Monday, April 11, 2011

Honesty's the Best Policy

When I ask people to read for me, I expect them to be honest with how they feel about what they are reading.  I may not like  what they have to say, or agree with them but if they can't tell me they got bored reading a chapter, who will?

In return, I am honest with the people I read for.  They have asked me to take time to read for them, and I assume they truly want to know my opinion. And I tell them what it is, always letting them know it is just that.  My opinion.

So, how honest are you for your readers?  Do you hold back because you're afraid you'll hurt their feelings, or do you put it all out there, hoping your words can help them be the best author they can be?


  1. I don't hold back my opinions per se, but I am careful how they are worded so I don't come off as authoritarian or offensive. That said, I also, regardless of what shape the ms is in, always ALWAYS find something positive to say. Writing is a hard journey, one that needs encouragement and nurturing.

  2. That's a good point, Trisha. The tone the comments are given in is very important, and it is important to tell what you do like, too.

  3. I second Trisha's thoughts. While I would never advocate fibbing to a crit partner or being less than honest with them, I'd always suggest finding the silver lining first and creating a positive feeling before diving into the more critical aspects.

  4. I try to be honest but respectful. I think you can phrase feedback in a positive way, regardless of the situation. You just have to put as much thought into your feedback as you would your own writing.

    Trisha is bang on, and I love that you posted about this. People can be stupidly harsh.

  5. Amen guys. I once had a guy rake my query letter over the coals in an online critique group. He said it "screamed amateur". And that was the only nice thing he said. Well duh, its a critique group. If I'd thought it was perfect I wouldn't have asked for help. One of the first things to accept as a writer is we're not perfect and we don't have to be on our own. There's always help. You're great with your comments Mary. I never once thought about filling the bathtub with water.

  6. I always stay positive but am always honest about my feedback. I wouldn't lie to anyone about their work. They have worked too hard for me to do that. I try to be professional and sometimes light hearted and humorous. I believe in brutal honesty so I am a little thick skinned but go a little lighter on whom I read for. But I do again tell them it is only my opinion. :) Great post and discussion!


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