How We Critique

Bring a pen or pencil.

Taking turns, each writer reads pages aloud or has someone else read them aloud. Then we spend fifteen minutes silently marking comments on the pages. The next fifteen minutes are devoted to oral critique and discussion.

The Belmarians tell me what I already know, but they are more convincing than I am.  -Joan

As a Writer:

Bring ten pages or fewer to share. Manuscript pages should be double spaced, 12 pt COURIER NEW font, one-inch margin all around, and printed one side only. Bring pages loose or paper clipped. No staples, please.

NEVER feel obligated to make changes to your work you don't agree with from the critique. Thank others for their input and resist the urge to argue.

Critiques are the gut check we need to hear.  -Eric

Without a critique group, an author's work gets lost in the sea of bad writing.  -Zach

As a Critic:

Our goal is to provide constructive ideas to move writers forward with their work.

Be mindful of time. We have about 45 minutes per manuscript to read, reflect, and comment. Don't spend time pointing out comma mistakes, misspelled words, or typos. Just mark these and move on. Talk about the most important points and mark the rest of your thoughts on the copy.

Ask yourself:

Am I courteous? Always start with something you like about the pages and end on the positive.

Is the narrative clear? If you can’t follow the action of the scene, then there's a problem. Be specific about where you became confused.

Is the POV (point of view) clear?

Does the tense--past or present--remain true throughout the scene?

Are transitions between scenes logical?

Is it overwritten or underwritten? Has the writer spent too much time describing someone or something insignificant? On the other hand, does the writer need more detail about the setting or need to delve deeper into a character's thoughts.

Do I like, sympathize, and empathize with the main character(s)? If not, neither will an agent or editor. Be honest about the problem you're having with the character in question.

Am I leaving the writer with both hope and help?

Every writer needs a second set of eyes.  -Liz

We teach best what we most need to learn, which is what makes a good critique group so valuable. Everybody wins.  -Dev 

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