Top ten things to "do" when critiquing from the
critiquee's Point of View.
- Have at least 100 pages completed before asking for critiques. First
chapters generally have problems, and if only one chapter is written,
then it's a little too easy to give up on a story after getting a
critique--when it may very well be a good story.
Having 100 pages gives stability to the review. Did you know Margaret
Mitchell had a working draft of Gone With The Wind, but couldn't figure
out an opening chapter, so about the first half of the book as we know
it is failed attempts adding chapters to the front end to find a point
- Proofread the work for typos and
punctuation problems. Nothing is worse than getting a typo-ridden
manuscript. Typos are a distraction to writers when they switch to
reading the content for a critique.
- Expect to be critiqued. The
purpose of a critique is to find ways to improve the story and identify
any weaknesses in the skill areas. The purpose of a critique is to
improve instead of making cooing noises and nice praise.
- Stay away from alcohol before the critique
session and during. Alcohol and critiques are a very bad mixture. Potato
chips and cookies are okay (even if they are fattening).
- When receiving a critique, resist the urge--and
sometimes this is really hard!--to defend the work. Remember, the
critiquing reader see it like the agent or publisher will see it without
having the writer standing by to explain this or that. All they have is
what's on the page, and if a reader is finding that unclear, it's a
clear sign that more work is needed.
- Ask questions to help clarify what a critiquer
- If two or more people say that they have the same
problem--such as too many characters--then that's a big sign that more
work is needed.
- Weigh each comment individually for its value to
the story. Some will be appropriate and helpful, while others won't be.
No matter how prestigious or important the critiquer is, such as a
teacher or a published writer, what's best for the story should always
- Make revisions to the manuscript and try to make
improvements. It is annoying to a critiquer to receive the same piece
back for critique and find that only superficial changes.
- Critique the work of others. Too many want the
critique but don't want to put the effort in to give one. But the true
learning often takes place during this part of the process. The best way
to learn is to teach.