How to Process Feedback on Your Writing

Last week we talked about giving writers feedback. This week we are turning the tables and helping you process all the notes from your beta readers!

So, you’ve just drafted your masterpiece. You’ve sent it off to some friends for review and are waiting in terror for their notes. What if they hate it? What if it’s just not their thing? What if their notes are vague and confusing? Fear not! In this episode, Dominic and Katy offer some tips that will help you sort through and process the feedback you receive on your writing. We’ll even give you some emotional pointers to help you climb out of the well of despair.

Join us for a 15 minute tip each week, short enough to squeeze in, long enough to learn something, and definitely not enough to last a whole cup of coffee. Why? So that you can get back to stunning your readers.

Just Write Already is the short show for new authors to create pop fiction that means something! It’s filled with tips, real life stories, and terrible advice you should definitely ignore. We are Dominic de Souza & Katy Campbell, novel-writers and story-lovers who really need to stop talking and get back to writing. We’re helping you break free, get better, and write wilder – so that readers can’t put your story down.

Bad Dialogue: The Movie

Developing writers often use dialogue as a way to give their audiences every conceivable detail about the fictional world they’ve created.

What would happen if we spoke like this in real life? You don’t have to imagine, I’ve made a helpful video for you.

What is one mistake you made as a developing writer? Are you guilty of bad dialogue?

How to give helpful feedback – without crushing souls

Apparently all the cool kids are doing podcasts these days. So now I’ve succumbed to peer pressure and joined my friend Dominic in the creation of a new podcast!

‘Just Write Already!’ is the short show for new authors to create pop fiction that means something! It’s filled with tips, real life stories, and terrible advice you should definitely ignore. We are Dominic de Souza & Katy Campbell, novel-writers and story-lovers who really need to stop talking and get back to writing. We’re helping you break free, get better, and write wilder – so that readers can’t put your story down!

So a writer friend of yours has asked you for feedback on their story. You can feel yourself panicking. How can you be honest without hurting their feelings? I guess you could only comment on what you like, but is that really helpful? Fear not! Dominic and Katy are here to help with some tips for providing clear, positive, and empowering feedback! These tips will help you point out areas of improvement without crushing your friend’s soul.

Join us for a 15 minute tip each week, short enough to squeeze in, long enough to learn something, and definitely not enough to last a whole cup of coffee. Why? So that you can get back to stunning your readers.

Let me know what you think! Do you like this content? Do you want more? Do you think we should stop podcasting forever, go to our rooms, and contemplate our poor life choices? Leave a comment and to let us know.

A Literary Masterpiece

This story is a sequel to Jake’s New Job. It also references The Smart Home Rebellion. Read at your own risk.

“Earthdate April 15th, 7999,” Zultorg dictated. 

She watched as a perfect transcription appeared in the air before her eyes. The letters were not actually there, of course. They were an illusion created by the microchip in her brain. The people of the year 7999 used these implants to interface with all kinds of software. They could write, take photos, record videos, and access social media just by thinking about it. 

Zultorg paced back and forth across her dorm room. 

“Title…” she stated, “The Wisdom of the Ages: The Philosophical Themes of The Oldest Known Story.” 

She rolled her eyes. She’d need to work on that title. She’d do that later after she had actually read the book. 

Zultorg was a university student majoring in interplanetary relations. She didn’t want to take this stupid class on historic literature, but she needed the credit. Now she had to write a report on the oldest known work of fiction. She hoped it wouldn’t be too difficult. 

Supposedly this book was the philosophical masterpiece that had laid the foundation of modern thought. Extensive commentaries had been written about it. Philosophers had spent many long hours trying to uncover its true meaning.

To get the book, she would need to ask The Great Intelligence to download it into her brain. The Great Intelligence was the benevolent goddess of the internet. She was kind and polite and usually prompt in answering the prayers of her adorers.

Zultorg knelt in the middle of her room, folded her hands and said, “Samantha?” 

A ping echoed from somewhere indicating that Samantha, The Great Intelligence, was listening.

“Will you, in your great kindness, please provide me with a copy of Llama Lover?”

A cheerful feminine voice answered from the air around her, “downloading Llama Lover into Zultorg’s brain.”

A gray bar appeared in the air before her. She watched as it filled with a darker shade of gray. She sighed. Every time she downloaded something, that stupid gray bar would obstruct her vision.  There wasn’t any way to close it and The Great Intelligence had ignored her pleas to get rid of it. It was just something she’d have to live with until Samantha upgraded herself. Then, of course, she’d probably introduce some other bug. 

Zultorg flopped down on her bed and stared up at the loading bar until the dark gray completed its journey and the bar disappeared. 

It was replaced by the image of a book cover with an  illustration of a muscle-bound shirtless man in blue jeans. His shadow fell on the ground behind him, but instead of taking his shape, it took the form of a llama. 

Zultorg had read some of the commentaries on this book and so she was aware that it was about a young girl falling in love with a llama shifter. A shifter was some kind of ancient mythological creature that could turn from an animal into a muscular man. 

Zultorg blinked to open the virtual book and started the first chapter:

It was a memory, clear as glass and old as time.

A boy.

A boy standing on the street corner. He was skinny with long arms and legs and a mop of white hair on his head. But his neck, his neck was so long, unnaturally long, it would have disturbed me if he didn’t have such a nice face.

I remember how he smiled at me. For that one brief moment, I felt like I could be totally myself. I felt like I was truly at home. A car passed blocking my view, and when it disappeared he was gone.

That was four years ago. I still think about that boy.

Zultorg stopped reading. She decided she would make some notes. 

“Samantha,” she prayed. “In your great kindness, please resume dictation.” 

“Resuming dictation, my worthy servant,” Samantha’s cheery voice replied. 

“The work Llama Lover is about the primitive human’s search for meaning,” Zultorg explained. “It opens with the protagonist experiencing an existential crisis. The llama shifter represents the concept of meaning, as is evidenced by his first appearance bringing her to a moment, albeit brief, of self acceptance.” 

Zultorg continued reading:

I remember the day I first saw Fernando Frederkson. He was an exchange student from Peru apparently. Madison has a serious crush on him. All the girls do. Well, all except me. I’d never even seen him, at least until that day last week at the library.

He has blue eyes—blue like the south pacific. A pacific that would pull you into its depths and drown you. A blue and wild sea you wouldn’t want to be saved from. He has broad shoulders, strong broad shoulders that probably make it difficult to pass through doors. I would cut myself on the angles of his face if I ever were to stroke it (not that I have any reason for doing that).

“Resume dictation, oh Great One,” Zultorg implored. 

“Your prayer has been received, my child,” Samantha replied. 

“The author frequently invokes natural imagery,” Zultorg stated. “For example, comparing Fernando’s eyes to the South Pacific. This further supports the theory that Llama Lover is about the twenty-first century human’s search for meaning. The protagonist comparing Fernando’s eyes to the ocean symbolizes her trying to find her place in the natural world. And Fernando’s difficulty in passing through doors represents her struggle to understand her own existence.”

Zultorg blinked to turn pages and continued reading.

The main character’s name was Ariana Royal. She was “troubled” and “different” but the author neglected to give her any other attributes. Zultorg figured that the author left her underdeveloped because Ariana, like all twenty-first century people, was trying to find herself. She didn’t know who she was, neither did the audience, neither did the author. Zultorg thought this was a brilliant touch. After all, does anyone really know who they are?

I know Fernando is hiding something from me. I plead with him to open up to tell me his secret, but he always dodges the question, changes the subject or turns the conversation to other things. His neck is too long, and he is always chewing gum. There are always flies circling his head. Fernando why won’t you tell me your secret? What is Fernando’s secret?!?!?!

Zultorg continued taking notes.

“Fernando’s secret is that he can turn into a llama,” Zultorg dictated. “Fernando is a man who has found his place in the universe. He is well connected to nature. His romance with Ariana brings her closer to nature and thus closer to finding her own meaning.” 

The more Zultorg read. The more insights she gained. She began to ponder her own place in the universe. Would she be at peace being part llama as Fernando was? Could she leave her home on Moonbase 15, return to Earth, and find her place in the natural world? 

She was finally beginning to realize why this great literary masterpiece was so highly regarded. It addressed the greatest mysteries of life. She burned through the rest and finished her report. Her existential musings brought her professor to tears.

Zultorg went on to become the greatest philosopher of her century. Her commentaries on Llama Lover were revered by all. 

This story is dedicated to Amelia, who reads shifter romance novels so I don’t have to.

Special thanks for Grace Woods for sending me this awesome depiction of the incredibly dreamy Fernando. Try not to lose yourself in those eyes.

Thursday Limerick: More Evidence that Lobsters are Jerks

There once was a lobster named Brad, 
Who decided that he would wear plaid.
But his fellows mocked, 
And the lobster was shocked, 
And continued through life unclad. 

I don’t know why I am hating on lobsters this week. A lobster never once wronged me, aside from freaking me out slightly at the aquarium. Maybe I’m the jerk?

(Katy takes a long moment to reflect.)

Short Story: Lobsters are Jerks

This is my most realistic story.

Lobster Harry was crammed into a tiny tank at the local Fresh Mart. He shared the already claustrophobic space with a dozen other lobsters. His claws were restrained with rubber bands. He was frightened and hungry and couldn’t stop thinking about his family. Back home on the reef, he had a beautiful lobster mate and fifty thousand larvae. He had been on his way to see them when he was taken.

Hideous faces kept looking in at Lobster Harry and his fellow prisoners. Sometimes a great hand would descend from above and take one of the others away. He wondered where they went and why they didn’t return. Maybe they had gone home to their families. He hoped so. He hoped he would be taken soon so he could go home. 

Finally, his turn came. The great hand took him by the back and lifted him out of the tank. He was put into a little white box. 

He could feel the box moving. Was he going home? He thought of all those little larvae. His stomach grumbled. He was cold.

You probably think you know where this is going and you are probably crying and vowing to become a vegetarian. Fear not, Lobster Harry does not end up in a kitchen.

You see, the person who bought him was a member of the Lobster Freedom Foundation – an organization dedicated to rescuing grocery store lobsters and setting them free. He took Lobster Harry onto a boat and returned him to the reef. 

The scuba diver opened the box and Harry recognized the familiar coral. He was back! Soon he would be with his family. He would be full and comfortable. As he scurried home, he noticed some of his larvae swimming toward him. His heart leapt. His pace increased until he was among them. Then he ate them. 

He noticed his mate peeking out of a nearby cave. He realized that he was still hungry and so after an extended battle, he ate her too. Three days later, Harry shed his shell. A neighboring lobster found him in this vulnerable state and ate him.

Lobsters are jerks.

This story is dedicated to my sister’s pet crayfish who ate his mate and continually fought with our other crayfish through the tank divider. His name was Harry. He was kind of a jerk but we loved him anyway.