Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Nutschell's Wednesday Writer's Workspace and Wicked Wednesday - Critiques (part 3)

I'm so excited to be over at The Writing Nut's blog today with Nutschell for Wednesday Writer's Workspace. Please stop on by and take a peek into my office.

This is the third part of my critique series on Wicked Wednesday in preparation for the MORE THAN JUST A KISS blogfest in September. Click on the links to read part 1 and part 2 of the series.

After giving a thorough critique of the first chapter, I settle in for two more read-throughs of the manuscript.

The first one is for the details. This is the part where I make technical notes as I go along. It keeps me from reading too quickly. I'm not a professional editor, but I check spelling, grammar, and missed punctuation. If I'm not certain about something, I'll still make a note.

These are the types of details I look for:
- ones that need explaining (an observation or memory that needs clarification)
- ones that are unnecessary (a description or an added word or two that adds nothing to the sentence or plot)
- ones that are wrong (something that is anachronistic or an accent that doesn't sound right)
- ones that are missing (a more obvious clue to the mystery; if you're too subtle, the reader might miss it)
- ones that are brilliant (always point out the good things in a critique too)

The second read-through is for pacing, connection of plot points, and characterization.
- Pacing: I look for hooks and hangers with the chapters. I also keep track of the story highs and lows, making sure there are no lulls. Typically with romance, the story plot highs and lows should alternate with the romance plot highs and lows until they both come together for the climax. (Yes, I just set myself up there, didn't I?)
- Plot points: usually they follow along with the pacing. Something happens here that leads to this, the characters react and create this new something. One thing must logically lead to the other in the context of that world with those characters.
- Characterization: characters must be consistent with who they are and grow as the plot progresses. So much goes into the creation of characters, and sometimes the writer can be a bit biased. We sometimes hear the characters so clearly in our heads, we forget that others don't. The characters must be as vivid on paper as they are in our minds.

How many read-throughs do you give a first draft? Do you have a specific list you follow when doing a critique?


  1. Thanks for sharing your critique list!

  2. I almost never read someone's first drafts.

    But with my own, I read through it twice. Once to get a feel for the story, then to write down the structure before I write the second draft.

  3. When I critique someone else's story, I usually just read it once and make notes as I go. I have a pretty decent memory, so I have gone back and changed some of my notes or added to them because I realize things as I go.

    For my own first draft, I usually do a read-through and then a self-edit before sending it to critique partners.

  4. I must suck, because I only read through it once and try to note everything as I go.

  5. In my group, we tell each other what feedback we want.

    I just mark what sticks out to me. You're much more thorough. I should follow your steps.

  6. It's on my to-read list-- heading over.

  7. Thanks for stopping in! I try to be as thorough as possible. It helps to have a few CPs, because everyone always sees different things.

  8. I'm really enjoying these posts... I always do a read through first to get a feel for the book, voice and plot before I get into the nitty gritty stuff:)

  9. i love when you tell me what to do! p.s. i'm reading about your fav little harpy and this particular short story is freakin' killing it girl!!!

  10. Hi Christine .. and I'll be over to see Nutschell sometime soon ...

    Congratulations on all your work and writing .. cheers Hilary

  11. These are good tips. I always try to make sure that each chapter moves the plot forward. I'll go visit you at Nutschell.


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