These guidelines pertain to ALL creative writing, not just fiction:
1. Read*Read through the story or poem once before making any comments on the peer sheet or manuscript. For this first reading, you are simply reading as if you were picking up a magazine or short story or poetry collection--in short, a casual reading.2. ThinkTake a few minutes to think about what you have just read.3. WriteOn a separate piece of paper, jot down your overall impression (which you MAY or MAY NOT be sharing with the author), e.g. “I don’t like stories or poems about baseball, so I didn’t like this one” OR “I didn’t like the grandmother as a person” OR “I just love the religious overtones of the piece.” The idea is to get past “personal biases” and “agendas” and get on with offering the author a fair critique based on craft, not personal tastes on the part of the reviewer.4. RereadRead the story or poem again, this time, as you read, jotting down comments on a separate piece of paper. If you discover that you don’t like the story or poem no matter how many times you read it, try to figure out WHY. For example, does the story or poem need technical work, or do you have a personal aversion to style, a character, theme, etc.? If so, let the writer know about your biases.5. Answer QuestionsNow look over your notes and answer the questions from Peer or Self Reviewing a Short Story.6. Write a Constructive CritiqueWrite a constructive critique of the story. You may jot down notes on the author’s manuscript.7. Offer the Critique to the Author.
Begin your critique by accentuating the positive.
When discussing weaknesses, do so in a spirit of professional respect and a willingness to be helpful. Be honest, but write in a thoughtful and considerate manner--the way that you would want your work to be critiqued. And give the author your best shot!When you are finished, distribute the critique and story to the author.