I’m a big believer in honesty. Not painful, hurtful honesty, but the idea that being upfront with people (especially friends and family) avoids much drama, misunderstandings, and unnecessary conflict.
However, for honesty to work fully we must be open to feedback. Sure, honest feedback might still sting a little, or initially rub us the wrong way, but if we can ultimately incorporate the information it can be a gift.
Take the writer’s submission process for example. Joanna and I were discussing how we hope for open feedback when we submit our work to agents and editors. Even a little open feedback instead of a standard rejection would help us to know which direction to go. Such as:
“Not really the kind of book I represent.” – Try another agent.
“Strong concept, but the prose needs tightening.” – Now you know where to focus your revisions.
“Good idea, but I wasn’t hooked at the beginning.” – Time to rework the first few chapters.
“I like the characters, but the stakes for them aren’t high enough to keep me interested.” – More work needed on the plot and character development.
Knowing how to proceed in this highly subjective art of writing is invaluable. And why I need my critique group so much. We encourage each other, make suggestions, and give balanced feedback that helps us each be better writers.
So if someone asks you for your honest feedback, consider giving it. It could make all the difference.