Let Us Critique Your Manuscript

A portion of our meeting is dedicated to a personal critique of our WIP (Work In Progress). Depending on the size of the group, we may either stay as one big group for the critique time or divide into smaller "genre" cells. If there are more people than manuscripts, we can share.


Manuscript Criteria: Please note that we have changed the guidelines to 1500 words (approx. four double-spaced pages) with one-inch margins and 12-pt. font. Also, please use the Line Numbering feature in Microsoft Word for your manuscript (go to the Layout tab and click Line Numbering). This will automatically number each line for quicker reference during the critiquing process. While the members are giving feedback, please do not speak until all have finished unless someone asks a direct question. Here is a video of the process if you want to get a feel for it: https://vimeo.com/20681339.


1  -  Distribute your manuscripts

2  -  Person to right reads

3  -  Person to left starts critiquing

4  -  Continue critique to right

5  -  "Sandwich" your suggestions with what you liked about the piece

6  -  Be brief

7  -  Do not defend your manuscript, just listen


For more In-depth critiquing

than we can do during our meeting,

consider this article by

Marlene Bagnull and Susan Titus Osborn


The Critique Process

(as suggested by Marlene Bagnull and Susan Titus Osborn)



It is impossible for most people to critique their own work. Realizing that the critiquing process can be very threatening, here are some guidelines:



  1. If possible, spend some time in prayer before you begin. Ask God for discernment and sensitivity.
  2. Find something positive to say about the manuscript before making suggestions for change.
  3. Respect one another’s beliefs. Do not debate theology.
  4. If time permits, use a checklist (like the one below). Remember, you won’t help the writer by a casual comment that “it’s wonderful.”
  5. For more detailed critiques, keep the groups small (3-5 members). For a broader response from a variety of perspectives, the group can be larger.
  6. As much as possible, give equal time to all who have manuscripts to read. Consider how much time you have and allow an appropriate number of pages per person.
  7. Be sure you understand what the author wants from the session. If he/she is seeking publication, try to suggest possible markets. Some writers aren’t ready to submit to the publishing world. Some don’t want to. That doesn’t make their work any less worthy of our best evaluation.
  8. Strive to always be honest encouragers.
  9. When returning the manuscript, please include your initials or name so the writer will know who to contact with questions.




  1. Bring twenty (20) copies of a maximum of three (3) double-spaced pages with one-inch margins and 12-pt. Times New Roman font. Also, please use the Line Numbering feature in Microsoft Word for your manuscript (go to the Layout tab and click Line Numbering). This will automatically number each line for quicker reference during the critiquing process.
  2. Have someone else read your manuscript. Hearing your manuscript read aloud is a wonderful way of picking up on problem areas. OR, exercise the option of having them read silently (reading aloud may affect opinions). You may want to read it aloud yourself.
  3. Be open to new thoughts and ideas. LISTEN. Do not debate or argue or defend your work while it is being critiqued. Develop an armadillo hide--you only learn by listening to others and taking what they say to heart. Feel free to ask questions for clarification.
  4. Pray about the suggestions you've received. Many will be excellent, but not all may be right for you. Remember, this is YOUR work, and you are responsible for deciding which ideas to embrace or disregard.
  5. Be a good steward of the group's time by working diligently on your manuscript to make it shine.
  6. "Commit your work to the Lord, then it will succeed" (Proverbs 16:3).



Critique Checklist

(taken from The Complete Guide to Christian Writing & Speaking)


Are the verbs active? Are the nouns specific?


Does the dialogue sound natural?


Is the speech consistent with the speaker and the situation?


Do the characters seem real? Are they behaving rationally? Do you care what happens to them?

Is the work focused? Is there a theme? Is the author’s point coming through clearly?


Does the material flow smoothly? Is it well organized? 


Does it suit the age of the potential reader?


Is the nonfiction illustrated with anecdotes?


Does the fiction plot seem logical?


Are the paragraph and sentence lengths too long?


Was the spelling and punctuation checked?


Is the meaning clear and the writing concise?


Does the manuscript have value for the prospective reader? Does it meet a need for knowledge, explanation, comfort, humor, entertainment, inspiration, or any of the reasons a reader chooses to spend his time reading?


NOTE THE STRONG POINTS! Sometimes we get so caught up in what can be improved in a manuscript that we forget to notice what is good. Surely, you can find places as you read to jot "Good." "Nice description." "I like this." or "Makes me want to read more." At the least, write an encouraging general comment, if no more than "You are working hard on this. Keep it up."



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