It’s Great. So What?

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Lately, I’ve been prereading/editing many works.  I’ve also finished several books and have more things being juggled for publishing.  I’m finding one of the worst forms of feedback is “it’s great!”

You’ve had that experience.  You tell some writer, “it’s great” and then the questions come – why, how come, are you sure?  Didn’t you give enough feedback?  You just said it’s fine!

Then it strikes you since you’re also a writer – “it’s great” means nothing.  It provides no details on what to do right, what to improve, etc.  “It’s great” is useless to writers because there’s no way to improve.  You may have written a novel that will stay in the public mind for centuries, and you don’t know why.

Even if you should change nothing, you want to know why you shouldn’t change.  If you don’t get feedback on what you did right, you might stop doing it by accident!

It’s almost easier to give negative feedback because we can probably go on in detail if we dislike something.  We forget the easy and pleasurable read, but the flaws prick our minds and the pain stands out.  Negative feedback comes easier.

I take this as a reminder that giving feedback on what’s right is a skillset all its own.  It takes work to notice why things are good, what impressed us, what even taught us.  A smooth ride of a read can become so smooth we don’t realize why it was smooth.

The best answer I have is to be self-aware.  When a story flows through your mind, what is it that worked for you?  What did you feel in your gut as your eyes took in the words?  Your reactions are the key to tell you what makes a thing great.

If we listen to ourselves, we help others do better – or keep doing the good things.

Steven Savage