Constructive feedback has nothing to do with criticism.
Constructive feedback is not about making someone feel bad for the mistakes made. It’s about making a person aware of the issues that can be fixed and the aspects that can be improved.
Do you face difficulties in writing constructive feedback? You are not alone with this problem. The vast majority of people know neither how to provide nor receive feedback effectively.
Here are six tips on how to give constructive feedback like a pro.
When it comes to giving constructive feedback, the rule of thumb is to be specific and express ideas clearly.
Let’s say you have just read a novel and need to give feedback to the author. You can’t write something like this, “I didn’t like the plot. The novel is boring”. Such words will upset the writer, but will not help him to improve his work.
Try to explain what specific aspects of the novel have disappointed you as a reader.
“Your novel is the classic embodiment of the doppelganger theme. However, I expected it would have a modern twist. When I was reading a novel, I noticed that your protagonist promotes almost the same ideas as Tertuliano Máximo Afonso, the protagonist of the book The Double, written by José Saramago in 2002.
Don’t you think that your protagonist, who lives in 2020, should present fresher ideas that better resonate with the modern worldview? I suppose that if you make your protagonist more controversial, it will be easier for you to engage readers.”
Focus on description rather than on judgments
When giving feedback, you shouldn’t state that the author’s work is “good” or “bad”. You need only to describe how it looks like in your eyes.
Let’s say you are not satisfied with the story ending. Don’t write statements like, “This is the worst ending of the novel I’ve ever read” – don’t be that judgmental.
Try to describe how the story’s ending has made you feel:
“I liked your novel a lot. However, I have mixed feelings regarding the happy ending. It seems like Clara and Nathan are not meant to be together, so why did they decide to get married?
The novel is dramatic. And, as a reader, I expect that story will end dramatically. Now I feel confused and a little bit disappointed. I wonder whether you considered other story endings.”
Choose words wisely
Using the right words you can inspire an author to edit his book and make it perfect.
And using the wrong words, you can hurt the author’s self-esteem or cause misunderstanding.
When you are giving feedback, you should be very careful with wording. Before choosing powerful words, ask yourself a question, “Will my words help the author make his writing better? Or will my words hurt his feelings?”
Writers are creative people, and they don’t like to be criticized. For this reason, we highly recommend you review and edit your feedback message before submission. Do you want to delegate editing to someone else? Visit custom academic writing websites to get professional help.
Constructive feedback should consist of both negative and positive comments regarding the writer’s work. Even if you are totally disappointed with the novel you have just read, try to find something good in it. It can be a small detail that caught your attention.
The point is that if your feedback is 100% negative, it will be seen as a sharp criticism. By adding at least one positive comment, you will motivate the writer to continue working on his novel, and do it with more vigor, determination, and creativity.
Here is an example of how you can soften the blow of negative comments by mentioning one positive thing:
“The novel has an illogical structure. Sometimes it’s difficult to understand why main heroes are doing what they are doing and why they have such awkward conversations. However, I do like that you have chosen a symbolic name for your protagonist. Rose Highflyer is just a perfect name for a social climber who uses beauty as a tool.”
Focus on the main points
Do you feel enthusiastic about writing constructive feedback? Please, don’t overdo the task – it’s so easy to overload the writer with feedback. Choose from two to five main points and comment on them – that will be more than enough.
Seriously. Don’t send the writer a list of “50 writing issues to be fixed”. If you put it this way, your feedback will overwhelm the writer and adds no value.
To achieve positive results, you should focus on key issues. Take a look at the following example:
“It was a pleasure for me to read your novel. However, I think your novel will be even more captivating if you tweak the following parts:
Mathew’s conversation with Helen. It’s unclear what emotions Helen is experiencing. Is she happy, thrilled, or excited? I think you should specify it.
Helen’s visit to the hospital. Why Helen got upset after the talk with a doctor? The doctor delivered the good news. Did she expect something different? This part of the story confused me a lot. That would be great if you explain this situation in more detail.”
Put yourself in writer’s shoes
Probably the biggest challenge of giving feedback is finding a balance between being objective and being empathetic.
You should understand that your comments are addressed to a real person who has feelings and puts lots of time and effort into the writing project.
Before you write a negative statement, pause for a moment, and think about how these words would affect you if you were a writer. Try to paraphrase the statement or find another way to express your opinion.
The writer is a human, not a robot, and it might be extremely difficult for him to receive negative feedback from you. You don’t want your comments to lead the writer to suicidal thoughts, do you? Make your feedback sound neutral rather than negative – that will help the writer a lot.
Wrapping it up
Constructive feedback is essential for everyone who is striving for perfection. And that would be great if you master the art of giving and receiving feedback.
We highly suggest you use these six tips in your practice. They will help you to create constructive feedback that will benefit the writer.
Author’s bio. Daniela McVicker is a blogger and a freelance writer who works closely with B2B and B2C businesses providing blog writing, copywriting, and ghostwriting services. Currently, she blogs for Essayguard. When Daniela isn’t writing, she loves to travel, read romance and science fiction, and try new wines.