Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Writing Life: How To Critique Nonfiction

Giving and receiving effective feedback is an essential part of the writing process.

Here is a handy checklist to help you cover the important points of a nonfiction work:

1. Title. Does the title attract the reader's attention? Is it clear and focused on the topic? If there is a subtitle, does it provide information that would help the reader know what to expect? Does it keep the reader interested?

2.First sentence. Is the lead sentence or introduction strong? Does it compel the reader to continue reading? Does the lead clearly state the theme or main idea of the piece?

3. Audience. Is the piece appropriate for the audience the writer is trying to reach?

4. Format. Is the written work true to format (Profile, Biography, How To, etc.)?

5. Main idea. Is the subject or main idea presented clearly?

6. Supporting information. Does the written work make effective use of description, anecdotes, case studies, direct quotes, characterization and/or humor to feature the main idea?

7. Organization. Is the body of the work organized to so that readers can follow the development of the topic and recall the information presented? Are there awkward or confusing sentences that can be cleaned up or eliminated?

8. Paragraphs. Does each paragraph work to guide readers in understanding the main idea? Are details clear? Does the writer effectively use techniques such as comparison, persuasion, classification or analysis to support the main idea?

9. Pace, syntax and transition. Does the writer vary sentence length, use appropriate words, establish and follow a consistent tone and use active voice? Is the Writing grammatically correct, free of spelling and punctuation errors?

10. Conclusion. Does the conclusion sum up the main points in a way that brings the opening, the subject and the tone to a satisfying conclusion?The most important skill in critiquing is to be specific and positive when making suggestions. The goal is to help the author produce strong, clearly written nonfiction.

Platinum Level Expert Author for , JJ Murphy, offers creative nature curriculum, wild food recipes, fiction, poetry, articles and writing services for individuals, entrepreneurs, small businesses and ecologically aware companies. Visit for samples of her

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