This is part of a series, 30 Days to A Stronger Novel

You need feedback on your novel. That’s a given.
Be careful who you ask for feedback. There are a variety of critiquing styles

Besides a good critique group, or an editor you can “trust with a draft,” you can also use “naive” readers, or those who know nothing about the writing process.

For these readers, you have some simple instructions.
1. Read the story and enjoy it. But pay attention to how you are feeling as you read.
2. When you come to a place that is confusing to you, write a big C in the margin.
3. When you come to a place that is boring, write a big B in the margin.
4. When you come to something that you don’t believe would happen in this story, put a big D in the margin.

That’s it. You don’t want their ideas on how to make it better. You don’t want them to mark misspelled words or punctuation. Oh, OK, if they are obsessive and it makes them feel better–no, even then, that’s not their job. Their only job is to pay attention to their feelings as they read.

Now, you can’t argue with their opinion. Nor, can you ignore their opinion. It’s simply how they felt as they read and you must consider if other readers will feel the same.

Another option for feedback is reading aloud to kids. You can read about my surprising experiences reading a WIP to kids here and Dori Butler’s similar experience here

Critique group, trusted editor, “naive” readers, or reading aloud to kids–each method of getting feedback has pros and cons. The important thing is to get feedback of some kind. Writing is communication and you must check how well your communication efforts are working.

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  • Anastasia
    September 26, 2007

    Great idea! (And very easy to use!)

  • dirtywhitecandy
    June 15, 2009

    Excellent tips. Too often if you give a ‘naive’ reader your manuscript they are overwhelmed by the fact that you’ve managed to write anything at all. Result: gushing but mainly useless feedback. If they know you write professionally, they may be so overawed that they daren’t say if they have a niggle that something is wrong. Others may be on the lookout for the bits that are about them or people they know, or that show what you think of them (apparently). So this tip of giving them specific tasks while writing is very helpful.