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How To Give Good Feedback to Online Stories

A Guide

Ever gotten a message like this?

"Zomg dis story is da WORTS!!!1 it sux just liek ur fayce! lozr"

How about this one?

"Wow. This story is amazing! There were some sections that I think could need work, but other than that I’m so blown away by everything else! Wow!"

Fun tip: neither “review” is a good one! The first is just an attack on the English language, while the second is too vague to really be all that helpful (although praise does let you know you’re at least doing something right!)

So you may be thinking, how can I give feedback so good that people basically praise me endlessly for it? Well, reader, keep on readin’ ‘cause I’m about to tell you!

I’ve had almost everyone I’ve given feedback to personally thank me in return. It creates a nice, fuzzy feeling in your stomach, and you can even make a few long-distance friends along the way!

What you need:

  • A device with access to the internet
  • Some type of word processor (e.g., Microsoft Word, AwesomeNote, or Google Keep) or paper and a writing utensil (this is for note-taking!)
  • A critical mind

When going through the piece, think about what you would change if you were writing it. Maybe you would introduce a character sooner or tweak this dialogue here. Whatever it is, jot any changes down onto your electronic or physical piece of paper. Also, make note of lines and scenes you liked as well. When you’re done and you’ve finished your notes, it’s time to start writing the actual feedback!

How To Write Good Feedback:

1. Start with your overall impression.

Giving them the big picture first, then narrowing things down, helps create a relaxed and broad atmosphere. Saying things like, “Overall, this was a really great read. Starting off with a dream is a little bit cliché, but the fact that it plays such an important role in the story really makes things interesting!” really helps make the writer feel good and can cushion the impact of any criticism you give.

2. Mention the sections you liked.

Mentioning scenes within the story makes things a little more narrowed, without jumping into the story line-by-line.

3. Quote passages you liked, isolating them with brackets or parenthesis.

So, for example, this could be a piece of the advice I would give to a friend. The quote is in double-brackets and my advice is below.

[[“I had a dream,” she sang. “A house was aflame, and you didn’t know my name.”]]

- I really like this! Your lyrics are original and captivating, however, I would like to know how she sings this. Low and dreary? Putting some description into how she sings would really make this great!

4. Mention the sections that need some work.

Like step two, this requires a broader eye; perhaps scenes or entire characters that don’t move the story forward need to be cut or reworked. Whatever the reason, mentioning sections before zooming in on them organizes your work and creates a great transition.

5. Quote passages that need work, isolating them with brackets and parenthesis.

See where I’m going with this? Yep, quoting lines that need work is crucial, but don’t go overboard. I’d say one line for every 100 words is good, but if you know for sure that the author can take more, then, by all means, give them more critiques!

When you’re done, be sure to proofread and hit submit! Congratulations, you’ve just sincerely helped an author.

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How To Give Good Feedback to Online Stories
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