1. Marcushunterwolf

    Marcushunterwolf New Member

    Jun 1, 2011
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    suggestions for giving a critique

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Marcushunterwolf, Jun 6, 2011.

    I know that before I can post any of my writing I have to give 2 critiques before each one. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to give a critique? I would really appreciate any help I can get.
  2. Mallory

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

    Jun 27, 2010
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    Tampa Bay
    Sure, I'd be happy to give you some feedback. The main thing is to be specific. Don't just say "I like it," or "It didn't work for me." Instead, say what parts you liked and what parts you didn't like, and why. For example, if there's too much passive voice and it creates a mundane feel that's detached and hard to read, say so, not just that there's too much passive voice. If you feel like there's too much telling rather than showing, or that a character is too flat, give specific examples that show why you feel that way, instead of just making a blank statement.

    You can either do a line-by-line edit, or a big-picture overview. I prefer the latter, as I'm not one to get hung up on details: if they constantly make a grammar error (like using "your" instead of "you're," and it's all the time, not just one typo), point out the correction in one sentence, so you're not spending ages going over each and every time they do it. There is a time and place for line editing, but generally it's not something you want to get bogged down.

    Here are some things to look for:

    - What tone is the reader trying to set up, and do they do it effectively - why or why not
    -- Is active/passive voice being utilized the right way
    - Are the characters adequetly developed in a way that's consistent
    - Is dialogue realistic
    - Does the story make sense, or are there weird unexplained things from way out in left field
    - does it feel dynamic the whole way, or are there bland parts that bog it down


    Also, be diplomatic. You can directly say that something doesn't work for you without telling them their writing sucked. (Once, I was reviewing a thread and another critiquer told the OP that his writing made him feel "spit upon by the author." Wasn't my story, but I reported it to the mods, because that's just flat-out rude.) Try to say the parts that you liked in the first paragraph, then transition with a "so your story is great overall, but here's some suggestions on how to improve" or something to that effect. Be nice and kind about it, but don't beat around the bush and avoid pointing out issues for the sake of being nice, because that doesn't help the author.

    Happy reviewing. :)
    1 person likes this.
  3. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
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    Massachusetts, USA
    If you read the threads in this, the Reviewing forum, you will find a good many suggested critiquing strategies.

    Have you read How to Use the Writing Workshop and Constructive Critiques yet?
  4. thewordsmith

    thewordsmith Contributor Contributor

    Nov 18, 2009
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    State of Confusion
    There is not much to add to what Mallory and Cogito have already said but I do want to point out one thing.

    When you critique someone else's work, don't just focus on what's wrong. Critique, as a word, is not a negative. It means to consider with a critical 'eye' or critical mindset. Consider both the strong points in a piece of work as well as the not so strong passages and areas that need work or just don't work.

    When I get paid for a copyedit/critique, my crits can be quite harsh but, even with the worst of the worst, I try (though sometimes it can be quite difficult) to find the positives in the work, even if it is only the enrgy with which the author presents the scenes. And that's not necessarily a minor accomplishment!

    So present your impressions of the work. Try to delineate why you feel the way you do about a particular 'thing', and look for both what's good and what's not so good about it. On a forum such as this, we all recognize that not everyone is going to have the same skill in critiquing copy. Everyone will have a different way of going about presenting their opinions. Just consider how you would want to have your own work treated and follow the guidelines and suggestions Cogito and Mallory have already given.

    You'll do fine and you will also learn a great deal about your own writing in the process!

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