Giving Jane Austen some feedback


I do love writers groups. I’ve been a member of a few for some years now, and I’ve learned so much from my fellow writers. But as I’m starting to become obsessed with all things Jane Austen these days (see the submissions page for a clue!) I was reminded of the great piece on Buzzfeed: ‘If Jane Austen Got Feedback From Some Guy In A Writing Workshop.’

It goes something like:

‘I didn't hate reading this draft of your novel, which you're calling Pride and Prejudice…I do have a couple of notes to share, in the spirit of constructive criticism.

Why five sisters? How about just two? Combine Jane and Kitty. Or, better, make one of the sisters a brother (named "Jim," maybe?),

There aren't a lot of men in this book. Only about the same number as there are women.

There's a lot about hair ribbons here. Did you mean to do that? Maybe you could develop them into a kind of motif throughout, the way Shakespeare uses a skull in Hamlet?’

It is cringe worthy because it’s true. Because, as writers, we can’t help creating, editing, coming up with ideas—even if it isn’t our work. I’ve sat through conversations like this where one group member tries to re-write the story of another, all in the interests of ‘constructive feedback.’

But, worse, I’m sure I’ve been that guy too! Suggesting new endings, new characters, new themes, condescendingly saying ‘you should read [insert name of famous author EVERYONE has heard of], have you heard of her?’

But, now, when I find myself doing that, I remember Jane sitting through feedback from some dude in an MFA workshop and I hold my tongue—or I try to…

Check out the full ‘If Jane Austen Got Feedback From Some Guy In A Writing Workshop’ by Shannon Reed.

#Writingadvice #Musings

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