I was asked to sit in on a college writing class last night. The students were to submit a narrative which then was sent around the room and the other students critiqued the piece, making and adding your notations/corrections/suggestions on the papers as each made its way around the room. Despite my newness to creative writing and my many faults, I had no idea where to begin; which brings me to my question. How does one critique an abysmal piece constructively? To put this into perspective, fifty percent or better had mispellings on every single line. I believe two papers used paragraphs. No one had apparently ever heard of a semicolon and probably a quarter had a single piece of punctuation consisting of the period at the end of the paper. Random capital letters, run on sentences, sentence fragments, etc. were rampant. I don't know how to begin discussing content. I know we are all at different stages of our writing abilities and I would like to be helpful in such a situation (which, to a degree applies here as well, though nothing is nearly as poorly written here). What I did last night was to focus on one area that needed improvement, such as grammer or spelling, and ignored everything else. Do you recommend this strategy? Would you recommend a different technique? I have been invited back and plan on going. If nothing else, as the adage goes: "If you want to learn something; teach it." I need some direction. Thank you.