At some stage in the writing process, most writers want feedback on their work. Here are some tips on how to organize and receive helpful critiques.
As a critiquer, your job is
to understand the writer's goals and help the writer achieve them.Every writer has a
different voice and approach. It is sometimes tempting to change someone else's
piece to make it more like something you would write. Instead, help the
writer produce the best possible version of what that writer is trying to
write. Consider the piece on its own terms and help it fulfill its potential.
It’s suggested to read the
piece through from beginning to end to get the experience as a reader. Don’t
get right into the critiquing part until your 2nd time reading. Take
notes of your first impressions.
1. First, summarize and interpret. At this first stage, you are not judging the piece or offering suggestions. You are just telling the author what you think it is about, and what you think it is trying to do. This is important because it tells the author how well he or she has succeeded in communicating.
2. Second, say what you think
is working well. Positive feedback can be as useful as criticism. Point out the
best parts of the piece and the strengths of the author's writing. This can
help the author write more "best parts" in the future and develop his
or her individual talent. Starting with positive feedback also makes it easier
for the author to listen to criticism later without becoming defensive or
3. Third, give constructive
criticism. Make sure that criticism is respectful and delivered in a form that
allows the author to make specific improvements. Authors tend to have high
emotional stakes in their work, and may at some level confuse criticism of a
story or a poem for criticism of their talent or vision. It is therefore
especially important to make your comments as specific as possible and keep
them clearly focused on the piece, rather than the author. Give examples from
the piece whenever possible to show your points.
the piece several times
to experience the piece as an "ordinary reader" before you consider
it as an author or editor
to understand the author's goals
specific in your feedback and provide relevant examples
your own tastes or world view
the story the way YOU would have written it
criticisms that are too general to help the author make specific improvements
(critiques aka "bleeding all over" the manuscript.)
The Author's Role:
We suggest that the author try not to talk at all during an oral critique except to ask clarifying questions at the end. There is a natural tendency for authors to try to explain their work, particularly if they see that the critiquer has not understood it the way they intended.
on Receiving a Critique:
If you're on the receiving end of a critique, focus on listening and understanding the feedback you receive. You don't have to agree with it. You won't have to follow any of the suggestions you're given.
In fact, some of the suggestions you get are likely to be not-so-useful. You will have to sort them out from the useful ones and make your own decisions. But save this sorting-out for later. Otherwise, the sorting-out process will interfere with your ability to listen. And you'll probably do a better job of sorting out the good advice from the bad if you take some time first to digest everything.
Take careful notes on all the feedback and ask questions if there's something you don't understand. Don't argue with the critiquer or defend your piece. Don't even try to explain it.
After the critique, we suggest taking a break before you try to sort the feedback out. Getting a critique can be hard. Relax a little afterwards. This break might last twenty-four hours or a couple of weeks -- however long you need to get some emotional distance on the process. Then take a fresh look at what you've written. Reread your notes on the critique.
Which suggestions do you agree with? Which ones do you want to ignore? If you're not sure about a suggestion, do some experimental rewriting. Try it out. There's no risk. If you don't like the result of the revision, you can always trash it and go back to the original version.
Remember: you're the author. You're the one in charge here.
Full article can be found at: http://www.creative-writing-now.com/how-to-write-a-critique.html
Traditional critique groups - Pro's and Con's:
First and foremost, traditional critique groups can help clean up a new writer’s technique.
In a good traditional critique groups you will learn that POV does not mean “Prisoners of Vietnam.” You will learn to spot passive voice and will even learn why adverbs aren't always extra-nifty. You will hopefully learn self-discipline in that you need to attend regularly and contribute. You will forge friendships and a support network.
Traditional critique groups can lack perspective:
Reading ten pages every month may clean up sloppy writing but traditional critique groups are looking at a work the size of a skyscraper with a magnifying glass. They lack the distance to see flaws. A novel can have perfect writing style page to page and yet have faults. Traditional critique groups can tell you nothing about turning points or whether a scene fits properly. They lack the background to be able to discern if our hero has progressed sufficiently along his character arc by the mid-point of Act 2. They have zero ability to properly critique pacing, since pacing can only be judged in larger context. In traditional critique groups, sitting around the table reading a few pages can’t give you the big picture. It's hard to pick up a story on page 86 and understand what's going on.
Traditional critique groups can offer
a false sense of security:
You must always be looking for ways to have our work critiqued by professionals who are willing to be blunt and who possess the skill-set to see our errors. Gathering together because we love writing is always a great idea but make sure to reach beyond our group for additional critique. Make sure your work is being reviewed by people who will be honest about any problems.
Critique groups are WONDERFUL. Every writer should be a part of a critique group. You just need to be aware of the trouble spots so that you can get the most out of this fantastic resource.
Full article found at http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/can-critique-groups-do-more-harm-than-good/