Fiction writing workshops often require that attendees critique each other's writing. If this responsibility falls upon you, and you want the writing workshop to be a success, you will need to do your part to critique the writing of others as effectively as possible. Your workshop instructors will likely give you advice on how to effectively critique, either orally or in writing, but it is helpful to have an idea of what to critique before you arrive.
Respond As A Reader
You will want to respond as a reader rather than as a writer. Writers can have a difficult time getting out of the mindset of a writer. Rather than focus on what you would do as a writer, simply relax and read the story for your own enjoyment. Write down your impressions and your understanding of the story. This valuable feedback can help the writer understand whether he or she is communicating what he or she intended.
Use Positive And Negative Feedback Carefully
The worst thing you can do is discourage the writer, especially if he or she is just getting started. Most authors write terrible first novels, but it is best that you not let any of the authors at the workshop know this. Instead, try to focus both on the positive and negative aspects of the story so that the writer can still feel encouraged. However, you will absolutely want to tell the writer if there are any obvious, major problems with the story. For instance, if there is an obvious plot hole that the author may have missed, do not simply tell the writer that his or her story is wonderful because this will only be compounded when the author submits the story for publication and is surprised to be rejected.
Keep The Author's Goals In Mind
Keep in mind the story that the author is trying to tell and the intended audience. For example, if the story is a children's novel, do not complain that the writing is overly simplistic. If the story is a fantasy novel written for those who commonly read fantasy, do not expect the novel to not include some conventions of the fantasy genre, such as the use of magic. You will want to help the author achieve his or her goals rather than transform the novel into one that you would have written. By communicating with the author and understanding what he or she wants to achieve, you can work together to help make the novel much better.
For more information on writing workshops, contact writing experts, like those at Writer Philadelphia.
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