Will You Look At This?

People have often asked me if I will take a look at their work.

Sometimes it’s another writer asking me to read a short story before a submission, other times it’s a co-worker asking me to look at a letter before she sends it to a client. Once it was a friend asking me to read an email to his boss that was filled with “suggestions”. (My comment on that one was not to send it at all.)

It isn’t unusual for me to be asked to read something, but I always need to clarify what the asker really wants in regard to feedback. Do they want it proofread, edited, critiqued, or judged? A combination of two? Or all four?

Typically, I’m met with a quizzical look or an unsure, hesitant mumbling.

What do you mean, you don't know?What do you mean, you don’t know?

On one occasion I had this response to my question: “Just whatever. All of it. Work it out.”   Ummm… okay.

Well, not really.

It’s important as a writer to know the difference between proofreading, editing, critiquing, and judging.


One: Expectations – Know what you’re getting from the person spending his or her time reading your work.

Two: Awareness – Know which of the above your work needs and why.

Three: Save money – Don’t waste your money having pay for something you don’t need. Or worse, not getting what you wanted and paid for.

I’ll do a short post on each of the four above in hopes that it may help you make a few decisions on who you should put your work in front of, be it a manuscript, a work project, or a hastily written email.

On second thought, you might not want to put a hastily written email in front of anyone.


2 thoughts on “Will You Look At This?

  1. Those are indeed important distinctions to make. Even between editors, different lingo will be used. From my experience, I’d say those who can’t yet articulate what type of feedback they need, are usually looking for the proverbial pat on the back.

    1. I agree, Jeri. But I do think there must be those brand-new, still tender writers out there that just need a bit of awareness.

      I won’t say too much about the processes because there are always exceptions. And a word to the wise should be sufficient.

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