Critiquing is hard work for both the writer and those who take the time to help a fellow writer. High Country Writers in Boone, North Carolina, developed these guidelines for the person submitting the pages:
1. Contact the Critique Coordinator; don’t ask anyone to critique your work unless you want truthful comments.
2. Submit only the allowed number of pages or make special arrangements for more (approximately 20 double spaced pages maximum). If pages are mid-novel, provide a one-page synopsis to bring reader to current scene. If you want specific questions answered, provide on cover sheet. Email copies to most members; bring hard copies for those who have so requested.
3. Don’t argue. Accept all comments graciously. If the point is not clear to someone, it isn’t. Feel free to ask for suggestions on how the meaning you intend might be communicated. We are all here to learn from each other.
4. Question the critiquer if you need clarification, but don’t waste time trying to convince her/him. Even if the critiquer’s conclusions are “wrong,” a problem has been identified.
5. Note criticism under the critiquer’s name as some comments are more valuable than others. If three or more people identify a problem in a particular area, even if they don’t agree what it is, you probably need to take a hard look at that point in the story or that aspect. Make use of the suggestions that make sense to you and forget the rest.
6. Have an open mind. The words are fresh to the reader and the writer is often too close to the material. The purpose of a critique is to have someone look for weaknesses in your work.
7. Keep the discussion on your story to save time.
8. Develop a thick skin. You are not your story.
9. Remember: It’s a draft.
10. Members must participate in at least three critiques before they can have their manuscripts critiqued.