Monday, February 25, 2008


The art of critiquing. And yes, it is an art.

"Look at my manuscript, please. Tell me what you think."
"Could you read my first chapter?"
"I'm thinking of throwing my hero/heroine into this situation. Well?"

Those sentences span a realm of types of critiques. From a full manuscript critique to an idea critique.

For me, the most important thing I try to remember when I'm critiquing is that it's not my book. Not my idea. No my hero/heroine. It's the authors. I want to stay true to their vision of the book-not mine. I may have written a scene differently, but unless the authors version isn't consistent with the rest of the book, I keep those comments to myself.

There are a lot of ways to critique. I couldn't begin to cover them all in one post. When you enter your ms in a contest you are receiving a critique from a judge. Hopefully, the critique is helpful and encouraging.

When you are critiquing a cp's ms or judging a contest is there something you try to keep in mind? Some unwritten rule you try to follow?


  1. When I'm critting or judging, I just try to be honest. I do take into consideration the person's level of writing, like if the person is obviously a novice, I will hone in on one aspect of the craft they need to work on. Otherwise, they'll be deflated, thinking of all they have yet to learn.
    But I don't want to gloss things over either. There's nothing that irks me more than for someone to read something I know has problems and then say, "it's good." How am I ever going to grow as a writer if no one tells me what I need to improve upon?

  2. It's funny that you posted this this morning, Lindi! I didn't read it until after I called you. :)

    I called Lindi this evening with a question about a possible idea for the ending. I wanted to see if she would feel cheated as a reader if I made the heroine give up her hometown and family to move to Boston with the hero for their happily ever after. So that's another type critique, I guess. Asking about plot point ideas. :)

    As for when I critique--I try to make sure everything makes sense to me as a reader. I let the writer know questions that I have while reading. I also try to point out plot problems I see. And I do offer ideas I've had if they've asked for that type feedback. But I never expect someone to take my ideas. I just toss them out in case it helps them.

    And most of all, I try to point out the positives!


  3. Ok Faith Girls, Im a reader,..........send me all of your first chapters, old books.......I love to critique!!! So much easier to do when you are NOT a writer ! As a reader, just catch my eye, your first chapter, first paragraph........ as a matter of fact, I believe Lindi owes me a few to read ??? Come one, come all !!!

  4. Okay, Anonymous, are you Cousin Wendy? I'll definitely keep you in mind when I finish my current book!

    Lindi, you really do need to get Wendy registered on google so we'll know who she is! :)


  5. I try not to mess with the author's voice or style. That is unique to them and shouldn't be touched. I also try to find positive things that are working and point out good potential where I see a strength.