Once you join a critique group or find a critique partner, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Critiquing, just like writing, is a time commitment. If you get feedback on your manuscript, you’re expected to give feedback in return.
If your critique partners give fabulous, detailed, valuable feedback, you are expected to also spend as much time giving detailed feedback on their work.
It just isn’t fair if your time commitment isn’t the same as the other people in your critique group or your critique partner. Don’t be a leach, and don’t be selfish—give back as much as you receive.
Don’t be argumentative. No one likes a whiner. Even more, no one likes a belligerent writer. You can expect to get bad feedback or kicked out of a group if you insist on arguing with your critique partners.
Take time after you get a critique to calm down and get some distance (physical and temporal). When you return to it, you might find that the comments are more helpful than you initially thought.
And if you don’t agree with a comment, don’t argue about it. A critique is only one person’s opinion, and they’re entitled to it. Be polite and treat your critiquers the way you’d like to be treated.
Be timely. If your critique group agrees to one chapter a week, then critique your groups’ chapters that week, especially if you expect them to critique your chapter that week.
It isn’t fair—in fact, it’s plain selfish and inconsiderate—if your group is critiquing your chapters, but you “haven’t yet gotten to” their chapters. Most likely, they’ll stop critiquing your chapters for you.
Be honest, but don’t be malicious. Balance positive comments with negative comments.
Even long-established critique partners will sprinkle “LOL”s in their friends’ manuscripts as well as hard criticism at other places. They’re not always just negative or critical.
If you are crushing another writer’s spirit with your comments, it’s time for you to look long and hard at your own attitudes or leave the group.
More next time.