Friday, 27 May 2011


By Richard Jay Parker

Title of this week's blog sounds like a strapline for a movie about body snatching pod people but I'm actually curious about other writers and how they road test their material.

Nobody immerses themself in a project if it hasn't fired them up in the first place. But once you've completed your short story or novel where is your first port-of-call for initial feedback?

Obviously if you're lucky enought to have an agent it's their job to scrutinise your work. But whether you're seeking one or you're attempting to get a second opinion who do you turn to?

Friends and family are an obvious choice but you won't always get the most objective response. Readers who are close to you can inhabit the two ends of the critical spectrum. Some of your familiar readers will respond from the purest motives by being full of praise because they know you/want to give you encouragement. It can also go the other way with them being hypercritical because they know you/don't want to give you false encouragement.

Like all criticism and praise it's a good to take it all with a pinch of salt and make your own mind up once you've solicited responses from the most unbiased people.

But finding them is no mean feat. Most authors I know gradually cultivate a group of individuals they can turn to before exposing their work to the world. Finding them is as much a challenge as creating the work they read. Once you've found them, treat them well. They're to be cherished!


  1. Casual friends are who I've gone to. The ones that have in the past just pointed things out to people they disagree with and not care if they hurt someone's feelings. That's the kind of people I try to get. The meaner the better.

  2. Thanks for your comment. Sounds like a good policy. Think every writer should be their harshest critic though.