Writing: Giving Feedback or "Critiques" (Part 1)
I've made my fair share of mistakes in the past and I'm sure I will make many more in the future, but I hope this will be an interesting read and may help others in bettering themselves, whether as a writer or a critic, or both. And I hope you won't make as many mistakes as I did!
What is feedback? (From Oxford Dictionaries online)
Critique: a detailed analysis and assessment of something, especially a literary, philosophical, or political theory.
Feedback: Information about reactions to a product, a person’s performance of a task, etc. which is used as a basis for improvement.
Ende's Principles of Giving Feedback
Feedback should be:
1) Well-timed and expected.
2) Teacher and trainee working as allies with common goals.
3) Based on first-hand data.
4) Regulated in quantity and limited to remediable behaviours.
5) Phrased in descriptive non-evaluative language.
6) About specific performances, not generalisations.
7) Clearly labelled 'subjective' as appropriate.
8) On decisions/actions versus assumed intentions/interpretations.
You may disagree with the writer and vice versa, but try to maintain a degree of professionalism even if you can't reach an agreement. Remember you're using your time to help another person improve their skills. Making them resentful or your enemy means they won't take any of your feedback on-board. Bruised egos and heated arguments aside, antagonism results in you wasting your time critiquing.
This means literally what it says. You should feedback based on what you've read, rather than, for example, what other people have said in the comment section or mentioned in their reviews of that piece. You should gather your own data and make a judgement based on that.
Consider quoting the recipient so the feedback is more specific, for example:
"I noticed you're showing on top of telling on some occasions, and frankly I think you can easily just show and leave out the telling. One area where this is obvious is in paragraph 2, sentence 5, and another area is paragraph 6, sentence 1."
"Where your character said, 'quote quote quote' I feel you can better show her annoyance if you used this word instead of that. As it stands, I think it conveys more sadness than irritation."