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Mar 15, 2019

How critiquing someone’s work helps improve your writing skills

By Brady Hunsaker.

As authors, we’re often told that one of the best ways to improve our writing is to read others’ works. A lot. Reading more allows us to detect patterns in other stories so that we can begin to mimic or avoid some of those same things. In addition to reading, another huge tool that we can use to our advantage is the use of critique partners.
They critique our work, which is always great to have, but we also get the opportunity to critique their work. Sometimes, critiquing someone else’s work feels like the downside to having critique partners, but the truth is, we also gain a lot by being involved in critiquing their work.

Similar to reading lots of novels, critiquing lots of manuscripts provides a unique opportunity for authors to learn from what other people are doing by engaging a more analytical part of their brain. Activating that critical thinking in this way while critiquing will provide a few wonderful benefits. Keep in mind, the best approach for successful critique partnerships is for the authors to write and/or read in similar genres, otherwise, it can get a little muddled. With that in mind, here are a few of the key benefits and skills that come from critiquing other works:

1.    Gaining editing skills
            Unavoidably, if we have any hope of publishing a successful manuscript, we’re going to have to go through some intense revisions. Critiquing another person’s manuscript allows us to activate all our writing and story-structuring knowledge, and apply it in an objective way. This enables us to honestly consider best practices. When we get more accustomed to applying that revision skill on others’ works, it enables us to turn that back on our own work.
2.         Accepting feedback
We will all inevitably receive feedback from critique partners that is not useful, but some of it will help immensely. When we critique someone’s work, it also provides us with a better sense of what feedback is useful, and what can be trashed.

3.         Learning from their strengths and weaknesses
As we gain more experience with critiquing, our ability to discern someone’s strengths and weaknesses gets better. When they make the same mistake over and over again, it really starts to stick out. When they have a really powerful setting, we can analyze it and understand why it worked so well. Keeping an open mind as we notice those strengths and weaknesses allows us to turn around and maybe start using those same techniques or approaches in our own work.

Aside from these three things, there are plenty of other skills and benefits we can gain from critiquing someone else’s work. If those are good enough reasons for having a critique partner, keep in mind that most writers are willing to do a trade for critiquing each other’s work. All in all, keep an open perspective. Learn what you can from the opportunities that are presented.


About the Author: Brady Hunsaker
Brady has been passionate about writing novels since he was in 6th grade, and he completed his first novel when he was just in junior high. He has always dreamed of being an author since then. After graduating from Utah State University with a degree in English Literature, he started diving deeper into completing more manuscripts. He lives in Logan, Utah, and spends his time writing, climbing, playing soccer, music, or games, and spending time with his family.