Below is a list of policies put together as suggestions for those who wish to participate in the portion of the forum set aside for more private suggestions. If you wish to gain access to the forum, please request access on this thread acknowledging you have read the general guidelines and send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
requesting access. These guidelines, as well as the FAQS, are brought to you by Leaflady, Duellist, Raveighen, Pworrell, Corvin and Wyeuro. Many thanks for their hard work!CRITIQUING POLICY
This is not meant to be a "checklist". These are just points to keep in mind in case you wonder "have I mentioned everything?" or "I don't know where to start".Giving and Receiving Helpful Critiques
Use the “sandwich method”. Say something the critiquer likes about the piece, then progress to points that may be weaknesses or may be improved. Finish with another positive comment. This kind of critique tends to be hopeful, helpful, and friendly and almost always well received.
Offer both positive and negative comments. Good critiques point a writer in directions for improvement. The “sandwich” critique prevents a writer feeling that the critiquer had nothing good to say. Also, being told what is very good is just as valuable as being told what is less so. You don’t want the writer to scrap something you thought was great just because you failed to mention it! We grow when we can identify our strengths as well as our weaknesses.
Read the manuscript through once entirely without making any comment.
Identify what “works” for you and what doesn’t in each of the three broad areas – plot, character, and writing.
Refrain from reading other critiques until you have completed your own. The writer wants your reaction and having knowledge of other critiques may alter your perception.
Be precise rather than fuzzy. If something “doesn’t work” for you, say why; offer suggestions.
Don’t critique a genre you hate.
Do not point out numerous individual grammar errors. If there are many, just let the author know that this weakness exists.The Three Broad Areas - Plot, Character, and Writing1) Plot
Is the story interesting? Do you want to read more, or do you feel impatient because the story seems to drag?
Is the problem clearly delineated; do the scenes carry the story forward?
Do scenes connect in a logical way, or are you thinking, “this makes no sense”?
Are there slow passages, too much repetition, too much explaining, too many flashbacks, big information dumps?
Are the facts consistent?2) Character
Are the characters’ names “right” or too stereotypical, too hard to keep track of, too similar, unpronounceable?
Do the characters seem believable? Are they too perfect? Are they “generic” or do they have real personality? Is there a good sense of their emotions, attitudes, values, appearance? Are there enough or too many details; are the details spread out or “dumped”?
Do you care about the characters?
Refrain from making moral judgements on a writer’s characters.
Is the character growing/changing/learning?
Do they talk in a believable way? Do they all sound alike? Is there too much/not enough dialogue?
Do you suddenly feel that a character is doing something totally inconsistent with what you have come to know of them?
Is there emotional conflict - within and between characters? Are there too many conflicts, or not enough?
Is the behavior convincing for the time/place/society?
Note well-written dialogue and places where character is conveyed well.3) Writing
Is the story compelling enough that the writing “carries you along”? Do you stop to think, “that’s an awkward sentence” or “this is getting boring”? Where did the writing itself pull you out of the story? Too-often-repeated words, faulty grammar, punctuation and spelling, monotonously similar sentence lengths, clichés can all do this.
Is there too much passive writing? Too much background information? Where does it drag?
Did you have to re-read anything before you understood it?
Is the research sloppy, facts inaccurate?
Is the setting well described? Can you visualise what’s happening, where you are? or would you like a few more details?
Would another point of view improve the story?
Does humour unintentionally slide into sarcasm; does emotion and tragedy descend to melodrama?
Does the writer show or tell?
Note well-written images and scenes.
What parts did you love? what’s great about this?How to Receive a Critique
Phrase any responses as a question: ask for clarification of what you don’t understand. If your critiquer said a scene was “unclear” or confusing, but said no more, you probably want to know the reason.
Which suggestions to take and which to ignore? You will get better at deciding as you go along.