Potential questions to consider when critiquing

by Cas Blomberg

  1. What works well with this piece? What stands out? 

  2. How do you feel about the dialogue? Was it authentic? Engaging? 

  3. Did each character project a unique voice? 

  4. Did each character's motivations stand out?  

  5. Which character did you identify with the most and why? 

  6. How do you feel about the level of depth in the characters? 

  7. Which three words would you use to describe the protagonist? Or antagonist? 

  8. Did you trust the narrator? Was he or she consistent throughout the piece? 

  9. What did you think about the balance between exposition, dialogue, and action? 

  10. Do you think the structure works? Did the scenes lead into each other?

  11. Were any events out of order, and if so, did that work? 

  12. Did you feel as if any scenes were missing? 

  13. Did you know where the story was going? 

  14. What was your favorite scene or line? 

  15. How did you feel about the tension the author created? Did you want more, less, or was it perfect? 

  16. Which themes could you identify in the piece? 

  17. Did you pick up on any symbolism? Do you think it adds to, or detracts from, the story?

  18. Which sensory details spoke to you the most? 

  19. Did the narrator reveal too much information? 

  20. What did you think of the pacing? Too fast? Not enough time to breathe? Perfect? Too slow? 

  21. What would you like to see more of? 

Speak up! When Engaged in a Writing Critique

By Ron Pavellas

1.       When you are critiquing in a group of three or more writers, you are speaking to the whole group, not just selected members.  Side conversations should be avoided because more than one person will be speaking at the same time. Side conversations do not include all members.

2.        Project your voice, consciously, toward the person furthest from you. Observe whether he/she seems to be straining to understand you.

3.       Speak from the belly, not just the throat and not just the nose. Employ the fullest possible spectrum of sound (high, medium, and low).

4.       Use your mouth to enunciate clearly. People read lips more than you may be aware. Don’t cover your mouth with your hand.

5.       Maintain your speaking volume at a consistent level.  Don’t swoop, swallow words, or make quiet and hurried asides to your neighbor, to yourself, or to Harvey the six-foot rabbit.

6.       Slow Down!

7.       Don’t talk over the current speaker. We can pay attention to only one speaker at a time. Two simultaneous conversations are just noise.

8.       Don’t be shy. You’ve something important to say and we want to understand it, not merely perceive that you are speaking.