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What's the best feedback you've ever gotten?
Nevena Georgieva
Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 2:51 PM
Joined: 2/9/2012
Posts: 427

It's time to give credit where credit's due! 


Share below the best piece of feedback you've ever received from a fellow Book Country member. When is a time when you read a review and were like, "Wow, this makes so much sense!"


While it's nice to acknowledge your reviewers' hard work, it will give us all a sense of the kind--and style--of feedback that seems most helpful and relevant. 



BC Coordinator

--edited by Nevena Georgieva on 2/27/2014, 2:51 PM--

JCW Stevenson
Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2014 3:48 PM
Joined: 2/24/2014
Posts: 19

I Have had no negative reviews here at all!

I hope I don't need to quantify that statement.

D J Lutz
Posted: Saturday, March 1, 2014 12:09 PM

While I have had two reviewers tell me they liked my book ("you have a winner...") I think the best feedback so far has been to show more and tell less. That, and watch out for extra words - meaning kill the darlings when they need a killing.

Of course, I knew that. Did I do it at first? No. Hence the good, and needed, feedback. Thanks, guys!

Posted: Saturday, March 1, 2014 3:17 PM
Joined: 10/15/2013
Posts: 78

I've had some great and positive feedback which I really enjoyed.  The timing came at a point when I was beginning to get discouraged with my WIP and their words were huge in spurring me on.  A high rating combined with compliments about my visual descriptions and skill in keeping a potentially sprawling story in check brought great encouragement.


The most useful review(s) I have received were around the wordiness and general word mechanics of the book.  While still encouraging, they brought a much better dose of usable feedback which is bringing real and constructive change to the book.  Major revisions aren't necessarily a bad thing, they can help purify your story.  Lean on the wisdom of those more experienced, the real benefits of a community of peer reviewers!

Posted: Saturday, August 30, 2014 1:23 AM
Joined: 8/29/2014
Posts: 7

I've gotten none but I can predict the future! 


Jay Greenstein will tell me I need to work on learning the tools/rules of the Craft.  He'll recommend one of five books/things, On Writing by Stephen King, Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain, Scene and Structure by Jack Bickham, GMC: Goal Motivation & Conflict by Deb Dixon, or one of the informative and illustrative articles on his blog.... Likely Grumpy-8 (aka ).


And I'll get various unhelpful or flame reviews, very likely before I get anything decent, helpful, or Jay gets a chance to post a review. 


This dose of realism brought to you by nobody, endorsed by nobody, and believed by nobody.

Mimi Speike
Posted: Saturday, August 30, 2014 6:23 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1016

Nobody, please explain what you mean by unhelpful. I have not had an unhelpful review yet. Even negative comments are beneficial, challenging my thinking, often strengthening my resolve to continue on the path I've taken. The most unhelpful remarks may be the praise, lulling us into complacency. Beware kudos. Welcome take-downs, requiring uncomfortable reevaluations. 


Anyone who has not been reviewed, just ask. It can lead to a valuable, valued relationship. I have a lively conversation going with an insightful member that started with such a plea. 


--edited by Mimi Speike on 8/30/2014, 6:36 PM--

Posted: Saturday, August 30, 2014 7:13 PM
Joined: 8/29/2014
Posts: 7

Mimi Speike wrote:

"Nobody, please explain what you mean by unhelpful."

All my school and work writing reviews haven't given me anything to work with to improve on, mostly it was "write better" or pointing out any random spelling or grammar errors.  So I pretty much given up on peer reviews, every so often I pull it out and try again.  But on the other hand I have no clue on how to do a decent review myself, so maybe harping on spelling and grammar and a learn to write better generic comment are good reviews (with no suggestions of where/how to get better).  Good being defined as helping the writer get better.

--edited by nobody on 8/30/2014, 7:27 PM--

Robert G. Moons
Posted: Saturday, August 30, 2014 8:10 PM
Joined: 3/3/2014
Posts: 18


I try to give fair, constructive reviews. Send me a few pages of one of your stories to my email:


You can check out all the reviews I've done from my profile page for an idea of my approach.

I look for positives and negatives.



Mimi Speike
Posted: Saturday, August 30, 2014 9:28 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1016

I have a theory about learning to write. As in painting, design, anything creative, you must learn to see. Style, voice, approach are less a matter of mechanics than of sensibility, including vision and that thing called flow. Action/reaction, that’s mechanics. Mechanics are not the Holy Grail. An over-reliance on formulas does not produce a satisfying story. It may be action-filled, fast-paced, it may be grammatical as hell, without making hearts beat faster, as magnificent prose does for me. I sometimes hold my breath in wonder at the magic on the page.


We can tell you, speed this up, this dialogue is too wooden, this behavior is at odds with your stated motivation, and you can tinker away, but until you develop your judgment you will fall into the same potholes again and again.


My advice is to read, to see what thrills you and to see what works. First and foremost I want to know, what do you read? Do you notice beautiful construction? Any phrasing that knocks me out, I enter into my note files. I read and reread them, for the sheer enjoyment. I try to unravel the secret of the sorcery.


Give me a few titles of books that you love, to give me a handle on where you stand. Then, post a project and I will give you my assessment.


Why on earth do you call yourself Nobody? Stand up for your right to exist as a writer. That's the first step. 


--edited by Mimi Speike on 8/30/2014, 10:07 PM--

Posted: Saturday, August 30, 2014 10:01 PM
Joined: 1/23/2014
Posts: 44

Hmmm. Do I get the feeling that we're dealing with a troll here?  And by that I don't mean a toothpaste one..
Mimi Speike
Posted: Saturday, August 30, 2014 10:14 PM
Joined: 11/17/2011
Posts: 1016

I have never yet grasped the concept of a troll. What would be the payoff here? I'm not on social media, where I believe it is rampant. I'm very unsophisticated about such things. 


Somebody tell me, what is the point to this sort of 'poor me' stuff? As a troll, I mean. As an aspiring writer with no confidence, and/or angry for some ill-conveyed reason, I get it. We're an insecure group, are we not? 



--edited by Mimi Speike on 8/31/2014, 8:37 AM--

Carl E. Reed
Posted: Tuesday, September 30, 2014 3:50 PM
Joined: 4/27/2011
Posts: 608

The most helpful criticism I've received from others has always been narrowly-focused, direct and substantive. If I had to sum it up in one word, I'd say, "specificity".


Broad generalizations are all well-and-good, but only after you've shown the writer (by repeating their own words back to them) what you're talking about, followed immediately by concise, proscriptive suggestions on how to improve that particular highlighted word, phrase, sentence or paragraph.


I've had reviewers catch anachronistic words and phrases, mismatched and/or contradictory bits of character and scene description, plot misfires, mistakes in chronology and errors of translation.


If this sounds like I'm a terribly sloppy writer, I can only tell you: I'm oftentimes blind to my own mistakes until they're pointed out by others. Perhaps you've had similar experiences receiving criticism . . .


PS. I've long gotten over the embarrassment of submitting anything less than a "perfect" manuscript for review. Understand that I re-write and polish as best I can, but there's no substitute for having a fresh brain (ideally, brains) looking at your work. And those heated red circles that occasionally bloom in both cheeks? The price ego pays for the betterment of the artistic whole.


--edited by Carl E. Reed on 10/18/2014, 1:37 AM--

Angela Martello
Posted: Tuesday, September 30, 2014 7:11 PM
Joined: 8/21/2011
Posts: 394

I agree with Carl that some of the best reviews I've gotten are the ones where the reviewer takes the time to copy and paste sections of my text and comment very specifically about it with respect to mechanics and the story itself.


 We all need editors and proofreaders, even those of us who have worked in publishing for more years than we care to count. We're too close to our work; to familiar with the story and where it's heading. I know I get so bogged down with the story and the characters, that I sometimes gloss over word usage, sentence construction, and grammar and punctuation issues. It's always good to have fresh eyes (and, yes, as Carl put it, fresh brains) picking over my work and looking for inconsistencies in those areas.


That said, though, this is my fiction writing and not a rehashing of my graduate school thesis on the petrography and geochemistry of diabase dikes up in New England. Dry as that writing was, I had to concentrate on the science and relied on a very good thesis adviser to question that AND to check things like grammar and spelling. Here, on Book Country I am particularly grateful for the reviewer who will not just spend time on issues of sentence construction and writing mechanics, but will also tell me that my main character is too whiny (and he really was in earlier versions of the books!), this plot line seems too thin or extraneous, the pacing is too fast or too slow, the dialog is good or stilted, or there's not enough descriptive text/world-building. For me, it's important to know whether or not the characters and plot and world-building are moving along. Once all the glaring issues with those are on their way to being worked out, then I can really focus on the nitty gritty of grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure.



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