The Writing Process

Reader-Based Feedback Guide

1. What was happening to you, moment by moment, as you were reading this piece of writing?
2. Summarize the writing: give your understanding of what it says or what happened in it. 3. Make some images for the writing and the transaction it creates with readers.
1. What was happening to you
as you read the first one or two paragraphs?
1.Summarize the writing in thirty seconds. Let the writer hear you think out loud. 1.What forms of writing does it remind you of: e.g., a bureaucratic memo, a lecture, a story?
2. What words and phrases stuck out most? 2.Summarize the writing in a sentence, then a word. 2.Tell how someone different from you might react to the piece; e.g., if a judge read it, if your supervisor, secretary or client read it.
3. What ideas, feelings, beliefs do you bring to this piece that influences way you read it? 3.Summarize what you feel the writer is trying but not quite managing to say. 3.Make an image for the relationship between the writer and reader. Is the writer reading from a stage? Shaking a fist? Leading you down a path?
4.  What do you need or want as a reader? If you're fighting the piece or the writer, what would it take for you to go with the writer? 4.Summarize what you wish the writing would say. 4.What is the writer trying to do to you? Trap you? Surprise you? Bore you? Persuade you? Delight you?
5. As you're reading, make marks to how you're reacting to the words; a straight line next to passages and words that work, please you; a wiggly line for parts that bother you. Share these with the writer. 5.What is this piece not about; what is the opposite of what it is saying? 5.Find words or metaphors for the voice or tone in the writing: authoritative, tight-lipped, conversational? Like who? Bill Clinton, Judge Judy, Johnnie Cockran, Oprah Winfrey, Antonio Villaraigosa?Oprah Winfrey?
6. Point to the passage that you liked especially, the ones you didn't understand or which made you stumble or resist.   6.Do you feel a difference between the voice created or implied by these words and the actual writer that wrote them?
    7.What images of the writer come to mind? Hunched over a desk? Lounging on the beach? Preaching from pulpit?
2003 Benchmark Institute Adapted from Peter Elbow, Writing with Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process 2nd Edition Oxford University Press, 1998.