How to Critique – a brief and easy guide for reluctant critique leaders

  1. When you read the story for a critique, circle anything you particularly like, and underline anything that confuses or distracts you.
  2. Note the point when you first realized where and when the story takes place. What made it real?
    1. As a critique leader, ask the group about time and place. The author wants to know which readers did and didn’t recognize this, and why.
  3. Could you hear the voices in the dialog? Could you tell who was speaking? What made it clear? Could you tell what was happening during dialog?
    1. As a critique leader, ask the group if the dialog was clear to them. The author wants to know if the flavor was right, if there were enough dialog tags to avoid confusion, and which readers found the speakers more or less engaging.
  4. Did the characters ring true? What made them real? Did you know whose eyes were guiding what you “saw”? Did the point of view change, and were the changes successful or confusing?
    1. As a critique leader, ask which characters felt most real and why. Ask if people felt comfortable with the point of view. Ask if they liked or disliked particular characters. The author wants to know how the writing and characters come across to different readers.
  5. Was the sequence of events easy to follow, or did you get confused sometimes?
    1. As a critique leader, ask if readers could follow the sequence of events easily. The author wants to know if anyone (not just you) got confused.
  6. What emotional impact did the story have on you? If it’s a chapter, do you want to read more? If it’s a complete story, what message do you take away from it?
    1. As a critique leader, ask how other readers felt. The author might have a particular audience in mind, and will want to know what impact the story has on different readers.


(Taken from Sheila’s talk in October 2014)

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