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As I mentioned on Sunday, I've decided to put THE CRITIQUEE'S CHARTER up on the FindAWritingGroup.com website (if you'd like to offer your suggestions for item #12, click here). 

At the moment, I don't have anything for folks on the other side of the critique fence.  With that in mind, I'd like your help in drafting THE CRITIQUER'S PROMISE.  Written along the same lines as
THE CRITIQUEE'S CHARTER, it will be made up of useful advice about critiquing, but written in the form of a series of reassuring promises to the person whose work is being critiqued eg:

1. When reviewing your work, I will remember that my job is to critique the writing, not the writer.

If you'd like to help me create THE CRITIQUER'S PROMISE, leave your suggestion(s) in the comments below.  Sometime next week, I'll post everyone's proposals over at the FAWG, Live Journal Community in the form of a poll, so people can vote for the items they'd like to see included in the promise. 

If your suggestion gets voted in, I'll include it in the final 'document', along with your name and a link to your website/blog.  Also, if you can come up with a better name than 'THE CRITIQUER'S PROMISE', I'll be happy to put that to the vote too.

If you don't have an LJ account, you can still leave a comment, just remember to add your name and a link to your blog or website.

I think that's everything, but if you have any questions, let me know.

What would you put in THE CRITIQUER'S PROMISE 

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( 45 comments — Leave a comment )
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Oct. 6th, 2010 12:36 pm (UTC)
Awesome idea! Critique groups are SO helpful
Hi Jon, I love this idea. Thanks for compiling these. Once it's done, I'm sure I'll refer to it a lot. Here's one for your list:

I will offer gratitude for turns of phrase or images that tickle me.

Oct. 6th, 2010 12:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Awesome idea! Critique groups are SO helpful
Thanks, Jerry :)
Oct. 6th, 2010 01:14 pm (UTC)
Wow. This seems like a wonderful chance to be immodest.

When I applied for the MFA writing program at the U of Washington (Seattle)
I had to have letters of recommendation from my former profs.

Two points from one of these seem pertinent:
  1. Stacy was always a leader--the leader, in fact--in workshop and in the discussion of readings. At the time, Stacy had clearly read more widely and, in most cases, more deeply than most of the other people in the class.
  2. Stacy was always respectful--though incisive--in commenting on the work of others.

If you have not read widely and deeply, you will have no context
in which to place the work at hand, and your critique will be of little value.
And you must be both respectful and incisive.
A surgeon unwilling to make careful incisions is of no help to anyone.
In presenting a critique, I think it's best to present the negative items first.
Remember Pavlov?
If you follow this pattern of criticism followed by praise,
you will train the people you're working with to accept criticism gracefully
because you're rewarding them with praise immediately afterward.

Okay, to put that into an enumerated list?
  1. I will give only that criticism which I am qualified to give.
  2. I will identify weaknesses and strengths in the work, and in the author as an author,
    for the purposes and benefits of the work and the author.
    A writing workshop is not a poker game,
    and the fact that a writer is ugly and her mother dresses her funny
    is not an appropriate critique of her writing.

I guess that leaves ten more.
Oct. 6th, 2010 03:37 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Stacy :)
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Oct. 7th, 2010 11:59 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 6th, 2010 01:24 pm (UTC)
My number two is a bit of an argument, or perhaps expansion,
of your number one.
If an author consistently shows a weakness in grammar
or spelling or some other point that concerns writing
then one must say so.
If, on the other hand, you're jealous of how thin she is
or resent how much Stephen King she's read,
well, it would be best to recuse yourself
from the discussion.
Oct. 6th, 2010 01:37 pm (UTC)
As much as possible, I will ask questions to get you thinking about your words and whether they do what is intended.
Oct. 6th, 2010 03:38 pm (UTC)
Good one :)
Oct. 6th, 2010 01:53 pm (UTC)
"I promise to snigger quietly, and when caught, pretend I was only coughing."
Oct. 6th, 2010 03:38 pm (UTC)
While that may be true, I'm not sure it's going to find a place on the finished list ;)
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Oct. 7th, 2010 12:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 6th, 2010 02:18 pm (UTC)
I promise I will try to be objective and fair, and to look for things I enjoy, as well as things that seem not to work, in your story. I will do my best to read the work you have written, not the work I may think you ought to have written.
Oct. 6th, 2010 03:39 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Mary :)
Oct. 6th, 2010 03:15 pm (UTC)
How are these for you, Jon?

When critiquing your work, I will focus on its strengths as well as the areas where I think it might be improved.

When critiquing your work, I will understand that any comment I make is a suggestion and will be integrated or adapted at your discretion.

When critiquing your work, I will remember that my way is not the only way in matters of style and story development.

When critiquing your work, I will explain the reasons behind my proposed changes.

When critiquing your work, I will question what is unclear to me so that you can consider how to address the issue.

When critiquing your work, I will do my utmost to provide clear and complete feedback on all aspects of the story.

Good luck with the project!

Danielle (queen of critique)
Oct. 6th, 2010 03:39 pm (UTC)
Some great ones there. Thanks, Danielle :)
(no subject) - damcphail - Oct. 6th, 2010 09:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - Oct. 6th, 2010 07:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - damcphail - Oct. 6th, 2010 09:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 6th, 2010 04:01 pm (UTC)
When giving you a critique, I will not let the fact that we are otherwisse friends color my judgement. My response will be fair and based solely on your writing and its merits, not on my fear of hurting your feelings.
Oct. 6th, 2010 04:35 pm (UTC)
Nice one! Thanks, Hildy :)
Oct. 6th, 2010 07:33 pm (UTC)
When offering a critique, I promise to ask what style and level of critique you would like and what your goals are. I will keep those things in mind when I respond to your work.
Oct. 6th, 2010 09:06 pm (UTC)
Good one :)
Oct. 6th, 2010 08:01 pm (UTC)
When I critique your work, I will keep in mind that you are trusting me with your work. I will honor that trust by 1) making comments designed to help you create a better story, 2) being honest, but diplomatic, and 3) being encouraging.
Oct. 6th, 2010 09:06 pm (UTC)
I like these :)
(no subject) - tracy_d74 - Oct. 6th, 2010 09:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Oct. 7th, 2010 08:56 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 7th, 2010 08:57 am (UTC)
That's such an easy trap to fall into, especially when you first start critiquing, I think.

Thanks, Dave :)
Oct. 6th, 2010 10:02 pm (UTC)
when I critique, I make a solemn promise to leave my worldviews at the doorstep. If, for whatever reason, I find it hard to critique a story that clashes with my political, religious, etc views, I will quietly inform the writer off-stage, and not rant about it in the review.
Oct. 7th, 2010 08:58 am (UTC)
Thanks, Patty :)
Oct. 6th, 2010 10:11 pm (UTC)
I, as critiquer, understand the difference between 'harsh but not offensive', 'rude' and 'sarcastic' comments.
While we all recognise that 'this is crap' is rude, we understand that if we wish to entertain lasting and reciprocal critiquing relationships with people, we cannot say things like:
'I can see English isn't your first language' (even, dudes, if you know this to be true, just don't say it, right?)
'I couldn't read more than a page of this' (yeah, because you SO expect this person to be a critting buddy. C'mon, find a less lazy way of saying this)
Oct. 7th, 2010 09:00 am (UTC)
Excellent! I couldn't agree more. I heard enough of that kind of stuff from my old gran :(
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 7th, 2010 09:00 am (UTC)
I like that one. Thanks for sharing, Jenn :)
Oct. 7th, 2010 12:47 am (UTC)
The biggest thing is, keep the critique to the story. It's better to stay on topic when you critique, even if you crack bad jokes.

Another good point I've read is that give positive commentary, as well as negative commentary. Pointing out what you liked about a story, as well as the places you sort of hiccuped, helps the author figure out what's working and what they need to improve on in their writing in general. Some stories may be strong on dialogue and weak on imagery, or strong on imagery and weak on dialogue. Somesuch to that effect, anyway.
Oct. 7th, 2010 12:51 am (UTC)
Ha, just realized you covered that second one, though not in specifics. Third example may be characterization. If you can think of some examples that might help clarify the situation in the author's mind (i.e., the critique), by all means give it, and tell them why you're giving that example, so they don't think you have a loose gear in there, somewhere. That's part of keeping it on topic.
(no subject) - jongibbs - Oct. 7th, 2010 09:02 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - snapes_angel - Oct. 7th, 2010 01:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
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( 45 comments — Leave a comment )

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

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