their support, but what you really need to know is... were the characters real and believable, did the ending feel forced or natural... you know what you need from them.

If you're the friend, loved one or peer who is doing the reading, then be honest.  Make suggestions that will be helpful, will help the writer improve and get better.  Rather than blowing so much smoke up their arse, they'll be giving off smoke rings for days, remember that smoke will disappear, whereas constructive criticism may last for weeks, years, even a lifetime.

Take care, Tx

 


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