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tWR Guide: How to Ask for Feedback

Journal Entry: Thu Sep 9, 2010, 4:25 PM

Believe it or not, the reason that most submissions are rejected is because they do not include the mandatory feedback question. We understand that creating specific questions isn't always easy. As administrators of this group, we read many of them every day, and we understand how it can be problematic, especially when you’re not sure of what you want feedback on. In order to help members create a superb question, we've put together this guide on how to ask for feedback.

Putting Together a Feedback Question

This shall be our guinea-pig (example poem) for today:
Lilacs are growing in the pond
where I first kissed my lover
I had eggs for breakfast
But I love him so much
I want to go back to the lilac pond

So, how do you formulate a good feedback request?

It's not a great poem, indeed. But let's disregard that for now, because it is really an unimportant factor; it is actually more difficult to ask for feedback on a good piece than on a bad one.
Let’s focus on the poem: to come up with questions, the first helpful thing to do is to ask yourself some questions about the piece itself.

The easiest one surely is:
What did I like most about my piece?
It might appear too simple, but it really helps to start narrowing the issues that you, as the writer, have with your piece.
If I had written our ^ poem, I might answer this question with something along the lines of "I like the specific imagery of lilacs. I'm also proud of how the end mirrors the start." So what I first would ask about, would have to be imagery and structure — that, put into the structure of a request, become “How can I make the imagery even better?” and “How can I make the full-circle nature of the poem stronger?”, or even “Is the structure of this composition coherent/good/it makes no sense?"
These are already acceptable questions. Granted, they are not particularly elaborate and we can’t say that you put a lot of thought into them, but they comply with the meaning of the word “specific."

Another – rather obvious, again – question is this one:
What did I like least about my piece?
For the poem above, I'd probably say "I don't really like how the third line doesn't fit with the rest of the poem. I also think it's a little too repetitive." And these sort of doubts about your own piece are the first things you should consider when making a feedback question: most often, readers won’t notice these weaknesses that you, instead, feel so strong; so pointing them out yourself is a great way of making their job easier and not only, of clearing your own mind too.

This would be a helpful question to ask yourself to go into a bit more detail about your work:
Do I think others will get the impression from the piece that I'd like them to get?
The “message” of a piece of writing is always essential, so we could say this question is a classic. But getting back to our dear guinea-pig, let’s apply this question to it. In general, when I write poetry or prose, I do so with a set mood and series of things in mind, and of course, I would like my readers to feel this mood, so that is another good question to ask.
However, remember that “specific” adjective that we’ve been repeating so much. This is a feedback question, yes, but I wouldn’t say it’s really specific.
Think about it. What’s the impression it gives you, from where do you get that idea, which part refers more to it? Include all of this into your feedback question, because it really helps our Group’s members to pinpoint the issues, and help you solve them.

And, of course, this one is pretty important:
Will my piece capture my reader's attention?
I would ask about how the subject matter and style work to intrigue the reader. Often the most used (and abused) feedback questions we read daily are about the so-called “flow” of a literature.
And whereas it’s a perfectly acceptable thing to ask about, I ask you all again to remember about that tiny word, “specific”… just asking if the piece flows, or if it will capture the reader’s attention, is not enough.

In conclusion:

Everyone is required to critique at least one deviation in the group to submit their own work, and many of you are busy or uncertain about how to write a good critique. Why not make it as easy as possible for everyone involved? The more accurate you are with your question, the faster other members will understand your needs and the better their critique will be. It’s a win-win situation, right? :dummy:
Always remember that putting up a proper feedback request helps both you, and the reader.

And, just a last point needs to be made. Sometimes, when we mention to you deviants that you need to ask a specific feedback question for the piece to be included in our gallery, we get an answer similar to “Oh but I don’t want critiques, I just wanted to share my work."
If the reason you’re not interested in feedback is that you don’t want to change your piece, then of course we understand, but theWrittenRevolution is just not the group for you. :shrug: We're here to develop writers' skills, first and foremost. But before you leave, remember that every piece will have flaws here and there, on different levels and measures. Don’t dismiss the possibility of asking feedback so easily.

Take a look at How to Give Feedback and keep writing! :eager:

NOTE: Before the amalgamation of journals and news articles, this blog was posted as a news article. :flame:

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