A GOOD CRITIQUE GROUP PARTNER
Here are some general rules to being a good critique
group partner. You will get out of this experience what
you put in, so do your best to follow the rules below.
1. BE HONEST
Now is not the time to lie. Be gentle, but
tell the truth. If the submitter's story doesn't have
enough plot, or the characterization needs work, tell
them so! Editors don't have time to tell you what
they think--critique partners do.
2. BE THICK-SKINNED
The first time you have a story critiqued by a group
of writers might be difficult for you. If some critiques
are somewhat negative to your material, it doesn't
mean you're a bad writer. It's sometimes hard to separate
our writing from ourselves, but it is absolutely
necessary that you learn to do so. Nothing is
personal in a group such as ours, comments are made
on the words that are submitted only. Even after
you're published, editors will want to change things.
And you may well gather a heap of rejections before
that time. Buck up and get used to it.
3. CONSIDER COMMENTS CAREFULLY
Not every comment a critique partner makes will apply
to your story. It could be just a personal preference.
You are the final judge of what to change
and what to keep. However, don't blow off
a comment because it hurts your feelings. If possible,
let it be for a while, and look at it again later.
Often you'll find at least a shred of wisdom in the
4. BE KIND
This is important, treat others as you have them treat
unto you. Honesty doesn't mean brutality. A writer's
story is his/her baby--and you don't want to tell
someone their baby is ugly!!! Word your critiques
carefully, as you would have others critique your
5. BE ENCOURAGING
One of the biggest benefits to having critique partners
is having others who understand what you are going
through as you sweat blood trying to get work published.
Encourage one another to your best writing, and help
one another when you face a nasty case of writer's
block or rejection. Hang in there together!
6. BE FRIENDLY
Get to know each other. Become friends. Writing a
story in today's market is a harrowing experience,
best shared with others. The more you know about each
other, the more you'll be able to help.
7. BE PROMPT
When you send something out to be critiqued, you are
probably on pins and needles to know what others think.
Remember, your partners feel the same way about their
material!!! Do your best to get back to them
within a reasonable amount of time.
8. LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE
the first thing you'll be tempted to do as a critique
partner (especially if you have strong grammar skills)
is to start nit-picking commas, etc. While this is
helpful on a FINAL DRAFT, what you should be looking
for in the early stages is the overall picture. Is
the plot sound? Do the characters do and say things
that are out of character for them? Do they
depend too much on adverbs, rather than choosing strong
On the final draft, of course, you'll want to make
sure what they are sending to the publishers is picture
perfect. Now you get to edit out all those
More than likely, your critique partners will be the
ones who laugh with you when you get the go-ahead
to send a manuscript, cry with you when you face rejection,
and rejoice with you when you sell that story. Best
Reprinted with permission from Short Story Group