Turning to a piece of writing to revise and edit can feel discouraging. Remember while reading, it’s important to mark down the things you like as well as issues you believe need to be addressed. It’s important to remind the writer of the good just as much as catching the bad or questionable.
Whether you are reflecting on your own work or someone else’s, reading through the following questions and suggestions will help you reflect and become more self-sufficient in the writing process. These tips will work on both fiction and nonfiction.
1) Is the purpose for writing clear?
2) Does the introduction or lead succeed in grabbing the reader's attention?
3) Do the paragraphs flow from one to the other well?
4) Have ideas been organized in a way that makes sense?
5) Have the questions and concerns of the audience been considered?
6) Is the piece written in the form and style appropriate for this genre?
7) Have sufficient examples and supporting details been provided?
8) Does the conclusion successfully bring the writing to a close?
1) Read the writing aloud to catch run-on sentences, over-used words, spelling errors, and typos.
2) Read backwards. Start with the last sentence of the piece and read one sentence at a time from the end to the beginning. By focusing on one sentence at a time, you'll notice ways to improve the writing more easily than reading quickly through the draft from start to finish.
3) Share the writing with multiple readers for the most effective feedback.
Try these 15 questions for the reader to help focus revisions. Or, for more specific examples on dialogue and style, try reading over these nuts and bolts of writing. For lengthy examples, there are also many craft books with great tips. Try James Scott Bell's Revision & Self-Editing which is part of the Writer's Digest "Write Great Fiction" series.
What helps you when critiquing a manuscript?