Critiquing. I see some of you wince. Okay, I don't see you, but I'm sure some of you are. This word can make us shiver with joy or pain. Trust me, I've had many eyes read my work and it doesn't get easier, you just need to develop that thick skin.
I never knew how to critique until I started to critique, and to be quite honest, I'm still learning. I like to think that I'm better at it than I used to be, but I know there is room for improvement. There are many methods, but I like to use the positive approach. I point out what may need improvement or what I thought didn't work, along with what I liked. I know it helps me when this method is used mainly because I know what works and what doesn't. Of course, in the end it is up to the author, right?
So, how do we become better critiquers?
One way--practice. Just like our writing skills, practice makes perfect. That means find a fellow writer to swap with, preferably in the genre you write. Those are the folks who know what works.
Another way--advice from others who are more experienced. Definitely, those who are wiser can give tips and pointers on an effective critique. You can find some on Teen Fire, YALitChat. These are only a couple resources off the top of my head.
Self help books--I have to say I'm not a great one with self help books. I try, I really do, but I tend to get distracted with them. Some do not hold my interest and I find my mind wandering. There have only been only a few self help books that have held my interest.