Wednesday, May 6, 2015

10 Ways to Give Writers Helpful Feedback

Identify what you want and learn how to ask for it. 

Lisa: So I was just wondering if there was one general thing that you've found over the years to be generally true in a general way that would help anyone in any situation?
Psychiatrist: That's a great question, yes, I would say figure out what you want and learn how to ask for it.
Lisa: OK. Those are both really hard.

The above quotations are from the movie "How Do you Know." I appreciate this movie psychiatrist's advice as it relates to writing as well. Many writers are intimidated to ask for what they need related to feedback. In fact, it is difficult to know what types of feedback will have a favorable influence on your work. Most of us have experienced that situation where a reader's feedback was tough and caused us to stop writing for a while. The best kind of feedback helps writers to move forward in a writing project. The following suggestions are given to my students so that they can benefit from and give helpful feedback on their class blog projects. They are adapted from Peter Elbow and Pat Belanof's book, Sharing and Responding. New York: Random House, 1989.

TYPES OF FEEDBACK for Blog comments:
I. No Responding: Sharing
1. Just read the blog out loud; see what the words sound like. What is your reaction? (Write this)

II. Descriptive Responding:

2.   Sayback
Write back in your own words some aspect of the post. But say it more as a question--Are you saying...?
3.   Pointing
Write the words or phrases that stick in your mind. Which passages/features did you like best? Don't explain why.
4.   Summarizing
What is the main point? Subordinate ones?
5.   What's Almost Said or Implied
Explain what is almost said, implied, or hovering around the edges. What would you like to hear more about?"
6.   Center of Gravity
What is the source of energy, the focal point, the seedbed, the generative center for this piece
7.   Structure
Comment on the Voice, Point of View, Attitude toward Reader, Level of Abstraction/Concreteness; Language, Diction, Syntax
8.   Metaphorical Descriptions
Describe the blog in terms of weathers, clothing, colors, animals.
9.   Believing and Doubting
Believe or pretend to believe everything that was written. Offer ideas and perceptions to help the case. Then doubt everything that was written. Say arguments that can be made against what was written.
10.   Movies of the Mind
Tell the writer what happens inside your head as you read the words in the blog.

These tips are a way to improve both the reader and writer's experience. Let me know how they work for you.


  1. Very helpful tips not only to help others improve their work, but also to polish ourselves in the eye of the critic which could also help us write better works. Not only being limited to the work itself but also to those other works that may relate in a interdisciplinary way, making it more diverse.

    1. Yes, Rafael, it's true that the critic's eye can improve a work but my point is that the right kind of feedback is helpful rather than harmful.

    2. True,I was referring that helpful tips may help the writer have diverse perspectives regarding his or her works :)

    3. Yes, indeed! Have a good summer, Rafael.

  2. Great ideas! really impressed with your original and genuine way you have put your story across - you're an inspiration and I am following your journey - awesome work!

  3. Very useful tips and ideas. Well done, thanks! :-)

    Greetings from London.

    1. Great to see you here, Cuban In London! Thanks for the support! <3

  4. Found the suggestion number 10 to be very peculiar, but interesting at the same time. Next time, I'll be sure to try it out!

  5. Really looking forward to using these ideas and tips for my blog, thanks!

  6. I've read the post, I will indeed keep them in mind at the time of writing the feedback of my group partners.

  7. Great tips for giving feedback. Will try them out. Thanks.

  8. I find it very helpful. I never had in my mind that giving feedbacks could help both the reader and the writer.

  9. Really nice tips I will try to implement them when commenting on my classmates blogs.

  10. I've read the post, this suggestions are very helpful. Thank You !! I will try to use them at the moment that I will be doing feedback to my group members.

  11. These will definitely come in handy at the moment of giving feedback to others. I was particularly interested in #8 mainly because I have never thought of writing feedback using metaphors such as color or weather conditions. It is an interesting idea, I will make sure to try it.

  12. This is very helpful. Thank you for sharing this with us!

  13. The tip #8 and # 10 sound interesting, I might try them for my next post especially the metaphor one. Is very helpful, thanks nice day.

  14. Thank you for sharing these helpful tips ! I especially liked #3, #6 and #10. I'm using these as feedback guides for my comments from now on.


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