How to critique a scene without tears

I’m gonna confess something right up front.

I’m terrible at giving a good critique.

Critiques make me cry.

They are hard to give and hard to receive.

It’s hard for me to be honest and forthcoming about someone’s writing. To me, writing is so subjective. Finding grammatical errors is easy several software programs can do that but the nuances that make a good story better are hard to pin down and a good critique helps with that.

So today I was excited to learn a little about critiquing a scene.

Maybe if I practice on giving my writing good constructive criticism instead of nitpicking maybe I can get good at critiquing others writing.

Here is what I learned today from over at Writing/Romance.

  1. Decide who the protagonist is.
  2. Can you understand the protagonist’s goal?
  3. Do you understand who is keeping the protagonist from their goal and why? (antagonist)
  4. Do you understand the conflict? Who won?
  5. What was your initial reaction to the story? Good, bad, indifferent…
  6. What worked or didn’t?
  7. Did you get bored at any point?
  8. Did you get confused or lost?
  9. Did you feel anything? Scared, moved, sad, angry, annoyed…
  10. What did you love about the scene or story?

This tidbit was most helpful.

  • When giving a critique Never rewrite sections. A critique is not the same job as that of an editor.

With that in mind, I believe the job of critiquing a story or scene is to help the writer see things from a different perspective.


Read more on How To Critique a Scene by Jennifer Crusie and let me know what you think.

She gives an in-depth example of a nursery rhyme critique. It’s very eye opening as to what a good critique should look like.

What has your experience been like with giving or receiving critiques?

Do you enjoy them?

Thanks for stopping by my blog.
You can find me on Twitter @jeancogdell, Facebook at jean.cogdell and, stop by and say hey! Please remember to click and share this post with your Twitter peeps and Facebook fans.



14 thoughts on “How to critique a scene without tears

  1. Something I needed to read. I’ve been asked to critique pieces and all I can think is “If you can’t say something nice….” That leaves me with little to say. This post shows me that I can be constructive, not critical. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think we all have trouble with critiques and the name is what throws us. It’s so close to “critical.” And sometimes if we ask someone who doesn’t know the difference to read our WIP – ouch. Glad you liked the post!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am also terrible at giving critique or scared would be more to the point. But what happens if you just don’t like it and wonder what the point of the story is? I am having that dilemma at the moment and it’s a new member of our writing group made worse by the fact I was terrified when I got my first critique from them. So I think step by step from your wonderful blog post is the way forward ….it has come just at the right time. Thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had a hard time in my first critique from a local group I joined. I was still new in learning my craft, but it was raw and in some cases not critique but more criticism of subject matter & individual personal taste. I think though that it helped me toughen up a some & I certainly learned from it. It’s a lot like book reviews, everyone looks at pieces differently. In my last critique I fared better, as I’m wiser and focused on my tribe of audience. I think that’s the key.

    Liked by 1 person

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