Your email program boinks, your critique partner’s name appears in your in-box, and your stomach does a somersault. This is the file you’ve been waiting for, one that includes her feedback on your work-in-progress.
With a trembling finger you open the document, eager for good news but fearing bad. Did your CP love the story, or did it fall flat?
One way to ease the angst for our critique partners is to offer positive comments along with our suggestions and corrections. I refer to these as smiley face comments. I do my best to include plenty of them in each file I return to my critique partners, and they do the same when they read my work. I include smiley comments in contest entries I judge, too.
Since I use the comment bubble feature of Word to leave my comments, I make sure the positive ones stand out by putting a smile face at the beginning. To make doing so quick and easy, I “copy” a smile face so I can simply click “paste” when I want to add one.
To speed up the process of leaving comments, I rarely capitalize, don’t write in complete sentences, and use punctuation only when needed for clarity. I do, however, make liberal use of exclamation points! I use some abbreviations, which I explain to my CPs each time I introduce one. For example, nice sensory detail becomes NSD.
I’ll share some examples of the type of comments I leave for my CPs.
Positive general comments
this made me smile
this made me chuckle
Three types of more specific “You rock!” comments I leave my CPs are: technique-related, character-related, and story-related. I look for opportunities to leave some of each.
Positive technique-related comments
nice sensory detail
Positive character-related comments
love the heroine’s way of speaking – you’ve given her a great voice
nice job showing the attraction the heroine feels for the hero
love the way you’re bringing your character’s fun quirk into play
great job making your hero a sympathetic character
love how the hero is taking the heroine into consideration
Positive story-related comments
nice job ramping up the tension
great chapter ending – can’t wait to read more
great use of foreshadowing – am eager to see how this comes into play
wonderful showing of the heroine’s goal and motivation
ooh! you’ve really added a great element of conflict
What are some positive comments you’ve received that made your day?
What types of positive comments do you like to give?
What are some comments you’d love to get?