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How Do You Critique? : Conversation question • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

How Do You Critique?

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
Vaterstix
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How Do You Critique?

Postby Vaterstix » Mon Jul 07, 2014 9:20 pm

Hope everyone's doing well.

I was thinking about this today and wanted to ask and hopefully get some good feedback.

How do you critique?

Personally, I want to help other writers and read what they've written and provide constructive criticism that will help them in their process. However, I'm not quite sure how to fully do this. Whenever I read another writer's work, I tend to want to critique based on what I think works from a stylistic perspective. But, I realize this is based on my own style and I don't want stifle another's based on my own preference.

So, I am asking our community here to give insight into what they practice or what they've learned over their experience from critiquing. Thanks!

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DrG2
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Re: How Do You Critique?

Postby DrG2 » Mon Jul 07, 2014 10:25 pm

I tend to nearly do a line edit, though I base it on one read-through, so I miss things. I start with some overall comments, then go to the line edit bit. I recently critiqued a chapter on the Fantasy/science fiction board, so you can see an example there.
viewtopic.php?f=23&t=76180

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shadowwalker
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Re: How Do You Critique?

Postby shadowwalker » Mon Jul 07, 2014 11:58 pm

I tend to stay away from style issues unless it's something that starts to pull me out of the story. Then it's a problem that other readers might have as well. Otherwise, I try to look for areas where there's confusing or awkward phrases or terms, contradictions, and overall story-telling. I will point out grammar or spelling if I see the same thing occurring over and over, but I mention it once and then figure the writer will take it from there. My main fault is not letting people know when they do a good job - if they do something very well, I'll mention it, but otherwise I tend to figure if it held my interest and I tell them that, it's enough. So I have to work on that end. :oops:
"It seems rather like wanting to be ... a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it's just an ego trip." - Roger Zelazny

It's really not that hard. Just tell me a story.

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Crono91
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Re: How Do You Critique?

Postby Crono91 » Tue Jul 08, 2014 12:16 am

I really enjoy critiquing people's work, more-so because I have the mind of the teacher and want people to tap into their zone of proximal development. :mrgreen:

I do line edits (which you can find on here). I will edit grammar and spelling, as usual, but I will also show how sentences can be cut or rearranged for better delivery.

I also make edits pertaining to the genre (for me, YA). I'm also very aggressive over the first line/paragraph/page of a novel, so I focus a lot of time on those three elements.

I try not to touch stylistic moves, unless I feel they are using a particular trick far too many times. For instance, I used to use dashes (--) a LOT! I loved them. I'd use them in place of periods and in place of comma asides. It was my style. But when I used them too many times (which I've noticed some published authors do, usually the young ones), it slowed the reading down drastically. So while I agree all writers need to keep their style, they also need to take into consideration the reader. It's a give and take.

Also, I have a strict rule of staying away from dialogue. I don't touch them, since that's where a lot of style originates--not matter how much it might kill me. : P

---

That's the first tier of editing I do. Then, depending on how interested I am, I'll take the time to give my opinions on the writer's character and plot development and delivery. That's more about my opinion on the market than "YOU BETTER CHANGE THIS."

Really, the only way you can be a better critique is by doing four things:

01. Write a lot,
02. Read a lot,
03. Read other critiques a lot,
04. and critique a lot.
Be proud of your mistakes when they form from blinding passion. But now edit them.

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MookyMcD
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Re: How Do You Critique?

Postby MookyMcD » Tue Jul 08, 2014 2:40 pm

Critiquing relationships are, most importantly, relationships. I don't have any two that are even similar, let alone the same. I beta for some people, reading the entire MS with minimal notes, giving overall impressions like I am at a book group talking about a book I read (but probably noting a few typos or whatever along the way). I have a couple of people I consider critique partners, whose books I've skimmed through once to understand the overall arc, then provide chapter-by-chapter line edits. I also have a very close writing partner, with whom I often share single paragraphs at a time, and her with me, and spend hours discussing themes and characters and events that haven't even been written into the story yet.

It's all good. The only thing that really matters is that you both know what you are offering and expecting at the outset.

Vaterstix
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Re: How Do You Critique?

Postby Vaterstix » Fri Jul 11, 2014 12:01 am


Vaterstix
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Re: How Do You Critique?

Postby Vaterstix » Fri Jul 11, 2014 12:06 am


Vaterstix
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Re: How Do You Critique?

Postby Vaterstix » Fri Jul 11, 2014 12:09 am


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MookyMcD
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Re: How Do You Critique?

Postby MookyMcD » Fri Jul 11, 2014 12:52 am

I have been lucky as hell, there's no doubt about that. The funny thing is, I've always been a "go it alone" person in almost every other pursuit in my life. This particular pursuit, though, has brought people into my life in ways I'd have never expected.

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onceuponwednesday
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Re: How Do You Critique?

Postby onceuponwednesday » Fri Jul 11, 2014 1:23 pm

I heard one piece of advice from Brandon Sanderson, who probably got it from someone else.

Don't start critique sentences with "you", start them with "I".

Instead of: You should add something interesting in this section, like parachuting tarantulas.

Write: I found this section a bit dull.
The Rule of Three

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