This is a method that I’ve used in my 35 years of critiquing. I hope this will be a help to you in organizing effective and helpful critique sessions.
Usually, each person’s critique lasts about 20 minutes. You can choose to read for 10 minutes and critique for 10 minutes. You can have others read your manuscript beforehand and then spend the whole 20 minutes in critique.
- The person’s work is being critiqued: While you are being critiqued, you do not say anything! You do not defend, and you do not explain why you wrote it that way. You listen intently and take notes. You want to encourage the people to tell you what they are honestly thinking.
- The critiquer makes a sandwich! You tell the author all the strengths and things you loved. Then you tell them your thoughts on weaknesses in the manuscript and give your suggestions for changes. Then you tell them again all the things that worked and end on a positive, encouraging high note!
- After all the critiques are finished, then you may allow the author a chance to ask questions. Not to defend, but to understand and clarify why the person said what they did.