Wednesday, March 9, 2022

What’s the Difference Between a Writing Edit and a Writing Critique?

by Linda Gilden @LindaGilden

Writers sometimes get confused by the difference in an edit and a critique. They are definitely two different processes and both will benefit your work and help you grow as a writer. Let’s see if we can clarify what each is and the benefits to your writing.

A Writing Edit
When you think of edits, many people think back to their high school days when their papers were returned to them with red marks galore. In an edit, red marks can help you see your editor recommendations but should not make you feel like your work has bled to death. Even though there are several different types of editing, editing for grammar and punctuation mistakes is usually the first thing that comes to mind. However, when seeking an editor, you will need to choose what type of edit you need, then search for the appropriate editor. There are several types of edits. Some involve going line-by-line. Some pay more attention to the flow of your story. Others just “proof” the manuscript for obvious errors.

Some writers look for an editor hoping to find someone who will just sit down and “fix” all the mistakes in your manuscript. The writer just wants to get it in final form so it can start its publishing journey. But writers must remember that an editor is only making suggestions for changes and he or she must approve any edits that have been made. Studying your edited manuscript is an excellent way to learn new techniques and to see what mistakes you ae making consistently so you can refrain from making those in the future.

A Writing Critique
On the other hand, a critique is an overview of your manuscript with an eye toward things that don’t make sense, restrict the flow, or mistakes that have been repeated over and over. This may be done by a professional individual or a group of beta readers from your writing group. For this process, it may be helpful to have someone who doesn’t know your story and is from your target audience to give you feedback.

When I was writing children’s books my ten-year-old neighbor was my best critiquer. Some of her comments were often things like – “You are talking down to us. Don’t do that!” “That is Mickey Mouse. Just because we are young doesn’t mean our brains don’t work.” “Common knowledge. Tell us something we don’t know.” Blunt, yes, but extremely helpful.

With a critique, generally all corrections are made by the writer on the suggestion of the critiquer. This show you ways to make your writing stronger. One of my writing mentors often looks at my work, suggests how to rewrite a sentence to make more sense, and then tells me why. I have learned so much.

Writers are often told to self-edit their work by setting is aside for a few days, having the computer read it to them, or use spell-check. All great editing tools. But in the end, if you can have someone read your work who is totally uninvolved in the writing, you will find things through the questions they ask you about the story, how you found yourself in a certain situation, or why a process advanced in a certain way that will help you make your work stronger and more understandable.

The goal of writing is to communicate clearly to our readers in a way that will be life-changing. Both a good edit and an honest critique will contribute to that!

Have you found edits and critiques helpful? Share with us your story in the comments.


Linda Gilden has coauthored 11 books with 5 different coauthors and has #12 and #13 coming out in 2022, adding a new co-author to the list. She loves every one of her coauthors and enjoys collaborating on interesting projects with them. She also has written many books on her own and realizes what a treasure and blessing a good co-author is.


  1. Linda, thank you for your clear examples. My two Word Weavers groups offer critiques and explain their suggestions. When I hear their comments about my work and that of other group members, my writing grows stronger.

  2. Linda, this is a great article. Thanks! You are always helpful.