After you’ve sent out your writing out to beta readers, writing mentors, or professional editors, there comes a day. A day in which they send you *dun dun dunnnn* feedback.
And then? You actually have to screw your courage to the sticking place and read it.
Some only give a few lines of feedback or a few pages — an overall impression or general advice.
However, a decent percentage (especially if they’re like me) are going to give you line edits, phrasing suggestions, requests for more details, and notes. Notes about plot holes or improvements, suggestions about how to fix things or improve them. And all of this feedback is mixed together.
So when you open your document, especially if you’re using the ‘suggestions only’ option on Word or Google Docs, you’re faced with an enormous list of those little comment boxes on the right side of the document. Dozens on each page, until they don’t align with the manuscript and you can’t even see what you’re working with.
Most of the advice I’ve seen has told me to deal with the big stuff first. It makes no sense at all to tweak each line before you even know if the scene is going to be cut or not.
I do it backwards
But me? I can’t see the forest for the trees. I can’t decide a line needs to be cut unless I see it polished and shined.
Remember, you are reading the blog of a person who, during a document review at her day job, fixed a typo in a line that she was about to delete.
The first thing I do when I get feedback is clean up all of that ‘low-hanging fruit’. The typos and line edits barely take longer than reading through the comments themselves. While I’m contemplating the larger changes, I can quickly accept (or reject) the little stuff and clear it from the queue.
This way, next time I review the feedback, I can see the shape of the story and start to look at the big picture.
There is one type of comment I leave for the polishing round.
Those comments that say “nice description” or “good point.” The ones that compliment the story or the writing, the ones that yell at the characters because I’ve made the critiquer care that much.
It’s always good to keep track of what is working.
How do you clear your feedback?
Do you start with the big stuff or the details?