How to Critique

Since most of us writers, at one time or another, have joined a writer’s group, I thought I’d pass along a few things to consider when you critique other people’s work (to insure that we help and not harm a fellow writer):

Start with positive comments.
It can be quite devastating when you submit your work, and you receive a 5
page-critique on why your ms really sucked. And discouraging/devastating a
writer is not the purpose of critique. Also the writer needs to know what
he/she did right.

Move on to what didn’t work
It can only work if you’re specific and give suggestions on how to improve the
ms. It doesn’t help the author if you write down, “It sucks.” It’d be more
constructive and helpful if you write down, “I believe this is wrong because
of these reasons. I think you can fix it by doing this. . . .”

End with positive comments, etc.
“Keep writing!” or “I think it can work. Good luck!” can’t possibly hurt. It
can take away the “nasty” sting of negative critique and perhaps make the
writer feel more positive about his/her work.

Finally, you may want to throw in my oft-repeated advice about outrunning the inner censor: WRITE AT ABSOLUTE TOP SPEED!


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