Our First Meeting

Sunday 21 February 2015 Present: Dina, Anne, Susan, Prim, Pamela, Libby, Madelein
Apologies: Garth, Geraldine, Gavin, Sunny

Anne Skyvington convened the meeting, and talked about the Guidelines for giving and receiving feedback Susan Beinart spoke about the Friends of Waverley Library, who are our sponsers. Seven people turned up, which was pleasing, given that no publicity has been done so far. Five people brought along poetry or prose that were discussed by the rest of the group. Madelein agreed to create a poster for the group.

Guidelines for Giving Feedback

  1. The Sandwich Analogy: Say something positive before something negative, then finish on the positive or how to make it better.
  2. Take into account the basic issues of narrative structure, characterisation, evocative and atmospheric language, vivid settings, scenes creation, believable dialogue: relevant to all types of writing.
  3. It is important, ideally, to be widely read, in order to give wider acceptance.
  4. It is possibly better not to offer criticism if you do not like the genre or style of writing under consideration.
  5. Take on the task of critiquing with a positive and helpful intention; read carefully, trying to understand the writer’s point of view and creative goal; consider the genre and the narrator’s purpose in writing.
  6. Is the emphasis more on story, as opposed to experimenting with language in a way that is investigating psychological or philosophical issues?
  7. Remember that some people may be highly sensitive in relation to some pieces on offer. This is especially true for new writers, or those who have not offered their work for feedback before.
  8. Think carefully about what is not working for you, and what is working, before you offer criticism.
  9. Give the positives first and say why. Give the negatives next, and say why it doesn’t work for you, and how you think it could be made better.
  10. Be truthful in your criticism. The writer needs guidance not niceties.Say something about story, point of view and voice if you are good at the global view

Guidelines for Accepting Feedback

  1. Be prepared to receive negative, as well as positive criticism.
  2. Try to separate yourself from the work as much as possible.
  3. If possible, look on your work as a “product” after it is “out there”
  4. Look on feedback as a valuable means of improving your writing.
  5. Be ready to respond to negative criticism if you feel that it is not warranted; give your reasons for your opinion.
  6. Rewrite your work in accordance with the feedback received, and see if it is better. If not, stick to your guns!
  7. Do not change your work if you still disagree with the criticism.
  8. Remember that all writers have received negative feedback at times.
  9. One suggestion is not to show your work until you feel confident about it.
  10. A sure sign that you can write is that you keep going after knockbacks.

One thought on “Our First Meeting

  1. These are really great guidelines. May I suggest replacing the word ‘criticism’ with ‘feedback?’ Also, instead of ‘say something negative’ you could write ‘make suggestions for improvement’ in the sandwich analogy’. This might make the guidelines more accessible to beginners.


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