Creative Writing Feedback from Your Plumber

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When I informally ask aspiring writers who they prefer to review their manuscripts, answers range from professors to community college instructors to writing workshop coordinators. These responses are fine if you are writing for an audience of community college instructors, but this scenario is in fact quite rare.

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I have a brother who is thoughtful, intelligent, pragmatic and by no means “artsy”. It is for these reasons that I value his feedback. I classify his reaction as a “real world” reaction to a manuscript. Is he bored? confused? lost? entertained? His feedback may reshape my writing.

Audience obviously plays a crucial role in writing. Any composition would benefit from review by members of the intended audience, whether the subject be professional, avocational, personal or a combination of the above. The process could even help identify the true audience for which you are writing.

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Creative writing tends to widen the audience boundaries. If John Q. Public is a member of your target audience it is best to get a range of responses to your work. There is a large segment of the population who spend their days working in cubicles. How would they be impacted by your writing? Single moms struggling with the cost of daycare? Teenagers drinking cola from enormous containers at the convenience store? The plumber in your building or home?

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If any of the individuals above are part of your intended audience, their opinions could be invaluable. There could also be a lot to learn from their “art”, be it a trade, a white collar profession, juggling an impossible budget, or finding rare songs on the Internet.

The next time you need a manuscript reviewed, show it to the usual suspects. Then offer your plumber a coffee or lunch in exchange for editorial comment.

?2006 Robert W. Mann

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Robert Mann is a poet residing in California. His most recent work can be viewed at http://www.crickethymns.com, an ongoing blog of original poetry.

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