Critique Guidelines

Critique guidelines include the following:

Written feedback is useful for critiquing writing mechanics. Use it to draw attention to specific paragraphs, sentences and words. Note these tips:

  • Correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation, cautiously.
  • Do not rewrite the work.

Verbal feedback is useful for story-level critique. Use it to:

  • Describe your reaction to the overall story, including characters, plot, level of tension, pacing, conflict, tone/voice, and thematic issues.
  • Identify weak characters or inconsistencies in character motivation
  • Identify plot holes or missing scenes or information
  • Provide feedback on the setting and sensory details
  • Ask questions that arose while you read and identify any places where the writing “took you out of the story”

How to Critique

A critique can be done in two ways: (1) by printing out the submission, writing on it, and giving it to the writer, or (2) digitally. If you choose the latter, please email the critique to by Sunday, midnight, following the session using other MSWord files or .pdfs.

  1. Download the MS Word document, then open it in MS Word.
  2. Turn on Track Changes or use MS Comment. Mark specific edits and corrections on the document in tracked changes mode.
  3. Add comments to clarify points of feedback and to ask questions.
  4. Adjust the filename to include your name and the word “critique” at the end.
  5. Please put all documents you’ve critiqued into a single email and attach the documents. We need this to differentiate critique files from submission files.

For longer critiques, such as the first 100 pages or full manuscript critiques, we’ve provided this template that you can use to review each work.

Critique Reciprocity Rule

Every person who submits a manuscript must critique the manuscripts in his/her group and submit them for distribution no later than the day following the meetup, Sunday, at 11:59 p.m. The other writers read yours; you have to read theirs. It’s how we work. If you do not critique as assigned, note the following:

  • You will not be able to submit a manuscript for the next session for which you RSVP. For that session, you will be assigned the role of Reader and will have to critique the manuscripts in your group and submit them on time.
  • If you do not submit critiques more than once, you will not be permitted to submit again for three months.If you have questions, contact us at