the three categories of critiquers

When you surrender your precious work to criticism it’s helpful to know the strengths of your assailants–er–writer pals. I’ve been the critiquer and the critiqued for a good while now, and I have come to believe that critiquers fall into three categories:


1. The Copy Editor–Her strength is catching punctuation and grammar mistakes. She will make sure every who, whom, gerund and semi-colon is used correctly. She will catch your spelling errors and format your pages. We love this woman dearly.

 2. The Detail Gal/Guy–She/He will help you restructure your garbled sentences, or point out that you have used the word, “incontrovertible” six times in three paragraphs. She/He will push you to choose your words carefully. Find  continuity problems. These critiquers are a little harder to love, but in the end, we do.

3. The Global Citizen–He finds the flaws in your plot, tells you when your main character is unlikeable or a scene doesn’t work. He demands that you dig deep into your wounded psyche to write the most layered story that you can.  Also, you may have to throw out the first ten chapters and rewrite the last third of the manuscript.

We want to kill this guy.

I have filled all these roles at one time or another, but I think my biggest strength is as the Detail Gal. However, I strive to become more proficient as a Global Citizen. How can you become a well-rounded critiquer?

  • READ–The only way to understand what makes a novel work is to read plenty of novels
  • LISTEN–To more experienced critiquers. Absorb their comments about others’ manuscripts, not just your own.
  • READ–Again? Yes. But this time, read books about writing. Oh Lord, there are a million good ones

There are also sub-categories: people who understand the picture book and people whose forte is YA. Dialogue people. Mood people. Imagery people. Etc.

Find a critique group that will open your eyes to your weaknesses.


About Lisha Cauthen

Lisha Cauthen writes YA novels for guys that girls like to read too.

Posted on September 16, 2011, in writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I agree with your categories!

  2. Ha! Great post! And I love our critique group! 😀

  3. I would add: try to fill your critique group with as many of these types as you can. And watch out for the Sycophant. They are the most dangerous and will flatter you into mediocrity.

  4. Lisha, this is a great post that I will be forwarding to my critique group. For consistency, however, you need periods at the end of your first and third bullet points. 😀

  5. Thanks Sue and Judy. Jenn, that’s a good point. You definitely don’t want someone critiquing you who’s afraid to bruise your feelings. And Heather? THANKS FOR THE CRITIQUE!

  6. You KNOW I love you, Lisha! 😉

  1. Pingback: Writing: The Rule of Three & the peril of semi-colons | Chazz Writes

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