Writers, like most people, react badly to harsh comments. But there is a way to soften what you want to tell them so they can make their manuscripts EVEN better.
After reading the manuscript:
1) State what you like about the story or the character and so on.
2) State what emotion or image you experienced. (Overall or in specific scenes.)
3) Identify any place where you were confused or found inconsistencies.
4) Underline passive verb structures, non-specific word use, overuse of adverbs, adjective + noun structures that could be replaced with strong “showing” verbs, negative structures that could be positive.
Sample Comments to mark changes you think will improve the writing.
- This is a strong verb – I can see action here.
- Colorful description-I like it.
- Evocative turn of phrase, it made me think.
- This made me cry/laugh/giggle/get angry…
- Never thought of it like that.
- Oh oh- had to read this 3 times – maybe change order/add/delete/use different words for clarity.
- Lost me here. Not sure what you are trying to say.
- I understand this to mean XYZ – is that what you intended?
- From what you said above I thought she had blue eyes?
Writers, print this and offer with your manuscript when you ask for feedback from volunteers. It will help them give you the information you need without worrying about upsetting you.