A critique partner is a good idea. It’s hard to read your own story with an impartial, critical eye. Sue Ranscht and I are currently reading each other’s WiP to provide one another with outside perspective and mutual support. I can only hope that my critiques are as useful to her as hers have been for me. Thanks to Sue’s honesty, I’m re-writing my set up. She pushes me to write deeper.
If you are considering critiquing another writer’s work – but, you know, you hesitate to criticize another writer’s work – here are some tips to get you thinking in a useful direction.
Read thoroughly. Don’t skim or speed-read. Surface-level feedback (“I liked it!”) sucks as useful.
Consider using a “compliment sandwich” approach. Start your critique with positive feedback, then offer any criticisms or suggestions, and conclude with additional positive input.
Use clear, specific language.
Make suggestions, not mandates.
Don’t let personal preferences cloud your judgment. Easier said than done, but try.
Practice striking the perfect balance between praise and being constructive.
Watch your tone! Email is notorious for giving the wrong impressions.
Sue has offered to connect you with a writing partner, right here on the Writers Co-op. See:
It also helps to find a writing partner if you stay in touch with people in the writing life. Browse these links.
There are a ton of other such sites, but I have zero interest in those that charge a fee for use, exist mainly to collect personal data, or don’t strike me as currently active.
The easiest way to get a writing partner, of course, is to email a piece of your work to email@example.com. You are thereby agreeing to critique the work of the person who critiques your work. But that’s why they’re called a partner.
NOTE: The image at the top of the page has nothing to do with this discussion. I just liked it.