“You rock on voice.”
“You do a great job of expressing Southern dialect.”
“Your use of colloquial expressions and the rhythm of the speech let me know that the novel is placed in the South. For example, on page five, when you wrote ‘He’s as handy as a button on a shirt,’ I was immediately transported to Texas.”
Since this imaginary writer is trying to recreate the world of a Southern teen living in the fifties, the third comment is the only one that will help her.
The use of specific compliments is something I can practice before next month’s critique group. Instead of saying, “What a pretty sweater,” I could tell a friend, “The turquoise in your sweater brings out the blue in your eyes.”
The key is to say what works and why.