"Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man's growth without destroying his roots." ~ Frank A Clark

At some point, most writers will give feedback to other writers on their manuscript or story. It might be in a class, in a workshop, or swapping pages in a critique group. You know the other writer wants feedback, but how do you give meaningful notes? You should aim to provide a balance, both positive and identifying areas for change. The positive feedback isn't there just to lessen the sting of anything you think they need to work on. Knowing what we do well is critical—when we know our strengths we can lean on them when we need support. But it's also important to know what's not working so we can improve.

We've collected some articles to help you become a better critique partner and up your feedback game.

The do's and don'ts of giving creative feedback provides several specific tips, including the following one which is like the Tip to Rule Them All: "giving effective feedback takes mindfulness and empathy."

How to be a good critique partner includes some reasons why you'd even want a critique partner, if you're on the fence about sharing your words.

And if you're sold on giving feedback but not so sure about being on the receiving end of someone's commentary, How to give and take better writing feedback is a nice short piece with ... homework! How fun!

~ New this week ~

New on our YouTube channel

Hugo award-winning author Mary Robinette Kowal talks about how writing short stories differs from writing full length novels. She shares her experiences as well as tips and suggestions for other writers.

After having publicly announced her goal to write and publish 40 books by the time she was 40 — at age 38 with just one novel available at the time, CJ Hunt knew she needed a plan to achieve this ambitious goal. CJ is now 40 and although she didn't publish 40 different titles, she hit the goal with 40 publications, including audio books and collections. Learn how she was doing at the 8-month in mark it in this conversation.

Award-winning author and editor Eileen Cook shares with us about working with an editor and how to get the most out of that process. The stages of editing, what should you look for in an editor, how much you should expect to pay and how to figure out what kind of editing you need are all things that come up in this discussion.

Thank you to all our fabulous newsletter readers and video subscribers we earned the right to customize our YouTube channel URL so you can now easily find us at https://www.youtube.com/thecreativeacademy!

Writing sprints for everyone!

Join us and our good friends at the Richmond Public Library in our weekly, online writing sprint. Well, it's a bit more than a sprint — it's two hours of writing from your home but in the company of other writers. How fabulous is that! You're invited to drop in anytime between 7PM and 9PM Pacific, right here: https://zoom.us/j/963003204. Put it on your calendar!

~ For Creative Academy Members ~

New in our Members' Only community

How to add emotion to dialogue with Eileen. One of our members wanted to know how to add more texture and emotion to dialogue scenes so Eileen went through several pages looking at how to do just that in one of her happy hours. We also included tips and suggestions to add more non verbals. Did you know 93% of what we communicate is through non-verbals? So when writing dialogue think about not just what is said, but what isn't!

Understanding agent contracts with Eileen. Oh, that happy day when an agent has offered you representation and shown you their agency agreement. In this happy hour, Eileen deciphers what you can expect to see included and what the heck all those clauses mean, discussing common terms you should know and giving you things to consider before you sign, drunk on champagne!

In Part 4 of Crystal's focus on using the StoryBrand framework, the gang worked with author Bonni Goldberg on her StoryBrand, and then looked at how you can take the ideas from the exercise and actually ripple them out to websites/social media images.

And then, in Crystal's second office hours last we they dove into a discussion about what people want out of their author websites, different functions that a website can serve, and how to decide what social media platforms might be a good fit for you.

And in Donna's never-recorded-so-people-can-feel-totally-comfortable-asking-for-support mastermind group, we decided that we need weekend writing sprints. And so it shall be! Details below.

Writing sprints and special topic gatherings

What started as a small motivational boost for Crystal and Donna in the lazy summer days has become something of a 'thing' in the Creative Academy community. As of today we have four members volunteering to lead writing hours at various times of the day and week! Following are the official hours but you can always drop in to the Zoom room whenever the spirit moves you and let folks know you're there.

Official writing sprint times for the next four weeks (all times are Pacific)

  • Monday to Friday, 7:30 to 8:30 AM
  • Monday, 7:00 to 9:00 PM
  • Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 8:00 to 9:00 PM
  • Wednesday, 5:00 to 6:00 PM
  • Friday, 12:00 to 1:00 PM

Not a Creative Academy member yet? Learn all you need to know to become a member here.

~ Creative Advice Prompt ~

Have a discussion with your critique group or partner about how you give feedback to each other. Are there areas where you can be more specific? When you ask for feedback are you clear about what you're looking for? Consider creating a list of 3 to 5 questions that you would specifically like the person giving you feedback to address. For example: What did you like about my main character? Were there any points in the story where you were confused? Why did you you think character X did Y?

Eileen, Crystal and Donna