The OREO Method of Critique

Critique don't criticize by Lucy Spense in Flickr

Hi Readers!

Some of you have asked what I meant by the Oreo method of critique last post. It goes by several names and here is the method I use when I give critiques. And it is the method I like used on me when I receive critiques.

I’ve heard the Oreo method given different names. This has also been called the Hamburger technique. As you read you will see why.

We all need encouragement in our writing. Critique can help or hinder us. Feedback need not be toxic and can do a lot towards getting our writing to shine. Some of us are afraid of getting and giving critiques.  However if you do the Oreo Method of giving them, you are bound to be a valuable player in your critique group.  Here is the method.

One- Give a general statement of praise. Find something you really liked about the picture book, what we will call the manuscript. This will give the writer a feeling of being safe. And it encourages her. You don’t only want to criticize her work.

Two- Now give her more specific feedback. Tell her something that will improve the manuscript and make it more readable. This is the place you want to tell her what to leave out or what to do to make it better. What hurt the manuscript? What did you find to be a problem?

Three- Give another positive remark. Tell her something good about her manuscript. Encourage her again.

This method will strengthen any piece of writing and make the writing better without damaging the writer. This method will make sure that the writing is what was discussed and not the writer. Remember always to talk about the writing and not the subject or the person behind the writing. This is no time for prejudices or venting about personalities.

Critique is an important part to making our writing shine. As all of you know critique can make our writing clearer and develop our strength and weaknesses.

Have you been afraid of giving or getting critiques? How so? Do you think this method will help?

Credit given to  a Linked In article from book coach Judy Cullins. 1-13-12 and photo credit to Lucy Spence on Flickr. Thanks.


About ClaraBowmanJahn

Journal writer. Author of "Annie's Special Day" And coauthor of Edmund Pickle Chin, A Donkey Rescue Story." Proud mother and grandmother of wonderful kids. Wife of brilliant husband. Servant of two cats. Member of Pennwriters and SCBWI.
This entry was posted in Clara Bowman-Jahn, Clarike Bowman-Jahn, social networking, writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to The OREO Method of Critique

  1. Love it and I’m posting your link on my FB author page. I think that’s what I usually do, but I like having a name for it!


  2. Stacy S. Jensen says:

    I’ve found I use this method a lot in real life or in discussions. It may not always be appreciated, but I want to be honest and the Oreo method is a great way to do this.


    • clarbojahn says:

      Yes, first with a compliment and then with the honesty or the criticism usually works better than just hitting for the jugular. The oreo method is great for that. 🙂


  3. Perfect timing Clar! I start a new crit-group tonight!


  4. Jarm Del Boccio says:

    This is a good explanation of the critique process…I’m bookmarking this to share in the future!


  5. Thanks for the explanation Clar (as I know I was one of the people who asked!) This makes sense to me and tends to be the way I critique because it’s a lot like writing comments on kids’ progress reports/report cards (which I used to do a lot of) – emphasize something positive, then talk about things that need to be worked on, and finish with something positive.


  6. I’m posting about critiquing in the next couple of days, so will definitely link to this hon.

    Thanks, some great advice 🙂



  7. Clar,
    Critiquing is such an essential, yet difficult task to master ,both the giving and receiving of so this post is very valuable for all writers. To sandwich the positive between the “constructive ” comments is a great way to approach it. Besides who doesn’t like Oreos?Thanks for sharing!


  8. Margot Finke says:

    As one who runs a manuscript critique business, I can agree with this post. I always try to say something positive. However, sometimes I have to deliver bad news – “This MS needs a lot more work.” I hate writing it, but only my honest opinion + some helpful guidance, insights and examples, will put the writer on the path to publication.

    If I have a relationship with a writer, I might say, “Hey, you’d better sit down and take a stiff drink before you read my summary.” One writer I got to know, over the long haul of critiquing her YA manuscript, was dragging her feet. “You are giving me gray hairs, mate.” I emailed. Her fast reply. “Don’t worry. Sending hair die ASAP, via UPS.”

    Most writers willing to pay for a critique expect you to be tough, honest and fair. I try to be all three. I have been a member of various critique groups, where members crit each others writing and offer encouragement and support. I found group members are more likely to get upset about comments and suggestions. When writers are deadly serious, and treat their writing as a business rather than a hobby, they WANT you to point out plot or character weaknesses etc, and offer sound and helpful alternatives.

    I love helping writers get a leg up on the ladder to publication. One of my biggest thrills, up there with a super review for one of my own books, is when a client tells me the book we worked on has been accepted for publication. A definite YEA moment, mates.

    *Books for Kids – Manuscript Critiques


    • clarbojahn says:

      Thanks for your comment, Margot. I agree that when someone is a client they want honesty and fairness. I can see where it would be hard to apply the oreo method at all times when there is nothing good to say. I am glad you are there with your service so we can get a professional critique when we need one. 🙂


  9. Pingback: Critiquing With Confidence | The View Outside

  10. dhallaj says:

    Good advice, Clar


  11. This was a very interesting post Clar. Thanks for explaining the method it makes it more simplier for me. I have been very hesitant on entering critique groups as I don’t think I would be any good at giving critiques. But you have helped me with your recent posts… Thanks. Maybe we could be in one together online sometime.


  12. jannatwrites says:

    I think this method is great!

    I’ve done a few critiques before, but I don’t like to do them unless I have a feel for how open the person really is to feedback. I haven’t done the sandwich method before, but I have done the critique followed by what I liked about it (end on a positive note.) In fact, I generally try to end on a postive note when I offer any kind of comment that could be criticism. It feels less like you’re getting picked on.


    • clarbojahn says:

      yes, I agree. a person will feel more open after saying something nice first.

      As a parent, you could use this with your kids, too. 😉


Comments are closed.