Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Learning from Critiquing by Andy Scheer

This morning I critiqued nine magazine articles. In the next few days, I need to evaluate another fifty-three.

In judging a national contest, I hope to offer writers and editors specific suggestions so they can improve their craft. In exchange I'll get a modest honorarium. But I'll receive a bigger benefit the entrants may not realize.

As I'm forced to analyze individual components, I see things I'd miss if I were just reading. As I search for what worked and what didn't, I also learn about the craft. I'm reminded why certain techniques shine and others fail. I find examples worth following.

I can't simply give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down. My score comes from weighing five elements. For each article, I have to pay attention to:
1) The idea (timeliness, appeal)
2) Effective development of idea
3) Writing style
4) Use of imagery/emotion
5) Originality of treatment

I'm also expected to make comments – offering examples for all five of where and why they succeeded or missed the mark. That means I need to pore over each piece.

If you're reading this, I hope you participate in a critique group. As you do, please take full advantage of the opportunity.

Yes, the other writers can learn from your comments. But that's the tip of the iceberg.

As for me, I hope the next fifty-three entries prove as valuable as the first.


Linda Glaz said...

Most important writing tool ever. Critters are the best!

Duchess Writer said...

I recently judged a writers' contest, and I agree. I learned so much about my own writing by looking at others' work.

Diana Flegal said...

Loved how you listed the 5 important elements of critique Andy. Great post with a great takeaway. I hope the writers know how fortunate they are to have you looking over and commenting on their work.

Andy Scheer, Hartline Literary said...

While those can be key elements of a critique, in this case they were simply the judging criteria for the contest. But having some criteria--whatever they are--sure keeps your evaluation focused.

Diana Flegal said...

Yes, I was thinking in the critique of a book length nonfiction book I would add as the 6th element: target- Are they hitting their target audience well. And in fiction critique the 7th might be if their characters are believable, but for the article length- these are excellent.