“I’ll be your toughest critic–like a French critic.” Those were the words of my 12-year old daughter, as I handed her a draft of my novella and a pen with which to mark her notes. I don’t know what her experience has been with the French, but she was true to her word.
The thing about middle-schoolers is that no one has taught them how to deliver bad news. When she was few pages in, I asked for her initial thoughts. She came back with three specific criticisms. She didn’t waste time constructing a bad news sandwich. You know. Say what you like. Say what needs to be improved. Finish with another compliment.
She’s still reading and critiquing, but I peeked over her shoulder and noticed a few asterisks. Those are her “good job” marks.
Looking for an honest critique? I suggested you a grab a kid. They don’t need to be a writer, just a reader without too much concern for your feelings.