So for an online critique group I am part of, we have to submit our next pages today. I thought I would go over how I critique, as there are differing views on the subject. I'm pulling these guidelines from a conference I went to and feel like they sum it all up nicely, so here goes. . .
First: The purpose is to share encouragement, insight and useful suggestions. To improve our understanding of the writing process--and to improve our finished work. Specifically, a critique session might help the author see how future reader might 'see' the story/characters. The goal of a critique session IS NOT to criticize or belittle another person's work or them as a person.
To the Author: You are the final authority on your story. The critiques are suggestions that you can incorporate or ignore as you see best. Writing is HIGHLY subjective, if someone doesn't like your work it doesn't mean everyone will feel the same way. Do not argue with the person giving a critique, you asked for their opinion.
To the Critiquers: Begin with praise. Helps soften the blows. :) Start sentences with I. . ."I was unclear about... Encourage the writer, like: "I really like the setting, I would like to hear more about it." Remember that any comments you write are taken seriously, so be careful, thoughtful, and kind. Balance your remarks, tell what worked and you liked as well as the places that need work and bothers you. Fell free to line edit, but make the marks clear enough to be noticed by the author.
How do you critique? How much of others comments do you incorporate? Do you write a first draft then critique or wait until you have revised over and over before letting others review it? I would love to hear other's processes.