This final instalment in our ‘Getting better words’ blog series follows tips on choosing the right writer, costing a writing project and briefing a writer. We’re rounding all this off with a look at how to judge the writing you receive at the end of the process – and how best to give feedback.
When you receive your writer’s draft, what are you looking for? If you’re not used to reading other people’s writing, you might struggle to know what to make of it. And be even less sure of how to talk to the writer about it. So here are a few tips.
First off, don’t rush to give them your immediate opinion. Read the whole piece at least twice, with an open mind. Don’t ask, “Do I like it?” Instead, consider whether it gets your message across to your audience. This is the critical factor. The writer is aiming at your reader, not you.
Then you’ll need to ask other things, such as: Does it meet every part of the brief? Will it grab the reader’s attention? Does it flow naturally and logically? Is it factually correct?
And when you’ve answered these questions and more (see below), what’s the best way to feed any comments back to the writer?
If you’re the only person judging the work, it’s mainly a case of being very clear. Make your comments specific and detailed – “not sure about this bit” or “don’t like this paragraph” don’t give the writer much to go on. And put everything in writing, so there’s no scope for misunderstanding. (If all this sounds obvious, you’d be surprised how rarely the obvious happens.)
If there’s more than one of you commenting, you also need to make sure everyone involved agrees on the feedback. And give it to the writer in one go – not in several stages of comments.
These are the essentials to judging a writer’s work. But if you want the full story, our ebook, ‘The coffee-break guide to getting better words’ includes all the questions that should be running through your head while you’re reading. It also tells you how to choose and brief a writer, cost a writing project, and more.
Download our project-preserving, face-saving, life-improving ebook here.