Getting Started In Critiquing


Vision 73


Getting Started In Critiquing


Suzan L. Wiener

Copyright © 2013 Suzan L. Wiener, All Rights Reserved



Have you hurt a writer's feelings inadvertently by saying something when you only meant to be helpful? Here are tips to avoid that problem. At first, it might be an effort, but once you keep doing the critiques, you will be able to do them, and the recipient will appreciate your efforts. The rule, "Do unto others as you would have them to unto you," really applies here. If you follow it, you will become a great critiquer.

    • When you write a critique read it as if you were receiving it, instead of you writing it. This way, you will see where you can improve the tone of something you have written. Even if you feel it is an honest assessment of their writing, you can word it in such a way as to not attack the writer personally. This is paramount and the writer will be more amenable to what you are conveying in your critique. If you attack their writing, or them with your critique, they won't even read the rest of what you wrote.
    • Always start off your critique by saying something positive about the work. No matter how poorly you might think it is, there is a way of writing an encouraging remark, such as "I can see that you have given thought to your short story, etc. but..." This way, the writer won't feel defensive from the onset.
    • Critique so they will get an in-depth critique. Saying "This stinks," is meaningless and hurtful. Of course, they will know you don't like it, but it won't make them stop and think why you don't. They won't be able to edit what they need to without knowing what is wrong with it. This is almost always a craving for the beginning writer to get constructive criticism, as well as the experienced poet.
    • Don't be afraid to give your honest opinion of the piece. Keeping it to yourself won't be of any help if he/she wants to improve their writing, which most serious writers want to do. No one should be afraid of frankness. In fact, they should welcome it. You can always be tactful, even if you're saying something in a less than positive light.
    • It's a good idea to write out your critique first before posting it. This way, you can edit your own words, and then see where it needs to be changed. Taking time to do this will not only improve the person who is being critiqued but also you, as an author.
    • If you think the work has no redeeming value whatsoever, it might be a better idea not to give it a critique. Trashing it completely isn't the right thing to do. You won't feel good about it and neither will the writer. Remember, just the fact that the author bothered to take the time to write, makes him/her worthy of respect.
    • would be great if you could buy a book about critiquing, or at least find articles about it in The Writer, Writer's Market, or online from sites such as or This will be extremely helpful to you.
    • Don't feel the first critique you do has to be an epic. One paragraph would be better to start with, and then you can build it up as you gain more experience in critiquing.
    • Even if you feel you aren't qualified to critique, you are if you want to do it because once you write it, you have done a favor for someone who will no doubt appreciate it.
    • To get a great feeling for giving a critique, read others whose critiques you admire. This will greatly enhance your ability to write them yourself. I know this works from first-hand experience.

If you follow the above ten ways to give a good critique, you will get a big thank you from the writer. Then they won't feel slighted in any way.