So you’ve been asked to read and/or critique someone’s writing? Critique partners and beta readers can be key to helping a develop their work, so you want to be effective. Here are a few tips to get you started.
- Be reliable: This has to be the most important aspect. Whether reading as entertainment or providing full analysis, please get back to the writer in a timely manner.
- Be specific: “It was good,” or “Awesome” won’t cut it. When giving your opinion follow up with reasoning so the author knows what to keep, remove, or further develop. For example, “I liked when Beth shared her cookie. I can tell this character is trustworthy.” “I was confused as to whether the Jokers and Clowners were the same gang because they wore similar clothing.” Authors look for feedback to improve their work.
- Consider the genre. When reading, think about the target audience. If you’re reading a middle grade novel, don’t judge it in the way you would a racy period piece. Think about if the story is appealing and makes sense to the appropriate reader.
- Consider the writer. If you know the writer, you can provide more personalized feedback to help them deliver any message or meaning in their work. Sometimes the writer needs help figuring these things out or translating it onto the page. For example, I like to create images for a dream-like effect, so my critique partner lets me know when my images fall flat. I crave it.
- Consider yourself. What is your role? Beta readers typically read for entertainment. Likes, dislikes, and the reasoning behind them. Champion the writer, but don’t go too easy on them. Critique partners are usually other writers that provide deeper analysis. Give the writer what they need. What works, what doesn’t, plot holes, tone, etc.
Whichever reader you are, the author has trusted you with their work. Use these tools to make sure your feedback is well thought and valuable!