Having your writing critiqued by another writer comes with a mixed bag. We want the one who critiques to like our work and say nothing needs to be changed. Fat chance of that happening.
We'd like to find out if the draft we've sent out with an S.O.S. is worth revision on our part. We hope to hear good things along with what needs to be worked on. Let's look at both sides to see what is needed and hoped for.
The person being critiqued wants:
- some praise along with suggestions to make the writing better
- help in polishing a rough draft
- to know where there are parts that are not clear to the reader
- to know how to tighten the writing
- help with mechanical issues
- to pinpoint the strong parts
- to find the weak areas
- an objective opinion
- a little kindness with the criticism
- to be helped
The person doing the critique should:
- be fair but honest
- not give praise just to make the writer feel good
- be kind in the way problems are pointed out
- be able to back up their suggestions if needed
- give reasons for changing this or that
- show ways to reword unclear areas
- not be too general, be specific
- tell what they like and what they don't like
- point to ways to tighten the writing
It's not easy to toss your work to the wolves. Not that those who critique for us are actually wolves but sometimes it feels like that is what we're doing. We send it to another writer for help but we're thinking Here it is, Chew it up and spit it back at me. Like me, hate me. I can take it. Maybe this will make me stop writing forever.
What we should be thinking is Help me make this a better piece of writing so that it is likely to appeal to an editor and be published.