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bulletRemember that you are critiquing the writing, not the writer. Never say, "You are..." or "You should..." Instead say, "The writing is..." or "The story should..."
bulletWriters need to hear your opinion of their writing, even if it is negative. However, please take care to state opinions in a constructive manner. It is okay to say "The story did not grip me." or "I found the narrative difficult to follow." (And you should also say WHY) It is NOT okay to say "The story is really boring. I don't think anyone will buy it."
bulletDon't say "If I were you..." (because you aren't) or "If I was writing the story I would..." (because you're not). Also, please don't say "It needs work." That's obvious. It is why we are here.
bulletRemember that subject matter is personal. You don't have to like a story to give it a fair critique.
bulletRemember what your biases are (state them if necessary) and critique around them.
bulletRemember that real people wrote this stuff, and real people have real feelings. The point of critiquing is to communicate feedback to the writer so that she or he can improve the writing. The keyword is communicate. If you say something in a way that is inflammatory or unnecessarily harsh, the reader's emotional reaction may preclude them being able to understand what you mean.
bulletIn your critique, please pay attention to dialogue, structure, characterization, viewpoint, how the beginning worked (did it hook you), how the end worked (did it satisfy you?). Then answer any questions the author may have asked about your response to the novel.

Example of a good critique:

TEST NOVEL was a slow read for me. While it was smoothly written, the dialogue didn't seem natural. I had a hard time imagining real people would talk that way, and that detracted from my ability to stay present with the story. I liked the villain, as she seemed multi-dimensional and complex. The protagonist was also well developed, but as much of her backstory was narrated in the first two chapters, it took me a while to "get into" that character: she didn't start "doing" and "feeling" until chapter three. The characters had very little description, and that made it hard for me to picture them in my mind. Maybe some people like to paint their own picture of how someone looks, but I prefer some cues from the author. The story was plotted well, and had several twists and turns that kept me interested. The end left me feeling cheated. I wanted the protagonist to go on in his job, since he won the big case, and be successful, but instead he quit and left town. That was sort of a bummer, but maybe it's more realistic that way.

It is true that this critique is critical of a lot of areas of the book TEST NOVEL, however, those criticisms are appropriately conveyed. 

Please read these two articles for more information on critique etiquette:

http://www.critters.org/whathow.html and http://www.critters.org/diplomacy.html

They are from the Critters online critique community and are excellent.

 

 

Copyright 2003 Opus Est
Last modified: May 28, 2003