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To Share, or Not to Share

A moral quandary: Let’s say that you’re reading something written by another writer, and you find a significant problem.  Do you tell the writer about the problem, or do you keep it to yourself?

A friend and I talked last week, and found that we had a significant difference of opinion.

My opinion was that you should always tactfully tell your fellow writer about the issue.  After all, it’s easier to hear the feedback from a friend than receive a form-letter rejection and try to guess what caused the agent/publisher to reject your manuscript, article, or proposal.

My friend’s opinion was that you should never give feedback unless it’s solicited, and never rewrite something another writer has written.  This crosses an invisible unspoken bond that all writers should honor.

The case for avoiding feedback:

Writers often put days, if not weeks or years, of effort into making something look the way they want.  Finding problems within a work after someone has put in that much effort can be demoralizing for the writer.

If a writer doesn’t explicitly ask for feedback, they likely want the reader to simply tell them how good the work is. Giving negative feedback can crush the writer, such as telling them that the piece doesn’t work, has typos, or major inconsistencies.  This can discourage a writer from continuing on to write other material.

The case for providing feedback:

Many writers are relieved to get feedback and see ways to restate something in an easier way.  Many writers will send notes of gratitude stating that they were glad someone was able to point out problems and suggest changes to fix issues in a particular piece.

Since many readers believe all the writer wants to hear is how good something is, writers often don’t receive feedback they want.  While some writers are looking for an ego boost, most are always looking to improve.  A comment as simple as “This section simply doesn’t make sense” can go a long way toward helping someone identify trouble areas within their story or articles.

What are your thoughts?  Do you think giving unsolicited feedback is the right way to go?  Or should you hold back unless a writer explicitly asks for it?

Looking for feedback that’s both honest and helpful?  Check out WritAnon’s editing service (free 2000 word sample edit)!

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