Be sure to read our guide here, as well.
How to Read a Submission
You are not being asked to edit the piece! You aren't required to give a critique on every line. Your job is to (a) encourage and (b) give one thing they can work on to improve by next week.
Be ready to take notes when you read the submission. You can use a text file or a notebook or an app.
The moment you see something you like, make a note. This may be a funny line, or a single sentence choice, or a character, or a surprising setting. There is always something good to say about any piece.
As you read, look for patterns of problems. If there is a consistent issue with verb tense or characterization or something else, make note of that.
How to Critique Submission
- Your critique should have three parts, and it must begin and end with encouragement.
We use what we call the OREO method here:
- Don't overwhelm the writer. We are all at different stages of writing. A beginner will not understand discussions of complicated grammar. Your goal is to give feedback they can apply right away. Try to only point out one or two things that need to be fixed. You want to give them something they can start to work on right now.
So, for a made-up example: "I admit I had a little trouble connecting with Jane as a character. I don't really understand why she made the choices she did, but I could tell that you do! Maybe if we saw a little more inside her head, or could see the logic behind her decisions, it would help me to connect better to why she decided to throw the kitchen sink at Samuel."
- Do your best to leave the writer feeling they can tackle their weaknesses and grow. If you do this, they will be willing to listen to your helpful critique, and they will improve.