Asking for feedback

We all do it, all the time, ask for feedback. What we don’t necessarily do is mean what we say. I suspect what we really want is for everyone to say we’re brilliant, gifted, producers of fine work and an example to the rest of humankind. The sort of feedback that makes us feel good but doesn’t actually do us any good.  Real feedback is not like that, but will normally be a mix of praise and criticism, of taste as well as knowledge, subjective, sensitive and much more useful.

Scriptwriting, the director and the dramaturge

The process of getting a script to the stage has layers of feedback for me, starting with writing group comments, moving to the many suggestions made by the director and dramaturge, often involving cuts, moving things around, questioning the purpose of the play, and taking in the experience of the cast as they get their heads around the language, the characters and the shape of the piece. Changes are often much easier to make than expected. If they make sense they can fall into place. The key is to be open to input while holding true to the essence of the piece and of the writing. There can be more feedback from a wider audience with Q&A sessions or invited comments in R&D and rehearsed readings. That can entail many contradictory ideas which have to be sifted and considered but it’s all positive in crafting and shaping the final piece.


Poetry groups and workshops tend to take time to help work through a relatively small piece of work which can lead to some pretty detailed examination of words and phrases, changing the shape of the poem, splitting in two, pondering the title. All valuable in helping to hone not only the poem but also the poetic skills.

The novel

The novel was the prompt for these musings. My first draft has been or is being read by a handful of trusted friends and the feedback is starting to pile up. The first reviewer, who has been mentoring me through the process, has been keen to emphasise that it’s all subjective, that I should look for the common threads. Good advice, and very helpful, as there are issues on which I’ve already received diametrically opposed views as well as some suggestions which demonstrate some common ground. And the general tone is encouraging and appreciative so I’m fired up to move to second draft and believe I will have an end product with reading – and publishing, which is another story.

Tony Earnshaw

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