Sunday, October 02, 2005
Critiques - Good, Bad, Ugly.....

I was recently having a discussion with author Tyler Blackwood about the pros and cons of critique groups and realized that many of the issues I have when I have asked people to read my non-fiction work carry through to the fiction realm. The best thing was realizing that I'm not the only one with some issues.

In thinking about these issues, I came up with a little list of my own Dos and Don'ts for critiquing the work of others. I figured that I would share it, in case it resonates with anyone else.

  1. DO ask the author what their intent is in having me read this work and from what point of view.
  2. DO ask the author how they would like the feedback presented to be most useful to them.
  3. DO let the author know that I am a very verbose and honest critiquer but I'm not mean or offended if my feedback doesn't result in changes.
  4. DO take careful and copious ongoing notes on everything I notice so I can later write a coherent critique.
  5. DO read the work multiple times. Once for overall impression. Once for the story's technical details. Once for language and language technical details.
  6. DO write the best feedback document I can for the author.
  7. DO explain why I felt the way I did about the points I call out.
  8. DON'T get involved in stylistic differences where they are purely voice or style.
  9. DO thank the author for the chance to critique their work.
  10. DON'T get offended whether my feedback is taken or not.
  11. DO pay forward - try to help those who are even greener than I am whenever I can

- Maura


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