Getting and giving critiques in the writing world is a must; but some of us hesitate about critiquing other's work. Do not NOT critique when asked...Just be honest, gently when necessary, and always show what you think is an improvement over any perceived weaknesses...After all, the critiquee does NOT have to take your advice and may think your masterpiece critique just SUCKS!...Right? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But, the whole critiquing experience is a growing experience for all concerned.

Sasha White, a great published author of erotica and a resource I use and respect, gives a good insight into critiquing on the GENREALITY blog: 

As someone who has always been a pretty mediocre student as far as classrooms and schooling went, the idea of critiquing someone elses work never really sat well with me. I always worried that I’d give the wrong advice, say the wrong thing, or worse yet…have nothing to offer as a critique partner. However, after years of writing and working with many different authors as both giver and receiver of feedback, I’ve learned a things or two. This little post is something I wrote up on the art of critiquing a while ago, and I thought I’d share it with you today.

Critiquing is a delicate thing. But I believe it’s a critical step in the process of improving your writing. For one thing, it can help you to build a rapport with other authors and a strong support system that is about more than the technical aspects of writing.

Receiving a critique is also a good way to find out how others view your work. You can see if the story in your mind is coming across loud and clear on paper, and find out where your stories need more development, more plot, less description…all sorts of things. Beyond that, giving a crit not only helps out a fellow writer, but it also help’s you to develop a more discerning eye towards your own work.

When you’re ready to open up your work to others for feedback your first step should be to find a critique partner that you feel comfortable with. Someone that is familiar with the genre that you’re targeting, who is willing to take the time to look at what you have, and that you trust will offer an honest opinion.

Writing is a very solitary thing. It’s also a very personal thing. Not matter what you’re writing; you put your personality, your effort, and a bit of your heart into every piece. It’s not easy to hand that over to someone and ask “Tell me what’s wrong with this.”

That courage needs to be respected.

Everyone has strong and weak areas when it comes to writing, and it’s important that we recognize this. And very important that we take care in the way we express our opinions of another’s weakness. It’s often easier to see mistakes in another’s work than it is in our own. But spotting the errors in another’s writing isn’t all there is to giving a critique.

When you take another person’s baby, (Don’t ever doubt that that’s how they think of it) and are given a red pen to do with what you will, be kind. But also be honest. You’re not doing that person any favors by telling that that they have written a fantastic story when you can see areas that need to be improved upon. Trust me, they’d rather hear it from you, than in a rejection letter from an editor or agent that will not give them a second chance to present their baby for consideration. However, there is no need to be overly critical, or superior, in the way you highlight those areas.

The key to giving a good critique is to be honest about trouble areas you spot, and equally honest about the good. Everyone enjoys a pat on the shoulder for a job well done and writers are no different.

You need to have the same strength of mind when receiving a critique. You need to know that no matter what anyone tells you about your story, that it is your story to tell and that the critique you receive is only suggestions for you to take or leave.It’s up to you to use or reject their advice. The most valuable tool a writer has is individual voice and that is something that you should fight to maintain.

SIDE NOTE: If you’re surfing around the web today, be sure to drop by my new Messageboardfor the launch party. There will be guests, excerpts, doorprizes and giveaways.