Ten Commandments (for Written Critiques)
1. Critique the writing, not the writer.
2. Remember, your objective is to help someone improve his/her story, not to have it rewritten as if it were your own.
3. If there’s a place for sarcasm, mockery, or general unpleasantness, it’s NOT in a written critique.
4. When you come across something that you don’t think works, explain why. Try to come up with a way to fix it.
5. In addition to any mistakes/problems you point out, find something worthy of praise.
6. Take as much time preparing a critique as you would expect someone to take over writing one for you.
7. We’re all busy. Nevertheless, aside from any handwritten notes in the margin, please type your critique.
8. When providing work for critique, use ‘submission’ format ie: 1” double-spaced, all around margins, decent sized font (like Times New Roman 12pt). this makes it easier for people to make notes on the page.
9. In addition to using the proper format, make sure you include the word-count and name of your target publication (if you have one). In the case of partial stories, provide a brief (one paragraph), description/back-story so the person reading your work knows enough background details to help them critique.
10. Aside from presentation, format and grammar, which have set rules, the critiquer’s comments on your story are mere opinions which, like children and spouses can be embraced or ignored. That said, you asked for an honest opinion, and though you may not like what you hear, if different people point out the same problems with your story, you probably need to make some changes.
I think that should do the trick, but if you spotted something I missed, please let me know.