Writers: Why You Need to Learn How to Give a Good Critique


by Mary Kate Pagano

I’ve written before about where to find critique partners but I wanted to touch on something just as important…

… namely why you should be a good critique partner yourself.

A good critique partner is an incredible asset. And I don’t believe they’re made overnight. Learning how to give useful, good critique is a skill that you develop over time. And it’s an important one, as a writer.



1. The better you are at critiquing, the more likely you are to attract a good critique partner for your own work. Like calls to like. And believe me, you need good critique partners.

2. Critiquing another’s work can help you find problems within your own work. It’s easier to criticize something that’s not yours; you’re not attached to it. You have objectivity. So you may find something problematic in their work that you would have overlooked in your own–and it can help you see those problems in your own.

3. Helping someone else improve their work is a worthwhile joy. After all, we’re writers because we want more good stories in the world, are we not? So aside from writing your own story, helping someone else with theirs is a way to do this.

So how do you learn how to be a good critique partner? That’s the subject of another post. Stay tuned!




Guest post contributed by Mary Kate Pagano. Mary Kate Pagano has been voraciously reading and writing since she learned how, but it’s only in the last six years or so that she’s drummed up the courage to actually attempt to publish a novel. She has three finished YA manuscripts under her belt and will be querying all once she’s satisfied with them (which is taking some time). You can find her writerly and readerly musings over at www.wanderlustywriter.com.

21 thoughts on “Writers: Why You Need to Learn How to Give a Good Critique

  1. I love a good critique, but is is something rarely seen in the modern world. One aspect of critiquing is that it causes the writer to sharpen their own ideas – make them more focused, more precise and build them on a solid foundation.


  2. Does anyone else use Scribophile.com to find their critique partners? I’ve found very high quality critiques there.


  3. I’m in a small critique group; two partners always line edit my stuff, one person’s comments are always pushing towards me making my character driven story more action driven. On several occasions, I’ve had to write a note telling them exactly what I need. It’s a first draft – I need comments on content, where detail is lagging or the story reads slow, or they want more dialogue.
    I’m wondering more and more if this group is not a good fit for me.


    1. I’ve found that line edits aren’t really helpful on a first draft — you really want big picture stuff being pointed out that early on. So yes, it might not be the best fit if you’ve asked for specific feedback and they’re not giving it to you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for your feedback. I’m working on healthy closure with this group and hoping future encounters at things like work shops and conferences won’t be awkward.


  4. In the James Patterson class I took we critiqued other writers. I read one and complemented her on a few things. I added that the one phrase she used should be moved. A minor issue I figured. She returned a scathing email telling me that I was an idiot and had no idea what I was talking about and she never wanted to hear from me again.
    That taught me several things about her. 1. She focused only on the negative comment; 2. She had no desire to write well and wanted to be loved for anything she wrote whether it was good or bad.
    I did read a few that were so bad I couldn’t say anything good, so I didn’t bother to put anything down.


  5. Strongly agree. I’d add to your second point: in addition to seeing your own weaknesses, critiquing can help you identify your own strengths as well. And studying what works in other people’s stories is always highly instructive.


  6. As a writer I always welcome feedback. I agree that others can see what I can’t because of my attachment. It’s a wonderful way to help us become better at our craft.


  7. I have read so much about critique in the past few years, but I have to hand it to you for being the first person I’ve ever seen advocate critique for the joy of helping someone else to improve their work!

    It’s usually much easier to ‘sell’ critique as something which can be beneficial to ones own writing; maybe now I’ll try the approach of telling folks it can be a pleasure, because that is something I agree with.


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