10-second review: Some suggestions on how to tactfully criticize someone else’s writing.
Title: “The Art of the Critique.” M. Faith. The Writer (November 2009), 36-37.
Summary: Three of these five suggestions for criticizing seem promising. First, read the person’s work and then re-read and re-read it again. You will see things in it that you might have missed on your first reading. Second, follow the praise/ Suggestion/ Praise model. Critics of writing frequently begin with praise and then leave a bad taste by ending with “suggestions.” End with praise again. Third, remember comments that didn’t help when your teachers commented on your writing.
Comment: Ever had someone read your piece of writing and the only comment was about some misspelling, completely disregarding your ideas that you worked so hard to shape? Infuriate you? It’s happened to me. You might ask the writers who want your opinion what they are looking for. If they mention grammar or spelling, then offer the advice, If they don’t feel they need advice on grammar, then don’t mention it. They may consider what you are reading a work in progress.
You need to give careful thought to what you say when someone asks for a critique. The deadliest question about writing is “What do you think?” RayS.