HOW YOUR CRITIQUE WILL HELP ANOTHER:
~Start with something positive. First point out those things the writer is already doing well, maybe the beginning of a great idea, clarity, sentence structure, etc.
~Critique the writer, not the writing. Rather than saying, “I’m not sure you want to start here,” you can say, “The story gets interesting to me on page four.”
~Speak from your own perspective. Acknowledge that your reaction is a personal opinion. Saying something like, “My first reaction to this part was…” Or “I found this to be…” works better than “this part of your story is…”
~Be specific. Instead of saying, “You need to work on characterization,” try to offer a specific way the writer might improve the characterization.
~Bring something new to the discussion. Instead of repeating what’s already been said, try to find something new to add.
HOW TO RESPOND TO THE CRITIQUING OF YOUR WORK:
~Let the critiquing run without your comment. Write down notes/comments as you listen to the critique, and maybe you can address them at the end, but do not interrupt. Give the group the chance to fully evaluate your manuscript.
~Remember your goal: A STRONGER manuscript. The group is offering ideas to help make your story stronger.
~Every reader is different. What is confusing to one reader may be perfectly clear to another. Try to relax and remember that other people’s suggestions are just that, their suggestions. You, the writer, have the final say on any changes you make and why.
~Try not to be defensive. If several readers agree that a scene is confusing, then you need to separate yourself from the love of your words and listen to the suggestion being offered.
Overall, you should feel good about a meeting. If you go home angry or more frustrated than when you came, this doesn’t make for good rapport. Remember, you often learn more about your writing by critiquing someone else, than by having your own critiqued.