- Read through the manuscript twice. In the first reading, make marks in pencil to note what works, what causes you to stumble.
- During the second read of the manuscript, start written commentary—in margins and in paragraph form.
- Focus on what is working. All writing has something worthwhile to be positive about.
- Make comments in a tone that recognizes your own subjectivity. Consider yourself a reader responding to another person’s writing, not an editor. Stay “eye to eye” with the writer as you read. Put “maybe” or “in my opinion” as a preface to remarks you wish to make.
- Be kind. If you cannot find something that the writer has done well, do not make suggestions for change. Merit must come first. What’s working must come first. Not easy praise, but truthful acknowledgment.
- Be honest. It’s all right to say, “I have trouble with …” as long as it’s prefaced in your own subjectivity.
- Refrain from crossing out phrases or sentences or rewriting another persons’ work. If you have an idea for a revision, it could be presented to the writer when we meet.
Note: Try use brackets like this—[writer’s text here]—to suggest words or sections of text to delete.