Tips on Giving and  Receiving Critique

Our purpose is to provide a supportive environment for each other while offering candid feedback about how to improve our work. The following suggestions combine our own opinions as well as some advice for other websites and past workshops.

Things to consider when critiquing fiction:

  • Characterization
  • Dialogue
  • Setting
  • Point of View
  • Development
  • Pacing
  • Mechanics

    Things to consider when critiquing poetry:
  • Pacing
  • Word Choice
  • Flow
  • Imagery
  • What is the experience of the poem?
  • Is the experience poem worthy?
  • Is it an inspired moment?
  • What does the poem mean to me?
  • Does the writer create a scene or do I have to “fill in the gaps”?

    Elements of Creative Non-fiction:

    In CNF, the writer always has a message: what he or she has to say or show about the person, place or situation he or she is documenting. CNF captures a real subject in a literary way using literary techniques to elevate the quality of non-fiction. CNF is usually written in essay form and has a factual element. It shows rather than tells. Examples of CNF include literary journalism, narrative journalism, and the memoir. 

    Tips on delivering criticism:
  • Respect the author’s work and their individual style. Refrain from projecting your own tastes on their work. Be open to new writing ideas.
  • Distinguish the author of the work from the speaker. Refer to the narrator of the story, not the writer.
  • No matter how flawless a submission may appear at first glance, there are always areas for improvement. While our purpose is not to scrutinize or nitpick at each other’s work, we want to contribute in a manner that is productive and helpful to the writer since our reading ideally represents a larger audience.
  • Read the work more than once and make notes about a sentence that puzzled you and comment on areas that need clarity. Are the author’s intentions clear, or are they merely suggested? 

    Tips on receiving criticism:
  • Make notes as the comments are being delivered so you can refer back to them later.
  • Resist taking a defensive stance towards the criticism. While your writing is your creation, don’t perceive criticism as if it’s being directed towards you as a person. As the artist, it is clearly your decision what comments you choose to embrace or ignore. But it is in your best interest to observe the trends of the workshop: if there is a consensus amongst your critics about an area for improvement, then you should probably listen to that bulk of advice.

    For more helpful tips on giving good critique, visit


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