Critique, Editing, Feedback, Revision, Writing

Writing feedback, how much is enough?

Well, I guess this means I’m blogging again—more or less. I spent my time off thinking, and reading, and traveling. Now, I’ve returned to writing. Though, obviously, I didn’t write a real blog post for today. I just have questions for you.

Once upon a time, I wrote a novel. At the time, I belonged to a critique group with about fifteen members. After several months, I left that group for one of four because the smaller group could work through a book quicker. A few months later, I also joined a group of seven or eight, but that didn’t last. Now, with my foursome on hiatus, I’m not sure how I’ll get the needed feedback on the stories I’m writing.

Maybe some of you are supremely confident in writing solo, but except for what you read on this blog, I can’t imagine ever submitting, or publishing, something without it being critiqued, edited, beta-read, then edited again. That’s why I’m curious how you all go about getting feedback on your writing.

  • Where do you find your help?
  • Are your critiquers all fellow writers? (I presume you incorporate non-writers at beta-read stage.)
  • How many people do you involve for the initial feedback?
  • Do those answers depend on the length of the work?

Please share your method with me.

23 thoughts on “Writing feedback, how much is enough?”

  1. In my latest book, I met a few writers in the blogosphere who didn’t write in my genre, but decided to give my ms. a go. I found those to be the best critters because they saw things and questioned things that other writers in my genre would have let slide.

    I don’t necessarily work with a critique partner until the ms. is completely finished, at least in third draft mode. I find that in giving it to a critter too soon, takes away my train of thought for the story.

    And I think the critters like it that way as well. They can follow the story along and make notes as they read, while not having to worry about getting the next chapter or scene.

    As for how many I use— I have two critique partners and three beta readers. The betas are readers of my genre. The critters are not.


    1. Thanks for sharing, Anne. I found out the hard way that I don’t like getting feedback on a novel too soon. And I would never again be in a group where I submit one chapter every two months because that’s not productive. Are your betas also writers?


      1. Yes, my betas are also writers. I had a true reader once, but all she kept saying was “This is so wonderful, I can’t believe you wrote this ” without giving me any feedback on plot or structure.

        I think it’s good to have writers as readers, they at least know what you’re trying to achieve. Problem is you need to find the right ones.


  2. Great questions, Linda. I belong to two critique groups and rely on them fully. One is a read-aloud kind of group, which meets monthly. That’s great for producing small chunks of new work and seeing how it lands on other writers. My other group is for novelists only, and we read each other’s full manuscripts and then talk about plot, structure, themes, etc. I linked up with both groups because we studied with the same teachers a number of years ago. Eventually, with each book, I do end up selecting a few non-writers to read and comment.


      1. If you can find a few willing writers, with similar goals as yours, I’d totally recommend starting a novel group. I’ve learned so much from reading other works-in-progress and seeing how those writers deal with the feedback in their next drafts.


  3. I think it varies. I use my critique group for passages or chapters that aren’t gelling, but I use a few writer friends as full MS beta readers. And, I don’t ask for feedback on an entire MS until it’s finished and until I’ve given it a good scrub. I actually used a book club for my first MS once it’s been through a few rounds of revisions. It was nice to hear from readers, but all the feedback I got was “liked it” and not anything to improve. Guess I shouldn’t complain about them liking it, huh. 🙂


    1. I tend to “scrub” as I write, Kimberly, so I never know what to call my drafts. I do have a couple writer friends willing to let me send them bits of whatever I’m working on for input. Sometimes I just need to hear someone say, “Good start. Keep going.” Like you, I need the heavy duty stuff for a full. “It’s nice to hear praise, but as I thank them, I’m thinking, “You didn’t find any typos or anything?” 🙂


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