The Way of the Oreo

Yes, Oreo cookies are delicious but that isn’t what this post is about. The Oreo method is a way of critiquing someone’s writing. It’s a fairly simple concept, you start with a good then move into your criticism, then end on a good note.

Now this isn’t to say that telling someone ‘OMG, this story was perfect except for the fact that you wrote it. But yay, it’s great!’ That helps no one and will alienate a lot of writers and can destroy a writing critique group in a heartbeat.

The point of the Oreo is that every part of your response to writing has to matter. Yes, the delicious stuffing in the middle is what everyone is really after, but the cookies hold it together and sweeten the deal.

Now the Oreo Method is not about BSing people. Don’t come up with something nice to say when there isn’t anything nice to say, though honestly, there is usually at least one well done item in a writing work. As a writer it helps for me to know what IS working, especially if I am looking at a major overhaul with the story. Telling the writer what works well can help redirect where edits need to happen. Maybe this minor character shows up and totally steals the story, if you tell the writer that, you may have just helped redirect the entire focus of the story, made it a lot better.

Now, just because we’re using an oreo as comparison here does not by any means suggest that you sugarcoat your criticisms. If something needs to be said then by all means let the writer know. What I am merely saying here is that good criticism also involves pointing out what IS working well.

So, do you use the Oreo method? If not, how do you approach critiques?

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8 Comments »

  1. I’m a jerk sometimes and just highlight the mistakes. Do you think eating Oreos while editing will help me with this process?

    • Eating oreos helps with everything. They are delicious!

    • Laura Said:

      I would love to see highlighted mistakes if someone edited my stuff…but wouldn’t that be more appropriate for grammar errors? I think the Oreo editing strategy is more for a higher level of criticism/feedback/commentary/what have you. I don’t mind correcting grammar/spelling to a point, but if people give me something with a ton of grammar errors I usually hand it back and say “fix it first.” Not very Oreo, but if they’re going to be lazy then I’m going to be mean… :/

  2. Laura Said:

    I do half the Oreo—start out with something I liked and then something I didn’t and end there. This is usually because the white filling gets very large. I am a picky and extensive editor (this doesn’t mean I can edit my own writing as effectively:/) and if something’s out of place, I don’t feel bad about pointing it out. I guess I’m less an Oreo critiquer than a constructive criticism-er. Meaning I try to present everything in terms of “this would help the story if.” It’s a little hard to explain, but I’ve known people who are just flat out rude when critiquing and I’m not like that….

    • Yeah, there is a fine line between between truthful and helpful and being flat out rude and mean. ‘This would help the story…’ sounds helpful to me. I think that ‘This story just sucks.’ is not helpful for anyone. The oreo isn’t about not pointing out the errors and sugar coating, it’s about making sure that what is working isn’t overlooked when something is reviewed. I think sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in what isn’t working that you can forget to mention what’s good in the work.

      • Laura Said:

        Si. I like to know what I did RIGHT…lol. I think if you have any teaching background, this gets easier. It’s the same strategy my music teachers use…”So far your expression is very thoughtful and makes sense for the piece…on the other hand, there are some intonation issues” ya know. 🙂

  3. thegreatgonzo26 Said:

    I try my best to do the oreo method, but I do appreciate honest feedback. If my story outright sucks, I would like someone to tell me.

    Damn it, now I want some oreos.


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