As I am thick in the midst of a jungle of editing, my mind is automatically editing anything I read or watch. This phenomenon has caused me to ponder the processes of critique. In particular, I am comparing the difference between editing, critiquing and reviewing (as I understand the processes).
Book reviewing is about finding the right audience for a narrative, and less about breaking the narrative down looking for what is good or bad about it. A good book review wants to draw the attention of the people who will enjoy reading that topic book/narrative. It might point out flaws, but it will be quicker to list the good things. It is supposed to make you want to read the book.
A critique is done by your tutor/mentor/ beta reader. They will list all the flaws, in great detail, so you can fix them. As well, you will be told what is working and should be left alone or with minimal alterations. Unfortunately, book reviews are often critiques as well. One could argue this is to let the author know what is wrong, to help them with future projects. As the book they are reviewing is already published, it is kind of hard for the author to fix any major issues at this point.
When I do a critique, I always try to ‘sandwich’ two positive comments around any negative observations. As well, if I point out a problem, I always try to suggest a solution. After all, that is what a critique is for … it isn’t meant to be an attack.
Editing – whether you are doing your own editing or doing it for someone else – can be polishing or can be a smash and restructure. Reviewing and critiquing focus on works close to completion; editing is working with rough drafts and works-in-progress. It is more part of the writing process rather than the ‘afterwards’.