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Critique Guidelines

From: Michael
Sent on: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 12:46 PM



A few things I'd mention for the critique tonight.  You're free to critique whatever you'd like within the piece, if you follow the basic group guidelines. Here are a few tips:

1. Feel free to pass if you think what you've wanted to say has already been said, or "ditto" the comment. If the person sitting next to you basically gave the critique you were about to give, ditto-ing certain comments saves time and energy. Not essential, but a time saver.

2. Don't go over three minutes.  Time yourself. When you're at 2 1/2 minutes you should be ready to wind it down. At 3 minutes you should be done.  When you hit 3 minutes and 30 seconds you've just hit a brick wall and need so stop talking and let the person next to you start talking. If you didn't get to say everything you were going to, try to bring it up in the portion of the critique when the writer responds and state your concerns then or catch the writer after the session.  In 3 minutes, if you're concise, you can say quite a bit about 5,000 words.

3. Know what you're going to say before you start. Don't start looking blankly at the pages like you've just seen them for the first time. Have a game plan of likes and dislikes of the piece and paint these in broad strokes for the writer.  If you want to copy-edit, probably doing it on the page is best and the writer can check this after the meeting. Typically it's good to bring some notes about the piece with you to the meeting. This being said, I know everyone loses their train of thought sometimes, but try to be concise.

4. Don't ask the writer questions since they can't reply.

5. Don't ask the writer questions and then sit looking at the writer waiting for a response. You know the guidelines, please DON'T do this. Ideally, if you don't understand something about the piece or aren't sure of the writer's intent, mention that, and state that the writer will address that during the talk back portion. When giving the critique, think of it as if the writer isn't in the room and so don't ask questions. What we want to know is your impression of the piece and what you took away from it as a reader. The writer's work should speak for itself.

6. Honestly, I don't quite understand why writers have a difficult time and feel the need to ask the writer direct questions. And if  you've RSVP'd for the meetup and answered honestly, you've told me you are able to give a critique without asking direct questions. You can raise a question or a concern, but don't expect it to be answered until the writer respons.

7. Don't talk about things extraneous things unrelated to the piece, like the writer uploaded the piece  too late for your busy schedule, or you didn't have time to read it. The dog didn't eat your homework.  You either did or didn't read the piece. If you made the time to read the piece, then give the critique and talk about the words on the page. If you didn't read the piece, then "pass" and time is saved.

8. Formatting is fine to discuss if this is an issue for you, but be brief. Some writers are still not putting their names, page numbers or titles on their work. Please include this information when you're submitting work to the group. Also, it might be a good idea to include the month and year that the piece is intended for when uploading the piece to the "Files" section. (February 2014 for instance.)

9. If you're the writer, remain silent during the critique until everyone's gone and then it's your turn to talk, clarify and explain the piece where needed. Active listening is a skill.

10. Writing this list just took me 45 minutes of my time to compose. Please read and retain this information if you want to participate in the critiques.


Again, there are other critique groups in Orlando without basic rules, but for those attending this group I'd like everyone to be on the same page and follow these basic guidelines.


Thanks everyone and best wishes!






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