Critique Skill Building

The whole point behind the Littleton Writers’ Critique Group is to help each other become better writers and published authors.  We try to do this in a positive, warm-and-fuzzy way (even if a few of us have Yogi Bear for a relative). Here are some tips we hope you’ll find helpful as you begin your own adventure in critiquing others’ work:

CRITIQUE ETIQUETTE

  • Positive reinforcement.  Constructive, not destructive, criticism.  The general rule is “say something nice before ripping someone’s work apart.” We’ve had lots of sweaters complimented along the way as a result.
    – Also, we meet in a public place.  While some of the written works presented are a tad “salty,” please speak respectfully to each other at all times and avoid any profanities in your verbal critique.  After all, as writers we’re supposed to have stronger vocabularies than that.
  • Thick Skin.  Please remember that there’s no growth without honesty, and even though some of us could use a little training in tact, we’re all trying our best to be helpful.  Take the negative comments in stride (and think what you want about your critic).
  • The clock is ticking. Have fun along the way, but don’t get carried away with your small but enthusiastic audience. If someone has already mentioned a typo on page 97, there’s no need to mention it again. In fact, there’s no need to mention typos at all. Just mark them on the pages you critique.  Make your comments/corrections on the pages.  During the verbal critique, cover what feels most important to you, and allow the next critic time to speak.  We want to be sure to spread the wealth here.
  • Duct Tape Please. Readers are expected to listen without commenting, arguing, explaining or defending their manuscripts. Yep, this is the hardest one to follow, but once again, you can THINK whatever your heart desires–and maybe use it in your next chapter–heh, heh, heh.
    – If you’re asked a direct question about your work, please do respond, just don’t elaborate. Sometimes there’s enough time to brainstorm, but keep in mind the number of readers left to have their turns.
  • The Moderator Rules. Doesn’t that make you want to volunteer for this job right away? At each table the Timer or Moderator has the right to ask critics to shorten their comments, if those comments are pushing the time limit. We know you’re brilliant so you don’t have to prove it each week.

Well, that about covers it.  If you have concerns about critique behaviors, please speak with one of the group moderators in private.  We’ll do what we can to help, but we’re not professional negotiators or etiquette police.

Good luck!  We’ll look forward to seeing you at a meeting soon.

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