Feedback Response Styles with RYS Judge and Author Katie Frawley
Part of being a writer is seeking out feedback on our work. That’s why we’re all here at Rate Your Story, right? We know how valuable this process is. But how do you digest this valuable
feedback? There are a few common “styles” of how people take in feedback on their work.
THE MAMA BEAR:
You’ve written your story, and you couldn’t be happier. You love this little story cub more than anything. You’ve convinced it’s your best work yet, and you can’t WAIT to hear your critique partners (or your RYS judge) say the same thing. Then…horror of horrors…the feedback arrives.
-What do you mean the pacing lagged in the middle?
-The title didn’t grab you???
-My premise felt familiar? Your MOM’S premise feels familiar!!!
Whoa there, Mama Bear! You are so defensive of your precious story cub, you can’t listen to or learn from the critique.
You’ve brainstormed, drafted, revised again and again. You know it’s not perfect, but it’s the best you can get it, and NOW you’re ready for feedback. You read the critiques. You know they make good points. So now you wait to let the feedback sink in.
Until….nothing. You can’t move forward. You just don’t know how to revise. You’re S-T-U-C-K. So you put the story away, to “hopefully” work on at a later date…which may or may not ever arrive.
THE YES MAN:
Anxious to revise your story, you compulsively refresh your email for days. Until, FINALLY, the critique comes back. You read the notes eagerly and nod avidly to each one. You don’t even stop to think if these notes ring true. You dive RIGHT IN and take all suggestions as gospel. The result is…somewhat puzzling. The story now feels piecemeal, patchy, and not quite your own. What now?
I have fit into each of these categories at one time or another. And sometimes, these reactions ARE called for! Sometimes, feedback is thoughtless or overly-forceful…so we should disregard it. Sometimes, feedback stumps us and we don’t know how to proceed…so we should walk away (for a while). Sometimes, feedback is SO spot on, it’s fine to jump right in with your revisions.
But MOST of the time, I strive to comport myself as this last type.
Wise and measured, you wait for your critique. While you wait, you work on another WIP. When the critique is returned, you read slowly and carefully. You ponder your options. You listen to your gut and absorb the notes that truly resonate with your vision. The notes that don’t feel right, you discard without hurt feelings. When you feel truly ready, you return to your WIP with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective.
Do I always succeed in “waxing on and waxing off”? Umm, no. But knowing the above critique reactions are common to even the most experienced writers helps me recalibrate. When you feel your Mama Bear claws sharpening; or your Percolator bubbling over; or your Yes Man head nodding off your shoulders, take a mental moment to check yourself. Harness your inner Miyagi, and wax on.
Katie Frawley earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Florida (GO GATORS!) and a master’s in literature from Florida Atlantic University. From there, she had the good fortune to teach English in middle and high schools. When Katie left the classroom to grow her family, she rediscovered her literary roots in the world of picture books. These days, Katie lives in South Florida with her husband and five children.
Her debut picture book, TABITHA AND FRITZ TRADE PLACES, travels to shelves in January 2021 with Two Lions. If you're interested in a full critique, message her on Twitter (@KatieFrawley1) or email her (Ktfrawley11@gmail.com) to request a quote. For more, visit: https://katiefrawley.wordpress.com
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