I don’t know about you, but I’ve REALLY been enjoying my critique series. I haven’t ever delved into it this deeply before and analyzed how it works, how it works best, and ways to derail one’s critiquing career (both as giving and receiving), so this has been super fun for me.
As I’ve been writing and critiquing, I’ve come across two different major styles of critique: The in-line critique and the paragraph at the end critique.
Each of these serves a purpose and function, and at times, one is necessary over the other.
The In-line Critique:
It seems (according to my writing group) that I MADE UP this term when I asked around about it. This is critiquing in a document (either Word or Google docs) where you can leave a comment in the margin as you go.
This is perfect for pointing out exact spots of issue, asking questions, etc., right where the issue is. It’s much easier to point out grammar or spelling errors this way, suggesting sentence changes, and other very specific critique points.
When you need specificity, this is the style of critique you want to use. The big thing is that you need to have the document in a format that it CAN be critiqued in such a manner – like I mentioned above, either in Word or Google Docs or other editable file sharing program – otherwise, it’s impossible to provide this sort of critique. Next week, I’ll walk through how to use the Review function in Word and the Comment feature in Google Docs, in case you’ve never used those.
The Paragraph at the End critique
This style of critique is most beneficial for general comments on tone, style, or general impression. It’s very difficult to give very precise commentary when you’re only able to leave comments at the end.
This is the kind of commentary you’d leave on an online critique (such as in a forum or on facebook), when you receive a PDF, or other formats where you’re not able to insert comments.
When you need just general commentary, this is absolutely the way to go. There is no pressure for precision or specificity, needing to highlight a specific word or sentence, in this kind of critique.
Neither form of critique is better or worse. These are simply tools to use and like all tools, we as writers should learn about and know how to use them properly.
As a writer needing critique, it’s important to think about what kind of critique you’re aiming for when you ask and when you provide material for critique. Short excerpts are perfect for paragraph critiques. Longer selections or poetry should certainly aim to always utilize the in-line critique format (just my personal opinion). There is simply too much material, generally, for a paragraph at the end.
One final note:
Even when employing the in-line critique, it’s best to leave a final comment at the end with general impressions and DON’T FORGET to leave positive comments, too. It’s okay to leave a comment or two of things you particularly love.
Do you prefer one of these methods over another? Does it matter whether you’re giving or receiving?
Other posts on critiquing:
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