Giving critique is also important! As I’ve mentioned, I have a writing buddy, and our writing relationship is built on giving each other sound, quality feedback on our work. When giving her feedback, I read everything twice. She usually asks me specific questions, but I don’t even look at them until my second readthrough. First pass is for my initial thoughts and reactions, second pass is for a harder look and addressing particular issues.
Every story and writer has different needs. I would never give the same feedback to, say, a romance that I would give to a tragedy. I wouldn’t make a suggestion that would wildly alter the tone of the piece if that wasn’t the writer’s goal. When I’m giving critique, my job is to help the writer make their story better, but it’s still their story. I always try to be careful to not rewrite the story. No “if I was writing this…” BS.
I think it’s also important to know what sort of feedback someone is looking for. Are they worried about grammar and spelling? Focusing more on character and dialogue? Worldbuilding and plot structure?
If I’m giving critique to someone new, someone I don’t know very well or whose work I haven’t read before, I try to refrain from unsolicited advice. (But once I know you, all bets are off; most of my critique to my writing buddy at this point is not in response to her specific questions.) If someone isn’t worried about character yet, then they don’t need feedback on that.
As with everything, there are exceptions. If someone has asked not to get feedback on, say, grammar, but the errors are excessive to the point of distracting, I’ll mention it. Or if there’s a major issue that will present problems in the future, it’s worth addressing right away.
In my opinion, the most important thing to do when giving a critique is to be constructive! Be encouraging! I always try to call out things I like, whether it be the flow of a sentence or some strong word choice. If something makes me laugh or gasp, I say so. If I’m rooting for a specific character and their goals, I make it clear. I try really hard to balance out things I enjoyed with suggestions for improvement.
I really enjoy giving critiques, to be honest. It’s way less nerve-wracking than receiving critique, and I like feeling that I’ve helped.
What I wrote this week: Draft 4, reassembly and targeted word choice adjustments.
What I read this week: Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall; The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black; How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories by Holly Black.