I took a couple of writing-workshop classes in college, and then I went to Clarion West, and then I participated in various local ongoing workshops; and so by the time I helped Mary Anne run the Strange Horizons workshops in the early 2000s, I had been critiquing fiction for over ten years, and considered myself pretty good at it.
But Mary Anne gave me whole new paradigms for critiquing. Watching her talk about stories, I discovered that a bunch of what I thought I knew about how to critique was just wrong.
In 2006, she wrote up some guidelines and suggestions for how to give good critiques, to be handed out to students or a critique group. I gave her some feedback and suggestions (including notes I had taken during discussions of critiquing at the SH workshops), and we both used various variations on her guidelines at various times over the years.
A couple years ago, it occurred to me that the online critiquing guidelines I've seen elsewhere tended to be just checklists of things to look for in stories. So with Mary Anne's permission and help, I took the handout that she was giving to her writing classes and expanded and reorganized and reworked various aspects of it, and turned it into a web page.
The project proceeded in fits and starts; it's been just over two years since I suggested it, and that was after years of occasionally thinking about it but never getting around to doing it. But I'm pleased to announce that it's finally ready for public consumption.
So without further ado, I present to you:
I'm sorry that they're so long—we both get a little wordy when we're talking about this stuff. I've tried to make it scannable by putting main points in boldface. If there are parts that you don't find useful, just ignore those parts.
Feedback welcome; I imagine it'll undergo some revision over time. You can leave comments either on this blog entry (but not in LJ, 'cause I won't see them) or on the page itself.