How to Give Professional Critiques

It is important for writers to be courteous when giving professional critiques.
We don’t want to bash the other writer, but we want him/her to develop
and flower into the type of writer that will be successful and content
in his/her profession.

Here are seven tips to perform a professional critique.

1. Be courteous when giving a critique of a manuscript. There is
nothing worse than really being mean and overly critical when
doing your assessment of another person’s manuscript. We
should treat others like we want to be treated. Just as we
don’t like to be meanly critiqued, we shouldn’t offer a
mean critique either.

2. Find some good points to say about another person’s
manuscript at all times. There is nothing worse than to
have a one-sided view of a manuscript. Even if a manuscript
isn’t well done and there are a lot of fundamental errors in it,
it is important to find something nice to say about a
manuscript on each page that you make comments.

3. Don’t slam another writer’s views. If you don’t agree
with another writer’s views about a topic, try to remain
neutral. You don’t want to slam another person’s view
by saying:

• That is really Stupid.
• I can’t believe that you said that.
• I never heard of that before!

What we should try and do is to accept another person’s
views as theirs and to leave it at that. We are all entitled
to our own point of view, and we don’t need to be put
down by it.

4. Be thorough in your critique. It is important to give at least
three to five comments per page on every page that you critique.
That way, you’ll be able to give a critique that the author can use
to revise her manuscript.

5. Don’t negatively label any manuscript. Many individuals who
critique manuscripts don’t take a sufficient amount of time to really
understand a manuscript before they critique it. They simply form a
quick and sometimes biased view of the manuscript. And there is
nothing that could then shake their views about the manuscript.

6. Suggest positive feedback to make the manuscript better.
It’s easy to find fault with a manuscript and much harder to
find something positive to say about the manuscript. Finding
fault is relatively easy to do. However, really making some
helpful suggestions can be a daunting challenge for individuals.
I believe it is important to have as much positive feedback as
negative. As a matter of fact, I usually make many more
positive statements than negative ones when I critique.

7. Couch negative comments positively. Even when you
feel that you have to make negative comments, say them
positively. It’s always easy to reword critical comments
in a positive way. Also, always make sure that you tell
the author how she can improve the manuscript. So,
when you say something negative about a manuscript,
make sure that you say why it the manuscript has
a problem and how the author can correct it.

By following these tips, you will be offering a
professional critique of a manuscript and not just
slamming it negatively. After all, just because
you don’t like a manuscript, it doesn’t mean that
it really isn’t good. It just may be that you missed
something about the manuscript, or the topic
isn’t one that you could yourself into.
So be kind when you critique as much as possible.

By: Irene S. Roth

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