If you’re considering my developmental critique service, and are curious how this works, here’s an outline of the three-step approach I follow for most critiques.
Step 1: Read the story and record my first impressions; these tend to be very big picture. I’ll also note if I liked the story or not, since this can influence the rest of the critique. I make sure to hit the strengths as well as the weaknesses.
While I read with the ability to mark the manuscript (digitally or hard copy), I usually only mark copy problems at this point, things like typos and punctuation errors. When marking by hand, I use Associated Press standard proofreading symbols (which are pretty easy and intuitive, and you can find them with a Google image search). Being able to track changes in digital copy eliminates any editing symbol confusion. It also ensures you can read what I’ve written, since my handwriting is terrible.
Step 2: Let the story sit for two to 14 days, before reading it again. This second read is where the bulk of the editing comes in. I will pause to make notes for the formal critique as things crop up and at chapter breaks. If manually editing, I use a different colored pen on this round of markup and I usually avoid red because some folks find it intimidating.
Step 3: Write up the critique. This is the formal report with everything I found worth mentioning, and I’ll start it immediately after finishing the second read, however, I like to let it sit in a draft state for up to a week in case my brain is able to make other connections that will help improve the story. When I return to modify the draft, I will run through the comments on the manuscript to make sure any big picture issues are addressed, citing the comments as examples. I also review the language I’m using to ensure that the tone is constructive and the recommendations are clear.
I use a standard form that I’ve developed for critiques; it’s more organized and approachable than an essay response, and it reminds me to give feedback in all areas.