The focus of this is going to be on my feelings and opinions. With critiques I will be focusing on what I like to provide for others. On replies I will be speaking on replies I have received, and how they have or not have, been helpful. I will begin with a critique discussion and follow with the reply portion. We all know that this forum operates on the critique for critique basis. One principle I try to follow is not to be an editor. Always trying to focus on providing a writer with critique from a writer. If there is a definite issue, I try to preface my comments with; "You may want to consider..."; or, This is what it means to me..." Once again, I am not an editor.So, there's the thesis.
When I critique a piece I try to do it in a consistent manner for every piece. I have developed and adopted a specific form, an outline, one might say. I begin after the first reading, with a general analysis of the piece. I like to include; obvious errors in form, and presentation; spelling and grammar issues; the readability of it, ie voice, rough language, confusing disconnects; and a first impression statement about the piece. Then I read the piece through several times, and move into a technical analysis of the piece. In this phase I look at, does the image elements and descriptive elements coincide with each other, providing what I call a native quality? I look at each sentence, or phrase, judge how well they follow the preceding, and lead to the proceeding, line or phrase; was I able to read through them without any bumps or disconnects? I look at the integrity of the piece as a whole, does it follow a natural progression, are the various elements in the most effective place? Do they have a proper chronological sense? Does the piece have a beginning, exposition, and a conclusion? Does the structure fit the piece? Then I begin with a critical analysis. This can be represented by, what is the information presented, is it qualified or supported? Is it unique and thought provoking? Did it have any effect on me? Most of my critiques have been in the poetry forums. I try to parse the symbolism, to the point I can explain in one sentence the meaning I took from it. I'm only one individual, I only have one opinion at a time. Providing critiques has caused me to read more poems, then I have ever before. I see examples of others style, and I have to make the effort to understand it. I see others using symbolism and metaphor; that, on occasion leaves me scratching my head.
Now, all of use are writers here; which means, we all have egos that are much larger then the text editor on the screen. We all completely understand our work, and we all think it is fantastic. We all wait patiently for someone to reply to our latest and greatest. therein lies the crux. We wait with baited breath, and when we notice a change we pounce. Typically we are disappointed. Instead of our reviewers sharing how meaningful and thought provoking our wonder child is; instead we find, that we should have used commas, or, we should remove commas; we find we should have refrained from writing that, or suggestions on what we should have included. But seldom do we receive a comprehensive statement telling about the information that was in the piece, and if it was meaningful. I am not at all suggesting this is a general and universal practice. But, having someone rip you to heaven and back about the errors in form and convention. And then not receiving any feedback on what they thought it meant, is like pulling out to soon and rolling over and going to sleep. So, if you have to take one of your brethren down, build him up some afterward. Make it a teaching moment. Remember, the next wet spot you save, may be your own.
Well I hope my little diatribe has been meaningful, or at least entertaining. I guess if I would just want you to leave with a basic understanding of what I have been relating. That would be, refrain from editing others work. If you relate that something is not right, give a good explanation why it is. You can offer examples for a fix, but you can't demand let they be fixed. Focus on I statements, I think, I suggest, I understood. Most of us when we post a piece, have determined it is ready, it works for us, and we are loth to make any changes; just cause someone said, this is wrong.