How to Write Good Comments on Writing

Updated on March 8, 2019
Christina Dunn profile image

A strong fan of literature, Christina frequently reads, analyzes, and writes stories and poems.

Comments and feedback to writers are like water to plants: we need it to thrive.

While writers may not need constructive feedback to breathe, it is virtually essential. Feedback not only provides specific tips on how to improve; they also prove to the writer that their work is being read and appreciated. The majority of online writers, whether they’re posting on wattpad, tumblr, or anywhere else, experience much more views than comments. However, if you ask any writer, the majority will say the real value is in comments.

As the way to a heart is through useful comments, how does one create a comment that will expertly capture the reader’s intent and reactions while simultaneously encouraging the writer?

There are multiple ways to construct meaningful comments.

While these suggestions are written specifically for commenting on fictional works in mind, many of them are transferable to nonfictional works as well.


Source

Keep It Simple

Don’t be afraid to keep the comment short if you’re hesitant or don’t want to write an essay. A short comment will always be valued more than no comment. A comment doesn’t need to be long to be impactful. If you only want to say you enjoyed reading the work, just say that.

However, don’t write “please update, update soon, etc.” While your intention may be noble, phrases like these are discouraging to the writer and seem very impatient. Remember it always takes much longer to write a passage than it takes to read it. If you wish to express excitement on reading the author’s next work, write “I’m excited for your next work”/ “I can’t wait for the next chapter”, or something along those lines.

Quote the Author

Quote parts of the work in your comment. This allows you to specify your reaction to a particular area of the work. Is there a phrase that you felt was particularly original or intriguing? Then tell the author that. Quotes from the work can be combined with short comments; it may not sound like much, but many authors will appreciate comments like these. Selecting certain parts of the work that pop out to you highlights to the author which sections are popping out to their readers.

Write the Comment as You Read Instead of After.

By writing your comment while you write instead of after, reactions are fresh in your mind. As many websites have the location to leave comments at the very bottom of the page, it’s possible to forget what your reactions to the work, especially if you’re reading a lengthy piece. When you want to write a meaningful comment on a long work, have two tabs of the work open at the same time: in one tab, immediately scroll down to the comments sections and start typing your comment as you gradually read the work in the other tab. This way, you don’t forget to leave out anything in the comment that you wanted to include, and the author can get a clear idea of what section made you react the most.

Treat It like a Commentary

What did you think the best aspects were? Did you have an emotional response to any sections? Was there anything that wasn’t written clearly? Pretend you’re analyzing the work like you would for a book report.

Don’t be Afraid to Leave Criticism

Writing, like any art of creation, can always be improved. However, it’s difficult for a writer to edit and reform their works in a productive manner if they don’t have a particular goal, so leave your opinions and ideas, especially if there’s unclear or confusing phrasing in their writing. If you are anxious about leaving critiques, create a compliment sandwich. Start your comment with a compliment of an aspect of the work, identify your critique, and finish off the comment with another compliment.

Comment Example #1

The following is a comment I wrote on thelogicaloganipus’ “I Feel Fine”:


Oh my gosh.

Writing in first person and from Logan's perspective is an interesting combination that I rather enjoyed, as first person is typically used for making a more personal feel compared to a third person narrative and Logan is not the side associated with emotions. This combination seems to result in revealing what Logan thinks, and what he isn't directly saying.

"He was looking at me the way that Roman and Patton had began to look at me, the look that was reliant on me for an answer, for guidance." It would make sense for the others to depend on Logan in this unknown, unforeseen circumstance, as in most situations, he would be the most likely to have a realistic view of reality. However, it is very clear that the imminent asteroid is stressing out Logan in addition to everyone else, as he appears to have drunken himself into a hangover due to the new and stressful virtually pre-apocalyptic world he is now in.

"Patton gave me a look, that strange concerned look he got on his face when I became too pensive and began to turn and walk down the aisle." This makes a lot of sense to me for a realistic Patton-Logan interaction.

Also, the terror that makes Logan freeze in the store, and the attached guilt of that, is so expertly captured.

The scene with the rabbit and fox story has a 'calm before the storm' feeling to it, like for a moment they can pretend things can resemble at least a notion of what normal was to them before, if that makes sense? With Logan and Virgil's little remarks and interruptions into Roman's story, it feels like emotionally they're catching their breaths? I'm not sure if I'm being clear with my words about what I mean right now, but anyway, I quite liked it.

"I let the silence hang there for a moment, sighing. “Why are you so afraid of pain, Virgil?”/ Virgil didn’t answer. He let the question hang there, waiting for me to say something else. I felt blank." I really like these lines.

"I took a deep breath. I drove. I got lost. I found the pharmacy." Oh, Logan.

"I began to sob, uncontrollable sobs, so opposite to who I wanted to be, how I wanted to be. None of that mattered anymore." Aw, Logan.

“I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die.” I whispered, shaking. “I don’t want to die. What if it’s not like falling asleep?”/ “I don’t know, Logan.” I really like these lines, too.

Ah, jeez, my heart hurts now.

This story is written so well, the sadness/despair is well depicted; you have an excellent gift of carving and weaving emotions into your narrations.

Well done, my friend, well done.

(And now please excuse me while I cry due to my feels because holy crap this story is sad! Very well written, I must emphasize, and very sad. Still, I really enjoyed reading this. You have a gift of putting hard thoughts into words.)


This comment I had written as I was reading the story, allowing me to make comments about sections of the story instead of merely commenting on the overall story. In addition, while I identify which lines were the most impactful to me, it is not a requirement that I identify why they are impactful.

Another thing to note is my tendency to break paragraphs when I switch what aspect of the work I am focusing on. This is merely a style choice; while I will encourage, it is definitely not required for a meaningful comment.


Comment Example #2

The following is a comment I wrote on squirenonny’s “Love and Other Questions”:

THIS IS AN AMAZING FANFIC HOLY HECK I LOVE IT SO MUCH I REREAD IT IMMEDIATELY!!!

The plot: fantastic. Dialogue: very natural and in character. Putting a spin on the traditional soulmate AU and including platonic soulmates: amazing

And it is so impressive how effectively you established the rules of the soulmarks (like soulmates are either pen pals or pain pals), leading the reader and the characters to one conclusion, and then you expertly break those rules later. Like, that is just amazing writing right there

Also the foreshadowing of Lance's unreciprocated soulmarks in the beginning chapters via his reactions? Very nice!

Also ending the story with matching tattoos for Lance and the double pun? VERY NICE!

Excuse me while I go tell my friends about this masterpiece you have created.

Thank you for writing this! I love it so much!!!

While this particular comment is written more informally than the previous one, it’s still effective of getting my point across.

While my comments tend to be long, it is important to note comments do not have to be essay-size to be encouraging and helpful.

Have fun commenting!

© 2018 Christina Dunn

Comments

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    • profile image

      skinworks 

      2 months ago

      this is helpful

    • profile image

      Sabbir Ahmed 

      3 months ago

      Nice article to comments the writing. It helps to induce the backlinks for his or her sites. Thanks for sharing the post.

    • profile image

      Nihal Singh 

      3 months ago

      Nice article to comments the writing. It helps to get the backlinks for their sites. Thanks for sharing the post.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 

      7 months ago from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA

      Christina, this is excellent advice for members of a critique writing group the shared purpose of which is to give each other feedback on the strengths and flaws of works in progress to help their authors through revision make them even better and to help one another become ever even better writers. But comments that critique the writing of a HubPages article or story may not be welcome by some authors. Some authors appreciate having their work critiqued in public; others don't.

      I appreciate criticisms of the writing of my articles on HubPages and its niche sites but only if sent to me in a private message. The reason is that a writer can revise an article or story posted on HubPages at any time. If a critical comment in the Comments area of a hub brings attention to a typo, a grammatical or spelling error, a factual error, awkward or unclear phrasing, or whatever, and the author makes that revision, then that negative comment is no longer helpful, relevant, or true yet remains posted forever for the public to read. It seems to me that the Comment area of a hub is where to put comments that are true, heartfelt, and positive and is not where to put criticisms of the writing—unless the writer explicitly expressed a desire for critical feedback, as you did.

      I would very much appreciate it if a fellow hubbber were to send me a private message via my Profile asking if I would welcome critical feedback of one of my hubs and, when I replied yes, would send me the critique by private message.

      I am not familiar with wattpad or tumblr. What is best practice at HubPages might be different at those sites.

    • poppyr profile image

      Poppy 

      9 months ago from Tokyo, Japan

      I hope to send a book I'm writing to beta readers soon. I just got feedback for a short story and he said "Very good, but too many subordinate clauses." That was it! This article might be helpful in giving people an idea of what I'm looking for in feedback.

      I especially agree with quoting the author. If someone just says "yeah I liked it" (another frustratingly vague comment I got in the past), then it's not easy to tell whether they actually read it or not or quickly skimmed it to get out of the way.

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