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One of my favorite things about See Jane Write is our monthly, members-only writing critique sessions. At these gatherings members bring a piece of writing of 500 words or less to be read and revised by other ladies of See Jane Write. These sessions have helped some members complete entire first drafts of books and these sessions have been the beginnings of beautiful friendships.

If you’d like to host a critique session of your own, here are a few tips on how to give useful writing critiques.

1. Be sure to ask the writer exactly what kind of critique she’s looking for. Does she need help proofreading and polishing? If so, you’ll want to focus more on syntax, grammar, diction, etc. But she may want feedback on plot or character development. And remember that even non-fiction pieces should tell a story and have a captivating narrative. Personal essays or opinion pieces should focus on one central message and that message should be clear.

2. When reading work during a critique session you need to imagine you’re an English teacher grading papers, not on vacation lounging with a beach read. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t enjoy reading the pieces that you critique, but read closely and carefully so you can give detailed feedback.

3. Discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly. Simply writing “Cool” and “Nice work!” is not going to help your writing buddy get that book deal she wants. Compliment her on what she’s done well, but don’t be afraid to discuss what doesn’t work and why it falls flat.

If you’d like to be invited to future writing critique workshops, join See Jane Write today at seejanewritebham.com/membership.