Here's the distilled wisdom of several dozen emerging writers, who over the years wrote MANY published novels!
Guidelines for Critiquing
Sometimes we can’t see what’s best in our own work, so when we edit, we may muck up the good as we try to eliminate the clunky. As critiquers, we want to help each other learn to recognize our
best usage of language,
dialogue that rings true,
Here are a few ground rules.
1. Be positive.
2. Use friendly, considerate language.
- “Have you thought about…”
- “Maybe you could…”
3. Be clear and specific.
- “This sentence is long. I’m having trouble following it.”
- “You’ve started two sentences in a row with gerunds here.”
4. Be encouraging.
- “I love the way you do dialogue.”
- “I can see this character so clearly.”
5. Contribute from your own experience.
- “When I was trying to fix up a paragraph last week, it helped when…”
6. Mark technical problems (spelling, typos, punctuation, etc) on the manuscript but don’t bring them up for discussion unless there’s some obscure error the whole group might learn from.
Most Important of All!
7. As the receiver, don’t take suggestions too seriously. It’s your writing!
I hope these guidelines are helpful. Similar lists have helped create a mutually supportive (cheerleader) and still substantively solid (editor) atmosphere for critiquing.
Has your experience with critique groups been positive, negative, or mixed? Do you participate in a critique group with other writers? What are your guidelines? Please join the conversation in the comments!
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