General Critiquing Etiquette

When Giving Feedback, Remember…

It’s not your story. Don’t rewrite or tell your peer what her story should or shouldn’t say. Instead, pose your thoughts as a question: “What if . . .” or “Have you tried?”

Always be polite.

How to Give Feedback 

Feedback can be given in a formal way via typewritten comments, or you may handwrite comments on a separate page or on the manuscript itself. 

Groups may use a printed critique form which is filled in for every critique. The form can help the group focus on the essentials and helps guarantee that nothing is overlooked. 

Mark with pencil on the areas you wish to point out throughout the manuscript, including additional notes in the margins.

Start your critique by explaining what you thought the story was about and highlight all the strengths. Don’t just say that you liked something, say why. This is the “sandwich rule.” Start with positive comments, give feedback on what you think are problem areas, then end on a positive note or encouragement. 

List the major parts that didn’t work for you and tell your peer WHY. 

Did a section seem awkward? Was the paragraph jarring? Was a plot detail confusing? Or perhaps you couldn’t connect with the main character; explain what you meant by that.

Don’t waste time pointing out minor typos or punctuation, just mark them on the manuscript.

(Kind thanks to SCBWI New Jersey for this information.)