Critiquing Procedures and Etiquette
- Prepare a written piece up to three pages in length for the group to critique. This may be a complete piece, such as a devotion or short article (or multiple, if within the allotted pages), or it may be an excerpt of a longer piece, such as a novel. For excerpts, be prepared to briefly put the piece in context.
- Pages are double-spaced, 12-point font, with one-inch margins.
- Bring your best work. Proofread and edit the piece prior to the critique.
- Bring sufficient copies for all group members, approximately six to eight.
- We do not critique erotica or material with extreme violence or vulgar language.
- Indicate if you wish to have your work critiqued by handing out your manuscript upon arrival or during announcements.
- Each piece is given approximately fifteen minutes to critique.
- The participating member will pass out their piece and then read it aloud or ask someone else to read it. (Having someone else read your piece aloud allows you to see how a reader interprets it and often identifies necessary edits.)
- Members will take a minute to write notes on their copies after the piece has been read aloud. After the oral critique, these copies will be returned to the author, so write legibly and include useful comments. Be sure to write your name on the copy so the author can contact you with any further questions.
- The remainder of the allotted time will be used for oral critiques of the piece. The president will choose a person to begin the critiques (usually a person to one side of the author), and then each successive member in the circle will have an opportunity to critique, as time permits.
- Members who do not have anything to add to the critique may pass, however each member is strongly encouraged to participate, albeit briefly.
- The president will serve as the timekeeper to maintain the flow of the meeting. To stay on track, critiquing must end when the allotted time has run out.
- Be honest but respectful. Members will learn much more from constructive criticism than from empty praise.
- Offer positive encouragement as well as constructive criticism.
- Be specific about problems you see in the piece so the author can correct them. Be specific about suggestions for improvement.
- Do not argue with the author about theology.
- The purpose of the critique is for the author to improve the particular piece and their writing in general. Others listening to your critique may also learn from what you have to say.
- Don’t repeat things already stated by other members in their critiques, except to briefly state your agreement of either criticism or praise. It may help an author to know how many people share a particular opinion, but it’s not necessary to go over the same issue repeatedly.
- Write any comments you have on your copy. This is especially important if you don’t have time to share all of your comments.
- The author will remain silent during and after the critique of their work unless a specific question is asked to clarify a matter.
- Graciously accept what is said. What you do with it, though, is up to you!