After you have finished editing and polishing the draft of your novel, you are going to want to get some initial feedback. This is for a number of reasons:
- A fresh perspective can often catch errors and problems that you can no longer see after looking at your novel for so long.
- It helps to you to identify what another readers pick up on in your novel. Quite often, they will identify conflicts or themes that you may not have intended, or miss ones that you did intend.
- The publication process is filled with criticism and revision. You need to get used to having other people judge your work.
I recommend finding one person to read through your novel first. This is because groups (such as writing workshops) can be a little overwhelming, so you might want to get some of the kinks worked out of your draft before you take on a larger audience. There are several things you should consider when choosing the first person to read your novel.
- Do you respect the person’s opinion when it comes to fiction?
- Do you believe that the person will give you an honest assessment of your novel?
- Does that person have the time and the patience to serve as your first critic?
- Can you accept criticism from that person without taking it personally?
Once you find a person to critique your novel for you, it is a good idea to give them some guidance regarding the type if feedback you are seeking. You don’t just want them to tell you whether they liked it or didn’t like it. You’ll want some feedback that you can apply to the editing and revision process. There are plenty of questions that you can ask, and in many cases it will depend on what you have written and what you wanted to accomplish. That said, here are some basic questions that you may want to consider.
- What do you believe the major themes of the novel are?
- Did anything occur that pulled you out of the narrative or seemed unrealistic?
- Did you identify with any particular characters and if so, why?
- Did the ending feel logical or earned?
- Are there any points at which you became confused about what was happening?
- Were there any points at which you became bored and wanted more to happen?
- Did any part of the novel make you particularly happy, sad or angry?
As I said, your questions may vary. These are just a few samples to get you started. Also, it is your choice whether or not to give them your questions before or after they read the novel. I would lean towards giving the questions to the person beforehand, so they know what is expected of them. Giving them the questions first, however, will influence the way that they read your novel. They will have specific issues in mind that may cause them to look harder for things that they (and future readers) would otherwise not notice or be concerned about.