How to give effective draft feedback? A number of approaches exist. Regardless, it is often much easier for someone other than the author to find mistakes and judge the effectiveness of a piece of writing. And yet, you may sometimes feel at a loss for how to go about giving someone feedback.
All writers can benefit from finding another set of eyes to read and comment on their work. This can seem daunting for many, but like all else, repeated exposure makes the process less painful. If you’re really ready to get serious about seeking constructive feedback, consider joining a writers’ workshop group. Please visit an earlier post on The Value of Critique Groups for an in-depth explanation of how a successful writer’s workshop should be organized.
Even if you’re just trying to help out a friend or coworker, these tips will hopefully come in handy.
Suggestions on How to Give Effective Draft Feedback:
1. When possible, read aloud. This slows the eye down and makes mistakes more apt to stand out.
2. Read with a writer’s eye. Does the piece make sense?
3. Read with a pencil in hand. Comments in pen can’t be erased! Or utilize the comments feature of your word processing program to give feedback.
4. Indicate errors with standard proofreading marks on printed paper, or but don’t be a gramminator in discussion! Don’t dwell in the safety of pointing out punctuation. Save that for the writer to deal with in the final draft.
5. Pose questions in the margins: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?
6. Make reader response comments that show how you relate on a personal level.
7. Include a final written comment on strengths and weaknesses. Especially note if the focus or theme of the piece is clear.
8. What is unique about the author’s personal style? How effective is their word choice?
9. Be honest, not brutal, when making suggestions. What if… Maybe you could.. I’m not sure… I really like how you… It confused me when…
10. Avoid good/bad comments. Generalities are generally not helpful.
What approaches have you used when giving someone feedback on various kinds of draft?
Image Credit: Yellow Chicks by Petr Kratochvil
Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2013.