A woman with shoulder-length brown hair was reading out loud. Good, I thought. Reading out loud is a great comprehension and editing tool. The story was good, too. It was a scene on a bus with teenagers bantering back and forth. She used satisfying metaphors, like "John . . . whose misery had splattered onto Kelly and me."
When she finished the reading, the woman sitting next to me offered the first comments. "I like this one better than the first version," she said, "but I feel like you could have done it in about a page and a half." A lively discussion ensued. Was it too long? Did she need to clarify this section? Was the movie reference accurate?
This woman got exactly what she came for: honest, constructive, intelligent feedback. She listened, thought, and responded. It was perfect. The more eyes on your work the better, I say.
The next writer passed out a chapter from her historical novel about Helen of Troy. There weren't enough copies to go around, so I shared one with the woman next to me. I was startled to see her make notes on the paper and edit exactly as I would. And here I had thought my insights were so unique and clever.