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Writing a Critique

You don't have to be an expert on literature or to be able to use complicated language to write a critique. All you need is the ability to read and express your opinion.

The most important thing to keep in mind is the golden rule: Write a critique that you would like to receive yourself.

A critique is meant to help, not hurt, and the difference between the two often lies simply in the choice of words.

Start by reading the author's notes. These reflect the things the author is looking for in your critique. Then read the story completely through, for the global impression it has on you as a reader. Then, read it again, and this time look at the details. General impressions can be written in the 'closing comments'. Details are best written in-line.

If you tell the author that you think something should be changed, tell him why. Be objective and bring examples. It doesn't hurt to stress that this is all your humble opinion.

Don't forget to tell the author about the positive things, what he's doing well. It's just as important to know what you're doing right as what you're not doing so well, to know what works and what doesn't.

Keep this in mind:

  • Does the story hold your interest? 
  • Do you care about the characters? 
  • Do you understand the text easily or do you sometimes have to read a paragraph (or more) several times before you make sense of it? 
  • Are the conversations natural, do they "flow"? 
  • Is the plot believable or do you get the feeling that the author "cheats"? 

We emphasize that critiques should be objective, honest, polite and constructive. That they help people improve their writings. The critiques shouldn't contain personal remarks about the author, the critique is to be aimed at the text alone.

A destructive critique can cause the author to give up. That's not the kind of critique we want here. 

Just because we stress the importance of constructive critiques doesn't mean we don't want honesty. You can easily be honest and constructive at the same time. It's all a question of phrasing. "Your plot sucks!" or "I think your plot needs some work" — similar messages, but one is destructive, the other is constructive.

Comments meant for the Critique Circle and its administrators have no place in critiques.

When you're done with your critique ask yourself: Is this a critique I would like to receive myself?

Administrators and Moderators review all critiques and if there is a problem they will discuss it with the writer. 

If you have a problem with a critique you have received, please contact us and we'll look into it.

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