Have you ever asked a few friends to read your latest manuscript and asked them for feedback? Did you get any? Whenever I have done this, I receive many enthusiastic comments. Which are lovely – because I have lovely friends! 🙂 But, they weren’t helpful. The things I needed to know, were not things they were trained to spot.
While it is nice to hear happy comments about your story, the most helpful comments fall under the category of ‘criticism.’ Critical remarks don’t always have to be mean and negative. They can be very helpful. Consider the following:
- I was confused between the two characters, Carol and Connie. Their names are too much alike and I just kept getting them mixed up. (That’s a valid point.)
- Does the story have to have so much quilting in it? I’m not really interested in quilting. (Well, the story is about quilters and often about the quilts they make and why, so I just have to come to the conclusion this isn’t your kind of book. So, I have to set this one aside.)
- What is wrong with that lady named Gert? She’s so weird, I think you should take her out of the book. (Compare that comment with the comment I get from nearly everyone else – I love Gert! She’s my favorite character!)
The most helpful comments you can make on your friends book are honest but kind. Don’t be afraid to give your honest opinion, but always try to balance out a negative comment with a positive one. If it was your book, what would you like to hear?
Friend critiques and opinions are not to be confused with a critique or Review by a professional editor. It’s a good idea to get both. Your friends provide you with a ‘man on the street’ opinion and a Critique-er or Reviewer (like me) provides you with pages of useful ways you can tighten sentences, rid the manuscript of weak words, and generally help you bring it to a whole new level without losing your own voice. It’s an excellent investment into your book.