If you read my Facebook, you’ll know this. I’m on Webook. I had high hopes for it. I found it because an Agent I submitted to included information about it on their submission page. I thought “Hey! This might be a good way to get exposure for my work, maybe help find an agent.”
It doesn’t appear that the site is very active and as of yet, there’s actually been less response from their Agency Submission tool that what I get doing it myself.
What really appealed to me was their Page to Fame. What a great thing, to have others give a critique on one’s work, to vote it up or down. You can even leave feedback, which is good. I don’t think writers get enough feedback for their work in the creation stage (to be fair, it was BoD that I put up, so it kinda is already finished).
I finally got a vote that included feedback, only to have that feedback merely be “Needs Work”
Needs work? What does that even mean? Needs work isn’t feedback. Needs work is what you say when you just feel like being dismissive. It is vague. What needs work exactly? Even in a single page, there are several elements that are at work. Is the scene described too vaguely? Is the characterization unclear? Does the writing feel too stream-of-conscious and unfocused? Is it playing with too many stereotypes or abusing a trope?
It did cause me to create a new Category on my blog, though: Rules of Feedback. And who knows, maybe I’ll revisit the topic again some day.
I will say this: I don’t mind feedback at all. Saying “needs work”, however, is just another way of saying “I don’t like it”. That isn’t feedback. That’s opinion, and unnecessary when you’re talking about things to improve your writing craft. Everyone has an opinion. There are books that I hate with a burning passion, but I will tell you that they are very well written. There are stories I love that are poorly written and need a lot of work: the idea is just great. Opinion is pointless.
So the first rule of feedback: Keep your opinion to yourself.
The second rule of feedback: Give details. You don’t have to write a paragraph. You do need, however, to detail something. If the work “needs work” then tell the writer what it is. Is it setting? Is it character label? Is it stereotyping? Unclear language? You only have to give them a few words if you’re looking at a page or two, just a couple of sentences to tell them what it is that they need to work on to improve the work.
If you’re going to give feedback and not at least give these two things, then why bother with feedback at all?
I’ll add more rules when I think of them. Rules are better that way, right?