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How to Critique a Writers Work

How to Critique a Writers Work

All writers need to have a second and third pair of eyes read their work. However, the trick is finding a trusted person to read their manuscript. Not all writers have a parent, friend or relative who is a published author, editor or avid reader. In this case, writers should seek out a reputable writers group where they can feel welcomed and at ease. If not able to find any reputable writers critique group, writers can form their own critique group. When critiquing manuscripts, writers need to be aware of each other’s feelings and should always provide feedback that is positive and constructive.

Always Give Positive Feedback

Feedback is central to a critique. It can either give a writer hope or destroy her confidence. The key to a good critique is positive feedback. Positive feedback does not mean that a writer tells a fellow writer that his story is superb and completely flawless. There is a technique to critiquing that is designed to help writers perfect their work.

Positive feedback goes beyond praise.

When giving positive feedback, tell a fellow writer why his or her book is good and then describe what makes it so good. Browse through the manuscript and pinpoint words, phrases and/or scenes that make the story so strong and engaging. Writers are looking for more than just praise, so when they receive positive feedback that is in depth, it keeps them moving in the right direction.

Constructive Criticism vs. Negative Criticism

Aside from positive feedback, all writers need their work to be critiqued in a constructive manner. There is a difference between constructive criticism and negative criticism. Negative criticism condemns and put’s down the writer and his or her work, whereas constructive criticism is comprehensive feedback aimed at helping a writer improve the weak points of his or her manuscript.

When giving constructive criticism, don’t hesitate to circle words or phrases that convey a wrong meaning, underline wordy and run-on sentences and write detailed suggestions on how to improve underdeveloped scenes. At the same time, explain why certain words, phrases or scenes impede the flow of the story in a way that is understandable to the author.

Avoid any kind of negative criticism. It will deflate a writer’s confidence in his or her work. If a writer has some words or phrases in his or her story that is offensive, gently explain why they are offensive and then give some suggestions on how he or she can eliminate potentially offensive content while improving the written content of the manuscript.

Copy Editing as Part of a Good Critique

Copy editing is a completely different animal than critiquing. However, it serves as a very important component in a critique. If a writer can eliminate all of the grammatical errors in a manuscript while critiquing, then the critique is thorough. To improve grammar, all writers need to know the meaning behind all of the copy editing symbols. So, before a critique, take a copy-editing course or read information on copy editing. This will help develop and sharpen important copy editing skills.

Writers learn the best from more experienced writers who are able to give in-depth, comprehensive feedback that includes positive feedback, constructive criticism and copy editing.

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