Be on time
Submit your work in a timely fashion
Point out the positives. What works well? What impresses you? What will readers love about the piece? What did you remember about it two days later?
Respect differing opinions
Do not expect others to adopt your style, morals, or values
You may respectfully disagree, but do not argue
Don’t talk about your own work during another critique
Don’t connect someone’s work to your personal life
Don’t be nit-picky. This is a work in progress
(Follow @GuyInYourMFA on Twitter for funny examples of obnoxious critiquing)
Bring snacks: It is not a myth, writers thrive on coffee
Be proud of yourself, grow your voice, and have fun!
Together we will build a constructive, encouraging group
GOOD CRITIQUE PARTNERS:
Read each submitted piece more than once. The first should be a straight-through reading for effectiveness and style. Comment on your initial impression then dig in to more critical analysis and comments on the second and subsequent read-throughs.
*Begin with positive overall comments about the manuscript
*Offer thoughtful criticisms that are constructive, helpful, and respectful
*End your critique with positive comments and encouragement.
If you are critiquing a portion of a longer work, consider how it fits into the work as a whole. Things to consider:
- Does the scene start at the right place? End at the right place?
- Is there a consistent point of view?
- Is there a consistent tense?
- Are characters memorable? Does the reader care about them?
- Is there a clear story problem?
- Is dialog believable and authentic?
- Is there a good balance of dialog vs. exposition?
- Does each scene move the story forward?
- Are there plot twists/reversals?
- Is there too much back story? Not enough back story?
- Internal and external conflict(s)?
- Does the writer use showing language, rather than telling?
- Are there repetitive words or phrases? Overused cliches?
- Is the writing vivid, emotional, fluid?
PLANNING FOR YOUR CRITIQUE:
You will not be allowed to speak until the end, at which point feel free to speak to any questions/comments that arose and ask questions of your own for clarification.
- Keep an open mind.
- Be ready to ask for suggestions or opinions if you’re stuck
- Do not be defensive. Your partners are critiquing your manuscript, not you.
- Take lots of notes.
- If a comment or suggestion is unclear, ask the critiquer for clarification.
- After your critique, tackle any changes right away, while fresh on your mind.
- Remember feedback is purely subjective. Keep an open mind and consider comments carefully. If you find the suggestions helpful, implement them. If you disagree, disregard them. It is, after all, your story.
- Most importantly, never give up.