Learning from Critiquing

Judging others’ writing helps your own.Andy Scheer 2014 12 16 crop

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.

[cryout-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]As I’m forced to analyze individual components, I see things I’d miss if I were just reading. [/cryout-pullquote]

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 judge:

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.

About Andy Scheer

With more than 30 years in publishing, Andy Scheer has provided freelance editorial services since 2010. He has edited fiction and nonfiction for publishers including Moody, WinePress, and BelieversPress, as well as for clients including Dirk Cussler, McNair Wilson, DiAnn Mills, Heather Day Gilbert, and Sammy Tippit.

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