Here are some helpful suggestions:
1) Let the author know if you usually don’t read their genre. This will help the reader differentiate which parts of your critique are helpful for them.
2) Give feedback that can help the story grow. Saying that you disliked the story doesn’t help anyone. Why did you dislike it, specifically. What parts worked for you?
3) Don’t be afraid to say what you like. Praise is not a bad word, as long as it’s genuine. We’ve all been critiqued, and telling the person what their doing right can be just as helpful as telling them what they’re doing wrong.
4) You’re critiquing the manuscript, not the author. Don’t criticize the author, not only is that unhelpful, it’s also very rude.
5) Lastly, follow the golden rule, critique others as you wish to be critiqued. What is helpful to you as a writer? What is unhelpful? If you figure that out, you’ll make a great critique partner.
Tomorrow; Your Role in a Critique Group – Part 2 – What to look for in someone else’s work.