The critique of a creative work-in-progress can be a touchy, sensitive process, but a nonetheless imperative one if the work is to be taken seriously.
As both an author and professional editor, I regularly find myself on the providing and receiving ends of constructive criticism. So, here are some things I like to keep in mind for each scenario.
• Convey what kind of feedback you’re seeking. Do you just want mechanical errors pointed out? Phrasing suggestions? Or simply overall thoughts on the flow of the story? Readers will have an easier time helping you if they know what they’re supposed to be looking for.
• Try not to volunteer to critique a piece if you can’t reasonably expect to have the time or motivation to get back to the writer about it. Silence can be even more disheartening than a bad review.
A final point to consider – if, like myself, you are an editor as well as a writer, don’t be tempted to feel like that excuses you from the need to seek out feedback and a solid proofread on your own work. Your writing may be syntactically cleaner than par, but editing is often more about defeating expectation bias – catching what we’re too close to the work to see – than it is merely polishing the language. (>^-‘)>