Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wicked Wednesday - Critiques (part 1): the beginning

In case you haven't heard yet, the lovely Cecilia Robert and I have revealed our surprise blogfest: MORE THAN JUST A KISS. Sign up and share with us a kissing scene. Along with two marvelous guest judges - Kyra Lennon and Laurelin Paige - we'll be judging the scenes and picking three to win. We will then critique a kissing scene from your latest WIP.

No one does a critique the same way. There are those that pick up on details that others do not, and critics that manage to find plot holes where everything seemed tied together so nicely. Some have a system and order to their critique, and others just dive right in with everything. This is why it's important to have more than one critique partner.

I've learned a lot from my critique partners and from critiquing other writers' stories. I have a system of sorts. I always read it first as a reader. Just for the pure enjoyment of the tale. That way I won't get distracted by the story as I'm critiquing.

The first thing I keep in mind when I'm starting a critique is the specific genre. All romances must have the relationship central to the plot. I'm going to use various sub-genres of romance as examples:
Paranormal romance - must have elements of the paranormal central to the plot
Romantic suspense - the mystery must drive the plot along with the romance
Historical romance - the accuracy of the historical setting and how it affects the romance
Contemporary romance - the romance and how it's affected by the other modern issues the author weaves into the plot

The genre identifies your target audience. You don't need to stick to a specific formula, but if the story is lacking in the key elements of its intended genre, it will fail. If I'm critiquing a romantic suspense, and the mystery limps along as a subplot, I'm going to suggest ways to bring it to the forefront, make it stronger, and integrate it into the central plot. In another manuscript, the mystery of how the hero traveled back in time might not be as important as what's happening in the time period he did end up in, and I won't suggest spending time on something that's mysterious yet not integral to the central plot.

Over the next month, I'll be talking about various parts of my critiquing process. Please feel free to tell us how you go about critiquing in the comment section below. I'd love to hear if you have any tips or tricks!

How do you begin the critiquing process?


  1. Great tips! I like how you vary the focus of your critique based on the genre. When I critique a manuscript, I also like to read it at least a couple times so I don't have to be in "editor mode" the first time around, but sometimes the writer needs my thoughts back right away, so I have to anyway...

  2. Good things to look for.
    Not sure I really have a process. I look at details and the overall flow and pacing most.
    And I'm very grateful to have several critique partners, especially when two of them are hilarious.

  3. I think it's interesting how everyone picks up on different things. Which sort of gives you a clue as to why it's so important to address all the issues your CPs bring up because really they're just a small representation of all your potential readers.

  4. but my book is multi genre! ive always struggled making it fit...
    its a techno thriller but also action adventure, noir, with a bit of romantic tension... all over the place!

    looking forward to more crit advice!

  5. I'm glad I read this- I tend to do the same thing when I critique. First, I read it without stopping and get an overall, readers impression. It also helps with detecting flow and pace. Then I go back and attack the technical stuff. NOT, that I think I am an expert on the subject at all. I just do my best to help my CPs move along their story. And then I pray I've helped in some small way.

  6. I look the context, content, genre, and how the scene is introduced. I want to participate suing a kissing scene from my middle grade book WIP.

  7. These are great tips. I look forward to hearing other suggestions.

  8. Thank you, folks! And for books like yours, Tara, I'd just have to take a unique approach. :)

  9. I'll have to see if I signed up for your fest. I think I did.

    I crit for different genres. We usually crit 2 or so chapters at a time, so we don't see the whole work all at once. I read to make sure the stakes stay up in each chapter and that things flow. My specialty is tracking logic, x'ing out simultaneous goings on, circling 'back' and words that repeat a lot, and we all laugh about the SDT [show don't tell].

  10. Great tips! I actually started reading a romance novel that had no relationship aspect to it. It was a romantic novel with nothing romantic. Yeah, I didn't finish it. I'm definitely signing up!

  11. I provide feedback from an emotional place - which is to say, how I feel as I read it. But I strive to be kind in how I provide it, know what I mean? I also make an effort to point out the bits I really enjoy, or that I find especially striking, because I want the writer to know what I feel to be her/his strengths, as well as I feel could maybe use a bit of tweakage.
    Some Dark Romantic


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