Critiquing is about teaching and learning. Each member of the critique group must be both a teacher and a student. When you offer suggestions on someone’s work, you’re learning how to diagnose issues and improve your own work.
A successful critique group requires positive, helpful attitudes and a willingness to help yourself through giving time and energy to help others. Critiquing should empower members with a sense of collective and individual progress.
Critiquing should never, ever be about showing off how much you know, or intentionally, maliciously making someone feel bad.
Essentials on how to critique, what to look for, and some checklists
- How to Critique Fiction by Victory Crayne (with a checklist to use on your own work and others)
- How to Cope with Critiquing by Rich Hamper
- The Diplomatic Critiquer by Andrew Burt
Extremely useful articles
- Why tough love is crucial for writers (an outstanding article from Writers Digest)
- It’s Not What You Say, But How You Say It by Andrew Burt
- Examples of how tiny wording changes in critiques make all the difference by Andrew Burt
- For a good laugh, try, SAGP – How To Critique a Story
- The harsh realities from one critiquer’s perspective: I will not read your manuscript
What to do with feedback
- How to handle conflicting critiques by Janice Hardy
- 5 1/2 steps for making feedback work for us by Jamie Gold
- How to organize feedback so you can rewrite with confidence from The Write Practice
- Editorial letters (also called edit letters or revisions letters) are “critiques” that an editor sends to an author after the novel has been accepted for publication. Editorial letters can be as long as 30 pages single space, which is a lot of suggestions to incorporate. The Dreaded Editorial Letter from Writer Unboxed and How I Tackle an Edit Letter when Revising a Novel by Diana Urban and The Editorial Letter (with actual examples) from GoTeenWriters
Updated April 30, 2020
Header photo: Ithaca, NY courtesy of the talented Paul Joran