Today I'm going to start reading my critique partner's historical romance. This isn't a genre I write in -- although you could argue that steampunk crosses over. So I have to keep in mind different reader expectations of style and plot.
Critiquing isn't a natural skill for me. In fact, it's shown me just how difficult an editor's job is.
The challenge is to hold an overall picture of the plot in your mind and view it against the accepted structure of novels in that genre; not hammering it into that form, but checking that the author meant to deviate from the accepted norm when they do so.
Then there are issues of character development, writing style and voice (I'm so lucky here, my crit partner has a fantastic style).
Fortunately, critiquing also means celebrating the brilliant bits of the book. It's a joy to be one of the first people to read a story in all its raw power.
As an author, there's also the benefit of all that I learn as I try to improve my editorial vision.
So wish me luck!