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Critique & Review of Existing Copy

  Critique will help you know where your writing stands
  David Letterman and Paul Shaffer used to do a set piece called "Is This Anything?" in which they'd analyze whether a guest act had any real talent, like the gal who used a chain saw to fire sparks off her metal belt and definitely had something, or the ho-hum yodeler who was nothing special. A critique can do the same thing for you: tell you whether you're on the right track with your writing or should probably scrap it and start over (or hire a ghost writer).

IMPORTANT CAVEAT: Critique is not for the faint of heart.

Like the editing process, however, all we can do in a critique is offer our professional opinion about the quality and direction of your writing, with a goal of helping you improve it. Nevertheless, it is just that – an opinion. No one likes to hear that their writing isn't very strong; fortunately, most people are far better writers than they give themselves credit for. However, some writers just need help to get the thoughts and words organized to convey their intended message.
  Critique Checklist

We use the following checklist to determine how well your existing copy honors the 5 C's of Quality Content, meaning it is clear, concise, correct, compelling, and consistent.

  • Layout – Is your document easy to use/read? Do you incorporate enough white space?

  • Theme – How well do you convey your mission or purpose?

  • USP – What is your unique selling proposition? Do you  have one?

  • Personal connection – How well are you communicating to your SPECIFIC audience?

  • Involvement – Do you catch your reader's
    attention from the very first word?

  • Rational appeal – Are you appealing too much or too little to your readers' intellectual/rational side?

  • Emotional appeal – Are you appealing too much
    or too little to your readers' emotions?

  • Sentence variety – How much do you need to
    vary the length and structure of your sentences?

  • Captions – How well written are your captions?

  • Headline – Where is yours and how strong is it?

  • Subheadings – Do you use them properly?

  • Diction/Tone/Precision – Have chosen the best possible words to convey the meaning you want your readers to take from your content?

  • Show, Don’t Tell – Are you using hypnotic
    writing that paints word pictures?

  • Modifiers – Even with hypnotic writing in mind,
    have you overdone it with the adjectives and adverbs?

  • Verbcentric – Do you use enough of the proper verbs?

  • Conjunctions – Have you determined how formal/casual you will be in your writing?

  • Pronouns – Have you overused pronouns, to the point that your readers have lost the meaning of your content?

  • Repetition – Repetition is good, as it helps readers retain meaning, but are you overdoing it?

  • Hyperbole – Do you write in extreme exaggeration, or is your text so pedestrian that it immediately puts your readers to sleep?

  • Spelling/Grammar – SpellCheck is not foolproof, but did you remember to use it?

  • Continuity/Flow – Is your text easy to read and follow?

  • Authority/Expertise – How well do you describe your credentials, skill, and length of time in this business?

  • Credibility – What kinds of proof do you offer to validate your claims?

  • Testimonials – Do you have enough of the right kinds of testimonials?


  • Call to action – How clearly do your visitors understand WHAT YOU WANT THEM TO DO?

  • Contact info – Do your readers have to play "Seek & Find" to locate your FAQ, About Us, and Contact Info?

  • Reward – Are you offering some sort of ethical bribe (giveaway), such as a podcast, white paper, or tip sheet in order to build your list?

  Benefits of Critique

A critique is a great way to get an idea of where your manuscript stands. Is it in fairly good shape, or is it going to need a lot of work before you go to print? And, a critique can save you money in the long run. According to the Wise Ink blog:

A seasoned and fastidious editor will be able to spend a few hours to read through your manuscript and write a thorough critique of the strengths and weaknesses. If you effectively use this criticism and apply it to your manuscript throughout, you will have saved many hours (and dollars) in the editor’s job of hand-holding through these issues. This does not excuse you from the editing and proofreading processes, but it might turn what would have been a heavy developmental edit into a lighter copyedit.


And as Writers Digest says, "The key to a helpful writing critique is specificity. If you’re being critiqued, be sure to ask plenty of questions to help clarify the feedback you receive."

  Getting Started
  If you'd like a professional, honest opinion on your current manuscript, special report, info product, speech, or Web copy, e-mail us today. If it's good, we'll tell you it is and give you ideas for ways to make it better. If it needs work, we'll diplomatically offer suggestions for improvement. Our goal isn't to rain on your parade it's to help you publish the best writing possible so that you can precisely reach and impress your target audience.  

LAURA ORSINI | Freelance Writer | Editor | Designer | Marketer | Social Alchemist | BLOG

Laura • 602.518.5376 • PO Box 40273, Phoenix AZ 85067



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