Thursday, July 25, 2013

Blog 25 ~ The Golden Rule

I recently signed up for a critique session through my local Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s chapter. I live in a rural area and I don’t have many critique partners nearby, so when opportunities like this come up, I try to jump on it.  Now I have several manuscripts and synopses to review for a workshop in August.

Before I get started, I thought it would be useful to think about how I’m going to do this in terms of how I like to be critiqued myself.  I’ve had a rather brutal critique style in the past and I wonder if I might need to soften that. I witnessed a lot of verbal critiques last week and I came away with a better feel for how I personally would like to be critiqued.
First off, a critique is not proofreading. I don’t think focusing on grammatical errors is helpful at the early draft stage. It wastes valuable time on words that may end up being cut anyway. The only time to mention spelling, punctuation, and grammar is if they are so glaring as to be a complete and utter distraction to the reader.
For me, personally, here’s what I want to know:
Does it grab you? Intrigue you? Or is it confusing? Does it make you feel something? Anything?? Does it make you want to read more?
What words, dialog, or speech tags pop you out of the story? Where does it begin to bore you, or make your mind stumble over clunky, awkward language? Are there plot holes or things that don’t make sense?
Does the writing have heart? Does it have a theme, or at least a feel? Can you hear the author’s voice lecturing you or can you hear the voice of the characters? Do the characters seem like real people or card board cutouts that could be anyone?
Do you feel like you’re in “good hands”, as if the author has a sense of mastery that you’re comfortable with?  What parts to you love? What parts do you hate? How can I make it better?

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